Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will arrive in movie theaters Dec. 14. And, as most Middle Earthlings know, it is based on the beloved book by J.R.R. Tolkien in which a most excellent and audacious hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys with a pack of oft-cantankerous dwarves to reclaim treasure stolen by the plundering dragon, Smaug.

Not an easy task, to be sure. But if by some curious chance local hobbit lovers emerge from their holes and desire such an adventure, they can easily find themselves doing altogether unexpectedly hobbity things right here in our very own Shire of the Bay Area, a wide and respectable country inhabited by decent folk.


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Whether it's an expedition to the green and quiet of Muir Woods, hidden gardens in Los Altos or the shadows of old Antioch mines where dragons may slumber, the following thoughts on local spots may serve as a guide.

A loaf or two

Hobbits, small though they are, are very fond of feasting and need a full stomach or they can become cranky. In fact, a normal day in the Shire might include breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, tea, dinner and supper.

By now, after such long and exhausting sentences, it's surely time for a second breakfast. A good place for this is 900 Grayson, conveniently located at 900 Grayson St., in West Berkeley, 510-704-9900, www.900grayson.com. They have a special Hobbit Midday Meal menu. Contrary to what trolls might desire, the items are not made of minced or squashed hobbits themselves. Rather, chef and co-owner Anthony Saulnier, an admitted Tolkien fan, says the restaurant offers things for hobbits, such as a Gandalf Burger with double smoked bacon and The Gollum, a coriander-crusted tuna steak that's surely precioussss.

Curiously, Denny's restaurants, www.dennys.com, are also offering limited-time hobbit fare with 11 special menu items such as "Build Your Own Hobbit Slam," which includes "Pumpkin Patch Pancakes" and "Shire Sausage."

Much like home

One might explore spots that evoke the whimsy and serenity of the Shire.

In Half Moon Bay, try Alena Jean's Flower Shop & Nursery, 340 Purissima St., 650-726-3662, www.alenasdesigns.com. It's housed in a 135-year-old barn surrounded by garden nooks, swings and miniature railroad tracks and is bursting with whimsical animals, pots, flowers and even garden gnomes with secret compartments for hiding hobbit-hole-door keys.

Or step into Hidden Villa, 26870 Moody Road, in Los Altos Hills, www.hiddenvilla.org. It's a nonprofit educational organization with 1,600 acres of organic farms, wilderness, paths, animal barns, small gardens and a deep sense of community.

(Jeff Durham/Bay Area News Group)

Or in the East Bay, visit the Tilden Nature Area and Little Farm, 600 Canon Drive in the Berkeley portion of Tilden Regional Park, 510-544-2233, tnarea@ebparks.org.

Some suitable spots

Stop in at The Other Change of Hobbit, a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore at 3264 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-654-6224, www.otherchangeofhobbit.com. All things Tolkien are currently on display.

Then, with book in hand, a fire and a pipe might be nice. But with nonsmoking ordinances popping up all across the land, a hobbit who enjoys a fine puff should find solace at The Pub and Schmidt's tobacconist, a tiny converted house at 1492 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-525-1900.

"If there were hobbits in the Bay Area, they would surely be here," said a clerk at The Pub last week. There's no website, and it's cash only. Lounge in an overstuffed chair in front of the fireplace, play a board game, sip an ale or purchase sweet-smelling pipe tobacco -- there's one blend called Red Dragon -- then head to the smoking room and blow Gandalf-style smoke rings to your heart's content.

Over hill and underground

It's easy to imagine that a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm or two might lurk in the depths of the Black Diamond Mines near Antioch, www.ebparks.org/parks/black_diamond. Or perhaps it's a place where ancient dwarves mined and tunneled and made huge halls and great workshops. Either that or it was a coal mine in the late 1800s. That's cool, too. Just leave your sword at the door and go on a tour.

In woods and wild

Over the water and over the hill is Muir Woods, www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm, where trails meander through ancient groves of old-growth redwoods -- possibly Ents? -- free of evil and dreadful things that infest the Mirkwood or the Misty Mountains. There are places to sit alone a long while silent, in the quiet of less noise and more green. Or explore what may be the fair and secret valleys of Rivendell. There might be spiders about, but they generally keep to themselves and won't leave you dangling from a tree.

A warm welcome

At last, it's time for dinner or supper or both, and the Pelican Inn -- not far from Muir Woods off Highway 1 at Muir Beach -- is just the place a chilled hobbit would go for a pint and a warm fire after a long journey, 415-383-6000, www.pelicaninn.com. You might easily imagine Beorn there, offering up some loaves with clotted cream and honey. More likely, you'll dine on bangers and mash or shepherd's pie and rest by the roaring fire.

It is a good day to be a hobbit. Farewell, wherever ye fare.

Contact Angela Hill at ahill@bayareanewsgroup.com, read her Sunday Give 'Em Hill column, or follow her on Twitter @giveemhill.