A quaint river town set along the banks of the Petaluma River in Sonoma County, California, the city of Petaluma is a lovely respite from the bustle of urban living. Nestled in wine country, Petaluma is just shy of an hour north of San Francisco and less than thirty miles south of Santa Rosa. The town boasts California’s famous Mediterranean climate in addition to the fertile land that has enabled it to blossom as a renowned spot for wine connoisseurs.
Welcome to Petaluma
The history of Petaluma is rich and well-preserved. Founded in 1858, the town prospered at the turn of the century thanks to its riverfront location and agricultural excellence. The vibrant downtown district is brimming with incredible architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in part due to its abundant iron-front architecture.
Residential areas are replete with Victorian charm, and the primary architect of the city, Brainerd Jones, helped to influence the wide variety of styles. Historic homes range from Queen Anne and Colonial Revival to Spanish Revival and Victorian Stick. Along with these pristinely maintained houses, Petaluma also offers plenty of contemporary new builds featuring luxury amenities.
What to Love
- Small-town vibe with plenty of local festivals, like Cruisin’ The Boulevard
- Original architecture from the town’s founding and a deep sense of history
- Access to some of the best wineries in the state
People and Lifestyle
Large enough to have plenty of amenities, employment, and entertainment, Petaluma also has enough picturesque allure and community commitment to give the town a warm and friendly atmosphere. Families, retirees, and individuals will all be able to find themselves well suited to this location, in part due to its proximity to several metro regions.
Shopping, Dining & Entertainment
In a town well-known for its agricultural prowess and bountiful land, it’s impossible to talk about the dining scene without discussing the area’s world-class breweries and wineries. Some of the best in beer can be found at the local Lagunitas Brewing Company
, just a few minutes from the downtown waterfront. Enjoy live music and sumptuous brews like their Hazy Wonder IPA at the taproom, and let the small-town business that’s gone global impress your palette.
Wine lovers can savor the exceptional offerings of the local tasting rooms like Barber Cellars
, a winery dedicated to handcrafted single-vineyard wines. Another riverfront location, Adobe Road
, has a unique origin story thanks to owner and professional race car driver Kevin Buckler. The team at Adobe Road searches all over Sonoma and Napa for the best growers to contribute to their efforts to make the perfect wine.
You won’t have to stray far for some one-of-a-kind shopping in Petaluma. Though the city has an outlet mall
full of name-brand stores, some of the real treasures can be found just along the historic river district. Petaluma’s peaceful and quaint atmosphere lends itself naturally to a thriving antique market, and at places like The Petaluma Collective
and Vintage Bank Antiques, shoppers can browse impressive finds at their leisure. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and fine wines, head to eateries like Della Fattoria, a town favorite that has house-made bread, pastries, salads, sandwiches, and incredible desserts.
Things to Do
Petaluma has several expansive nearby parks and recreational areas, including Helen Putnam Regional Park
and the largest regional park in Sonoma County, Tolay Lake Regional Park
. Explore thousands of acres of wilderness and the sweeping beauty of this area, with opportunities for birding, hiking, bicycling, fishing, and equestrian trail riding.
Head to entertainment venues like the grand Mystic Theatre and Music Hall
, where you can catch live performances and make unforgettable memories. Teens are empowered to pursue and engage with the arts and music at the Phoenix Theatre
, a century-old building that has served as an opera house, movie theater, and stage for years as an ever-evolving location.
If you enjoy community events, Petaluma has no shortage of those. Celebrate the history of the mighty Petaluma with the annual Rivertown Revival
, an event that has everything from water activities and exotic animals to inspiring food vendors, artists, and merchants. Dedicated to the town’s agricultural roots, the Butter and Egg Days Parade and Festival features food, drinks, music, arts, and, of course, a spectacular parade.
Petaluma is home to a number of excellent schools. Top educational opportunities include:
- Petaluma Accelerated Charter School, 7-8, well-rated public middle school
- St. Vincent de Paul High School, 9-12, well-rated public high school(Santa Clara, CA)
- Grant Elementary School, K-6, well-rated public elementary school