Petaluma was founded in 1848, as a crossroads and marketplace for southern Sonoma and northern Marin counties. Agriculture is and always was central to the town's identity. In the early part of the 1900s, Petaluma was known as the "Egg Basket of the World" due to the large number of chicken farms nearby. Although electronic industries, especially telecom, have started displacing Petaluma's numerous cattle, chicken, and sheep ranches, much of Petaluma still maintains the feel of the old cow-town.
There are a few ways to enter the city. However, the two most common ways are from the freeway or the backroads.
HWY 101: The main way to arrive Petaluma is via Highway 101 North or South. There are four main exits off the freeway. HWY 1: Another approach to Petaluma is on the coastal Highway 1. In Point Reyes, the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road will eventually turn into D Street and lead you into downtown Petaluma. Old Redwood Highway & Stoney Point Road: Alternative backroads between Santa Rosa and Petaluma. Also popular cycling routes for commuters.
While a car is the fastest and easiest way to travel in and out of the city, there is also a bus service. Golden Gate Transit  provides inter-county bus service (Sonoma, Marin, & San Francisco counties). Sonoma County Transit provides service within Sonoma County only.
One of the more enjoyable ways to enter and exit the city is by bicycle. For cycle enthusiasts there are numerous backroads and alternative routes to enjoy.
It's easiest to get around by car if traveling from one end of the city to another. Downtown parking can sometimes be unavailable on the street. Should there be parking, strictly adhere to the time limits posted. Tickets are given. There are parking garages downtown and ample parking in them. Many places are accessible by foot downtown, but unless you are adventurous, plan to drive from downtown to the outlet shopping area. For those averse to walking or driving, Petaluma Transit provides intercity transport during limited hours. Cycling is another very pleasant option around town.
Downtown Petaluma is filled with inexpensive yet tasty eateries of many sorts. Volpi's is a hot Italian restaurant serving full seven-course family-style meals and the best eggplant parmesan. Hiro's is a popular sushi bar, and down the block is Old Chicago Pizza, with some of the thickest-crust pizza you'll see. And, Thai lovers will want to try all FIVE Thai restaurants within a one-mile stretch along the Boulevard. Grazziano's is an excellent, though expensive Italian restaurant on Petaluma Boulevard between Western and Washington Streets. Another fantastic moderate to upscale restaurant featuring California-style cuisine is Graffiti, which features a beautiful view of the Petaluma River Basin, an outstanding bar, and consistently good dining and service.
Numerous small, upscale bistros abound.
For a delicious, reasonably priced meal, absolutely try the Mexican seafood at Mi Pueblo. The camarones fajitas, fish tacos, and tamales are all immaculate.
For a quick cafe-style breakfast or lunch, or just a cup of tea or coffee, some best bets are Della Fattoria (where you can also grab some of the best olive bread and other fantastic pastries to go) with excellent soup, salad, sandwich combinations as well as the Tea Room, which has a light, seasonal menu featuring tons of salads and sandwiches as well as many fine brunch items. Both have some limited outdoor seating.
You can find outstanding Indian AND Nepalese food at Himalayan Kabob & Curry House and unexpectedly good Turkish fare at Real Doner, which is relaxed and deli-style with an outdoor patio. The doners, dolmas, and mezes (appetizer plate) are sublime. Two standouts are the pink sultan, a cabbage and yogurt dish that tastes better than it sounds, and the salmon shish kebab platter.
Fourth and Sea downtown is a Petaluma institution which features quick yet delicious fish and chips. Try the chips with garlic. Take it to go for a picnic.
Many more great restaurants exist outside of downtown Petaluma. Try Cattlemen's Steakhouse for locally grown beef and heartier fare, Chunky's Taqueria & Grill, and Giacomo's Italian Restaurant, to name a few.
Vegetarians will have no problem here. Equally, vegans and people on gluten-free diets shouldn't have any real trouble. Petaluma simply has very good restaurants and used to locally be referred to as "the restaurant capital of California."
If you are in the mood for a picnic and are checking out the area, while not in Petaluma properly, drive out D street for about 20 minutes to the Marin Cheese Factory where you can pick up brie and many other cheeses including quark in many flavors, baguette or crackers, and hundreds of kinds of tapenades, spreads, mustards, chutneys, as well as salami, wine, dolmas, 3-bean salad, pasta salad, chips, and the like, as well as a brie sandwich. Beautiful pond areas surround it which are just right to picnic by.