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Petaluma is located in Sonoma County in the Bay Area of California.


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.

Get in[edit]

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 [7] provides inter-county bus service (Sonoma, Marin, & San Francisco counties). Sonoma County Transit[8] 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.

Get around[edit]

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.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Shollenberger Park -- 165 acres of wetlands that form a bird sanctuary with a 2 mile hike around the area filled with native grasses and 225 species of birds too numerous to list, but which include plovers, egrets, great blue herons, green herons, buffleheads, cormorants, quail, hawks, sandpipers, and others. The Audubon Society ranks it as an important birding site, and it is widely regarded as a fantastic site to watch birds in the North Bay. There are other animals here such as the endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Entrance with parking lot and restrooms at 1400 Cader Lane.

  • "Helen Putnam Regional Park" -- 216 miles of regional hiking trails with birding, hiking, equestrian trails, picnic area, playground, panoramic views of Petaluma and Northern Marin, tons of wildlife viewing opportunities, a pond, mountain bike trails, and bluegill fishing. 411 Chileno Valley Road (from Petaluma Boulevard, at the downtown juncture with Western Avenue, drive up Western Avenue several miles until you see a left fork to Chileno Valley Road. A quick drive through the eucalyptus groves, and you will see the park entrance on your left. Parking is $7 for day use.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Sonoma Portworks, 613 Second St. Petaluma, 707-769-5203, [1]. 12-5. Sonoma Portworks offers free tastings. This is the only winery in Sonoma County specializing in ports and after-dinner wines. The tasting room is friendly and inviting. Open Thursday - Monday, noon to 5 pm. free.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Petaluma Village Premium Outlets, off Highway 101, [9]. Find impressive savings at top outlets from Coach, Banana Republic, Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue and more.
  • Robindira Unsworth Atelier, 115 Petaluma Blvd. N, Petaluma, CA 94952, 707-773-3147, [2]. 10am - 6pm Mon - Fri, 11am - 6pm Sat, 11am - 5pm Sun. The atelier and lifestyle boutique of Robindira Unsworth jewelry: semi-precious and precious metals, materials, gems and stones in the historic downtown. (38.234307,-122.640894) edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

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.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • McNear's, Petaluma Blvd. Serves good American-style food and drinks with a fun atmosphere. Mystic Theater is next door, offering bands from all over the world.
  • Dempsey's, nearby on Western St, has a relaxed atmosphere on the water. It serves beer and wine only.
  • For some pool (billiards), drinks, and karaoke (on Friday and Saturday nights), check out The Willowbrook.
  • Ernie's Tin Bar located at 5100 Lakeville Highway, some miles from town, offers an authentic, old-world feeling of a Petaluma bar. Some might call this a dive bar, but they also sell organic produce, so it's a fun place to go and very hip.
  • For local Petaluma color from another era, try the Buckhorn for drinks. It's a dive bar filled with deer heads and locals near downtown at 615 Petaluma Blvd. North and is open all day long. Andresen's is another bar much like this at 19 Western Ave.
  • Volpi's is a historic restaurant and bar that is unlike any other bar in Petaluma, often with an accordion player, lime green interior, deer heads, and a well-stocked bar next to an excellent Italian restaurant which boasts amazing eggplant or chicken parmesan and chicken marsala at 124 Washington Street, inside of a historic building that used to be a speakeasy. Very classic Petaluma. The bar is arguably more popular than the restaurant. Some people might call this a dive bar. It's just a historic Italian bar that hasn't changed much. Lots of fun.
  • For upscale drinks and a nicer bar setting, try Graffiti, which has a very good and full bar set on the Petaluma River bend right downtown, 101 2nd street. The views are gorgeous, and it has indoor and outdoor seating plus specialty drinks. Serves good seasonal food at mid-ranged prices as well as tapas.
  • For an upscale wine country lounge, try La Dolce Vita Wine Bar at 151 Petaluma Blvd, Suite 117
  • No visit to Petaluma is complete without checking out the renewed Lagunita Brewery where microbrewed beer is served with live music at 1280 N. McDowell Ave.
  • There are other bars downtown as well, but none others that I can really recommend.


Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Best Western Petaluma Inn, 200 S McDowell Boulevard, +1 707 763-0994 (toll free: +1 800 297-3846, fax: +1 707 778-3111), [3].  edit
  • Motel 6, 1368 North McDowell Boulevard, +1 707 765-0333 (fax: +1 707 765-4577), [4].  edit
  • Quality Inn Petaluma, 5100 Montero Way, 866-407-4959, [5]. The Quality Inn Petaluma is a lodge in the California Wine Country and Sonoma County, delivering special value California vacation packages for the whole family.  edit
  • Sheraton Petaluma, 745 Baywood Dr, [6].  edit

Get out[edit]

Routes through Petaluma
Santa RosaCotati  N noframe S  NovatoSan Francisco

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