city in Sonoma County, California, United States

Petaluma is a charming historic town of 60,000 people (2020) amid the hills and pastures of Sonoma County in the Bay Area of California. Petaluma is known for its well-preserved historic center and as a local hub for the Petaluma Valley region of Sonoma County.

Understand edit

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. HWY 116 W merges with HWY 101 N at the second exit in town. There are four main exits off the freeway: Petaluma Blvd So., Lakeville/116, Washington St. and Petaluma Blvd. No. HWY 1: Offers another way in to Petaluma. From the coastal Highway take the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road which eventually turns into D Street and leads you directly into downtown Petaluma. Old Redwood Highway & Stoney Point Road: Alternative backroads between Santa Rosa and Petaluma. All are popular cycling routes for athletes and commuters, so share the road!

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 intercounty bus service (Sonoma, Marin, & San Francisco counties). Sonoma County Transit provides service within Sonoma County only. Amtrak also provides connecting bus service.

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.

By train edit

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART, connects Petaluma with Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Novato, San Rafael, and Larkspur, with connections to the ferry to San Francisco. The segment from Novato to Petaluma is quite scenic, with marshes and hills rolling by. However, the train is primarily for commuters, so the mid-day and weekend schedules are very limited.

1 Petaluma Downtown SMART station   is a short walk from downtown.

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, and the downtown area is often impassable on weekends due to events. Should you happen to find 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

Petaluma has a beautiful, historic downtown area which has appeared in several films depicting mid-20th-Century life.

  • 1 Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, 3325 Adobe Rd, +1 707-762-4871. Daily 10AM-5PM. Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park was the main residence of Rancho Petaluma, the agricultural empire that General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, one of the most powerful men in the Mexican Province of California from 1834 to 1846. $3 for adults, $2 for children between 6 and 16. Children under 5 are free..
  • 2 Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville Street, +1 707 762-5600. W-Sa 10:30AM-4:30PM, Su 1-4:30PM. A 4,500 square foot facility located in the historic Railroad Depot Freight Building, next door to the Petaluma Visitors Center and the SMART station. $5 general admission; $4 senior/student/teacher/military.
  • 3 Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, 20 Fourth Street, +1 707-778-4398. Th-Su 10AM-4PM. Neoclassical library with regional exhibits about the 1850s (Petaluma poultry, dairy, and Miwok Indian history), plus cultural events, guided tours, and a gift shop. Free.    
  • 4 Petaluma Wildlife & Natural History Museum, 201 Fair St, +1 707 778-4787. First and third Saturdays of the month, 11AM- 3PM. The largest student-run museum in the United States, its mission is "to inspire the next generation through practical environmental education and conservation." $5; children 5 years and younger are free.    

Do edit

  • David Yearsley River Heritage Center. Su 10AM-1PM. A popular location for boating, you can watch, or - thanks to the Friends of the Petaluma River - you can participate in the free "Boating at the Barn" program - you can check out a rowboat, canoe, kayak, or possibly even the sailboat, after a short safety demonstration.
  • Sonoma Horse Park, 7600 Lakeville Hwy, +1 831 625-3333. Check website for show information. A world-class horse show facility on the banks of the Petaluma River. The 75-acre facility has seventeen arenas and is the ideal showcase for equestrian sports. It hosts seven show jumping competitions annually, each attracting top competitors from all over North America.
  • 1 Shollenberger Park, 1400 Cader Ln. Sunrise-sunset daily. The park offers a 2.2-mile, flat walking loop with ponds, next to the Petaluma river, with views of a variety of waterfowl (mostly migratory). A must for birders.    
  • 2 Helen Putnam Regional Park, 411 Chileno Valley Road, +1 707 539-8092. A regional park southwest of downtown Petaluma, covering 216 acres. Quiet, with some nice views; lots of trails. The looped trail system lets hikers create walks of varying length and difficulty, making the park a great choice for beginning hikers looking for a bit of a challenge. Trails are also open to cyclists and horseback riders.    

Buy edit

  • Lan Mart Building, 35 Petaluma Blvd N. An eclectic mix of antique shops and boutique businesses in a charming, historic building.
  • Petaluma Creamery Store, 711 Western Ave, +1 707 762-9038. M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM. You can get a copy of coffee here, or some great ice cream, but the real attraction is the variety of local cheeses and butter for sale.
  • Petaluma Seed Bank, 110 Petaluma Blvd. North, +1 707 773-1336, . Mar 16-Oct 30: F Su M 9AM-5PM, Tu-Th 9AM-6PM; Sa closed; Nov 1-Mar 15: Su M 9AM-5PM, Tu-Th 9AM - 6PM, F 9AM-4PM; Sa closed. A place to buy heirloom, non-hybridized seeds - more than 1,000, plus gardening supplies and other items.
  • Petaluma Village Premium Outlets (Off Highway 101.). Find impressive savings at top outlets from Coach, Banana Republic, Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, and more.
  • 1 Heebe Jeebe, 46 Kentucky St. Eclectic and irreverent shop, good for gifts or souvenirs.
  • 2 Rex Ace Hardware, 313 B St, +707 762-7355. M–Sa 7:30AM–7PM, Su 9AM–5PM. This locally-owned branch of Ace Hardware has some definite local distinctiveness. In addition to hardware and home goods, there's an array of Sonoma County products and Petaluma-themed souvenirs.
  • 3 Sonoma Spice Queen, 9 4th St, +1 707-776-7678, . M-Sa 10:30AM–5PM, Su 11AM–4PM. An array of intriguing and useful spices and spice mixtures, laid out in an aesthetically pleasing way in a small shop. Good place for gifts.
  • 4 Copperfield's Books, 140 Kentucky St, +1 707-762-0563. M–F 10AM–7PM, Sa 10AM–8PM, Su 10AM–6PM. Branch of a Bay Area bookstore chain with an interesting selection.

Eat edit

Downtown Petaluma is filled with inexpensive yet tasty eateries of many sorts. Thai lovers will want to try all five Thai restaurants within a one-mile stretch along the Boulevard. Numerous small, upscale bistros abound.

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."

  • Aqus Cafe. Offering sandwiches, soups & breakfast fare, plus a range of live music, it describes itself as a "community living room attracting a wide diversity of people engaging in vibrant conversations, sharing interests and building relationships".
  • Chunky's Taqueria & Grill, 701 Sonoma Mountain Pkwy, +1 707 775-3325. Daily 10AM-9PM. A go-to spot for inexpensive and fast Mexican food.
  • Della Fattoria Downtown Café, 143 Petaluma Blvd N, +1 707 763-0161, . Daily 8AM-3PM; Th-Sa 5:30-9PM. Reservations are taken for dinner only; brunch on weekends is 8AM-3PM. Lots of things come from their bakery next door, at #141, which is open 6AM-4PM daily.
  • Mi Pueblo. For a delicious, reasonably priced meal, absolutely try the Mexican seafood - the camarones fajitas, fish tacos, and tamales are fantastic. Seven in Sonoma and Marin counties, two of which are in Petaluma.
  • Old Chicago Pizza, 41 Petaluma Boulevard North, +1 707 763-3897. Daily 11:30AM–9PM. Some of the thickest-crust pizza you'll see; the large pizza weighs more than pounds, not including any toppings.
  • Petaluma Pie Company, 125 Petaluma Blvd N, +1 707 766-6743. A bakery cafe that offers sweet and savory pies, salad, coffee, tea and more; take out or eat-in (outdoor seating).
  • Real Doner, 307 F St, +1 707 765-9555. W-M 11AM-9PM; closed Tu. Unexpectedly good Turkish fare. A relaxed and deli-style with an outdoor patio. The doners, dolmas, and mezes (appetizer plate) are sublime.
  • Tea Room Cafe, 316 Western Ave, +1 707 765-0199. M-F 7AM-3PM; Sa Su 8AM-2PM. Has a light, seasonal menu featuring tons of salads and sandwiches as well as many fine brunch items; limited outdoor seating.
  • 1 Volpi's Ristorante & Bar, 124 E Washington St, +1 707 765-0695. W-F 11AM-2PM; W Th Su 4:30-9PM; F-Sa 4:30-9:30PM. A generations-old Italian restaurant serving full seven-course family-style meals and the best eggplant Parmesan.


  • Fru-ta, 279 N Mcdowell Blvd, Suite A, +1 707 773-1233. Daily 10AM-9PM. Ice cream, sorbets, paletas (fruit bars or ice cream bars), esquimal, smoothies, milkshakes, aqua frescas, and a number of specialty items
  • Lala's Creamery (Angela’s Organic Ice Cream), 134 Petaluma Blvd N, +1 707 774-6567. Su-Th noon-9:30PM, F Sa noon-10PM. Organic, local ingredients for 20+ ice creams and sorbets; includes vegan options.
  • Once Upon A Slush, 122 American Alley, Suite B, +1 707-232-5929. Su-Th Noon-8PM, F Sa Noon-9PM. The third location of a Healdsburg-based dessert phenomena, you can get a full (East Coast style) slush (aka Italian ice), or soft-serve ice cream, or a half-and-half.
  • Street Social, 29F Petaluma Boulevard North, +1 707 774-6185. With just six tables in 300 square feet of dining space, the restaurant experience is intimate; you feel like you’ve found a secret culinary hideout. And the food is quite excellent.

Drink edit

  • Lagunitas Brewing Company, 1280 N McDowell Blvd, +1 707 778-8776. W-F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa Su 11:30AM-8PM. A taproom offering snacks, a retail store & regular live music, and, of course, a variety of beers, some not sold elsewhere, from of a top-rated US craft brewery.
  • Brewsters Beer Garden + Restaurant, 229 Water Street North, +1 707 981-8330. Tu-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F 11:30AM-midnight, Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 11AM-9PM, closed M. Laid-back, open-air beer garden featuring modern BBQ, local craft beers, fire pits, and live music. A bocce court and a kids area adds to the fun, and there is plenty of space for friendly pets.
  • The Hideaway, 128 Kentucky St (at 4th Street), +1 707 763-3290.
  • McNear's, Petaluma Blvd. Serves good American-style food and drinks with a fun atmosphere.
  • Mystic Theater, 23 Petaluma Blvd N, +1 707 775-6048. Next door to McNear's, a renovated 1911 vaudeville theater now offering live music from bands all over the world, plus a bar and adjacent eatery.
  • Willowbrook Ale House, 3600 Petaluma Blvd N,, +1 707-775-4232. For some pool (billiards), drinks, and karaoke (on Friday and Saturday nights).

Sleep edit

Go next edit

Routes through Petaluma
Santa RosaCotati  N   S  NovatoSan Francisco
JennerCotati  W   E  SonomaEnds at  
Santa RosaCotati  N   S  NovatoSan Rafael

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