The other P-Town in my life is Petaluma, California. It’s a beautiful town nestled in the hills of Sonoma County that’s surrounded by farms with cows, sheep, horses, and even llamas! My Aunt Becky has lived here for almost 20 years, and it has become another one of my many homes.
Petaluma’s lovely downtown area is walkable and filled to the brim with great restaurants and places to shop. They have a farmers market on Saturday afternoons, too. I’ve also recently discovered a great yoga studio down there. Here are my top picks:
– Cafe Zazzle: Anyone who has ever visited Becky and me in Petaluma has been to Zazzle’s and loved it! Their food is fresh, local, creative California cuisine. The staff are super friendly, and the restaurant itself is cozy and in a prime downtown location. I love their beef teriyaki wrap (but with tofu instead!), their huge noodle soup bowls, the spinach salad with mango and ponzu, and their Thai peanut dish. And Becky and I love sharing the roasted artichoke!
– Lydia’s Sunflower Center: This one is a new favorite. Located in a business park, the Sunflower Center is an unlikely hippy hangout — raw and cooked organic vegan delights served by nice Petaluma people! And if you just need a snack, they have homemade and pre-packaged live/raw chips, crackers, cookies, muffins, and chocolates. (But they’re guilt-free because they have no animal products, no heated oils, no refined sugars, and they’re all organic!)
– Pongo’s: Solid Thai food on the east side
– Gohan: Great sushi in a beautiful space
– I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s new and I’ve heard great things: Topsy’s Kitchen
– Peet’s. They’re a chain, but they’re a Bay Area chain. I used to work for them. I just love their coffee. Simple as that!
– Paper White for stationery and beautiful gifts (FAVORITE!)
– Red Umbrella consignment shop
– Copperfield’s for books (used and new), cards, journals, calendars, and gifts
– i Leoni for looking at expensive kitchen stuff (for me it’s just for looking!)
– Yoga One on Kentucky Street
– There’s a nice trail that runs behind Santa Rosa Junior College on the east side
– In Marin County, south of Petaluma: Indian Valley Open Space in Novato; Muir Woods; and Mt. Tamalpais (for amazing hikes and breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay)
– On the Sonoma Coast: Bodega Bay (where The Birds was filmed!); check out The Tides restaurant
LIVE MUSIC & EVENTS
– The Mystic Theater is a great venue. I’ve seen the Punch Brothers there and on Thursday night, Becky and I saw the Brothers Comatose!
– Butter & Egg Days is the pride of Petaluma — a big street fair every April
I am no expert on wineries in Sonoma County, though I’ve done a bit of tasting. I asked Aunt Becky to tell me her favorites and she said:
– Armida in Healdsburg
– Viansa in Sonoma
– Roche in Sonoma
– Gloria Ferrer for the views (and champagne if that’s what you’re into!)
*Notice that there are no Napa recommendations. There’s quite the rivalry between Sonoma and Napa wine enthusiasts, and out of respect for my Sonoma County friends and family, Napa will here on out not be mentioned!
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and need a weekend trip away, consider Petaluma and its surroundings!
Have you ever been to Petaluma?