Welcome to Petaluma
Considered the gateway to Sonoma County, Petaluma is a first stop and one of the fastest growing towns in the region. Conveniently located just 40 miles north of San Francisco, Petaluma has become a popular enclave for those looking for a well-situated wine country retreat or home base accessible from work in the city. Petaluma has endless charm and appeal. As a once prominent industrial hub during the Gold Rush era, then a leading agricultural center (once called the “World’s Egg Basket”), the town has a rich history evident in the beautifully restored architectural gems and revitalized riverfront. With a thriving epicurean and cultural scene, vibrant theater district, live music scene and a hot new viticulture area, the Petaluma Gap, it’s no wonder that it was recently proclaimed a top destination in Wine Country by Forbes Travel.
Dine & Imbibe
“Farm to table” is a buzzword that may feel overused to many, but in Petaluma, it’s the real deal, an authentic way of life grounded in its history and reputation as a renowned agricultural community and hub for creative artisans. Chefs have no shortage of fresh, sustainable ingredients from close-by farms and artisan producers to draw from, making Petaluma a true foodie paradise! A stroll up and down Petaluma Boulevard or Kentucky Street offers any number of options.
Petaluma is also home to a growing community of renowned craft breweries, cider houses, distilleries with tasting rooms and wineries enjoying their location in the newest/hottest AVA (American Viticulture Area) on everyone’s radar: the Petaluma Gap. For beer lovers, Petaluma is the birthplace to legendary local brand, Lagunitas Brewing Company. 101 Brewing Company is another beer-lovers destination, as is Henhouse.
Award-winning Griffo Distillery offers California whiskies, brandies and gins - presented in an inviting tasting room and cozy lounge in Petaluma’s emerging “Maker’s Alley” district. Lovers of port can sample expressions at Sonoma Portworks crafted with grapes from a local 6th generation, sustainably farmed vineyard paired with cheeses and pastries in the Foundry Wharf neighborhood.
Of course, wine plays a key role in the local Petaluma scene. The ideal weather patterns have made it a top source of grapes for regional winemakers for over 150 years. The recent designation of a new winegrowing region has created a growing community of some 70 sustainably farmed Petaluma Gap vineyards and wineries - many committed to organic production - focusing mainly on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and cool-climate Syrah. Many of these local wines can be found directly at winery tasting rooms and throughout the many wine bars and restaurants in town.
Entertainment & After Hours
For a relatively small town of just over 60,000, Petaluma has a robust after-hours scene - the diversity and breadth of which often surprises people. Home to nationally renowned music venues such as The Mystic, Petaluma has attracted some of the country’s top bands and musical acts. Live music is also routinely featured throughout venues downtown and within city limits - including The Phoenix (a former opera house) and one of the town’s more recent venues, the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum. Taking in one of its live classical performances under the beautiful stained-glass dome is an experience. Also, an active hub for the performing arts, Petaluma is a town with a strong theater tradition and thriving arts district. Catch classic or modern musicals and plays year-round at the popular Cinnabar Theater. For those looking for late-night libations, Petaluma houses a number of new speakeasies and craft cocktail hotspots within the walkable downtown area, including The Drawing Board, Seared and Speakeasy.
Situated on the Petaluma River, within 25 miles of the breathtaking Sonoma Coast and nestled at the base of rolling coastal hills and mountains, Petaluma is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its idyllic location, it’s a popular basecamp for road and mountain biking, boating and surfing adventures. Several parks within Petaluma city limits offer hiking and biking trails and opportunities to get close to California wildlife - including the 165-acre wetlands preserve, Shollenberger Park and Helen Putnam Regional Park, a beautiful refuge for birding, fishing and exploring. For history buffs, Petaluma Adobe State Park, General Vallejo’s 66,000-acre rancho from 1836-1846, offers a wonderfully preserved look inside California history in its earliest days. Located just outside of Petaluma’s Adobe District on the east side of Highway 101, the adobe is one of Northern California’s oldest preserved buildings.
Community: Education & Family Life
Tourism and overall population may be on the rise in Petaluma, but the town hasn’t lost its accessible and warm small-town vibe or sense of community. It’s a super family-friendly town with many attractions and resources in place. For a town of its size, Petaluma has a surprising number of both public and private school choices: the city has 74 schools in total. The town offers endless spots for family play and gatherings -- from wonderful parks and playgrounds, to public pools, recreation programs and community centers. For the four-legged members of the family, Petaluma is an exceptionally dog-friendly town. In addition to several spacious dedicated dog parks, quite a few of Petaluma’s 50 parks allow dogs off leash during specified hours. For people wanting to bring their pups along in the evenings, numerous Petaluma’s hot spots are dog friendly.
Location: Getting To Petaluma
Petaluma is easily accessible by car, airport shuttle, train and air. It is a direct drive on Highway 101 from San Francisco or Mendocino. Napa and the Sonoma Coast are easy and beautiful drives, as well via scenic highways and easy back roads.
The historic train depot in downtown Petaluma is now a Sonoma-Marin Area Regional Transit station. Sleek, energy-efficient, clean diesel SMART trains carry passengers along 43 miles of track, from the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport station at the north end of Santa Rosa, south to downtown San Rafael and then onto Larkspur in Marin, which offers ferry service to San Francisco.
For those arriving by air, three major carriers offer daily flights from Santa Rosa's Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS). The airport offers a choice of rental car services, ride sharing, taxis, and other ground transportation options, and is located slightly more than a mile west of the SMART train station. Transportation options between the airport and train station include Sonoma County Transit buses, taxis, or ride sharing services. For transportation between major Bay Area airports, the Airport Express shuttle service runs between STS, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). Private pilots and chartered jets can also land at the Petaluma Municipal Airport, a popular choice with California pilots.