Often the first town visitors come to when leaving San Francisco for the wine country, Petaluma is a hip city: small-town feel, amazing food scene, and surrounded by organic farms and ranches and vineyards.
Here’s a suggested day in Petaluma:
Start at Della Fattoria, the gathering spot for locals in the know. This bakery is one of the best in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you’ll know its reputation is well-earned once you bite into a baguette. The Eggs Benedict for breakfast are recommended. On your way out the door, grab a loaf for later. And a latte. Gotta stay caffeinated!
Poke your head into the Pelican Art Gallery next door and say hello to Linda. She runs the gallery that features Sonoma County artists, and also doubles as a frame shop. Linda knows a lot about the other galleries in Sonoma County, as she works closely with the Sonoma County gallery group. Ask her for some favorites.
Taking a left out of the Pelican, walk to the building that looks like a bank but which carries seeds and gardening implements. You’ve found “the Seed Bank,” which is the common name for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The variety of seeds here are worth a good browse, and the catalog is a great find for later dreams about what to plant in your yard. Sonoma County, blessed with a year-round growing season, is a great canvas for garden-artists. (Though I admit I went a little crazy on the squash this past year. Next year, I’ll plant more green beans.)
Alright, time to get out of the quaint downtown and into the wild. If not the wild, then Shollenberger Park, which is on the Petaluma River and provides views of the Bay and of migratory birds. Lots of birds. Being on the Pacific Coast Flyway, and adjacent to the wetlands of the San Francisco Bay, there are hundreds of thousands of birds who stop here or reside here. Bring binoculars for the easy, two-mile, flat trail.
You can end your day at the Lagunitas Tap Room. Lagunitas is one of several local brews and their IPA is my favorite. The Tap Room isn’t just a restaurant, as it says on its website, it is also a “Beer Sanctuary.” And is there any better?
If you want help planning a trip to Petaluma, be sure to talk to the friendly folks at the Petaluma Visitors Center, conveniently located next to the commuter train tracks and the Petaluma Arts Center. The Arts Center is open now, the train is coming soon!