Petaluma, a Terrific Wine-Country Side Trip

Petaluma a Terrific Wine Country Side TripPetaluma, the southernmost city in Sonoma County, is only 32 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, and just over the hill from the town of Sonoma.  Take advantage of what Petaluma has to offer while staying in Sonoma or San Francisco.  If your touring base is Napa, it’s a short hop through the valley to Petaluma.  (Travel & Leisure Magazine named Petaluma one of the “Nation’s Top Ten Getaways Near a Major City.”)

What kind of traveler are you?  If you’d choose waterways over highways, Petaluma is for you.  You can cruise up the gentle Petaluma River, dock at the Turning Basin, and you’ll be right in the heart of historic, downtown Petaluma. 

The city is known for its wonderfully kept main street.  It is a piece of nostalgia and a good place to meander. Fabulous restaurants, antique and art galleries, live music and movies are all within walking distance.

Petaluma residents have been tireless in their dedication to preserve the local architecture. Because of this, the downtown district has retained its small town, mid-19th century charm. A recent issue of Sunset Magazine described Petaluma’s historic downtown as a “well-watered, mature Main Street USA.”

Chartered in 1858 along the banks of the Petaluma River, Petaluma is one of California’s oldest cities. During the Gold Rush the river carried locally grown produce, poultry and dairy products to feed the exploding populations of San Francisco and Oakland. (Downtown Petaluma was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, and it is home to more than 600 businesses and 65 historical properties.)

Petaluma celebrates its agricultural heritage with enthusiasm.  There are numerous fairs and festivals throughout the year. The premiere event is the annual Butter & Egg Days Parade which honors Petaluma’s turn-of-the-century moniker as the “Egg Basket of the World.” More than 3,000 residents participate in this quirky, community event.  It is a hoot!

The holiday season sets sail on the River with the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. The effect is magical as lighted boats sail into the Turning Basin against the night sky.

If you want a side trip from Napa, Sonoma, or San Francisco, try Petaluma, her lovely river and Main St.  You are guaranteed a good time.


Writer: Meredith Blevins, featured travel writer for the Authentic Wine Country.  Join her at for wine-country mysteries, classes, and the untamed west.

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