Historic and charming river town at the western edge of wine country
Petaluma is a charming gem in California's beloved wine country. Located 30 minutes west of Sonoma and an hour's drive north of San Francisco, the city of 60,000 is a gateway to a freer, more bucolic side of the state.
Historic charm permeates every corner of town. From its well-preserved, riverside downtown to the picturesque rolling farmland outside its borders, there are few places like Petaluma anywhere in California. Even the popular Point Reyes National Seashore and the breathtaking Pacific Ocean sit less than 20 miles from the center of town.
As with much of Sonoma County and the North Bay, housing in Petaluma is a unique blend of charming in-town craftsmen and bungalows and out-of-town estates. The Petaluma River meanders its way through the city, creating an idyllic environment for visitors and residents alike. Once you do make Petaluma home, there's nowhere else you'd rather be.
Historic, vibrant city in Sonoma County
Incredibly well-preserved downtown with classic architecture
Beautiful landscape set amongst rolling hills and the Petaluma River
Outstanding array of local events for visitors and residents to enjoy, including markets, fairs, parades, and festivals
Both picturesque and a little peculiar, Petaluma is an eclectic place—and one that is welcoming to all of those seeking out their own small niche. The city is where the modern chicken egg incubator was created, helping it earn the moniker as the Egg Basket of the World, regularly producing 10 million eggs a year.
In later years, the area gained the title of Wristwrestling Capital of the World, a distinction earned thanks to its hosting of the annual World Wristwrestling Championship for five decades. In the 1990s and 2000s, telecom startups found a home here, as did other entrepreneurial ventures such as lifestyle brand Athleta, which was founded in Petaluma in 1998.
Coupled with the refined, rustic atmosphere of surrounding vineyards and wineries, it's the perfect mix of elegance and whimsy, toil and reward.
Petaluma's downtown scene is a particular treat, equal parts scenic and historic with plenty to do. The vibrant area features a bevy of restaurants and bars and fanciful shops like the boutique Robindira Unsworth. There's also a wonderful assortment of antique stores and a Theatre District for adding a little culture to your day or night.
Favorite eateries around town include Della Fattoria's Downtown Cafe and the farm-to-table Central Market, both in the heart of the city. Further north, Mi Pueblo is a must for authentic Mexican specialties. For those shopping fresh, there are three weekly farmer's markets to sample the best of California's farm produce.
If you're seeking a more modern shopping experience, a few minutes from downtown is the Petaluma Outlet Mall and its collection of over 60 name brand stores, including Nike, Sax 5th Avenue, Coach, and Gap.
Residents of Petaluma don't just like their fairs and festivals—they love them. The city's social calendar is a menagerie of community events, all of which adhere to the town's sense of history and playful fun.
Of course, there's the annual Butter and Eggs Days Festival and Parade each fall, and the Annual Fall Antique Faire occurs in September and boasts over 200 antique dealers. Owing to its lineage as an outpost for Hollywood moviemaking, Petaluma hosts a Salute to American Graffiti every May, as much of the iconic film was shot on the streets of the city.
In June, there's the Sonoma-Marin Fair, which features the globally known World's Ugliest Dog Contest. The following month, Petaluma celebrates its Rivertown Revival, including local music, art, $5 weddings, and old-school entertainment (think aerial acts, marionette shows, snake oil salesmen, and stilt walkers).
Petaluma is home to a number of excellent schools. Some of the most celebrated educational opportunities include: