Take the walking tour of...
Take the walking tour of historic downtown Petaluma's Victorian buildings and churches. Or bike ride around town and out into Petaluma's picturesque countryside dotted with cows, sheep and chicken coops. Beautiful Historic Adobe
Petaluma Sidewalk Art
Like many other California towns, Petaluma has its own locally produced sidewalk art. Since American Graffiti was filmed here, the theme is old 1950s and '60s cars. The variations on this theme are very creative. It's fun to just go around looking at them.
Absorb BREATHTAKING views in the Countryside
Having driven through 42 States, I still think the country roads surrounding Petaluma afford some of the most exquisite views in the United States. Often compared with Ireland or Northern Italy, there are several particularly stunning drives where you can see gorgeous rock formations, rolling hills, vineyards, dairy farms, our famous oak groves, or nearby redwood stands.
Follow D Street out of town, towards Marin County. Turn left at Nicasio road and follow this for several more miles into the redwoods. The drive shouldn't take more than 1/2 hour and you'll see everything listed above, plus the postcard perfect town of Nicasio complete with a little red school house. Stop at Roy's Redwoods -- a barely-marked forest on the left, just before the turnoff to Woodacre -- for an exceptional "off-the-beaten-path" time (do bring water and mosquito spray, and be wary of poison oak).
Follow D Street and head out past the Nicasio turn. Stop at the Rouge et Noir cheese factory, have some of their fabulous brie (I recommend the peppercorn accompanied by a Kozlowski Farms apricot chutney). Watch the ducks. Continue driving straight and prepare for breathtaking views.
Head out Adobe Road and turn left on Sonoma Mountain Parkway. Drive all the way to the top, where you can see San Francisco on a clear day, as well as some lovely llamas!
Do drive toward Tomales, via Bodega Bay. This is a must-see and might be less off the beaten path but is highly overlooked by far too many tourists.
- please note that the roads are extremely windy and narrow and there are many, many mountain bikers. Drive carefully, and if you find there are cars piling up behind you, pull off and let them pass. Also, if you drive close to dawn or dusk, be cautious of the abundance of gorgeous local white tailed deer that may wander into rural roads. Keep your speed down and be observant, but do enjoy the stunning views!
Helen Putnam Regional Park
This is a pretty nice opne-space Sonoma County park just west of Petaluma. Nestled among rolling hills, it has open grassy areas, wooded areas, and some light hiking up hills that can afford pretty nice views of Petaluma. It is close to town.
It's at 411 Chileno Valley Rd. From downtown, take Western Ave,. west, out of town, and then head left/south onto Chileno Valley Rd.
St. John's Episcopal Church
This is a striking church designed in about 1890 by Ernest Coxhead, who designed, among others, many Episcopal buildings in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of California. It is apparently considered among his finest buildings and is paradigmatic of his eclectic style and his use of shingles. Coxhead was a British architect who came to California in the late 19th century and was influential in the architecture of the region.