Downtown. It is full of...
Downtown. It is full of historic significance and is only a few blocks square. There is an Indian restaurant, a few Mexican/Spanish restaurants, a Vietnamese restaurant, and a few dance clubs, as well as a few bars and a pool hall. A very happening night spot. I go to school there, as well as work there, so I'm not away much. It is a very fun, youthful city.
Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, etc.
Although now surrounded by town, Santa Rosa's old cemetery still has a rather wild setting on a forested hill. The area consists of several theorestically different cemeteries, including the IOOF cemtery, but they all run together as one. It contains graves going back more than 150 years to the town's beginnings, as well as a number of small mausolea.
Because of its unkempt setting of winding paths over undeulating ground under knarly oak trees and the dilapidated condition of many of the old tombs and gravestones, many people consider it to be among the creepiest cemeteries in the western U.S., especially in autumn when the leaves are falling from the trees.
The cemetery is the location of a tree from which vigilantes hanged some criminals in one of California's last mob lynchings in 1920.
Next to the Franklin Avenue entrance is the grave and memorial to about 40 of those who died in Santa Rosa on 18 April 1906 in the 1906 "San Francisco" earthquake.
The oldest identifiable grave is from 1854, but there are many from the later 1850s on. As is common from the time, there are numerous graves of infants and young children. Some graves of Japanese residents are written in Japanese, although apparently in the past no Chinese were allowed to be buried here.
In the more modern memorial park area, in what is apparently the IOOF part of the cemetery (more manicured and less wooded) is the grave of Robert Ripley, creator of Ripley's Believe it or Not. He was a native of Santa Rosa. The tombstone also has his parents and states "Believe it or not!"
It is on Franklin Ave. in NE Santa Rosa.
Santa Rosa High School
Santa Rosa High School, the 9th oldest chartered higgh school in California, was founded in 1874, although Santa Rosa had earlier had other schools. While Santa Rosa now has several high schools, this one is still in operation and it stands out as the most magnificent old school in the region. It consists of some beautiful old buildings in a very attractive setting.
While neither the original building, nor the grand Victorian building built in 1896 survives, Santa Rosa is fortunate to retain the campus and buildings which opened in 1924. The buildings are a brick Gothic Revival complex, complete with gargoyles. They were recently renovated inside and a brand-new building was constructed in 2005 in practically the same style., to be faithful to the architecural heritage of the campus.
As a result, Santa Rosa High School has a beautiful old campus that is exceedingly rare and is interesting to visit (even though one might not think of a high school as a place to see). Many people also consider it to be the "epitome" of the American high school, much Alfred Hitchcock used the town itself long ago as the epitome of the American small city. In fact, the school was used as the high school in the fim Peggy Sue Got Married, which otherwise was largely filmed in nearby Petaluma (Petaluma's old neo-classical high school having been torn down and replaced in 1958 with a "modern" structure that was apparently unsuitable for the film).
The campus and main building are generally open during the day until the afternoon in the summer time, when school is out.
It is located on the west side of Mendocino Ave., one of the main streets, north of College Ave., which is north of downtown. Mendocino Ave. runs roughly north-south and to the soutth goes through the heart of downtown, becoming Santa Rosa Ave. south of Old Courthouse Square. The school is adjacent to, and directly south of, Santa Rosa Junior College, a major junior college which also is worth visiting for its beautiful campus and similar brick neo-gothic buildings.
Downtown Santa Rosa has numerous places to eat. My advice is to just walk around and look for something, because one is sure to find a suitable place quite quickly, with many places being one after the other.
These tend to be concentrated in Railroad Square and, east of the freeway, on 4th St., but with many others on 5th St., 3rd St., and Mendocino Ave., primarily, as well as 7th St.
There is a very good variety, with Indian places, Middle Eastern/Turkish places, Chinese places, sandwhich/deli places, California cuisine places, microbreweries, Japanese places, French, "European", at least 7 coffeehouses, hotdog places, Thai places, more Italian places than I can think of, Mexicann steak places, oddball places, and nunmerous others. It depends.
Mediocre Italian Food & Pizza
Union Hotel Pizza & Pasta Co. is a small local, Sonoma County chain based on the original in Occidental, west of Santa Rosa. The Occidental one is great, with the charm and atmosphere from the fact that it is an old hotel with a funky old dining hall left over from its early days serving up huge meals of basic, hearty Italian food (Sonoma County had a large immigrant Italian population, and their descendants are still numerous in the area). It also has a very nice, shaded patio and serves good meals. The branch in the G&G Shopping Center in Santa Rosa completely lacks the charm and atmosphere of the original and it literally does not even have the same menu or food. It's not terrible, but it certainly isn't great and there are many better places to go. The pizza at this branch isn't bad, but it's not great. The multi-course meals of the original aren't available, either, and the recipes and cooking even seem different. I think it's because this is a pizzeria rather than a full restaurant.
I should point out that a new Union Hotel restaurant just opened in eastern Santa Rosa on Mission Blvd, but I have not eaten there and this only applies to the place on College Ave.