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!
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.
This is the former Must Hatch Incubator Co., one of Petaluma's first incubator companies. The company was founded in 1898 but I understand that the current brick building was constructed some years later. I read that for some time it was the poultry largest hatchery in the US. It is on 7th Street and is quite an interesting building.
Petaluma/Marin County Fair in June or the Santa Rosa County Fair in July. See chickens, eggs, sheep, horses, goats and cows live in person. Pet a bunny. Eat local foods from booths. See local produce, award winning jams and jellies, quilts and crafts.
Helen Putnam Park on the outskirts of Petaluma with hiking trails and vistas of Petaluma and surrounding countryside.