You can find just about everything you need at this enclosed, two-story shopping mall in downtown Santa Rosa. It looks like a brick warehouse from the outside but includes stores like Macy's California, Sears, The Gap, Charlotte Russe, The Disney Store, Victoria's Secret, See's Candy, Ann Taylor Loft, Suncoast Video, Eddie Bauer, and Aeropostale.
If the food court on the second floor isn't your style, try Fresh Choice on the first floor: cafeteria dining with a large salad bar, several kinds of homemade soups, fresh-baked breads and desserts.
The Santa Rosa farmers' market takes place every Saturday until noon all year long at the Veterans' Memorial Auditorium at the corner of Brookwood and Maple, across the street from the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. It also is every Saturday except when the Wednesday Night Market is going on from May through August (see my tip on that event). While the farmer's market is part of the Wednesday Night Market, the real farmers' market takes place at this location and it is much larger. It has grown significantly over the years and one can eat lunch and breakfast here from a variety of vendors, buy a large array of produce, much of it organic, buy great jams, sauces, Afghan food. There are also several seafood vendors selling fresh or smoked fish and shellfish, knife sharpeners, and the like.
What to buy: Produce, honey, fish, etc.
Montgomery Village Shopping Center is more of a girlfriends'-outing type of a place than a place where you'd bring the family: the shops there tend to be more expensive and specialized than those in Santa Rosa Plaza.
That's not to say that there aren't bargains to be found there. I was lucky enough to hit a "buy 2 shirts and get the 3rd one free" sale at J. Jill, and I found some heart-shaped rose soaps at Birds Nest Antiques for $1.49 each.
Other stores include Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor, See's Candies, Chico's, Sharper Image, and Copperfield's Books.
This is our favourite bookstore in all of Sonoma County (especially now that Read Moore Books in Petaluma has, sadly, closed - RIP!). It's small but crammed with books up to the ceiling. It has old books, new books, expensive collectible books, inexpensive used books, children's books, great deals on calendars, and a wide range of relatively unusual books on art,religion, spirituality, history, poetry, etc.
What to buy: Books!!!
What to pay: It depends. Many books and calendars can be had for low prices.
This is a great music store with a lot of old/used stuff plus, as the name suggests, a large selection of records. It has been in town a long time, although until a few years ago it was downtown on 4th St. Now, it is next to the junior college on Mendocino Ave, a little bit straight north from downtown.
What to buy: Music - records and CDs
This is a great store for yarn and other knitting materials. They also over a range of classes, workshops, and a weekly knitting session as well. My wife loves this place and although I don't knit or crochet, this place makes me want to.
What to buy: See above.
This is a neat store that sells vintage clothing with an emphasis on 1950s and the like. It has a great selection of such clothing and items, some tiki stuff, etc. It is located, now, in the Railroad Square area of downtown, so convenient short walk from the hotels there or the parking garage at the mall on the other side of the freeway.
What to buy: Vintage clothing and related items, especially 50s and the like.
What to pay: It depends.
Bottle Barn is a large local liquor store and is certainly overall the best liquor store in the entire region north of San Francisco. It has huge, varied selections of wine, beer, and spirits and generally very good prices.
It is without a doubt, overall the best place around for beer, with a huge selection of beer, including local craft brews, other craft beers, and many imports as well as basic standard "macro" beers. They stock many beers from the East Coast and abroad that are hard or impossible to find anywhere else in Northern California aside from occasional appearances at some other stores in San Francisco, etc. They also have soda pop, a wide range of beer, wine and cocktail glasses, sauces, olive oil, etc. The Belgian and California craft selections are excellent and quite varied. The British and German selections are slightly weak on the "standards" but have many good beers, including rotating choices, that are less common ones which one can almost never find elsewhere. They also have with a good Czech selection (but it tends to rotate) and plenty of uncommon beers from Eastern Europe, Turkey (Efes), Africa, etc.
Spirits and liqueurs are well represented with pretty much anything one could hope to find around here.
The wine selection is huge
What to buy: Beer, wine, spirits, plus some other stuff.
What to pay: The prices are lower than most places and on par with Beverages and More overall.
This is the gift shop for the Redwood Empire Ice Arena/Snoopy's Home Ice and the Charles Schultz Museum. It was a wide range of Snoopy and Peanuts memorabilia and souvenirs.
What to buy: Snoopy/Peanuts/Charles Schultz stuff.
What to pay: It depends.
This is a great deli/gourmet foods store that has been in Santa Rosa since the early 1920s. As the name indicates, it has a rather Italian emphasis, although this hardly dominates the store. It has a great selection of cured meats and other deli meats, cheeses, and the like. Of particular note, it sells the excellent Fra'Mani brand salame and other cured meats (a high-end specialty cured-meat maker in the Bay Area), which are simply outstanding. One can get great sandwiches here, too, with their meats and cheeses, as well as all kinds of things to cook or to make a great picnic, etc.
It has a very good wine selection with an unusually good range of wines from South Africa, Portugal, and the like, as well as the more usual places like California, Italy, Chile, Australia, etc. It also has a good range of harder-to-find wines from places like Greece and Lebanon, as well as a very nice range of ports.
Traverso's also has a great selection of treats like wonderful, slightly sweet, slightly caraway-flavoured olive-oil crackers from Spain, lots of olives, chestnuts, jams, spreads, pastes, tea, coffee, British foods, etc.
It always used to be downtown but, in what I think is a misguided and groundless move, they have now moved to far northern Santa Rosa in the Fountaingrove area. The store still seems to be basically the same in terms of having quality foods, spirits, etc., though.
What to buy: All kinds of things. See above. We particularly love the Fra'Mani salames, and many places don't carry the brand, and the Ines Rosales olive-oil crackers. It's also the only place around that I know of which normally stocks Gilka Kummel liqueur and Lemon Hart 151 demerara rum (a rich rum which puts other overproof rums to shame).
What to pay: It depends. Overall the prices are good considering the products. Some things are more expensive than at other stores, but some are cheaper and many are about the same you'll find elsewhere. They have Ty-Phoo tea cheaper than other places.
This is a neat antique shop that is fairly small but full of stuff. The store specialises in glass and similar products, and provides services to find the age, origina, etc., of glass one might have. It can easily be overlooked because it is just off the main area (4th St.), around the corner on Wilson and through a small, nondescript doorway in the basement of the Landmark Lee Bros. Building.
What to buy: Antiques, especially glass.
What to pay: Varies