Santa Rosa Travel Guide

  • Robert Ripley bench, Santa Rosa
    Robert Ripley bench, Santa Rosa
    by Rixie
  • Joe Rodota Trail
    by WulfstanTraveller
  • Restaurants
    by Agraichen

Santa Rosa Highlights

  • Pro
    WulfstanTraveller profile photo

    WulfstanTraveller says…

     Central, has places to stay, eat, or see, & good downtown 

  • Con
    snmred profile photo

    snmred says…

     getting to crowded. 

  • In a nutshell
    ronih2o profile photo

    ronih2o says…

     Wine Country at its best 

Santa Rosa Things to Do

  • Downtown

    At the corner of 4th and D Sts. in downtown Santa Rosa is a large art-deco/art-moderne building that used to be Rosenberg's Deptartment Store. It now houses Barnes & Noble bookstore and Starbucks Coffee. The building was built in the later 1930s and from then until about 1987 housed the department store. It is updated and the businesses are...

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  • Joe Rodota Trail

    This is a bicycle and pedestrian trail that extends from downtown Santa Rosa, where it connects to the Prince Memorial Greenway along the creek (see my tip on that path), all the way to downtown Sebastopol, several miles to the west. It is a very nice journey and convenient that one can get directly between both downtowns without driving or dealing...

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  • Morton's Warm Springs

    This is an old warm springs that was first developed long ago. Its really started to take its current form in abouth the 1940s, with the main building clearly dating from that era. It has three pools, one a small shallow toddler pool only a few inches deep, along with a large grassy area, several picnic areas under oak trees or along the creek,...

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  • Luther Burbank Home and Gardens

    The Luther Burbank Home and Gardens showcases the life of legendary plant breeder Luther Burbank, who invented numerous specimens such as the Burbank (brown russet) potato, the Shasta Daisy, the Santa Rosa plum, white blackberries, spineless cactus, pluots/plumcots, and the like. The grounds are a pleasant place to relax and look at some of his...

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  • Sonoma County Museum

    The Sonoma County Museum is in the old Post Office. It is worth visiting for the building itself, which is gorgeous inside and out (and, for those familiar with Turkey, kind of resembles some neo-Ottoman architecture seen from the late empire and early Republic). Designed in 1908 by James Knox Taylor and completed in 1910, it is one of the oldest...

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  • Santa Rosa Junior College

    Santa Rosa is home to Santa Rosa Junior College, one of the premier junior colleges not only in California, but the US. Founded in 1918, it is the 10th oldest JC in the state, and serves about 35,000-40,000 students per semester. It was created originally as a "feeder" college for the University of California and still functions in that role....

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  • Old Rosenberg Dept. Store: Barnes &...

    At the corner of 4th and D Sts. in downtown Santa Rosa is a large art-deco/art-moderne building that used to be Rosenberg's Deptartment Store. It now houses Barnes & Noble bookstore and Starbucks Coffee. The building was built in the later 1930s and from then until about 1987 housed the department store. It is updated and the businesses are...

    more
  • Shadow of a Doubt Film Locations

    Alfred Hitchcock's classic1943 Shadow of a Doubt was both set and filmed in Santa Rosa. It is notable in that it was fairly rare for films to be made on location at that time and because the town itself was as much a character and integral part of the film as were the people. Much has changed, partly for the worse, but much is still intact from...

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  • Howarth Park

    I've already mentioned this in the tip on "3 parks in one," but I figured that I should expand on this, the largest of Santa Rosa's city parks.It has a small lake with paddle boats, etc., hiking trails both paved and unpaved around the lake and in the forested hills, some connecting to other parks also mentioned in the other tip, Spring Lake County...

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  • South A Street Neighborhood (SOFA)

    The neighbourhood along South A Street is a neat area of town just south of downtown that until recently was neglected and kind of a skid row. It is one of the last old parts of town to transform itself and now, although small, has a dense collection of small art galleries, hair salons and restaurants. It also has one of the few remaining...

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  • Sonoma County Fair

    Santa Rosa is home to the Sonoma County Fair, one of the largest county fairs in the state. It's large, has a large carnival area, lots of eating choices, music, shows, horse races, lots of vendors and the Hall of Flowers, which I once read is the largest themed flower show on the West Coast. Every year, the Hall of Flowers has a different theme...

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  • McDonald Neighbourhood and Mansion

    The McDonald Neighbourhood, an old resdidential area developed mostly in the 1870s-1890s and near the less majestic JC Neighbourhood, has long been Santa Rosa's most grand residential area and is full of large Victorian and other houses. It is also lined with many large, old trees.It takes its name from its most prominent street, McDonald Ave, and...

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Santa Rosa Hotels

Santa Rosa Restaurants

  • Great Cupcake& Dessert Place

    This is a great local business specialising in fancy cupcakes in a range of different flavours. They sell macarons, too, and little bits of cake with frosting. There is a small area to eat inside, and they sell coffee, etc.,as well. However, it is primarily geared for take-away Studmuffin - beer cake with maple frosting and bacon.Pink Champagne -...

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  • Excellent and Fancy Indian Place

    This location used to be the Kebab & Curry House, but the current place here, Torc of India, gets basically the same review.This is a very good, and unusually posh and elegant, Indian restaurant. The food is consistently excellent and much less prone to giving one indigestion than a lot of Indian places. The place is also very nicely appointed,...

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  • Great Coffee House

    This is an excellent local coffee house and our favorite in Sonoma County. It's a pretty hip place that draws a lot of college students from Sonoma State and SRJC but also appeals to all ranges of society, including families, punks, down-and-outs, yuppies, artsy types, etc. The coffee is great, they make great pastries, cakes, etc., and great...

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  • Great, Eclectic Cuisine

    This is a great place opened by the owner of what used to be Syrah a block away. It has great wood-fired pizzas, burgers (with high-quality beef, house-made pickles, etc.), a range of great pasta dishes, salads, and more. The food is on the whole excellent, prepared with subtlety and executed very well, using top-quality and especially local...

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  • Really Great California Cuisine

    THIS PLACE CLOSED. The owner turned it into another restaurant, but that has now closed too, as far as I can tell, but I am not certain as of March 2013. The same owner a few years ago opened another great place, Jackson's, a block away (see tip), and that seems to be drawing most of the energy and business right now. This is a stylish and very...

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  • Good California Cuisine

    THIS PLACE HAS CLOSED. Checkers has some great Sonoma County/Wine Country/California cuisine in the heartof downtown Santa Rosa. Paneed chicken on bed of chard, butternut squash ravioli with smoked chicken, and Sonoma Salad.

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Santa Rosa Nightlife

  • WulfstanTraveller's Profile Photo

    by WulfstanTraveller Written Sep 16, 2008

    Stark's Steakhouse, in an historic old restaurant building in Santa Rosa's West End, just on the western edge of downtown, is a classic, old-fashioned 40's-era restaurant and bar. It focuses on classic mid-20th-century American cuisine and atmosphere.

    One part of the building has the bar, a nice, ritzy bar and lounge where one can go to just get a drink or have a full meal in a classic setting, often with live piano music, strings, etc.

    The bar focuses on classic cocktails, some standard like the Manhattan, and others almost forgotten, like the Vieux Carre, along with whisky/whiskey and whisky-based drinks in general. In this day of sweet, colourful, fruity and other flavoured vodka-based cocktails, this bar is unusual in that it has a relatively small selection of vodka and a large array of Scotch whisky, bourbon, and rye.

    In my opinion as a serious cocktail drinker, this is hands down one of the two best places in Sonoma County, perhaps the entire North Bay, for getting good, serious cocktails, the other being the bar at Cyrus in Healdsburg.

    Dress Code: There is no dress code as far as I know, but one should dress at least in nice casual clothes.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Luxury Travel

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Santa Rosa Transportation

  • Getting there!

    I used www.picharters.com and chartered a jet for 15 from LA to Santa Rosa. Great people, great time, great wine!

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  • Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport

    Sonoma County and Santa Rosa are fortunate to have a small but nice, very convenient and easy-to use airport. This is the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport just on the NW edge of Santa Rosa, between Santa Rosa proper and Windsor. Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, operates daily flights directly to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle,...

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  • CityBus and Other Bus Travel

    Considering the sorry state of public transit in California, Santa Rosa is actually well served by a good by network. It is the focal point for bus transit in Sonoma County. The central focus is the Transit Mall downtown along 2nd Street between B Street and Santa Rosa Ave. Three bus systems converge on the Transit Mall: Santa Rosa CityBus, Sonoma...

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Santa Rosa Shopping

  • Great Yarn, Knitting & Crocheting Shop

    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. See above.

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  • Nice Vintage Clothing

    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. Vintage...

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  • Records/LPs and Other Music, old & new

    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. Music - records and CDs

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Santa Rosa Local Customs

  • You're a Good Man, Charles Schultz

    Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was a longtime resident of Santa Rosa. So today, everywhere downtown, are fiberglass sculptures of Charlie Brown. The local information booth is made to look like Snoopy's doghouse. It's cute, and an acknowledgement of the debt that the town owes to the memory of Schultz.I never made it to the Charles M. Schultz...

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  • Rose Parade & Festival

    Every year in late May, Santa Rosa has the Luther Burbank Rose Parade & Festival. Although the name has changed a bit, this event has been held for over 100 years. It celebrates the name of Santa Rosa, Luther Burbank an his love of plants, especially roses, and other Santa Rosa icons and institutions. In 2006, the unveilng of the new statute for...

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  • Wedding receptions at vineyards

    Luckily, my mother's got the great house and vineyard for just such an occassion! We had a lovely reception, with plenty of parking for the guests between the rows in the vineyard. Ahhh, a perfect party!

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Santa Rosa Off The Beaten Path

  • Church of One Tree

    The Church of One Tree, an old Baptist church built in 1873, is at 492 Sonoma Ave., on the portion of Sonoma Avenue west of Santa Rosa Avenue. It is attached to, and just north of, the adjacent Julliard Park, from which one can also reach the church. It was originally on Ross St. downtown, but was moved in 1957.It was, as the name implies, built...

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  • The Hood House

    The Hood House is a large brick house built in 1858 and one of the oldest surviving buildings in the region outside Sonoma and Petaluma. It was made by William Hood from bricks fired on the property. The location was previously the Mexican Rancho Los Guilicos, belonging to a daughter of Dona Maria Carrillo, who settled Santa Rosa, and sister-in-law...

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  • 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...

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Santa Rosa Favorites

  • Well, go to Old Redwood Square...

    Well, go to Old Redwood Square located on the West side of HWY 101. There's some great antique shops and a great coffee spot where I used to work. Way back when. You could not trip on any given Saturday morning in the fall without falling on a youth soccer game. I played in Rincon Valley for 12 years. Every Saturday from September till December...

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  • Go to Railroad Square which is...

    Go to Railroad Square which is on the west side of HWY101 at the downtown exit. It's a great little area of about two city blocks lined with wonderful antique stores and gift shops and great restaurants. Every Saturday morning in the fall every school field in the city was filled with shouting partent rooting for their child's soccer team I played...

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  • Visit the wineries in Kenwood,...

    Visit the wineries in Kenwood, just south of Santa Rosa. They're some of the best in the nation. I'd recommend Kunde and Chateau St. Jean. Visit in the late spring or during harvest time in the fall for the best views. Santa Rosa is a town that has grown significantly in the past 20 years. Fortunately, it has maintained its small town feel from...

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