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14 Fun & Best Things to Do in Petaluma, California

14 Fun & Best Things to Do in Petaluma, California

If you’re looking for a charming town to explore in Northern California, add Petaluma to your list. Just a short drive from San Francisco, Petaluma offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Petaluma is strategically located, as the Pacific Ocean, San Pablo Bay, and San Francisco Bay are all only a few miles away. Its proximity to the Petaluma River makes it a perfect destination for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. There are plenty of parks and trails to explore if you love being outdoors.

And if you’re a foodie, you’ll be in heaven with the great food from all the farm-to-table restaurants. This beautiful city also sits in a historic downtown that boasts art galleries, antique stores, and the best restaurants.

Wondering what Petaluma is known for? The city is known for its bustling downtown area that is lined with wineries, olive oil and artisan cheese tastings, food trucks, and Victorian architecture. Petaluma has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or an adventure-filled day trip. Here is a list of the best things to do when visiting Petaluma, California:

Wine Country Retreat
1. Wine Country Retreat Top Recommendation

Welcome to the Wine Country Retreat, a luxury vacation rental home situated in Petaluma, California. This 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home offers everything you need for a relaxing and enjoyable getaway. With a private pool, hot tub, and beautiful garden, the Wine Country Retreat is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some time with family and friends.

Hotel Petaluma Ascend Hotel Collection
2. Hotel Petaluma, Ascend Hotel Collection

This historic hotel is located in the heart of Petaluma town centre, just minutes away from all the best shops, restaurants, and entertainment the city has to offer. The Phoenix Theater is right next door, making this the perfect hotel for a night out on the town. You'll also enjoy free WiFi throughout your stay.

Hampton Inn Petaluma Ca
3. Hampton Inn Petaluma, Ca

The hotel is conveniently located near many of Petaluma's best attractions, so you can easily explore everything this charming town has to offer. The Mystic Theater and the Petaluma Creamery are both within walking distance, and the Petaluma Village Premium Outlets and Shollenberger Park are just a short drive away.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
  • Best park – Helen Putnam Regional Park
  • Best free activity – The Petaluma Collective Antique and Military Mall
  • Best activity for kids – Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
  • Best activity for adults – Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Best nightlife – McNear’s Saloon & Dining House
  • Best all-around accommodationHotel Petaluma

Fun & Best Things to Do in Petaluma, California

1. Shollenberger Park

Shollenberger Park
Image by Melissa McMasters used under CC BY 2.0

Address: 1400 Cader Lane, Petaluma, CA 94954

In the 1970s, the City of Petaluma purchased what was then an abandoned gravel pit and transformed it into a beautiful park. Today, Shollenberger Park is the most popular and visited park in Petaluma.

The area where the park sits is commonly known as “Petaluma Wetlands” because of its close location to the Petaluma River. The park has a two-mile circular trail that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a vigorous hike. The trail provides stunning views of the wetlands and wildlife.

Shollenberger Park has a unique ecosystem that is home to many different kinds of plants and animals. It’s also a great place for bird-watching. Some of the birds you might see include ducks, geese, egrets, herons, and hawks.

There are bird lists and interpretive guides available at the gate to help you identify the different species. The park also has a playground, picnic areas, and restrooms. You’ll encounter hundreds of people enjoying the park on any given day — some walking their dogs, others playing with their kids, and some just enjoying the peace and quiet.

No matter your reason for visiting Shollenberger Park, you will surely have a great time. It’s one of the best places in Petaluma to experience nature and get some fresh air. So, when you’re in town, be sure to add it to your list of must-see places.

2. Marin French Cheese Company

Marin French Cheese Company

Address: 7500 Red Hill Road, Petaluma, CA 94952

Do you know the oldest cheese company in America? It’s right here in Petaluma, at the Marin French Cheese Company. Founded in 1865, this creamery is famous for its Brie and Camembert cheeses. But that’s not all they make. The Marin French Cheese Company makes over 40 different kinds of cheese!

They combine traditional French cheesemaking techniques with new ideas to create cheeses that are both classic and innovative. That’s why their cheese is some of the best in the world. Now, enjoying quality food is one thing. But enjoying quality food in a beautiful setting is even better. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Marin French Cheese Company. Set among rolling hills and picturesque farmland, the creamery is a true California gem.

Visit this cheese haven and see for yourself. You can tour the creamery, see how the cheese is made, and sample some of their delicious products. Then shop for cheese and other goods in their gift shop. You can also grab a seat or sit on the grass and enjoy your picnic with a view of the picturesque surroundings. So when you’re in Petaluma, be sure to visit the Marin French Cheese Company.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Oceanside, California

3. Petaluma Arts Center

Petaluma Arts Center
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 230 Lakeville St, Petaluma, CA 94952

The Petaluma Arts Center is a great place to start your exploration of the city’s art scene. The center celebrates local artists by showcasing and promoting their work.

The Petaluma Arts Center started operating in 2008 and sits on a spacious 4,500-square-foot facility that once served as the Railroad Depot Freight Building. Dedicated to building the community’s creative capacity, the center values all local art and holds it as a vital part of public life.

It also focuses on promoting equality and diversity. The center achieves this goal by creating a space where everyone feels a sense of belonging by feeling seen, heard, and understood. When visiting the Petaluma Arts Center, brace yourself to be amazed by rotating exhibitions that have the work of local artists written all over them. You’ll find photographs, paintings, carvings, sculptures, and unique historical objects at the Petaluma Arts Center.

The Petaluma Arts Center holds events centered on artwork receptions, poetry readings, and lounge conversations. Check their events calendar, so you don’t miss special events like unpacking exquisite artwork. Interested in attending an event at the Petaluma Arts Center? Click here for ticket information.

4. Lagunitas Brewing Company

Lagunitas Brewing Company
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 1280 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA 94954

There’s something about beer that just makes people happy. And at Lagunitas Brewing Company, they’re all about making great beer and spreading the love. Founded in 1993, Lagunitas has grown from a tiny basement brewery to one of the biggest craft breweries in the country.

You can’t visit Petaluma without stopping by Lagunitas Petaluma TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary. This brewery is a must-see for any beer lover. The taproom has a relaxed and fun atmosphere, and the beer is some of the best you’ll ever taste. You’ll get all Lagunitas favorites alongside some seasonal brews that you won’t find anywhere else. So make sure to add Lagunitas Brewing Company to your visit list to satisfy your inner beer connoisseur.

Lagunitas Petaluma TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary is not just about beer. The food menu is also worth checking out. You’ll find all sorts of delicious dishes, from burgers and pizzas to salads and sandwiches. And with regular live music, you’ll be able to catch some local tunes while you enjoy a pint or two at the picnic tables in their outdoor seating area.

Whether you’re a beer lover or just looking for a great place to eat and drink, it’s worth visiting Lagunitas Petaluma TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary. Book your tour today and enjoy an unforgettable experience.

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5. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue

Sonoma County Wildlife
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 403 Mecham Rd, Petaluma, CA 94952

Are you an animal lover wondering what to do in Petaluma, California? Then you should consider spending some time at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue.

Since its inception in 1981, this center has grown to become a haven for injured, sick, and orphaned animals. The mission of the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is to rehabilitate these animals and return them to their natural habitat. In addition to the wildlife exhibits, the center also offers educational programs that raise awareness about the importance of coexisting with local wildlife.

When you visit Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, you, your kids, and your friends can expect to interact with diligent staff members who work tirelessly to offer solutions that will help keep people and animals safe. You’ll find many local species at this rescue center. These include northern raccoons, red-tailed hawks, grey foxes, coyotes, opossums, and skunks.

If you’re looking for the best place to stay when visiting this destination, the Cambria Hotel Sonoma Wine Country is only a few miles away. Reserve a room to ensure you have a clean and modern-equipped place to stay when touring Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue.

6. Green String Farm

Green String Farm
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 3571 Old Adobe Rd, Petaluma, CA 94954

Petaluma and Sonoma County local businesses generally have a strong eye toward sustainability. This is why Green String Farm is a local treasure. It is a sustainable farm that focuses on growing crops naturally.

You will fill your basket with local vegetables, fruits, and other produce. We’re talking about fresh eggs, frisée, radish, pumpkins, olive oil, and many more products that glam the wooden tables at Green String Farm.

Once you’re done shopping, you can say hello to the Green String Farm animals. These include Red Wattles that co-exist with Mangalitsa pigs, roaming free on the farm. You will also find cattle living their most glamorous lives and chickens that survive on Green String vegetables.

And if you’d like to learn something about sustainable farming, the staff will be happy to help. Bob Cannard, the owner, has 30 years of experience running a sustainable farm and teaching people about natural farming.

If you’re bringing your family to explore Green String Farm, you can stay at Sonoma Wine Country Summer Hide Away while you wait to tour the surrounding wine country destinations. Book now and prepare to embark on this memorable experience in Petaluma.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Ramona, California

7. Petaluma Library Museum

Petaluma Library Museum
Image by Sanfranman59 used under CC BY 2.0

Address: 20 4th St, Petaluma, CA 94952

This former library is one of the best Petaluma, California, tourist attractions if you want to get a feel of the city’s history. The Petaluma Library Museum

is housed in what used to be the Petaluma public library. Originally the historic Carnegie Library built in 1904, it is a national historic landmark, as in 1988, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since the renowned architect Brainerd Jones designed the museum, there’s no doubt that it will impress you. The locally-quarried stone completes the largest free-standing dome made of leaded glass in Northern California. The museum’s building features round leaded-glass windows and neo-classical style panes. The beautiful design sets the stage for the historical grandeur you will experience inside the museum.

The interior of the Petaluma Library Museum has been designed to host a variety of local exhibits. You’ll find displays showcasing Petaluma’s dairy, poultry, and Miwok Indian history.

You will also find a research library where you can access a wealth of resources on the city’s rich history. The museum occasionally hosts events, including talks about cultural artifacts, new exhibit receptions, cemetery tours, and fundraisers. You can check their events calendar to see what’s coming up.

8. Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park

Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 3325 Adobe Road, Petaluma, California 94952

The Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park is a must-visit if you want to get a feel for what life was like in the early days of California. The park is situated on a ranch once home to Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. He was a Mexican general who played a key role in the transition of California from Mexico to the United States.

At the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, you will explore the 1836 adobe house that was once home to Vallejo and his family. The house has been restored to its original glory, and it is now more like a museum, recreating what life in California was like during the 1830s.

The Adobe Creek, which runs through the park, is also worth exploring. It creates the perfect environment for morning strolls while immersing yourself in nature. The creek also attracts rare birds, fish, and other marine life.

The historic Hotel Petaluma has located nearby the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park and is convenient to most of the city’s major attractions. The Hotel Petaluma opened in 1923, allowing you to soak in the rich history of the area while enjoying beautiful, comfortable, modern amenities.

See Related: Fun & Best Things To Do In Cambria, California

9. Central Market

Central Market
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 42 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952

Are you looking for a spot that offers homely, cozy vibes and delicious and healthy meals? Look no further than Central Market in Petaluma. The destination should be at the top of your list of places to visit in Petaluma, California, due to its abundance of farm-to-table meals.

Located in downtown Petaluma, Central Market is a restaurant in the Maclay building. You’re assured of finding almost all of your cravings at this restaurant. On top of the menu is California-Mediterranean cuisine. By pairing various wines with American dishes, they ensure you get the wine-country vibes you’re looking for.

Everything you eat at this restaurant is locally sourced and made inside Central Market. The restaurant owns an organic farm that produces most of the ingredients. The highlight is the bread, made using a wood-fired oven.

If you love drinks, the Central Market is one of the best places to visit in Petaluma, California. They have a long list of wine and other non-alcoholic drinks. You and your friends can savor the wine alongside pasta, pizza, grilled meat, vegetarian food, and oysters.

And after your meal, there are endless options for nightlife just steps away. McNear’s Saloon & Dining House is an old-timey pub with dancing and live music just across the way.

Up the street, you’ll find the Hideaway, The Big Easy, and Jamison’s Roaring Donkey. You can buy travel insurance cover for your adventures at this destination to ensure you have support even when things go south.

10. Helen Putnam Regional Park

Helen Putnam Regional Park
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 411 Chileno Valley Rd, Petaluma, CA 94952

If you’re looking for things to do in Petaluma, California, with kids, a stop at Helen Putnam Regional Park is a must. Located southwest of downtown Petaluma, this park features grassy hills, oak forests, and expansive hiking trails just waiting for you to explore.

The 216-acre park offers the best panoramic views of the Bay Area. While exploring the trails, you can pose for photos as the lush background provides endless opportunities for picturesque countryside views. Helen Putnam Park is perfect for a day of picnicking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Equestrian trails and biking paths make it possible to have unlimited fun with your family and friends.

If you’re too tired to walk, you can relax and have a hearty picnic with your family in one of the green spaces in the park. There are also several playgrounds where your kids can let off some steam.

Helen Putnam Park is also one of the best bird-watching destinations, as it has different bird species. And the best thing is, as long as it’s leashed, you’re allowed to bring your dog. Get your travel guide here if you want to be a better traveler when visiting the park.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Murphys, California

11. Petaluma Village Premium Outlets

Petaluma Village Premium Outlets
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 2200 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952

Are you a fan of shopping? Then you should include Petaluma Village Premium Outlets among your list of things to do in Petaluma, California. This outlet is located in the heart of Wine Country, meaning you can shop while enjoying picturesque views. The surrounding beautiful landscape will make your shopping experience much more fun and memorable.

Petaluma Village Premium Outlets has about 60 top designer and brand stores, such as Nike Factory Store, Kate Spade, Banana Republic, Adidas, and Levi’s Outlet. You can shop until you drop by and take advantage of the stores’ great deals and discounts.

In case you get hungry while shopping, there are several fast-food restaurants and cafes where you can refuel with a delicious meal before continuing your shopping spree. And if you want to save more, make sure you check out the Petaluma Village Premium Outlets website for exclusive deals.

You can also sign up for the VIP Shopper Club to get a coupon for a book and additional discounts. The Hampton Inn is located nearby and offers a place to rest your head that’s both comfortable and convenient.

12. The Petaluma Collective Antique and Military Mall

The Petaluma Collective Antique and Military Mall
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 300 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952

Do military antiques pique your interest? If so, touring the Military Antiques & Museum is one of the best things to do in Petaluma, California. This destination features retail space and a museum. In the retail area, you will find all types of military antiques. You can find unique items such as machetes, rifle cartridges, and helmets worn by soldiers during World War II.

If you’re looking for free things to do in Petaluma, California, you can visit the museum at this destination. The museum is the perfect destination to learn more about military history. It has military antiques that honor and preserve the memories of all veterans. The museum also houses an extensive collection of unique artifacts from different eras and countries.

And if Military Antiques & Museum doesn’t satisfy your antique curiosity, you can check out other nearby antique stores. Downtown Petaluma has abundant such stores, and you’re sure to find one that suits you. You can start exploring at the Vintage Bank Antiques, which was Petaluma’s bank. These antique stores will give you a glimpse of what Petaluma looked like in the past.

And if afterward, you find yourself hungry, check out the nearby, highly-rated Block Petaluma with its rotating list of food trucks. Check out their food calendar, where there’s a food truck for every taste bud. Wondering where to stay as you explore Petaluma’s antiques?

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Venice Beach, California

13. McEvoy Ranch

McEvoy Ranch
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 5935 Red Hill Rd, Petaluma, CA 94952

You can’t make a list of places to visit in Petaluma and exclude the McEvoy Ranch. This is a working olive ranch that’s open to the public. Spanning 550 acres, McEvoy Ranch was founded by Nan McEvoy due to her love for Tuscan olive oil. She hired experts to help determine the best olive trees that would do well on the ranch.

Today, McEvoy Ranch is known near and far for its organic olive oil. Beauty and skincare enthusiasts will be glad to know that McEvoy Ranch is the ODE Natural Beauty Collection producer, which contains 100% organic olive oil. Besides a farm tour and olive oil tastings, there’s much more to do on McEvoy Ranch. You can go for a walk, see wildlife and ponds, or sample wine at a table tasting or in their tasting room.

Although this is a working ranch, it welcomes visitors to experience an Italian-like atmosphere without leaving Northern California. You can also register for walking tours at the ranch to ensure you explore all the hidden fun the ranch has to offer.

During the tours, you will see the olive mills at work and explore the seemingly endless vineyards. Click here to book a California wine country tour that will include a visit to the McEvoy Ranch.

14. Keller Estate Winery

Keller Estate Winery
Image source: TripAdvisor

Address: 5875 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, CA 94954

Your visit to Sonoma County would be incomplete if you didn’t go on a wine-tasting tour. In Petaluma, Keller Estate Winery is one of the best wine-tasting destinations. This wine country destination is family-owned and located on a hilly landscape, so you know you’re in for a treat regarding the views.

Since Keller Estate Winery was founded, they’ve been producing award-winning wines. You can sample Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. You’re assured of having the best wine-tasting experience because the wines are handcrafted.

The best part is that they use sustainable farming methods, so you can rest assured that you’re drinking quality wine. You can also buy wines if you want to take a piece of Keller Estate Winery home with you or send it to someone as a gift.

If you need more reasons to visit this destination, Keller Estate Winery also has a stunning garden that’s open to the public. The best time to visit the gardens is from late spring to early summer. This is when the flowers are in full bloom, and the colors are simply breathtaking.

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Getting Around Petaluma, California

When considering the best things to do in Petaluma, California, you should also consider how you’ll get around. Petaluma is a small town, so it’s pretty easy to get around on foot. You can walk to most of the tourist destinations in the downtown area. However, if you want to explore beyond the downtown area, you might need to rent a car or use public transportation.

Sonoma County Transit buses run throughout Petaluma, so you can use them to get around town. Buses run regularly, so it’s a reliable option to help you easily get to different places.

Travel by Car

Renting a car is the best option if you’re traveling with family or as a group. Kayak offers some of the best rental car deals, so you should consider using their services.

Ridesharing Options

Petaluma boasts a wide range of ridesharing options. The most popular ridesharing services in Petaluma are Uber and Lyft. The best thing is that they are convenient and relatively affordable.

FAQ

What is the best thing to do with kids in Petaluma, California?

If you’re looking for things to do in Petaluma, California with kids, visit Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue for a chance to see animals up close. Another choice is to take them to the Helen Putnam Regional Park for a day full of picnicking and playing.

What are some fun things to do in Petaluma, California?

There are plenty of fun things to do here, including hiking, shopping, and wine tasting. The Lagunitas Brewing Company is a fun activity for adults, while the Petaluma Arts Center and the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue are great options for kids.

What are some things to do in Petaluma, California when it’s raining?

If the weather isn’t nice for outdoor activities, you can still have a great time by visiting the historic Carnegie Library Museum or the Petaluma Collective Military Mall. You can also go shopping at the Petaluma Village Premium Outlets.

What are the best tourist attractions in Petaluma, California?

Some of the best tourist attractions in Petaluma, California, include the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park for a glimpse into the town’s history, Keller Estate Winery for wine tasting, and Helen Putnam Regional Park or Shollenberger Park for picnicking and hiking.

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