If you tilt your head just so, certain corners and storefronts in downtown Petaluma look an awful lot like San Francisco in all its Victorian glory. That’s because the 1906 earthquake that decimated San Francisco mostly spared Petaluma. The old grand homes and buildings are still intact. But Petaluma is a no SF knock-off. It’s a unique destination in its own right.
"It’s a unique destination in its own right"
The Petaluma River that once carried dairy and vegetable products to the big city before the Golden Gate Bridge was constructed threads its way through the lively downtown, a focal point for Wrangler-wearing dairy farmers coming to stock up on feed and Instagramming day trippers perusing Kentucky Street’s boutiques and dining at Petaluma Boulevard’s many eateries. Thistle Meats (a high-end butcher and takeaway shop), The Shuckery (yep, oysters), and Brewster’s Beer Garden, purveyor of great barbecue and local brews in a sprawling outdoor setting, are all top stops. McNear’s Saloon and Dining House, a 1850s-era watering hole, welcomes guests with its great pub food and the legendary Mystic Theatre next door. Same goes for the only-in-Petaluma Phoenix Theater, an all-ages, nonprofit, community powered live music venue.
"Whether you’re a gourmand or just looking for a truly exceptional dining experience.."
Whether you’re a gourmand or just looking for a truly exceptional dining experience, be sure to check out Street Social. Dynamic duo Marjorie Pier and Jevon Martin serve up ridiculously fresh seasonal fare paired with artisanal spirits and imaginative cocktails. It’s one stop not to be missed, but make sure to call ahead for reservations. Like all things good, it’s definitely worth the wait. For a more historical experience, take Stony Point Rd to the west and make a stop at the unmistakable Washoe House. Its storied history and the iconic building itself will transport you to back to another time. This quintessential roadhouse has been a sought after destination since 1859 – and for good reason.
Further afield, the industrial expanse of McDowell Boulevard is a destination for beer lovers with the likes of Lagunitas Brewing Co. and Henhouse Brewing Co. And be sure to save the date for the Rivertown Revival, a deep summer festival of music, food, drink and community that benefits the Friends of the Petaluma River.