A Getaway to Petaluma, California
When we headed up north for the Sonoma International Film Festival last month, we decided to add in some extra stops along the way. In search of a great place to rest our heads in between movie hopping, I came across the quaint city of Petaluma and was intrigued.
Petaluma is one of California’s oldest cities. With its gorgeous riverfront, it was a hot spot during the Gold Rush years. Goods like produce, poultry and dairy were carried down to nearby budding cities by the bay. Only an hour north of San Francisco, Petaluma is now well-loved for its arts and theatre district, antique shops and incredible dining. How has this city not been on my radar?! Read on to discover some of my picks for a NorCal getaway to Petaluma.
Stay at Hotel Petaluma
After our five plus hour road trip, we were excited to arrive at Hotel Petaluma. In the center of Downtown, Hotel Petaluma dates back to 1923 and certainly has old-world vibes. I particularly loved their original elevator-with a gate you pull shut and all! I admit, visions of Disneyland’s Tower of Terror did go through my mind. Instead? It was awesome and only added to the throw back feelings of the city and hotel.
In the midst of a renovation, you will encounter some construction during the day. Nothing that will disturb you during your stay, though. Something that Mike and I appreciated, in addition to the usual Holy Bible on our nightstand, was a book on the teachings of Buddhism. Only in the Bay Area, right?! Our room was intimate and cozy. While not ample, Hotel Petaluma’s lobby is the perfect place to enjoy yourself during your visit. With a wine bar (in addition to their restaurant, the Shuckery) open during the day, a fireplace and a great selection of board games available for your enjoyment. Their gorgeous piano had me wishing I could cover some Tori Amos, too!
One concern was the lack of heat in our room. After a long day out in the rain, I was eager to relax in our room with some much needed warmth. While we struggled to get the central heating to work and it was late, we discovered a space heater in our closet. Hallelujah!
Like most downtown hotels, Hotel Petaluma does not have its own parking lot. Rather, you can make a deposit for $50 and rent a parking permit for a parking lot around the corner (a 5 minute walk) for the duration of your stay. There’s also neighborhood streets within 5 minutes of the hotel. Two hour street parking is abundant throughout Downtown, as well. After 6pm, you’re good for the night. My recommendation is to utilize the parking lot. As long as you don’t misplace the permit and return it upon check-out, you’ll be good.
Petaluma was filled with inviting restaurants and cafes. We became partial to the finds along American Alley, just steps from the hotel. When we got back to town late after a night of movies in Sonoma, we stumbled upon Speakeasy. A sister to the popular Big Easy, a rousing nightclub, Speakeasy is an adorable hole in the wall with Americana fare and drinks.
If you’re looking for some great live music and some drinks, head to Big Easy. Hungry and need a quick bite? Find out why Speakeasy has been voted ‘Best Late Night Eats in Sonoma County’. I was so pleased that several menu items had a ‘GF’ symbol, We enjoyed a few tacos a la carte that hit the spot to perfection. Open nightly until 2am.
Just down from Speakeasy is a place I could eat at everyday if I were a local. Bump City Bakery. Bump City, my friends, is an entire gluten-free bakery. Serving the Sonoma County for all of its catering and party needs, thank goodness Bump City squeezes in its store front hours Friday through Sunday. Do you know when the last time was I had a decent bagel?
While most items are also vegan, their gluten-free goodies range from breads to cookies and decadent cakes made to order. I’m tempted to have a birthday in Petaluma just so I can order a custom cake. I enjoyed an everything bagel with a vegan cream ‘cheese’ spread. And, possibly snuck in a Gorgonzola, pear and walnut scone. It was tart, rich and delicious. Their cookies were, too.
After that morning of everything carbs and gluten-free, we were ready to window shop and explore Downtown Petaluma . Our first stop turned out to be Copperfield’s Books. A local favorite since 1981, Copperfield’s reminded me of my beloved Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. A massive bookshop with an impressive selection of titles (I especially enjoyed their Poetry section), Copperfield’s was the kind of spot that had nooks and crannies to explore at every corner. Their large newsstand-style of magazines could have kept me there all day. I was also impressed with their several author events they do. If you’re a fan of Joyce Carol Oates, she’ll be there end of the month!
I mentioned that antiques are around these parts. Very much so. 15 blocks worth, in-fact. From Petaluma’s Riverfront to Keller Street, the antique lover will be in heaven at the pickings. We enjoyed ourselves at Vintage Bank Antiques. A stately building from 1926, Vintage Bank Antiques boasts over 12,000 square feet of gorgeous pieces. From china to art to everything in between, the 3 floors within this store is enough to keep you busy for the day.
On top of all the shops and eats in Petaluma, the city also has a strong arts and theatre community. Their Theatre District has an array of art galleries, music venues and theaters at your fingertips. With limited time before moving onto our next stop, I did not get to experience these regions as much as I would have liked. I definitely know what I will be doing on my return visit.
(*Disclosure: I received a media stay at Hotel Petaluma on behalf of this review. All opinions are my own.)