Gail Benzler
February 21, 2018 | Gail Benzler

Discover the (Not So) Hidden Treasures of Petaluma

Adobe Road Winery is proud to call Petaluma, California home. The city’s vibrant culture, cool vibe and old world charm are within easy reach of San Francisco and Sacramento… Come visit Petaluma, “The Starting Line to Wine Country.”

Getting Here

Transit - SMART Train

Want to relax? Day trip the stylish way on the SMART Train. The train stops just a short walk to downtown and you’ll also find the Petaluma Visitors Center next door to the station. You can catch the SMART Train from points north and south of Petaluma, including near San Francisco and the handy trip planner makes planning a breeze.


To reach downtown Petaluma, take the E. Washington Street exit off of Highway 101 and head west. Make a left on Petaluma Blvd. Most parking is free, but you’ll have to be quick - spots are at a premium. Check out the parking structure located at C Street and 2nd Avenue, right in the heart of the downtown corridor.


Did you know Petaluma has a municipal airport? It’s open 24 hours each day, has a 24 hour fueling island for aircraft and can handle general aviation needs, including rental hangars. Check out the Two-Niner Diner which sources local ingredients. You’ll probably find a pilot or two at the counter.

You can also cycle, paddle, walk and run into town via a variety of trails, streets and waterways.

Maps and Walking Tours

Once you’ve arrived downtown, you can pick up a walking map that provides a great lay of the land. Visit the Petaluma Visitors Center in the Historic Depot Building (210 Lakeville St.), at or call 877.273.8258.


Hotel Petaluma

Just like Petaluma, this hotel is an oasis of old world charm and modern convenience, right in the heart of the downtown action. Check out the Hotel Petaluma website to book.

Our Favorite Things to Do

Petaluma is all about local flavor. It’s also one of California’s oldest cities, recently celebrating its 150th birthday. There is so much to see and do -- historic sites, culinary delights, arts and entertainment, the great outdoors and handcrafted wine. Come along with us as we explore some distinctly local treasures and activities, all linking up in our dynamic downtown.


Cruisin’ the Boulevard - Petaluma’s Salute to American Graffiti

If you’re looking for something that screams small town Americana, then look no further than the annual Salute to American Graffiti Festival. Make no mistake, this is a full-tilt tribute to the real stars of George Lucas’s 1973 classic film -- the ones with four wheels. Car culture is on rapt display as candy-colored hot rods cruise the streets of downtown Petaluma each May with a full three-day weekend of events for everyone, young and old, alike. The celebration revs up with the Jump Start Dinner, and includes photography contests, informal car shows, guest appearances by American Graffiti cast members and the classic downtown cruise, which takes in many of the best sights of the city along the very streets immortalized in the film. Many of the events are free. There’s nothing better than cruisin’ Petaluma in your Little Deuce Coupe.

This year marks the festival’s 13th anniversary: May 17, 18 and 19.

Did you know? American Graffiti isn’t the only Hollywood production that was filmed right here in our hometown. You might have seen a few of these films:

American Graffiti - 1973

Impulse - 1984

Peggy Sue Got Married - 1986

Howard the Duck  - 1987

Basic Instinct - 1991

True Crime - 1999


McNear’s Mystic Theater and Music Hall

At once a blues club, jazz joint, concert venue and much more, even the name harkens back to the days of yore. Originally built in 1911, the Mystic’s building was first home to a Vaudeville music hall. Its art deco design even landed the theater cameo turns in Hollywood movies like American Graffiti and Peggy Sue Got Married. Now, a few name changes later and after some renovating, the music scene at The Mystic is among the most vibrant you’re likely to find -- anywhere. The venue welcomes top acts and touring bands from across the country and has a steady clientele of eclectic concert-goers eager to see top notch bands play on the Mystic’s state of the art, ear-bleeding sound system. There’s even a pool table. And, since we’re talking about Petaluma, there are more than ample watering holes (including a pretty good bar on the premises) and eateries within stumbling distance.

Did you know? Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater celebrated its 40th season recently and it’s the only venue in Sonoma County producing opera and live musical theater.


Petaluma is acclaimed as a Northern California foodie haven. Locals and visitors alike love to eat and Petaluma is certainly not wanting for world-class restaurants. It’s all here: locally owned casual eateries, food trucks and high-end steak houses.

You’ll find a couple of favorites within an easy stumble of The Mystic (and almost everything else downtown).

Central Market

Central Market offers an inspired menu that changes almost daily, with fresh ingredients -- almost everything is made from scratch, in-house daily -- sourced from the restaurant’s own farm. Owner and chef Tony Najoila focuses the cuisine on rustic California fare and the place is hopping with a great mix of locals and visitors on any given night of the week. Whether you’re looking for oysters, a nosh with a glass of wine or a full-course dinner, count on finding it at Central Market. The restaurant boasts one of the best curated wine lists in town, with wonderful finds like under-the-radar gems from places like Greece, more traditional European choices and a keen eye toward local vintners. If you’re dining solo, no worries -- belly up to the friendly bar for an enjoyable evening of delicious food and delightful conversation with staff and locals.

Wild Goat Bistro

At Wild Goat Bistro, you’ll find innovative locavore salads, seasonable small plates to share and Neapolitan style pizzas -- there’s something for everyone. Nearly everything on the menu is gluten-free and there is an extensive wine list focused on locally produced bottles. Tucked away in the Great Petaluma Mill, this bistro is a hidden treasure. With river-adjacent seating, a reclaimed copper bar and exposed brick walls -- the space was once a storage locker for a local butcher -- count on a delightful meal in a truly unique Petaluma space.


Clavey Paddlesports

Discover Petaluma by water! Paddle the Petaluma River -- and the area’s waterways, bays, marshes and estuaries -- on a kayak, raft or paddleboard from Clavey Paddlesports. They even host a bioluminescence evening kayak tour. The folks at Clavey really make navigating the waterways fun -- and social -- and you can choose from a variety of excursions and tours. Stand-up paddleboarding is the fastest growing sport on the planet, and for good reason. It’s easy to learn, lively and entertaining, a great way to get some exercise and a wonderful way to see the region’s sights. Plus, you can SUP (that’s Stand Up Paddle) almost anywhere.

Did you know? Grab your bike and check out some of the area’s best scenery by running trails including the 45 kilometer Spring Hill - Chileno Valley trail. You’ll start and finish at  downtown Petaluma’s Walnut Park.


Adobe Road Winery

Anytime is a great time to visit Adobe Road Winery -- after a paddle, bike ride, before a show or dinner or while taking a leisurely stroll around the downtown waterfront. Open seven days a week, the Kevin and Debra Buckler owned winery’s casual tasting room in the Great Petaluma Mill is conveniently located to just about everything in town, making it the perfect getaway for a relaxing glass of wine. Grab a seat at the bar or get cozy in the comfy chairs. Either way, you’re in for a treat as the knowledgeable staff lead you through classic and reserve tastings of Adobe Road’s award-winning wines, all sourced from premier vineyards in Sonoma (including the new hometown Petaluma Gap appellation) and Napa counties.

Downtown Petaluma is red hot and next year, Adobe Road -- one of the hottest boutique wineries in the country -- will expand with a $7 million, 15,000 square food destination facility right on the city’s beautiful waterfront. The new space at 1st and C streets will be home to the fast-growing winery operation and tasting room, featuring floor to ceiling glass doors opening to the river. Championship race car driver Kevin Buckler also helms The Racers Group and expect to see some cool race cars on display at the facility’s car museum. Add in lots of event space, a commercial kitchen, pizza oven and party deck and you can see why excitement is sizzling for this riverfront redevelopment project. Who knows? You just might be able to SUP right up to Adobe Road’s new tasting room.

Did you know: Wind, fog and phenomenal wine. That's the Petaluma Gap. And now, producers like Adobe Road will be able to take full advantage of the new Petaluma Gap American Vinticultural Area (AVA) in the windswept Sonoma Coast region. Foggy mornings, sunny days, windy afternoons and cool evenings provide optimal growing conditions for key varietals like pinot noir, chardonnay and syrah. 

And, on March 5, Adobe Road releases one of our hometown Petaluma Gap grown wines: 2016 Pinot Noir, Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard (92 points, Wine Spectator). 



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