55 Awesome & Unique Things to Do in Petaluma CA

Located just 25 minutes east of the Pacific Coast Highway is the charming town of Petaluma. What used to be a sleepy family-friendly town famous for its chickens has recently had a resurgence of popularity. Most likely due to the spotlight that some popular breweries such as Lagunitas and Hen House have created, putting them on the map and people’s radar.

And we get it, beer is so much cooler than chickens.

So if you’re looking for reasons to visit, then check this fun things to do in Petaluma CA, we are sure you’ll love them too!

Always remember to double-check dates, opening times, and weather conditions before traveling.

Petaluma California

In addition to the beer limelight, Petaluma is also known for its award-winning olive oils, artisan cheeses, and farm-to-table goods. If you are looking to spend some downtime downtown there are oodles of shops, cafes, and tasting rooms to whittle away an afternoon.

So without further ado, here are all the reasons you should visit this adorable town and some of the best Petaluma attractions for your scenic road trip down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.

Great Things to do in Petaluma

The Beer Scene is Epic

Brewsters Beer Garden

If you’re a beer lover then you really have quite a few options when visiting Petaluma. Maybe you’re in the mood to taste a flight at the infamous dog-friendly Lagunitas Tap Room & Beer Sanctuary (what a great name, “beer sanctuary”) and stock up on some dog-friendly fun schwag. Or maybe you’re in the mood for some variety at Henhouse Brewery nearby (their sours are always interesting) and a quick snack from the taco truck.

If you trying to stay closer to downtown you can always stop by the huge locals’ favorite Brewsters Beer Garden, with local and regional beers on tap along with craft cocktails or wine if you’re in the mood for something different. With live music and great outdoor seating, all of the above are great choices to get your beer geek on.

Other breweries and taprooms to explore in Petaluma CA:

  • 101 North Brewing Company
  • Taps Restaurant & Tasting Room
  • Adobe Creek Brewing Co.
  • Goat Rock Cider
  • The Block-Food Truck & Beer Garden

There is No Such Thing As Too Much Cheese

Marin French Cheese Company

  • Address: 7510 Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Visit Website

What is known as one of the oldest cheese companies in the U.S., Marin French Cheese Co. has made a name for itself, and visiting the cheese shop will totally tell you why. They simply make amazing cheese. Their 4 pack is one of my favorite host gifts to bring to parties because there is a little something for everyone.

Stock up at the cheese shop or order something from the cafe. Stroll around the gorgeous grounds and set up a picnic by the pond after you’ve shopped. They even have a great little wine selection in case you didn’t bring your own.

Achadinha Cheese Co.

For a more in-depth cheese story, book a tour or cheese-making class at the family-run farm Achadinha (Osh-a-deen-a) Cheese Co. A mix of goat and cows milk cheeses allows them to offer an impressive array of different styles and flavors of Fromage (we’re getting fancy here).

The way they lovingly talk about the goats and cows, who they refer to as “the girls” gives you an idea of the passion and attention that goes into the award-winning cheese company.

More Petaluma Cheese Please:

  • Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Shop: 2080 Lakeville Hwy Petaluma, CA 94954
  • Petaluma Creamery Store: 711 Western Ave Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Barber Cellars: 112 Washington St Petaluma, CA 94952

McEvoy Ranch or Slice of Heaven?

What started as one woman’s love of Tuscan olive oil has now turned into a small empire of everything great about food, wine, beauty, and wellness. McEvoy Ranch offers olive oil tastings, a small wine production, and a growingly popular natural beauty line called “Ode”. Check culinary treats like mustards, tapenades, and jams to name just a few. You can easily spend an afternoon here tasting all the treats, relaxing with a glass of wine and a stunning view, or learning a little something by taking a tour of the estate.

I’ve personally received a scrub and massage with Ode products at a spa excursion in SF and loved the products so much I bought their lotion. The Verde line smells amazing, btw. Don’t be surprised if you don’t walk away with your own bag of goodies after visiting this inspiringly pretty ranch.

 Antique Shopping Will Never Go Out of Style

While you might not necessarily be furniture shopping on your road trip along the PCH, there is just something so relaxing and grounding about wandering around cluttered little antique shops. And it never hurts to look, right?

One of the top Petaluma attractions are some great antique shops in town, especially if you are a fellow time-wanderer like me. There are quite a few of them downtown as well, so you don’t even have to go that far. Grab a coffee from one of many great coffee shops nearby (my favorite is Acre) and stroll to your heart’s content.

Antique Shops in Petaluma

  • Chelsea Antiques
  • The Opera House Collective
  • Summer Cottage Antiques
  • The Find
  • Petaluma Collective Antique & Militaria Mall
  • Yankee Girl Antiques
  • Petaluma Antique Faire- Check the website for details

Petaluma Wine Tasting Made Easy

Looking for more fun thins to do in Petaluma? Well, as you travel along the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll be driving through multiple infamous wine regions. But this one is particularly special. Considering you’re in the midst of the beautiful Sonoma wine district when visiting Petaluma, it’s safe to say you might as well try a few while you there.

I mean, it couldn’t be any easier. Whether you want to do a winery tasting at the source or just a couple of delicious glasses while taking it easy at a tasting bar, there is an ever-growing abundance of places to get your sip on. And if you’re interested in more things to do in Sonoma, bookmark this post also, for more insider’s tips!

Petaluma Wineries, Tastings, and Tours Oh My:

Pro Tip: Please call ahead for tasting times and reservations.

  • Azari Vineyard – A local favorite, small but sweet winery.
  • Brooks Note Winery
  • Adobe Road Winery
  • Parum Leo Winery
  • Stubbs Vineyard (I’m kind of obsessed with how cute this place is)
  • Reis River Ranch Vineyards
  • Sonoma Portworks

This post includes the best Sonoma wineries, with website info and details to visit.

Wine Bars Downtown Petaluma

  • Vine & Barrel -Wine Shop, Wine Bar & Tapas
  • Street Social – Yummy food and curative selection of wines, make rsvp.
  • La Dolce Vita Wine Lounge – Great for glasses and small bites with friends.
  • The Shuckery Parlor – Located in my choice Petaluma hotel
  • Barber Cellars

Barber Lee Spirits

Now, if you are paying attention, you might have noticed that under wineries to try there is a Barber Cellar listed. You also might be wondering if the two are related. You would be correct.

What first started out as a winemaking dream quickly and painstakingly also turned into a distillery passion project as well. I’ve personally had both their whiskey and absinthe and I have to say they are both excellent. Since the tasting room is right in the heart of downtown Petaluma, it’s an easy stop before dinner for a quick tasting and cocktail.

Especially if you are staying at the Hotel Petaluma since they are adjacent to each other and even have a convenient entry from the lobby. Our only regret is that we didn’t buy the coasters. I still think about them today. They were cool.

Adobe Historical State Park

If you are in the mood to walk through some history and see how things were done back in the day then a tour through the Adobe Historical State Park is one of the acitvities in Petaluma that you shouldn’t miss. What was once a massive for its time ranch that specialized in hides and tallow is now a well-preserved looking glass back in time.

Entry fees are $3 for adults and $2 for children ages 6-16 (little ones are free) and if you’d like to make a day of it, your fee also gives you access to to the Sonoma Historical State park including the Barracks, Mission San Francisco Solano and the General Vallejo Home.

Hike the Gentle Rolling Hills of Helen Putnam Park

  • Address: 411 Chileno Valley Rd Petaluma, CA 94952

What better way to recoup from a road trip than to stretch your legs with a nice long walk. Helen Putnam Regional Park is a 6-mile looped trail system park that offers easy access trails, great for biking, and has easy to moderate hikes.

There is a fishing pond with bluegill among other fish and is known in the birdwatching community as well. There is a playground near the parking lot for the kids and picnic tables all around for a great afternoon in the sun.

Stock Up on Snacks at Some of the Cutest Farmers Markets

Green String Farms

  • Address: 3571 Adobe Rd Petaluma, CA 94954

With the abundance of farmland nearby it’s no wonder that farmers’ markets are all the rage in Petaluma. And why not. Why stock up at a major chain grocery store when you can get some of the freshest produce and snacks and support a small family business at the same time.

If you are renting an Airbnb and just dying to make a home-cooked meal for a change, stroll through some of these market stands and let inspiration hit you.

Green Strings Farms is a local favorite (they even have a corn mill to make your own polenta, how cool is that?) but don’t let that stop you from trying more than one.

Petaluma Farmer’s Markets

  • Green String Farms – Open Tues-Sun (closed Mon)
  • Lavender Bee Farm – Open every day of the week
  • Walnut Park Farmers Market – Open Wednesdays
  • Live Oak Farm – Open Mon-Saturday
  • Petaluma East Side Market – Open Tuesdays
  • Terra Firma Farms Meat Shop – Open Sun-Friday (closed Sat)

Pro Tip: There is also an annual Butter & Egg Day Festival in April that can be fun for the kids if you are in town during the event. A parade and markets along the downtown streets and all kinds of cute costumes and events for the children.

Star Wars Fans Rejoice- Rancho Obi-Wan Exists

Visit Website or Become a Member

This one might take a little planning ahead of time, but since pretty much everyone has a major Star Wars fan in the family I thought I’d mention it just in case. Because if you are one or are traveling with one, this is definitely something worth checking out.

Recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest Star Wars memorabilia collection, this privately owned, member-only museum run by volunteers tells quite the story. The owner worked for Lucasfilms and over time amassed a collection that required multiple spaces after outgrowing its original location. For tours, you must be invited by a member or make a request on their website. I highly suggest contacting them ahead of time to figure out details and times because this place looks awesome, and I’m not even the biggest fan.

Restaurants in Petaluma

The Shuckery

This quaint but delightful seafood restaurant does all the right things. Simple dishes with tons of flavor and an ample wine list to accompany the menu. A great stop for dinner or swing by between 3-6 for their local favorite happy hour.

Central Market

This true farm-to-table restaurant embodies everything foodie about Petaluma. Chef and owner Tony Najiola took his love of the strong agricultural nature of the area and built their own organic farm to support the restaurant’s menu and “slow food” nature. With an ever-changing seasonal menu, make this a stop for dinner on your PCH tour to get a taste of just what local produce can do.

Street Social

Yes, I’ve already mentioned this place. But when something is good it’s worth mentioning twice. Focusing on locally sourced and seasonal items, there is always something fun, unique, and delicious to try.

They do lunch and small plates on Friday & Sat, with a dinner menu in the evening’s Wed-Sat. Hours and space are limited so call ahead a few days in advance.

Other Petaluma Restaurant Favorites to Try:

  • Seared: 170 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Wishbone: 841 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952 *(great breakfast spot)
  • Della Fattoria Downtown Cafe: 143 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Thistle Meats: 160 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952 *(butcher shop that also makes an incredible sandwich. Perfect stop before a picnic)

Petaluma Coffee Spots for Caffeine Aficionados 

Acre (or Avid) Coffee

  • Address: 21 4th St Petaluma, CA 94952

There are many little coffee shops to check when you visit Petaluma, especially downtown, but if someone asked me where to go I would say here. This is a coffee snobs type of place without being all snobby. With strong coffee and a quick line, it’s everything you like in a café. Also, my SO has a small quest in finding the best cappuccino (because apparently, they’re all just baby lattes when done wrong, which is most of them) and he swears this place made a legit one. I can’t even begin to explain what praise that is coming from that man. But, their lattes were really good too.

Petaluma Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Hotel Petaluma

  • Address: 205 Kentucky St, Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Details

Located in the heart of downtown Petaluma is this adorable and well-restored historic hotel. We stayed here for a wedding once and were charmed by the friendly staff, comfortable rooms, and sweet location to everything we wanted to check out. It is easily walkable to many restaurants and bars nearby, or swing into Barber Lee next door to cross off something on your list.

Of course, it has its old building quirks like a really old-school elevator, but honestly, it just adds to its personality. And they often have small seasonal events in their courtyard like their winter “Friday Night Snow Flurries” where they have snowfall in the courtyard, live music, artist stands, etc. It’s a choice hotel for Petaluma charm without breaking the bank.

Hampton Inn Petaluma

  • Address: 450 Jefferson St, Petaluma, CA 94952
  • Details

Another well-located and reasonable-priced option is the Hampton Inn. This might be a better option if needing to stretch out a bit with kids. Unfortunately, there is no pool but they do have spacious rooms and all the amenities you might want with a more well-known hotel line.

Airbnbs Are Always an Option

On an epic road trip down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, it is sometimes nice to take a break and set up house somewhere for a few days. Petaluma is so close to the famous Route 1 but also nearby to other popular destinations like Sonoma, and Napa that it can be a perfect home-base to explore the beautiful wine country but stay close to the path. Lyfts and Ubers are aplenty in the city, so it’s safe to explore and come “home” safely, even if you find a cute house off the beaten path.

Read more and learn what other things you can do in Northern California

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