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Picnic area at Marin Cheese Factory near Petaluma
When I think of Petaluma, I see rolling green hills, pastoral landscapes with happy cows chewing on lush grass, dairies and cheese factories. All this is true of Petaluma, but there’s lots more! I was delighted to discover countless fun things to see and do in this quintessential Californian town. Within a short 24 hours, I had dined at two fine establishments in Petaluma’s bustling downtown, tasted my way through Pinot Noir and spectacular port wine, nibbled on cheese samples at America’s oldest continuously running cheese factory, picnicked under blue skies while soaking up the sunshine and stayed the night in an actual treehouse that also happens to be one of Airbnb’s most popular rentals! In fact, the treehouse is so unique that the Airbnb office has a replica of the treehouse designed as a conference room inside their San Francisco HQ.
Looking for a perfect California getaway for the weekend? Look no further than Petaluma!
Here are 5 must-do things when planning your visit –
Inside Michelle and Bill’s cozy and magical treehouse in Petaluma!
Stay in a Treehouse!
If you are a fan of Enid Blyton‘s “The Faraway Tree” books and other similar series, you’ve probably harbored a lifelong desire to live in a treehouse. Imagine sleeping inside a cozy wooden home, high up amongst a grove of trees, listening to tu-whit tu-whoo calls of owls outside your window, as silvery strands of moonbeams illuminate your room. Make your dream come true!
Swallowtail Magic Grove Treehouse, look it up on Airbnb!
Michelle and Bill host guests at their Swallowtail Magic Grove treehouse, a storybook place complete with a treehouse built 30 feet above the ground, perched amongst thick tree trunks with branches growing outside the windows, and all the comforts and amenities you could imagine. In the mornings, Michelle cooks up a fabulous breakfast of farm-fresh eggs and blueberry french toast for guests, served in her delightfully cozy kitchen.
Wake up to a delicious home-cooked breakfast in Petaluma!
Taste wine at Kastania and Sonoma Portworks
We had a hoot of a time meeting Linda and Hoot Smith (yes, he said that was his real name!) of Kastania Wineries and tasting some of their delicious reds, notably the Pinot Noir. Linda loves owls and the entire winery is an ode to owls (one of my favorite birds) as well. Both Linda and Hoot are charming and a wonderful couple to talk to and learn about Petaluma’s wine history. Stop here for a wine tasting to experience Petaluma’s wine country!
Kastania Wineries, the owners are a pleasure to talk to!
If you like your wine on the sweeter side, head over to Sonoma Portworks for a delightful tasting of an array of port wines, from sherry and apertif to intense throat-burning grappa and delicious sonomic dressings that will have you craving a salad.
Sonoma Portworks, Petaluma
Taste cheese at Marin French Cheese Factory
A cheese named Breakfast Brie? I wanna know you better. America’s oldest continuously running cheese factory award goes to Marin French Cheese, a mere 15 min drive from Petaluma downtown. Surrounded by bucolic pastures and happy cows, Marin French Cheese is the perfect place to picnic and savor their outstanding bries and camemberts. There’s a shop offering cheese tastings which also sells everything you would need for a gourmet meal along with a deli/bakery where you can order fresh-made sandwiches for lunch. Make sure to grab one of the picnic tables outside first. Then sit back and enjoy your meal with a bottle of wine while admiring picturesque reflections.
“Cheese, milk’s leap towards immortality” ~ Clifton Fadiman
Go for a sunset stroll at Schollenberg Park
Petaluma is home to several delightful parks with hiking trails. To work off all that wine and cheese before dinner, my favorite is Schollengberg park which is perfect for a sunset stroll. A protected natural habitat, it is home to dozens of species of birds and wildlife, including a bevy of stunning swans. It’s a glorious sight to see flocks of birds taking off into the skies together, flecks of gold on their beaks and feet reflected by the setting sun.
On the trails at Schollenberg Park
Dine at Central Market and Sugo Trattoria
Petaluma boasts a number of fine dining establishments that serve top class cuisine, notably Central Market which is famous for it’s fresh take on Californian cuisine and a farm-to-table menu, and Sugo Trattoria that serves mouthwatering authentic Italian cuisine.
Chef Tony creating a work-of-art pizza at Central Market restaurant
At Central Market, the best seats are actually at the bar, where you can watch the action in the kitchen upclose. It’s exciting to see Chef Tony Najiola prepare his outstanding farm-to-table meals, from the perfect pizza and soulfood pasta to Italian-inspired chickpea farinata and New-Orleans-inspired rock shrimp beignets.
Sugo Trattoria, Petaluma downtown
Owners and chefs Annette and Peter White have created a lovely and authentic Italian restaurant in the heart of Petaluma, in the form of Sugo Trattoria. On entering the restaurant, one is enveloped in the warmth and smiles of the staff and servers. Tasteful decor and cozy seating make Sugo a great choice for date night and the perfect place for celebrating a special occasion with family and friends.
Bruschetta Trio at Sugo Trattoria – a must-have on the menu!
Sugo’s carefully crafted menu showcases the best of Italian cuisine made with farm-fresh Californian ingredients. The bruschetta trio is to die for (good luck trying to choose just three from the mouthwatering array of choices!) while the handmade pasta dishes (like fresh papparadelle with rotisserie chicken) are true comfort food for the soul.
Sugo Trattoria – true Italian comfort food!
Don’t forget to leave room for dessert!
There are no doubt countless more things to see and do in Petaluma! That is why I can’t wait to go back! What are your favorite things about Petaluma? Let me know in the comments!