Petaluma – its downtown so quaint, Hollywood can’t stop filming it. Lots of history and charm, and as good a place as any to raise offspring in the North Bay.
With a population of 58,000, Petaluma is located a mere 35 minutes from San Francisco. Its rich architectural heritage dates from the late 1800s when the city served as a supply center for the gold camps. By the 1920s, it had evolved into a charming farm town and the World’s Egg Basket. In 1911, the first air mail flight in the nation was from Petaluma (over present day Rohnert Park) to Santa Rosa.
Today, Petaluma’s historical downtown district with brick and iron-front buildings, antique shops, restaurants and boutiques is considered among the finest examples of Victorian style architecture in the United States. Miraculously untouched by the 1906 earthquake, a substantial stock of quaint Victorian homes, mansions, and commercial buildings remain as well as country estates, horse properties, vineyards and newer residential subdivisions. So charming is Petaluma that its downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the location of numerous films such as “American Graffiti,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Basic Instinct,” “Howard the Duck,” and “Phenomenon.”
One of the biggest events in Petaluma is the Petaluma Butter & Eggs Day Parade which takes place every April in downtown Petaluma and celebrates the town’s rich agricultural history as one of the premier dairy regions in the country. With over 3,000 participants, this charming event draws crowds well over 25,000. You can’t live in Petaluma for very long before experiencing Butter & Eggs Day complete with tractors, the cutest little chick contest, dairy operators, community floats, military veterans and our own hometown Little League athletes.
Petaluma also has its share of fabulous shops (Chick-A-Boom Vintage, Paperwhite, Shunzi, Bluestone Main, Knitterly), restaurants (Central Market, Cucina Paradisio, Gohan, Luma and Della Fattoria, to name a few) and grocery stores (Whole Foods, Petaluma Market, Sprouts) but I think its most endearing quality is how child focused the community is. Every weekend you’ll find yet another hometown children’s event: from dairy farm tours, vintage car shows, pumpkin patches, haunted houses to Santa’s Riverboat arrival. There truly is no better place to raise children in the entire North Bay.
When it comes to housing, Petaluma is divided by highway 101 into east and west Petaluma. Homes in West Petaluma consist of character-rich heritage homes close to downtown, country properties on acreage and subdivisions on the outskirts of town. East Petaluma consists primarily of older subdivisions south of Washington and newer subdivisions north of Washington off of Sonoma Mountain Parkway. Homes near Sonoma Mountain Parkway are especially prized for their schools.