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History buffs and lovers of small towns will appreciate this Victorian riverfront town. Petaluma was once the summer residence of 18th century Mexican General Mariano Vallejo — you can tour his still intact adobe; it's in dynamic shape, considering its age. The town's proximity to the Petaluma River helped this community grow into a farmland, inspiring gold rush era migrants to set up camp. By the 1900s Petaluma's farmers were the major chicken (and egg) producers in the United States. But you don't have to be a chicken lover to visit this authentic small town. Rather, if you are interested in a community of pre-1900s buildings, huddled ...

History buffs and lovers of small towns will appreciate this Victorian riverfront town. Petaluma was once the summer residence of 18th century Mexican General Mariano Vallejo — you can tour his still intact adobe; it's in dynamic shape, considering its age. The town's proximity to the Petaluma River helped this community grow into a farmland, inspiring gold rush era migrants to set up camp. By the 1900s Petaluma's farmers were the major chicken (and egg) producers in the United States. But you don't have to be a chicken lover to visit this authentic small town. Rather, if you are interested in a community of pre-1900s buildings, huddled together around the river, with families bursting from restaurants, young people strumming guitars by the water, and oodles of kids' boutiques, Petaluma will enchant. Around town you can explore the marshes, hike the rolling hills, or travel a few miles to enter Sonoma's Valley of the Moon. Embark on a farm tour, or drive to the coast, hike the Sonoma Mountains or just chill by the river. Whatever you choose to fill your day, Petaluma promises a slower existence, where inhabitants smile, say hello and seem to listen for your response.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, early fall, late spring