Day Trip: What to Do in Petaluma

paddling in petaluma

Main Street, U.S.A. is alive and well. And there is a well-preserved example of it in Petaluma, California. Quaint, charming, and at the same time modern, Petaluma has a little bit of everything—whether you’re after a relaxing stroll down memory lane or a wild outdoor adventure.

Here, what to do in Petaluma.

1. Head to the bank (no, not that one). Housed in the gorgeous 1920s building that was once home to the Sonoma County National Bank, the Petaluma Seed Bank (199 Petaluma Boulevard North) now offers a wealth of planting provisions. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Wells Fargo. The stunning structure features carved walls and massive beveled windows.

As for the inventory, well, it’s everything a plant-lover could want. And then some. We’re talking more than 1,200 varietals of seeds, plus books, tools, and specialty items that can make anyone who loves a good fistful of soil swoon. Plus a few food and gift items for those of us with black thumbs.

2. Row (or kayak) your boat on the Petaluma River. Rent your vessel from Clavey Paddlesports. The company also offers tours that take you through the marsh into bird-watching territory, and then to an old duck hunter’s cabin for lunch. Stand up paddle boards are also available for rent. (409 Petaluma Boulevard South).

petaluma arts center

3. Hit the sweet spot at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe (151 Petaluma Blvd. So. # 113), one of those rare-gem establishments where it’s all in the family (the whole family works at the shop!) and the treats abound.

4. Find your zen (or at least your buzz) the Lagunitas Taproom and Beer Sanctuary (1280 N. McDowell Boulevard), where live music rocks out every day the joint is open (Wednesday through Sunday; music starts at 4:20 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends). Although the taproom is not open Mondays and Tuesdays, free tours of the brewery are offered daily (see the website for times).

5. Get (sm)art at the city’s myriad galleries. The summer months see a number of art walks, but you can explore on your own any time of the year. Not to miss for art aficionados are the Petaluma Arts Center (230 Lakeville Street), Calabi Gallery (144 Petaluma Boulevard North), and Gallery One (209 Western Avenue).

Directions: Take Golden Gate Transit Bus 101 to Fourth Street & C Street.

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Photo: Clavey Paddle Sports,, Lauren Matison