Quick and Easy Getaways

Weekend Escape to Petaluma


Scott Hess

Living in the Bay Area means being surrounded by beaches, harbors and mountains that make great weekend trips. But sometimes getting there requires battling traffic, which can take away from the quality of the trip. Fortunately, there are a handful of destinations that are as little as an hour or less away by car, making weekend getaways super easy.

Petaluma is a great under 60-minute-away weekend escape. Located in Sonoma County, this small town was once known for its farming. Today, Petaluma offers fun activities, many oriented around food, wine tasting, boutique shopping and beer. Festivities honoring Petaluma’s agricultural heritage take place in March and April, making spring a tempting time to visit.

The Seventh Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival (www.artisancheesefestival.com) on March 22–24 offers a fine introduction to Petaluma where, together with locals and food enthusiasts, visitors can meet—and even better, sample the products of—more than 70 artisan producers of local cheese, wine, beer and other specialty foods.

Got kids? No prob. Parents traveling with children can check out the 32nd Annual Butter and Egg Days Parade (www.petalumadowntown.com/butter-and-egg-days-parade.html) on April 27, where there’s a little something for everyone: beer gardens, special events like the Cutest Little Chick contest and a children’s play area complete with livestock.

No one should leave Petaluma with-out stopping at Lagunitas Brewery (www.lagunitas.com). The chili-cheese nachos are steaming hot and perfect with a hoppy beer. The shop sells Lagunitas swag and some of the brewery’s lesser-known brews—great gifts, by the way, for those friends or family left behind.

For accommodations, the Metro Hotel & Cafe (www.metrolodging.com) has cute, cozy, French-inspired cottages on the outskirts of town with beautiful views of starry skies.

Petaluma’s great food, friendly locals and fun activities will transport travelers away from the busy Bay Area—without the locals ever really having to leave home after all.


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