The town of Petaluma offers a little slice of California history to all who come to sample its Victorian delights. As one of the few cities in Northern California spared the ravages of the 1906 earthquake, it is a rare example of what the citizens saw at the turn of the century.
The years have been kind to Petaluma's history, and its citizens have worked hard to preserve as much of it as possible. An aggressive program of preserving older homes and commercial buildings as well as the Historic Riverfront has made Petaluma the attractive tourist destination it is today.
Petaluma played an important part in California's early history, providing game and produce to the burgeoning cities of San Francisco and Oakland during the Gold Rush years, thereby making possible continued growth into today's major metropolitan area.
The heart of Petaluma is its Victorian Historic Downtown, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Home to more than 600 businesses, 65 historical properties, the Butter & Egg Days Parade, Art & Garden Festival, Victorian Holiday events and the Annual Antique Faires, Petaluma offers many colorful family events that provide opportunities to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of life.
The Petaluma River is the focal point of shops and restaurants where visitors can watch wildlife and visiting yachts. Stroll across the Jack Balshaw Pedestrian Bridge in either direction for waterfront views of the river basin and downtown.
The Great Petaluma Mill, which stands guard over the west bank, is one of the oldest structures in town. The Mill incorporates a two-foot thick stone wall on its south face that was the original food locker for much of the game that served San Francisco restaurants in the last half of the 19th century.
At one time, Petaluma was the ninth largest municipality in the state with the river having the distinction of being the third busiest in the State of California. While the commerce has dwindled since the construction of Highway 101, the river provides a pleasant setting for shops, restaurants, a yacht club and a snug harbor for power and sailboat enthusiasts from all over to visit. Any given weekend will find from five to 60 boats tied up at the floating docks.
Visitors can combine shopping with history and wander through the downtown district of graceful Iron Front buildings of the 1800's. Many of the antique stores, gift shops, clothing boutiques, art galleries and a whole wide variety of service businesses are housed in historic buildings. Visitors can relax in one of the many award-winning restaurants and cafes, pamper themselves at the salons, be entertained, get in a great workout and be greeted by warm, caring people who provide a friendly hometown experience.