Day 2

Petaluma + Santa Rosa RR Square 

8:30 am breakfast in Hampton Inn Petaluma
Once the dying facility of the Silk Mill, the dining room with 14’ ceiling and long windows define an old elegance in a new setting. Many breakfast choices: yogurt, fresh fruit, juices, eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal (hot and cold), make your own waffle station, sweet rolls, bagels, bread for toasting, coffee/tea. We take our leisure with the breakfast but have much to see and tight schedule, so do not linger.

10:30 am walking tour Petaluma Historical Museum
Free Petaluma History Tour starts at Petaluma’s Historical Library & Museum. 
Carnegie library, built in 1904, boasts Northern California’s largest free-standing leaded glass dome, and exhibits on the area’s poultry, dairy, and Miwok Indian history from the 1850’s. Many artifacts, tools, furniture and photos of those times fascinate us while we wait for the tour to begin. Soon enough, a costumed docent introduces herself (embodying the style and personality of the early citizen who shaped the community), leads our small group out the door. For the next hour and a half we walk about 15 blocks around this beautiful historic downtown following our guide who is delivering a running history narrative as we stroll. She points out various important buildings, noting special points in the design, talks about the evolution of the town over time. Her Petaluma pride brims over making our experience feel very authentic.

Built on bedrock, Petaluma was one of the few North Bay communities not damaged in the 1906 earthquake therefore the downtown area has many original Victorian-era homes and historic buildings. Many are now converted to new uses: boutiques, antique shops, specialty stores, and restaurants.

Petaluma boasts of many unique antique, thrift and consignment stores. Copperfield Books, an independent bookstore, has 10,000 square feet of book titles, a children’s area and magazine section. Into Comics? There’s a stash of popular comics, rare and original issues at Brian’s Comics. Great 90 minute tour. Reluctantly, we have to leave a little early to catch our train.


SMART train Petaluma to Santa Rosa (RR square)
12:23 pm leave Petaluma station 12:52 pm arrive downtown Santa Rosa (RR square) station
Walk briskly toward the SMART train station to catch a ride to Santa Rosa. Day is bright and sunny, almost too warm. On arrival at the Santa Rosa station the gorgeous 1904 train depot building comes into view. It now houses the Santa Rosa Visitor Center /California Welcome Center. We visit a while here but can’t stay long as we have tickets for a 6th Street Playhouse matinee.

15 miles / 24 km / 29 minutes

We sightsee in RR square on our short walk to the theater.

2 pm attend play 6th St. Playhouse
The 107-year-old Del Monte cannery was converted into the 6th Street Playhouse in 2004-05. The building houses two stages and a rich, inclusive education program for ages 7–adult. This non-profit professional theatre creates artistic, inspirational, enriching and entertaining programs, routinely receiving awards for its high-level artistry and its approach to new and old works. In the past we’ve seen many excellent performances here. Today, its a musical comedy which we greatly enjoy. (Perhaps 6th Street’s new pitch should be “Take the train to a play”.)

5 pm dinner Stark’s Steak & Seafood
Awesome experience! 
After the show we amble to this great steak & seafood restaurant. Happy hour in progress in a lively bar. A lager and a Moscow Mule to accompany calamari with orange/chili cremolatta should hold us until our dinner reservation. Yum. About Stark’s – Independently owned, but part of a group of 5 unique restaurants, each with individual identity. Dining room ambiance: subdued lighting, tables set with lots of space between, romantic, elegant, somewhat Speakeasyish, especially in the “cellar” where private events are held.

Our table is set in a “choice” location near the fireplace. Service is careful and unobtrusive. We’re at first seating and the room is full of early diners like us. The exquisite meal which we shared: Surf & Turf – a petit filet (with 3 sauces) and shrimp, Butterfish served with caramelized Royal Trumpet mushrooms, melted leeks, ginger vinaigrette, broccolini with toasted pine nuts and golden raisins. Dessert: Meyer Lemon Pudding cake with roasted blueberries and vanilla crème fraiche. Wine list is deep, arranged by maker, varietal and place. Many spirits and after dinner drinks on the list.

A special place to which we will return many more times.


SMART train Petaluma to Santa Rosa (RR square) 
7:30 pm leave downtown Santa Rosa (RR square) 7:59 pm arrive Petaluma
Back on the train to Petaluma to the south. Tonight we have reservations at the Big Easy for an evening of music and dance with contemporary popular local musicians.

walk to downtown

8:30 pm entertainment The Big Easy
Unpretentious underground venue off a short alley, Big Easy reminds us of gin joints and jazz clubs with low ceilings, concrete floors, and a simple décor. It has a real ‘speakeasy’ vibe with a Hammond organ, small dance floor, comfortable layout, bar with 24 taps and stage large enough for 13 pieces. The lighting is warm and the sound really good for such a small space. Food is available from Speakeasy (across the alley). We get very laid back, meet lots of interesting people — have a great time.

short walk back to hotel

stay Hampton Inn Petaluma
Now reeling with exhaustion we slowly saunter our way back to the Hampton Inn. They left a light on for us.


Day 2 photos
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