Day 3

Petaluma + return home

9 am breakfast Hampton Inn Petaluma
Another challenge! So many choices…which way to go? Fruit and yogurt, yes. Waffle? Rarely have, might be good to try… but we haven’t had oatmeal in a long time, so we go there, drizzle a little Maple syrup on top, and some raisins. Healthy day start. With steaming coffee!

10:30 am facial & massage Life in Balance and Luma Esthetics
In need of some pampering we head to the Burdell Building, you guessed it, another historic structure directly across from the Petaluma Train Station. Built in 1895 as a creamery, cold storage, and electrical power plant by the pioneer Burdell family. Important for its place in Petaluma’s history, today it houses a range of businesses including Luma Esthetics and Life in Balance.
Facial – Luma Esthetics creates a private, personable environment where it is all about you. This is time to relax and feel pampered with a customized result-driven facial. So we get an excellent therapeutic facial from Karen, the owner, and come out glowing.
Massage -The Life in Balance massage room is peaceful, relaxing, warm and cozy. With her background in dance, fitness and massage, Libby, the owner here says: “the best massage you’ve ever had… I know bodies! and listen to my clients needs whether for relaxation or healing”. So we get an excellent restorative massage.

12:30 pm free river kayaking Boating at the Barn
Relaxed and ready we head out for an outdoor, river adventure… a free boat trip! Petaluma’s riverfront reflects both its natural beauty and industrial past. We head to Steamer Landing Park, which covers some two acres near the D Street drawbridge. At certain tide levels you can paddle your way in single or tandem touring-style kayaks through grasses, rushes and reeds, abundant birdlife and waterfowl. Unfortunately, low tide right now makes boating impossible… so trip cancels. Going with our second choice, we walk riverfront trail, watch birds, search for wildlife. Day is starting out warm but very clear. From here we can see a mile ahead to the freeway. Across river is the Hampton Inn, looking very imposing and important. On the path a restored livery stable serves as the David Yearsley River Heritage Center. They host free Sunday morning boat rides with a growing fleet of rowboats, canoes, kayaks and a sailboat. Blackberry bushes line the path — they are in season. We pick and eat. Glorious day. Wonderful views.

1 pm snack/visit River Front Cafe
Walking into historic downtown, we stop here to rest/refuel. River views from its terrace are lovely and shaded: large glass windows offer views from the interior as well. Restaurant is spacious, light and airy. Perfect for a day that has become excessively warm. Menu extensive: Mediterrean choices are homemade and authentic. We go for those. Very generous portions. Can’t finish – take a doggie bag. Family owned. We meet father and son. Food is delicious, service prompt, cloth napkins, and owner walks the floor to check satisfaction with patrons. Go there! 

2 pm visit Metro Hotel
On our way toward Aqus Café we stop to visit. This French-inspired boutique hotel in a restored 140-year-old building is decorated with vintage French posters, colorful French kitsch, original clawfoot tubs. 16 charming rooms, two independent cottages, and several designer Airstream trailers! Onsite French café is for hotel guests only. Fresh crepes and organic coffee served each morning. This a self-serve hotel — which means you book online, then check yourself in at any time of day or night using a phone and keyboard at front door. Luckily for us, management happened to be there during our short visit and gave us the history and a tour. Want a fun, quirky venue? This is it.

2:30 pm visit Aqus Cafe
A short walk to the Aqus located in the old/new Foundry Wharf building. The very amiable Irish owner has created a community living room where people enjoy entertainment, good food, vibrant talk, get to know each other, share interests and build relationships. Extensive selection of locally produced artisan foods and beverages. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Performing today is Maui singer-songwriter Pat Simmons Jr., son of Doobie Brother guitarist. Messaging about important environmental issues in his music, he intends to wake people up to the pivotal moment we are at as a species and our need to address the realities we face. He delivers his environmental messages with a laid-back, folk sound.

3 pm tasting Sonoma Portworks
A few doors down in the same complex is the acclaimed Sonoma Port Works (SPW) and its neighbor, Stillwater Distillery. Charming Caryn Reading and her husband started SPW. She takes us through a flight of their Ports and after-dinner drinks. Not since our visit to Porto, Portugal have we had such beautiful products to taste. Everyone entering the tasting room walks out with a purchase. This is when we wish we had wheels and could take home many bottles of their wonderful Port. Only manage a drink recipe handout and a tiny bottle of their Sonomic Almost Vinegar – a rich sweet and tart tasting prize. You’ve never tasted anything like this!

3:30 pm visit Stillwater Spirits
Petaluma’s smallness brings everyone into same orbit sooner or later. Tim Welch, Master Distiller for Stillwater (located next door) drops by SPW looking for exercise partner to throw horseshoes with. Outgoing and friendly, he invites us to view his operation. Of course we do – though hard liquor not on our agenda. He distills for Moylan brands; has earned gold medals for his excellent products. Stacks of medals have been collected, scattered casually and littering the bar area. 3 stills operate here but he tells us a larger facility has just been acquired. We HAD to taste his product! OMG.

5:30 pm dinner TAPS
Our last stop: another waterfront café. Been past it several times in the last few days but today we sit on the deck, enjoy the river view and watch the fishermen in boats below us. Very casual vibe, many families and young folk. Grace, our wait person, is cute and quick. Our menu choices: Quail Poppers (quail from the Diamond H Ranch, wrapped in jalapenos and bacon, grilled to perfection, served with arugula, pecorino cheese, balsamic reduction). Taps Burger (1/3 lb. beef patty, red onion, little gem lettuce, aged cheddar cheese and aioli). Summer Salad (watermelon, arugula, feta, sliced almonds, champagne vinaigrette). Plus one large Carlberg light ale to share. A lovely place to end the day and complete our 3-day excursion.

short walk back to hotel
Time to pick up our stored luggage and walk to the train station. We’ve planned well so everything relaxed and mellow as we await train home.

SMART train Petaluma to San Rafael
7:59 pm leave Petaluma station 8:30 pm arrive San Rafael station

19 miles / 31 km  / 31 minutes

9 pm home
Fun trip. Experienced a lot and perhaps most importantly, we did it without a car.


Day 3 photos
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