9 Things to Do in Santa Rosa: From Foodies to Families

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Smack dab in the middle of Napa Valley and Sonoma County, the city of Santa Rosa is a central destination to explore all Wine Country has to offer. World-class wineries and restaurants tease the tastebuds, and attractions like the Charles Schulz Museum and the Railroad Square Historic District serve as immersions into local and American history. We’ve compiled a list of places that shine in the city of Santa Rosa.

Award Winning Zinfandel

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Image Source: Yelp
St. Francis Winery and Vineyards
100 Pythian Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
(800) 543-7713
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 209 reviews
Reservations: Recommended

Starting off as a grape producer in 1971, owner Joe Martin opened his own winery in 1978, effectively putting the St. Francis Winery on the map. Stop in and enjoy the fantastic views, along with tastings of the Chardonnay, Merlot, and old vine Zinfandel. It is worth the splurge to reserve the wine and food pairing, where Executive Chef Bryan Jones creates an assortment of small dishes to pair with hand-selected wines. Insider tip: During the summer months, the winery hosts movie nights outside on a big screen.

Well Known Favorite

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Image Source: Yelp
Kendall-Jackson Winery
5007 Fulton Rd.
Fulton, CA 95439
(707) 571-8100
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 156 review

Kendall-Jackson winery has built a reputation for quality and consistency over the years, and the grapes grown at this beautiful, relaxing vineyard have established the wines as some of the country’s best known. A wide array of wines and tours will leave you with a palpable knowledge of wine and food pairings: Partake in the Sensory Tour, where you’ll get to taste a wine variety, and learn about the palate profile, food pairing spectrum, and the regional and barrel influences involved. Be sure to tour the gardens for a beautiful and educational experience. Insider tip: The winery often offers a Champagne Sunday brunch in the orchard under the trees.

Historical Charm

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Image Source: Railroad Square Historic District
Railroad Square Historic District
94th St.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 578-8478
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 92 reviews

Located in the Old Town area of Santa Rosa, the Railroad Square Historic District is home to several buildings surrounding the original railroad station, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The quaint area offers shopping, dining, and wine tasting options that veer toward local tastes, and stores like Olde Towne Jewelers and Whistle Stop Antiques provide opportunities to snag some unique souvenirs. Grab breakfast or lunch at Omelette Express, one of the most popular breakfast nooks in Sonoma County. Insider tip: If you’re planning a trip during the holidays, the Railroad Square Historic District offers free horse-drawn carriage rides.

Wine and Culture

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Image Source: Yelp
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
50 Mark West Springs Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 546-3600
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 97 reviews

Enjoy an evening of entertainment after your day of wine tasting. The Wells Fargo Center for the Arts has played host to some diverse world-famous acts—Elvis Costello, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and the Moscow Ballet have graced the stage over the years. If you plan to stay in the area for a week, the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts provides summer camps for kids who want to play music, draw, and act. Insider tip: Be sure to check out the sculpture garden next door.

African Experience

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Image Source: Yelp
Safari West
3115 Porter Creek Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 579-2551
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 551 reviews

For a fun safari adventure without booking tickets to the Africa, Safari West boasts exotic wildlife like cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos, monkeys, and zebras that roam the 400-acre sanctuary. Several packages are available, including Wild Nights in Wine Country, where visitors indulge their adventurous spirits with overnight stays in safari tents (a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola wine and a free pass to Francis Ford Coppola’s Alexander Valley tasting room is included). Santa Rosa can get cold during the winter months, so be sure to pack some long sleeves. Insider tip: Fifteen minutes away, book a massage in one of the many Calistoga spas.

Visit Your Childhood

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Image Source: Yelp
Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center
2301 Hardies Ln.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 579-4452
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 534 reviews

Go back to your childhood with Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the Peanuts gang at the the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. Get an in-depth look at Schulz and his long, successful career penning some of the most iconic characters in cartoon history, and explore the museum’s exhibitions with a tour that will teach you about the man, the characters, and the research that goes on at the museum. Animation junkies of all ages can even drop in on classes offered in cartooning, animation, and character design. Insider tip: Walk over the ice rink, where you and the kids can ice skate and eat lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe.

Not Just for Kids

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Image Source: Yelp
Children’s Museum of Sonoma County
1835 W. Steele Ln.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 546-4069
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 16 reviews

Interactive and hands-on, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County offers children aged ten and younger the opportunity to discover arts and sciences with activities such as “shopping” in the Farmer’s Market, “salmon fishing” in the Russian River, creating water tables through mechanical play, fort building in the wild zone, and weekly art projects in Ella’s Art Studio. Insider tip: Don’t worry about bringing snacks. The vending machines are full of healthy foods that will tide you and the young ones over until dinner.

Flowers are Forever

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Image Source: Yelp
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
Santa Rosa & Sonoma Avenues
204 Santa Rosa Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 524-5445
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 118 reviews

World-renowned horticulturist Luther Burbank spent 50 years in Santa Rosa experimenting with plants and flowers. Today, his work is on display at the property where he lived. Spend a couple hours on a self-guided tour, or enjoy a docent-led experience available April through October. Now a national, state, and city historic landmark, the home is a quaint diversion for garden buffs to relax and learn a little bit about rare flowers, like the Burbank-created Shasta Daisy. Insider tip: Visit the sister site, The Luther Burbank Experiment Farm, in Sebastopol, where Burbank cultivated over 800 original varieties of plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and grains.

Picnic in Nature

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Image Source: Yelp
Howarth Park
630 Summerfield Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 8 reviews

Immerse yourself in nature and stop by Howarth Park, the 152-acre community park that is regarded as the “jewel” of Santa Rosa. There’s a large lake for fishing and boating, along with softball fields, tennis courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, and miles of hiking and jogging trails. The kids will enjoy the amusement area, which features a miniature train ride, carousel, animal farm, and pony rides. Insider tip: The park allows you to feed the ducks. Just be sure to purchase bird seed at the pet store down the road instead of using stale bread.

Santa Rosa often gets overlooked when compared with Napa Valley and Sonoma, but its rich culture and endless list of things to do make it an entertaining stop during your Northern California adventure.