Wine tasting amongst the vines in Sonoma County is obviously one of our favorite things to do in Wine Country, in addition to eating delicious food, taking in impressive sights, and experiencing Sonoma’s stunning natural landscapes. But there’s another wonderful reason to spend time exploring Sonoma — it’s an antique and vintage collector’s paradise. In and around the five main towns of Sonoma County you’ll find collections of desirable treasures, from retro cowboy boots and mid-century furniture to Japanese textiles and rare books. So, whether you’re looking for the perfect vintage accent for your house or a unique gift your sister will love, grab a coffee and follow our guide because it’s time to go antiquing in Sonoma County.
A few miles from the Sonoma Plaza you’ll find Chateau Sonoma in the Cornerstone Sonoma marketplace. Inspired by visits to the flea markets of Paris, owner Sarah Anderson offers a collection of French antiques, worldly vintage furniture, and local crafts, as well as a smattering of sweet honey and delish jam from her nearby farm. Each May, Chateau Sonoma hosts the French Flea Market, drawing over 20 French antique dealers from around the Bay Area to celebrate in true French fashion.
Out along the Sonoma Highway it’s still the Wild West at Lonesome Cowboy Ranch, located in Boyes Hot Springs. If you’re a lover of quality western wear, stop in to search through the racks of cowpoke and prairie princess clothing. Add some fine Southwestern jewelry, a belt with a big engraved buckle, a cowboy hat, and fringed coat, then complete your look with a pair of boots from the incredible collection.
Petaluma is a historic town with well-preserved buildings and Victorian homes. Downtown you’ll find many stores offering antiques, so you could easily spend your whole day here. Start at Vintage Bank Antiques, housed in a gorgeous architectural gem which once served the banking needs of Petaluma’s citizenry of yesteryear, and you’ll find three floors of goods from over 30 dealers. For this consummate treasure hunt, you’ll probably need several hours to look over the collection of fine paintings, furniture, clocks, California pottery, crystal, and jewelry.
Pack up the car but don’t leave Petaluma just yet. Down the boulevard from the bank, Chelsea Antiques is filled with unusual artifacts, artwork, furniture, lighting, and estate jewelry. Customers rave about the selection that the 25 dealers have brought in, and the word “unusual” tells the whole story here. You might score a collection of old leather baseball mitts for the man-cave, a 1930’s Remington typewriter for your office, a wire egg basket to liven up your kitchen, or even carved paneling for your wine cellar — it’s all here, and then some.
If you can’t resist a run through a thrift and consignment store, The Thrifty Hippy is for you. Merchandise runs the gamut from 1970’s tube tops and flared jeans, to ruffled curtains, old vinyl records, and funky furniture — you’ll never know what you’ll find. The owner has a lot of community heart and even maintains a free children’s section: bring an item and take one home for free. Vintage shoppers will appreciate the selection, as well as the store’s playful side; the hand-drawn sign inside says, “We try to open at around 11. Sometimes we open at noon.”
Serious military artifact collectors and history buffs won’t want to miss the Military Antiques & Museum, which features Civil War battlefield relics, WWI & II memorabilia, uniforms, and firearms from many countries. There is also a free museum to tour, dedicated to Petaluma’s only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. Richard Penry.
Looking to expand your antique doll collection or want to repair a favorite? You’ll find your tribe at Doll Mercantile in Petaluma. Colleen Richardson’s passion for dolls is evident throughout this enchanting shop, which offers antique dolls, porcelain and china heads, doll parts, restoration work, period clothing, and collectable bears. Bring in your old doll so they can help you bring it back to “beautiful.”
Driving up Highway 101 from Petaluma, take Highway 116, also called Gravenstein Highway. This stretch of highway is dotted with antique shops, galleries, and antique malls, with the largest collection of goodies in Sonoma County located at Antique Society. Wander through the usual treasures from many eras, but also look for items from the Art Deco, Atomic Age, and “California Mod” Age. If you don’t have the time to devote to multiple stops during your antique shopping spree, just come here and park it. After hunting through the 20,000 square feet of yesterday’s treasures, the onsite Society Bakery & Cafe is a nice spot for a late lunch of fresh soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Clustered around the Historic Railroad Square in “Old Town” Santa Rosa are some interesting businesses including Whistlestop Antiques, a bonanza of prime collectables. Try on colorful Bakelite bangles, ogle vintage furniture, and flip through historical Life magazines. Or sit at your grandmother’s wrought iron patio set and marvel at vintage toys and model trains. The store also specializes in Native American handcrafts from local tribes. With 36 antique dealers, this is where you’ll find “it.”
Saunter down the street a few blocks to the vintage clothing heaven of Hot Couture Vintage Fashion. In this temple of vintage attire, most of the inventory is from the golden age of clothing design in the 1940s to 1960s. Styled like a boutique, you’ll find that all of the men’s and women’s clothing, hats, gloves, ties, and handbags are spectacularly well-priced. If you want to wear something sparkly to dinner tonight, you can even rent fully accessorized period costumes like a Victorian gown.
Right on the main drag of Healdsburg sits Antique Harvest, one of the oldest merchants in the area and the go-to spot for area interior decorators and designers. Within the 7,000 square feet of space there’s sure to be something that catches your eye. Estate jewelry, old cameras, 1960’s Christmas décor, records, art, congas, and china sets are a few of the items you’ll have fun scrutinizing in the dealer’s booths.
Fancy some antique Japanese silk and textiles? Yasuko Bloom of Yasuko uses antique Japanese Kimono silks in her women’s clothing designs. Some of her lines sell at Saks and Nordstrom around the country, but the Yasuko one-of-a-kind line using antique silks are exclusive to her Healdsburg store. Although you’ll be enchanted by the clothing, don’t miss her vintage Japanese textiles, kimonos, obis, and interior items for your home.
It’s true, Sonoma County is an antiquing wonderland. And with so many local antique stores offering such a diverse assortment of quality heirlooms, you’re sure to have a memorable time scouring the shops for distinctive treasures.