25 Best Things to Do in Santa Rosa (CA)

Source: Flickr / Sharon Hahn Darlin | CC BY 2.0

Santa Rosa, which is Spanish for “Saint Rose”, is a small town in Northern California, located just an hour north of San Francisco. Being Sonoma County’s largest commerce hub, it still has a cozy feel and is known for its rich agricultural history, flourishing arts and craft breweries.

An abundance of wineries can be found in Santa Rosa, or nearby, which offer a series of vine tasting experiences, each in their unique way. Home to the famous artist Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon, Santa Rosa also has incredible historical memorabilia of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, making it the perfect destination for children too!

Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Santa Rosa (CA)


Source: Map data @2020 Google

1. Spring Lake Park


Spring Lake Park
Source: Flickr / Sandip Bhattacharya | CC BY 2.0

Laid out over 320 acres of land and water, Spring Lake Park is one of Sonoma County’s largest and most popular public parks.  It features several hiking, biking, and horse riding trails, some of which are wheelchair accessible, as well as a huge campground with barbecue spots and several sleeping cabins.

With a 72 acre lake and 3-acre swimming lagoon, Spring Lake Park makes the perfect spot for aquatic activities like swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. If you’re with your little ones, there even is an Environmental Discovery Center, which makes for the perfect place for some science fun.

2. Epicenter


Epicenter
Source: Flickr / Ralph Bean | CC BY 2.0

Looking for a place with everything fun under one roof? Well, Epicenter Sports & Entertainment actually has it all. Epicenter is a huge recreational facility with a gaming zone, a bowling alley, several sports and fitness facilities, and delicious dining options.

There is a trampoline park, a mega play structure, and an indoor football field for children looking to engage in some physical activity. For others, there are several arcade games as well as a laser tag room for fun with friends. You can even book in advance and arrange your parties here to make them even more exciting!

3. St. Francis Winery and Vineyards


St. Francis Winery and Vineyards
Source: Flickr / HarshLight | CC BY 2.0

Voted “Best in America” by OpenTable hotels since 2013, the Wine and Food Pairing engagement at St. Francis Winery and Vineyards is a culinary experience of a lifetime, offering a distinct five-course fine dining experience, prepared specially for you by an in-house certified Chef.

Additionally, you can opt for an Estate Pairing arrangement, which guarantees not only a 75-minute engagement filled with delicacies prepared using the best wines from the vineyard but also views of the panoramic mountain and vineyards.  However, if you’re just looking to taste some wine from 100% certified sustainable Vineyards, the Tasting Flight engagement offers Zinfandel and Artisan Tasting experiences at the Sonoma Valley Wine Tasting Room.

4. Safari West


Safari West
Source: Flickr / Don DeBold | CC BY 2.0

Are you an outdoors person and an animal lover? Well, the Safari West Wildlife Preserve is just the place you need to visit. With experiences ranging from 1 day to a whole week, Safari West has been one of the most visited wildlife destinations in the US. This wilderness is spread over 400-acres and is home to 900 animals from 90 different species!

If you plan to stay overnight, there are over 30 tents, each featuring a private viewing deck and an en-suite bathroom, which provide exhilarating views of the Sonoma Serengeti (“Endless Plains”). The entire experience is kid-friendly, so this is the perfect getaway for families too!

5. Charles M Schulz Museum and Research Center


Charles M Schulz Museum and Research Center
Source: Flickr / Naotake Murayama | CC BY 2.0

If you loved the Peanuts Comic Strip growing up, the Charles M Schulz Museum has to be on your to-go list, hands-down. This museum house works from Schulz, a Japanese artist name Yoshiteru and various other artists that have paid a tribute to Schulz through their art.

The museum features a great hall, as well as three galleries which have new pieces of art every year. The great hall has a 3.5-ton wood sculpture showing the evolution of Snoopy (from Peanuts) and a 22-ft high mural made from 3588 strips of the Peanuts Comics, which depicts a memorable moment from one of the published comic strips.

6. Coddingtown Mall


Coddingtown Mall
Source: Flickr / Greenbelt Alliance | CC BY-ND 2.0

Only 1 of 2 enclosed shopping centers in Santa Rosa, Coddingtown Mall opened back in 1962 and has since been the go-to place for anyone looking to do shopping in town. Home to famous stores such as JCPenny, Target, Nordstrom Rack, and even Macy’s, it the ideal shopping destination for locals and tourists alike!

This mall also has a 1000-gallon salt water fish tank which was featured on the TV Show “TANKED” and is one of the most visited aquariums in town! The children’s play area ensures some fun for your little ones while you’re out on your shopping spree and the food court makes for the perfect place to stop by for a quick meal to satisfy your hunger!

7. Railroad Square Historic District


Railroad Square Historic District
Source: Wikimedia / Anlace | Public Domain

Known as Santa Rosa’s “Old Town”, Railroad Square Historic District is the historic center of Santa Rosa and is filled with a number of restaurants and antique souvenir shops. In 1979, it was awarded a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, due to its significant efforts in protecting architectural buildings which show the detrimental impact railway had on Santa Rosa.

Easily accessed by Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, the Railroad Square has recently become the tourism center of Sonoma County’s Wine Country and has several hotels situated throughout the district. There is even a free Railroad music festival held here every year in June, which invites a lot of tourists!

8. Laguna De Santa Rosa Trail


Laguna De Santa Rosa Trail
Source: Flickr / harminder dhesi | CC BY-ND 2.0

This 1.8-mile trail gives you some of the most unique views of the city from numerous different points throughout the trail. The Laguna De Santa Rosa Trail is wheelchair accessible and offers paths for biking, walking, and hiking as well as equestrian trails.

The trail is mainly situated in grasslands with oaks and eucalyptus, and is primarily pet-friendly, except for the additional 0.6-mile pedestrian trail, where dogs aren’t allowed due to environmental sensitivity. Along with views of Mount Saint Helena and nearby vineyards, visitors are offered an overlook for bird watching at the point where the trail loops around Kelly Pond.

9. Children’s Museum of Sonoma County


Childrens Museum of Sonoma County
Source: Pixabay / RosieKliskey

Founded in 2005, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is the perfect destination for parents with children, 10 years old and younger, because the exhibits and activities are designed specifically for this age group. This museum aims to provide children with hands-on experience and learning through a series of exploratory exhibits.

These exciting experiences encourage individuality in children as well as improve their skills in experimentation and discovery. Exhibits are essentially devoted to science, art, and nature, with an emphasis on environmental sustainability, renewable energy, and conservation of water. So next time you’re in Sonoma county with your children, drop by and have an exciting experience!

10. Trione-Annadel State Park


Trione-Annadel State Park
Source: Flickr / harminder dhesi | CC BY-ND 2.0

Spread over 5092-acres, the Trione-Annadel State Park is located in the northern part of Sonoma County, right beside Spring Lake Regional Park. This park offers miles and miles of trails for trail riding, hiking, and even mountain biking. The terrain in the park is quite hilly and the highest mountain peak is the top of Bennett Mountain at 1887-feet.

Lake Ilsanjo, located in the park, offers mesmerizing varieties of flowers in its surroundings throughout Spring, which makes for very scene photo ops. It is also the perfect lake for fishing black bass and bluegill, so don’t forget your fishing rod when you plan on visiting Trione-Annadel State Park.

11. Snoopy’s Home Ice


Snoopys Home Ice
Source: Flickr / cplbasilisk | CC BY 2.0

Owned and built by the Peanuts Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena has become more commonly known as Snoopy’s Home Ice. Opened in 1969, this indoor ice rink offers entertainment options to the people in town through a series of activities such as public skating, private ice time, ice hockey, and even figure skating.

It also hosts the Annual Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament in which 64 teams from around the globe, compete for the winning prize in a week-long competition. The ice rink features 500 seats, which often get expanded to 3000 seats for concerts and events held here occasionally.

12. Pacific Coast Air Museum


Pacific Coast Air Museum
Source: Flickr / Pete Webber | CC BY-SA 2.0

Established in 1989, the Pacific Coast Air Museum is a non-profit organization committed to advancing and safeguarding the history of aviation through a series of classes and programs held throughout the year, along with their exhibits.

The museum features three acres of aircrafts in the outdoors, cockpit tours on the weekends, WWII Flight Equipment, and even a Realistic Flight Simulator. So whether you’re looking to brush up on your aviation history or you’re looking to get hands-on experience with aviation tech, the pacific coast air museum is the perfect place for you to visit!

13. Luther Burbank Home & Gardens


Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
Source: Wikimedia / Frank Schulenburg | CC BY-SA 3.0

Designated as a National and State Landmark, the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens is a public park featuring the garden, the greenhouse, the grave, and the house of the notable horticulturist Luther Burbank. Private guided tours come at a cost but the entrance to the park itself is absolutely free!

Plant sale and gift shops take place multiple times a week, allowing you to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits. The garden and greenhouse feature collections of ornamental grasses, roses, fruit trees (especially plums), and a huge variety of cactus as well. However, due to the environmental sensitivity of the plants, pets are not allowed anywhere in the park (except service animals).

14. Howarth Park


Howarth Park
Source: Flickr / harminder dhesi | CC BY-ND 2.0

Known as “the jewel” of Santa Rosa, Howarth Park is a community park spread over 152-acres of land, featuring a lake, picnic spots, and several kids’ attractions. The lake is ideal for fishing and boating whereas the tennis courts and a softball field are the perfect places to play sports with friends and family.

The special amusement area for children features an animal farm, a carousel, a train ride, and even ponies on which you can ride. Apart from this, there are unique playground structures as well as miles of hiking and jogging trails, meaning that there is something for everyone here at Howarth Park!

15. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts


Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
Source: Wikimedia / Stepheng3 | Public Domain

Formerly known as the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Luther Burbank Center (LBC) is an art performance venue located in north Santa Rosa and is run by the Luther Burbank Memorial Foundation. Having supported over 40000 children through their education programs in performance arts, LBC is Sonoma County’s premier art center.

The main theatre, Ruth Finley Person Theatre, has the capacity of hosting 1612 visitors at once and has been home to severable notable performances by famous directors. Smaller venues are also available to rent and are more frequently used for parties and community events held by the locals.

16. Matanzas Creek Winery


Matanzas Creek Winery
Source: Flickr / Bryan Maleszyk | CC BY 2.0

The Matanzas Creek Winery was established in 1977 and since then, it has made its place in the community as a scenic winery situated in a remote location with flourishing gardens of lavender, a wine tasting bar, a bocce court, and a souvenir gift shop.

The primary varieties for which Matanzas is famous include Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, both of which are suited to the temperate climate of Sonoma County. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Bordeaux-style reds are also produced here in a limited amount, making them more exclusive. The entirety of the winery’s fruit is harvested from sustainably-farmed vineyards which are scattered throughout the Bennett Valley.

17. Taylor Mountain Regional Park


Taylor Mountain Regional Park
Source: Flickr / harminder dhesi | CC BY-ND 2.0

Situated in south-east Santa Rosa, Taylor Mountain Regional Park offers vast, panoramic views of the city and distant mountain peaks, through a series of trails that climb to its peak. With a magnanimous size of 1100-acres, the park features an 18-hole golf course as well as several trails for biking, hiking, and even horseback riding.

Atop the 1100-ft summit, there are great photo ops throughout the day but especially during the sunset time window, when the shadows and lights align themselves to produce the most beautiful of lighting conditions. There are even picnic tables and parking for horse trailers on sight, which makes it a perfect spot for a family outing!

18. Lynmar Estate Winery


Lynmar Estate Winery
Source: Flickr / star5112 | CC BY-SA 2.0

Located a short drive out of Santa Rosa, Lynmar Estate Winery is known for producing and serving the best variants of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Their hospitality tasting center features mesmerizing views of the Russian River Valley and their very own vineyards, while simultaneously serving from a portfolio of 21 different wines.

They have one of the only state-of-the-art Gravity-Flow winery, which relies on natural phenomenon to extract juices from freshly harvested grapes and eventually produce the most decadent wine you would have ever tasted! The in-house chef also serves meals from various cuisines, prepared fresh with vegetables from the vineyards and the Winery’s finest wines!

19. Laguna Wetlands Reserve


Laguna Wetlands Reserve
Source: Flickr / Jon Jones | CC BY 2.0

Also known as Laguna de Santa Rosa, the Laguna Wetlands Reserve is the 2nd largest freshwater marsh in northern California. It is named the “river that flows both ways” because, during heavy rainfall, the Laguna carries water away from the river which in turn reduces floodwater levels; however, after the tide falls, the Laguna reverses its flow and brings the water back into the river.

This Laguna has played such an important role as a floodwater storage basin and if it weren’t for the water being stored here, the flood level at Guerneville would’ve been significantly higher, leading to most of the town’s structures being submerged underwater.

20. Museum of Sonoma County


Museum of Sonoma County
Source: Wikimedia / Wulfnoth | CC BY 3.0

Featuring a contemporary art gallery, the historic Santa Rosa Post Office, and a garden full of sculptures, the Museum of Sonoma County (MSC) is one of the most diverse museums in Santa Rosa. Home to over 18000 objects from 10-12 different exhibits, MSC is also on the National Register for Historic Places owing to the 1910 Santa Rosa Post Office.

Located in the historic downtown district,  it inspires the local community through a series of art exhibitions, public programs, and history collections. With multiple changing exhibitions every year, you are ought to be astounded by a new collection every time you visit!

21. Ledson Winery & Vineyards


Ledson Winery and Vineyards
Source: Flickr / Jim G | CC BY 2.0

Owned and run by the Ledson Family, Ledson Winery and Vineyards was designed and built by Steve Ledson himself back in the 19th Century. Spanning over a massive 16000 sq. ft area, the French Normandy winery is also known as “The Castle” all around the world, because of it being an architectural masterpiece.

Several different tasting experiences are available to be booked, each with its unique characteristics. However, all of them have one thing in common and that is: delicious wine. There is even a Gourmet Deli offering savory meats, cheeses, and sandwiches, which means that there is something for everyone to try, no matter what you like.

22. Patrick Amiot


Patrick Amiot
Source: Flickr / tess | CC BY 2.0

Featuring junk art made by artists Patrick Amiot and Brigette Laurent, Patrick Amiot is one of the most visited permanent art installations in town. There are numerous sculptures in this art area, which have all been built by Patrick himself, using scrap metal, and then painted by his wife Brigette.

They both have installed their artwork in different parts of town along Florence Avenue in places like offices and front-yards of big houses. Each of these pieces of art is so unique and intriguing that it’s almost impossible to miss them when you are in town!

23. Paradise Ridge Winery


Paradise Ridge Winery
Source: Flickr / Emma Seibert | CC BY-ND 2.0

Opened in 1994, the Paradise Ridge Winery is a family-run ranch located in the Russian River Valley, which is the world’s finest grape-growing region. A giant oak tree and a sculpture garden await you at the entrance of this winery whereas the rest of the winery provides scenic views of the valleys, where the vineyards are situated.

If you plan on savoring artisan wines while soaking in picturesque views of nature, the Paradise Ridge Winery is the place for you to be! They have 3 different tasting experiences available for reservation as well as a wine shop on-site, which sells their artisan wines.

24. Ives Park


Ives Park
Source: Flickr / Julie, Dave & Family | CC BY-SA 2.0

Located a short drive out of the town of Santa Rosa, Ives Park is a community municipal park featuring a children’s playground, several picnic tables, and even a baseball field! For entertainment purposes, there is an outdoor swimming pool, which is open during certain months, as well as a theatre stage.

Several festivals are held here throughout the year such as the Roma Festival, Cajun Festival, and the annual Apple Blossom Festival. These festivals bring in roughly 25000 people each year, including both tourists and locals, making this an exciting attraction to visit and enjoy!

25. Bird & The Bottle


Bird and The Bottle
Source: Unsplash / Miguel Dominguez

Awarded the “James Beard Award for Semi-Finalists for Outstanding Restaurateur” in 2013, Bird & The Bottle serves some of the best authentic cuisines in Santa Rosa. Serving innovative and personalized Seafood and Poultry mains, Bird & The Bottle is especially known for their BBQ’D Octopus and their Cherrywood Smoked Beets.

With over hundreds of 5-star reviews, Bird & The Bottle has the best Southern & Asian flavors in town, with an outdoor patio as well as vintage accents. So whenever you’re in Santa Rosa next, you definitely have to drop by Bird & The Bottle to get your culinary fix!