Petaluma, California

Best Places to Retire in California


Petaluma (population 57,000) is located in southern Sonoma County, 36 miles northeast of San Francisco. This historic city on the Petaluma River is one of he oldest cities in the state and has one of the best preserved historic downtown areas. Its riverfront is where hunters camped in the 1850s and it grew into a port for exporting flour, potatoes, lumber, eggs, and shoes.

The heart of the city is its historic downtown area, which is along the riverfront. Across the river to the east are the newer neighborhoods and shopping centers. Beyond the downtown area are many Victorian homes and Iron Front buildings. Surrounding the city are dairy and crop farms, and ranches with hayfields, field crops, and open land that reaches to the hills on both sides of the river valley. Throughout the countryside you will find plenty of organic produce, haunted houses, animal petting areas, and other activities throughout the year.

Petaluma has a welcoming atmosphere and is considered a fun and relaxed place to visit, live, and work. There is music, live theater, good dining choices, art, antiques, and boutique shopping. Boaters have chosen Petaluma as one of the “Top Ten Bay Area Leisure Boating Destinations” because they can dock at the yacht club or in the turning basin and walk to restaurants, shops, or the downtown parks and enjoy the nightlife. The city has also been recognized as one of the most popular choices in the nation for baby boomers in their 30s and 40s who are relocating.

Petaluma, which is at the juncture of north/south Highway 101 and east/west Highway 116 is in an ideal location for exploring the nearly 200 wineries in Sonoma County, Point Reyes National Seashore and the coastline, or the California redwoods. At the same time it is within reach of the much of the entire Bay Area.

Arts & Culture

Petaluma Wildlife & Natural Science Museum features animals, minerals, fossils, prehistoric artifacts and hands-on exhibits. (707) 778-4787

Cinnabar Theater presents opera, drama, dance and music year round.

ARTrails (Sonoma County Art Trails) offers two weekends of studio visits that include numerous local artists.

Petaluma Arts Council sponsors arts events throughout the year.

Petaluma Arts Association sponsors Art in the Park and Petaluma Open Studios.

Petaluma Poetry Walk is hosted at various venues in the historic downtown area and features well-known poets from the area and beyond. (707) 763-4271

McNear’s Mystic Theater, Saloon & Dining House is a unique historic structure that includes a renovated 1911 vaudeville theatre. It offers live entertainment, headliner performers, music and special events.

Petaluma Butter & Egg Days is an annual spring festival that features exhibits, a food court, arts & crafts, a parade with bands, floats, equestrian units and more, and many fun activities for young and old.

Petaluma Museum is located in the former Carnegie Library building. It houses exhibits on the poultry and dairy industries, and on the history of the Miwok Indians.

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa is the premier performance venue for the area. There are seven resident performing companies, four theaters and the Sonoma Museum of Visual Art.

Santa Rosa Symphony presents 21 subscription performances.

The 6th Street Playhouse presents popular musicals and contemporary plays. It is home to the Santa Rosa Players and Actors Theatre.

Ballet California is a resident company at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa. (707) 537-0140 Santa Rosa Concert Association presents a Great Artists Series.

Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa offers museum exhibitions, art, history and cultural concepts related to the county.

Pacific Coast Air Museum —

Sonoma County Fairgrounds hosts the annual county fair and harvest fair as well as many other cultural and trade events.

Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center contains many original drawings, awards and memorabilia of Charles Schulz


There are three nearby golf courses and 16 courses throughout Sonoma County. In addition there are many opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, trail riding, scenic touring, picnicking, camping, and fishing. Petaluma is also a very popular boating destination with docking in the basin with an easy walk to the amenities of the historic downtown. There are 15 state and regional parks in the area, and Sonoma County has nearly 200 wineries, many of which welcome tourists and offer wine tasting.

Petaluma Wheelmen is a cycling club that offers scheduled rides in western Sonoma and Marin counties.

Bay Area Golf Guide — 

Petaluma Parks and Recreation Department administers the city’s 41 parks and recreation facilities, and offers numerous programs for individuals of all ages.

Nearby Point Reyes National Seashore has trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. It offers leisurely drives throughout the seashore area to the beaches and wildlife areas. You can also picnic at the beach or at the trailheads.

Annadel State Park, on the edge of Santa Rosa, is a rugged wilderness with hills, streams, meadows and forests. It features over 40 miles of trails for hikers and horseback riding. A great variety of wildflowers can be seen in the April and May time period. There is also great black bass and bluegill fishing in Lake Ilsanjo.

Infineon Raceway, formerly known as Sears Point, is a world-class racing facility with a road course and a drag strip (about 15 miles east of the city). It hosts major events featuring NASCAR, the Indy Racing League, NHRA Drag Racing Series, and motorcycle racing.

Jack London State Historic Park and Sugarloaf State Park offer trails for riding. You can either rent your ride or bring your own.


Santa Rosa Junior College (Santa Rosa & Petaluma campus locations) offers preparatory and career programs at dozens of sites, including its beautiful Santa Rosa and Petaluma campus locations. There are about 14,000 students.

Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park (about 9 miles) is a liberal arts and sciences institution located on a 269-acre campus at the foot of the Sonoma hills. It serves approximately 6,500 full-time students, with campus housing for about 2,450 students.

Senior Programs

Petaluma Senior Center offers a schedule of activities for persons over 55 years of age. (707) 778-4399 The Sonoma County Senior Living Guide offers a wealth of information about resources and choices for seniors.


Petaluma Valley Hospital, part of St Joseph’s Healthcare System, is an 82-bed acute care hospital.

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is a Level II trauma center and offers all medical services. The hospital, which is also part of St. Joseph’s Healthcare, has 345 beds and over 2,100 employees.

Airports & Train Service

Charles M. Schultz – Sonoma County Airport is about 22 miles from Petaluma and six miles north west of Santa Rosa. It has two 5,000-foot runways.

Oakland International Airport (about 47 miles) —

San Francisco Airport —

Oakland International Airport —

Amtrak Service – Petaluma


The seasonal averages for Petaluma in January are a high of 58 degrees and a low of 37 degrees. The averages for July are a high of 84 degrees and low of 51 degrees. January is the wettest month with an average rainfall of 5.45 inches. The summertime is dry with daytime temperatures from 65 to 85 degrees. The average humidity is a very comfortable 66 percent.


Argus Courier —
The Press Democrat —

Property Taxes

Sonoma County Assessor’s Office –
Sonoma County Tax Office –

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce — Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce —

State Aging Agency


Cotati – 9 miles
Rohnert Park – 10.5 miles
Temelec – 11.5 miles
Sonoma – 14 miles
El Verano – 14 miles
Boyes Hot Springs – 15.5
Santa Rosa – 17 miles
Sebastopol – 17miles
Eldridge – 18 miles
Glen Ellen – 19
Napa – 25 miles
Bodega Bay – 27 miles
Healdsburg – 31 miles
San Francisco – 36 miles
Oakland – 42 miles
San Jose – 82 miles
Sacramento – 87 miles

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