Santa Rosa, California

Best Places to Retire in California


Santa Rosa (population 155,000) is located 50 miles north of San Francisco Bay Bridge. It is 21 miles northwest of Sonoma and just 30 miles from the ocean. It is the county seat and the largest city in Sonoma County. The county, which has a total population close to 500,000, includes 62 miles of coastal shoreline, and is bordered by well-known Marin County on the south, Napa and Lake counties on the east, and Mendocino County to the north. The other nearby population centers include Petaluma with about 50,000 residents, Rohnert Park with about 40,000, plus a number of smaller communities in the region.

The city of Santa Rosa, incorporated in 1868, is a thriving small city with a solid economy that includes electronics, scientific instruments, fabricated metals, printing, machinery, specialty wood products, and wineries. Tourism is a very important element of the local and regional economy and many businesses cater to it.

Santa Rosa offers a many amenities, including outstanding shopping, dining and cultural arts. It also manages to maintain something of a small town flavor with its Prince Memorial greenway where you can either people watch, stroll, or bike through the downtown. There are also many interesting boutiques, shops, and museums.

The surrounding countryside is as varied as it is beautiful with redwood forests along streams and canyons, vast rolling meadows with grasses and wildflowers, and mile after mile of rocky coastline with spectacular vistas. At the eastern border of Sonoma County are the rugged Mayacamas Mountains with Mt. St. Helena rising to over 4,300 feet. The Russian River flows across the county from the northwest to the ocean and there is a network of over 1,200 miles of paved back roads that offer access to countless scenic locations and the unspoiled hill country. Sonoma County has nearly 200 wineries and it is also well known for its bed & breakfast establishments, spas, and wonderful restaurants. There are excellent state parks, local parks, jogging and biking trails, fishing and other water sports, and 16 golf courses in the county.

All these fine attributes, plus a very moderate year-round climate and a warm and friendly population, combine to make this a very nice place to live in retirement.

Arts & Culture

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is the premier performance venue. 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 16 golf courses throughout Sonoma County and many opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, trail riding, scenic touring, picnicking, camping, fishing, and more. Sonoma County has nearly 200 wineries, many of which welcome tourists and offer wine tasting. Bay Area Golf Guide — 

Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks Department administers the park system and recreation facilities, and offers numerous programs for individuals of all ages. parks/Pages/default.aspx

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 large variety of wildflowers can be seen in April and May. There is also great black bass and bluegill fishing in Lake Ilsanjo.

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.

Infineon Raceway, formerly known as Sears Point, is a world-class racing facility with a road course and a drag strip. 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 offers preparatory and career programs at dozens of sites, including its beautiful Santa Rosa and Petaluma campus locations. The Sonoma County Junior College District serves about 40,000 students each semester.

Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park is a liberal arts and sciences institution located on a 269-acre campus at the foot of the Sonoma hills. It serves approximately 8,000 students, with campus housing for about 2,450 students.

University of San Francisco, North Bay Campus (in downtown Santa Rosa) serves over 200 students. It offers undergraduate completion programs and a number of graduate programs.

Empire College, School of Law & School of Business is a part-time, evening program.

Senior Programs

Santa Rosa Senior Center — (707) 545-8608 Steele Lane Community Center — (707) 543-3282 The Sonoma County Senior Living Guide offers a wealth of information about resources and choices for seniors.


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

Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa is an acute care hospital with 244 beds.

Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center —

Petaluma Valley Hospital, also part of St Joseph’s Healthcare System, has 80 beds.


Charles M. Schultz – Sonoma County Airport (Santa Rosa) is located 6 miles north west of Santa Rosa. It has two 5,000-foot runways.

San Francisco Airport is located just south of the city.

Oakland International Airport —


The seasonal averages for Santa Rosa 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 6.45 inches. Annual rainfall is 30.3 inches. The cool ocean waters and rolling terrain create microclimates that can change by as much as 30 or 40 degrees over a short distance.


The Press Democrat —

Property Taxes

Sonoma County Assessor’s Office –

Sonoma County Tax Office –

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce —

Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce —

State Aging Agency


Rohnert Park – 7.6 miles
Sebastopol – 9.1 miles
Petaluma – 17 miles
Healdsburg – 19
Sonoma – 21 miles
Bodega Bay – 23 miles
San Rafael – 37 miles
Napa – 41 miles
El Cerrito – 50 miles
San Francisco – 50 miles
Oakland – 58 miles
San Jose – 99 miles
Sacramento – 103 miles

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