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Once known as the "Egg Capital of the World," Petaluma, the second largest city in Sonoma County, is all it's cracked up to be. With a downtown packed with restaurants, boutiques and small town charm, a cultural and historical legacy that is ever-evolving, and more beer, cocktails and wine than you can shake a stick at, this Wine Country destination makes for an easy weekend getaway. Click through the gallery to discover how to spend a weekend in Petaluma.
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Friday, 3 pm, Explore the Hollywood of Northern California: Petaluma might be the Egg & Butter Capital of the World but it's also been nicknamed the "Hollywood of Northern California" for the many roles the photogenic city has played in major motion pictures. Pick up a Petaluma Film Tour guide at the Petaluma Visitors Center and explore the buildings, streets, and backdrops where Francis Ford Coppola filmed "Peggy Sue Got Married" and Bay Area resident George Lucas filmed his breakthrough "American Graffiti" (every year in May, Petaluma pays tribute to the cult classic with a classic car parade). After your tour, pop by the Petaluma Arts Center for a film or an exhibition. (Alvin Jornada)
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Friday, 5 pm, Wine Time: Owned by race car driver Kevin Buckler, Adobe Road Winery wines showcase the distinct terroirs of Sonoma and Napa. The winery offers something for every palate, including sparkling rosé, viognier, pinot noir, and the most epic of the lineup: their cabernet sauvignon from famed Beckstoffer Vineyards. Tastings start at $20.
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Friday, 7 pm, Go Natural, Go French: Located around the corner from Adobe Road, Crocodile serves French cuisine in a relaxed, bistro setting. After operating a successful restaurant in Palo Alto, chef Michael Dolston and sommelier Moira Beveridge decided to open a North Bay establishment. Peruse the wine list, which showcases natural wine (meaning no sulfites or additives). The menu features primarily shared plates, which are hearty and include escargot with fried green tomatoes, salade Lyonnaise, fried chicken tartine $12, and roasted carrots. Or go old school with local cheeses and charcuterie - you'll leave full either way. (Heather Irwin)
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Pumpkin croquettes with creme fraiche and chermula at Crocodile French Cafe in Petaluma. (Heather Irwin)
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Saturday, 8 am, Take a Hike: Sonoma County is known not only for its wine and vineyards, but also for its beautiful landscape - which stretches from sea to mountains. Petaluma is no exception. Venture just west of downtown for a hike at Helen Putnam Regional Park. Offering six miles of trails, the park is a favorite among locals for its panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. It's a great option for all levels of hikers and the trails are also open to cyclists and horseback riding. There's a pond filled with bluegill for fishing fun, too.
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Saturday, 10:30 am, Southern Brunch NorCal Style: Topsy's Kitchen is the best of both worlds: Northern California farm-to-table meets southern cuisine. Owner Estelle Rand and chef-owner Annie Simmons have created a rustic yet chic brunch spot where reservations are a must. Beloved by locals who flock to the sunny patio for mimosas and rich housemade biscuits, the vibe is relaxed and oh so West Sonoma County. Go for the house special Topsy's egg benedict ($14.50) or build your own biscuit, with options including pimento cheese, farmstead jack cheese and avocado, with an organic egg on the side. Gluten free options available.
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Saturday Noon, Egg Queens Rule: Housed in a historic Carnegie Library built in 1904, the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum provides the ultimate Petaluma crash course. Explore the history of the oldest city between San Francisco and Eureka through exhibitions that showcase the Miwok peoples, the original residents of the region, early white settlers, the city's founders, and the fascinating - and at times weird - story of how Petaluma became the chicken capital of the country. Don't miss the photos of the Egg Queen. A gift shop features a wide array of books documenting local history. Free. (Conner Jay)
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Saturday 3 pm, Take to the Streets: The four block area between Washington and D St. offers no shortage of vintage boutiques and shops. Start at the Petaluma Seed Bank, which sells over 1,800 varieties of heirloom seeds within a Victorian-era bank, it's a fascinating stop for serious or wanna-be gardeners. Pop across the street to Old Shanghai, which sells beautiful Japanese kimonos and contemporary and traditional crafts and wares from Asia. Peek inside Thistle Meats, a whole animal butcher shop that supplies many of the hottest restaurants in the area. Grab a meat pie for the road and wander down to Tall Toad Music, a musical instrument store (a rare find these days), showcasing highly collectable guitars. (Conner Jay)
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Check out the collection of new, used and vintage guitars and mandolins at Tall Toad Music in Petaluma. (Conner Jay)
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Saturday 5 pm, Beer Time: Petaluma is one of the beer capitals of the United States and Brewsters Beer Garden is a great place to sample not only local brews, but hoppy delights from throughout Northern California. It's a local favorite, both kid- and dog-friendly, with a beer garden and a rotating schedule of live music. If you want to add something a little extra to your brew, select from the "beer + a shot" menu that includes the Hotbox - a pint of Petaluma Hills Porterluma and a shot of Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur. Feeling snacky? There's a Happy Hour menu.
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Brewsters Beer Garden chef/co-owner Chris Beerman (now that's a suitable name!) serves up BBQ classics, like brisket, ribs, and fried chicken. (Heather Irwin)
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The indoor bar at Brewster's Beer Garden in Petaluma. (Heather Irwin)
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Pear Pressure drink with india pale ale & pear cider at Brewster's Beer Garden in Petaluma. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Brownie Sundae at Brewster's Beer Garden in Petaluma. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Saturday, 8 pm, Food Truck Frenzy: Keep the beer flowing and the food coming at The Block, an open air food truck market and beer garden. The industrial, yet warm and welcoming, space features a rotating cast of local food trucks paired with small production craft beers, an Italian soda bar, games, fire pits and fun for all ages. Firetrail Pizza is the "house truck" serving up localvore wood-fired pizza (go for the old school Margherita). Other food trucks rotate nightly, including Gator's Rustic Burgers, which serves burgers from cattle raised outside of Yellowstone; the Fig Rig, operated by the famed girl & the fig; and Caribbean Spices, which serves filling Haitian food. (Heather Irwin)
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Firetrail Pizza at The Block in Petaluma. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Blue Cheese Fries by the fig rig food truck at The Block in Petaluma.
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Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with cucumber salad at The Bodega food truck at The Block in Petaluma. (Heather Irwin)
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Saturday, 10:30 pm, Nightcap Donkey Style: "Friendly folks, mean drinks," is the motto at Jamison's Roaring Donkey, locally known as the "The Donkey." The casual, farmhouse-themed bar is a popular spot with wine/food industry folks after work, and locals seeking craft cocktails. The Donkey specializes in - you guessed it - mule cocktails. They offer 12 types of speciality mules, including the perfect nightcap mule, the Cafe Burro: cinnamon infused tequila, coffee liqueur and lime. They also serve barrel aged cocktails, including the Jamison Aged, which is aged in a Beringer cabernet sauvignon barrel for a year - guaranteed to help you sleep well.
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Sunday 9 am, Third Wave Brew: The downtown Acre Coffee is a stylish place to recover from your barrel-infused sleep. A self-described "new California coffee" shop, it's usually packed with people on their laptops or reading the New York Times. Order a classic drip coffee or a decadent mocha, paired with one of their signature donuts or a chocolate croissant made that morning.
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Delicious donuts at Acre Coffee in Petaluma. (Kent Porter)
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Sunday 11 am, Olive Petaluma: McEvoy Ranch, producers of acclaimed olive oil, are located on the outskirts of downtown Petaluma, just west of the city. Offering more than just olive oil, the ranch also produces wine and scented skincare products. It is open to the public at select times - make a reservation for their At Our Table Tasting, which includes olive oil and small bites paired with their current wine releases, served at an outdoor dining space. A relaxing way to wrap up a trip to Petaluma.
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Where to Stay - Hotel Petaluma: Originally built in 1923, Hotel Petaluma recently underwent an extensive renovation, creating a boutique hotel that is art deco chic with a touch of romance. Centrally located downtown, the property has 91 guest rooms, which are pet friendly and offer views of either downtown Petaluma or the Petaluma River. Common rooms are elegantly designed with a retro feel. Attached to the hotel is the locally owned Barber Cellars wine tasting room and the Shuckery bistro that focuses on fresh seafood and craft cocktails. (Rebecca Chotkowski)
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Hotel Petaluma's spacious lobby has its original tile flooring and imposing fireplace, with an antique baby grand piano guests are welcome to play. (Photo by Rebecca Chotkowski)
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Where to Stay - Metro Hotel & Cafe: Located just a few blocks west of downtown, the Metro Hotel & Cafe is a "little trip to Paris in Sonoma County." The 140 year old building is eccentric and stocked with French antiques collected by the owners. The guest rooms vary in size and shape, and include three Airstream trailers, which provide guests seeking a retro retreat just that, complete with astroturf lawns and pink flamingos. Main hotel rooms feature large bathrooms with clawfoot tubs and charming decor. They offer continental breakfast in their on-site cafe. For dinner, pop next door to Quinua Cocina Peruana, a contemporary Peruvian restaurant.
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