Wind (and wine!) your way through Northern California’s scenic byways, small towns, and vintage-rich shopping. Well known as outstanding wine country, it’s a can’t-miss area for seeing magnificent natural landmarks, visiting charming small towns, dining lavishly, and shopping for an amazing array of antiques and vintage collectibles (yes, many wine related).
Our itinerary started in Petaluma in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco, then we tooled up Highway 116 to Sebastopol, hitting shops along Antique Row and stopping off at wineries and vineyards north of town. Then we zipped up Highway 101 to Healdsburg for a lightning visit. Instagram-worthy vistas appear at nearly every turn, regardless of the season in Sonoma County. It’s a beautiful place to snap away your day.
Among the most picturesque towns in America, Petaluma is about 30 miles north of San Francisco. The riverfront city is one of the oldest in California. Its downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Victorian buildings define downtown. Built on secure bedrock, Petaluma was one of the few communities in the Bay Area that escaped damage in the 1906 earthquake, and the town’s Victorian homes and elaborate iron-front buildings bring a unique character and beauty that enhance a visit to this wine country gem.
In addition to a long list of antique and vintage shops downtown, Petaluma hosts the Petaluma Antique Faire twice a year, in spring and fall. A vibrant art scene is woven into the fabric of this diverse community. A bustling shipping and manufacturing center at the turn of the last century, Petaluma now has thriving arts community, which is exhibited in area galleries amid wine bars, breweries, and artisans’ shops.
Three floors jam-packed with art, furniture, jewelry, collectibles, and books draw the serious antiques aficionado and casual vintage collector alike to Vintage Bank Antiques, housed in a grand architectural treasure.
Bank on finding a unique treasure for your favorite bibliophile.
Storage-rich hatboxes sport cool graphics.
Collectibles for every taste can be found at Chelsea Antiques.
Two floors of vendors ensure a long visit to this shop.
Inspiring displays await around every corner. You’ll find yourself yearning for items you never knew you wanted. Old brushes, anyone?
Perfect your sense of balance on an antique penny-farthing.
As you might expect of a shop in the gateway to wine country, Sienna specializes in wine-related vintage finds such as grape harvest baskets, wine bottle corkers, drying racks, casks, and wine presses.
This vineyard tool is a real corker! (sorry, I couldn’t resist it)
The shop is also rich in antiques and collectibles from Europe.
1940s and ’50s textiles abound at Yankee Girl Antiques.
Add a tropical look to any room with vintage barkcloth.
Filled now with another form of green, the Seed Bank is housed in the former Sonoma County National Bank.
The Seed Bank offers a fabulous variety of seeds, potting soils, gardening books, gifts, tools, and plants, as well as Sonoma County honey.
Ready to nosh? In Petaluma, start with a small plate and a glass of wine at Vines & Barrels.
Then sample the offerings of the town’s award-winning restaurants, which take advantage of the area’s agricultural bounty.
Finish with dessert at the Petaluma Pie Co.
From boutique luxury to economical camping, Petaluma has you covered. Located downtown, historic Hotel Petaluma is steps away from restaurants and unique shopping. See more on dining, lodging, events, and attractions at visitpetaluma.com. To get there from San Francisco, drive north on Highway 101, which is the main artery for our itinerary, exiting at Petaluma Boulevard South.
Sebastopol, a little further north, embraces the fine arts, history, fine dining, wine, farming, sustainable living, outdoor recreation and more. Wander Antique Row along Highway 116. Don’t miss charming downtown Sebastopol, where you’ll discover many unique shops featuring crafts, books, housewares, and toys, along with restaurants, pubs, and art galleries.
More than 600 wineries dot Sonoma County and nearby Napa County. We limited ourselves to the Russian River vineyards because of their proximity to Sebastopol.
Grape vines are pruned carefully by hand and to exacting standards for best production. Recommendations for tastings : Stop at the Dutton-Goldfield tasting room and Red Car Wine Co. next door.
Visit Iron Horse Vineyards, where the staff will point out exactly where on the hills surrounding you your wine came from. Then, enjoy the views and the tastes at Gary Farrell Winery (reservations required).
Don’t miss our next post, when we head up north to Redwood country!
© Caruth Studio