Santa Rosa is a city of roughly 170,000 people located on the northern coast of California. It has warm summers and mild winters. The climate is well suited to vineyards, and there are nearly 300 wineries in the countryside surrounding the city. Visiting wineries is just one of the cool things to do in Santa Rosa.
10. Imaginists Theater Collective
The Imaginists, located at 461 Sebastopol Avenue, is a performance company that gets the community involved to create pieces that are socially relevant to the region. Some pieces are bi-lingual. A couple of past projects were “Everybody Eats/ Todos Commons,” and “Extranjeros En Su Propia Tierra/ Strangers in Their Own Land.” Tickets for performances can be purchased online until four hours before a performance. The theater will allow people without tickets to take unclaimed seats right before a performance on Pay All You Can Nights, for whatever they can afford.
9. 6th Street Playhouse
The 6th Street Playhouse did their first performance in the renovated 107-year-old building of the Del Monte cannery in 2005. In addition, to plays, the group offers drama classes. The theater, at 52 W. 6th St., stages performances from School of Drama, Studio Theatre, G.K. Hardt Theatre, and Special Events. Some offerings are “Rocky Horror Show,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Forever Plaid,” and several more. A live theater performance in a historical building would be a fun addition to a romantic weekend. Tickets are available at the website.
8. Charles M. Schultz Museum
Charles M. Schultz wrote the beloved Peanuts comic strip for decades. This museum, which is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, has a theater, an education room, and plenty of exhibitions. Across the street is skating rink Snoopy’s Home Ice, with the Warm Puppy Café. Snoopy’s Gallery and Gift Shop is next door. The museum is open every day in the summer, and every day except Tuesday the rest of the year. It is closed on major holidays. Kids three and under get in free. Fans of Peanuts will love this tribute museum.
7. Safari West
Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve. The park is home to more than 900 animals from roughly 90 species of birds and mammals. The animals are indigenous to Africa’s Serengeti. Some of the animals in the park are tortoises, flamingoes, zebras, cheetahs, crested porcupines, monkeys, and many more. Guests take a 2.5-hour safari ride to see most of the animals in their Africa-like setting. They then walk to see the birds and the primates. The park is open year round, and lodging is available. Privately owned Safari West is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to conservation.
6. Howarth Park
Howarth Park, located at 630 Summerfield Rd., is a 152-acre community park that’s loaded with amenities and recreational opportunities. Visitors can play softball, use the tennis courts, have a picnic, go for a hike on the trails, fish at the lake, or take a boat out. The park even has an amusement area with a carousel and other rides, and an animal petting zoo. The park is open every day from dawn to dusk. The Boathouse / Rides & Attractions are open all year, but the hours vary. Howarth Park is a great place to relax with friends and family.
5. Spring Lake Regional Park
Located at 393 Violetti Road, Spring Lake Regional Park is a 320-acre park with a 72-acre lake just east of town. The park is open May through September every day and on weekends and holidays the rest of the year. Hours are 7:00 am to sunset, but the park does have overnight camped off of 5585 Newanga Avenue. Spring Lake is home to the Environmental Discovery Center science museum. It also hosts Family Nature Walks and Science Saturdays. Visitors can enjoy hiking the trails, bicycling, horseback riding, fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming, and picnicking. There is even a seasonal café, Lakeside Grill, at the small lagoon, which serves beer and wine and rents kayaks and paddleboats.
4. Museums of Sonoma County
The Art Museum of Sonoma County features modern and contemporary pieces by regional California artists. The museum features exhibits like “The Sculpted Fiber: West Coast Fiber Artists.” The History Museum has exhibits of local interest like “Journey to Fountaingrove: From Feudal Japan to California Utopia.” There are a number of permanent collections, as well as a sculpture garden. The Museums of Sonoma County are located at 425 Seventh Street. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, except the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Children under 12 get in free.
3. Luther Burbank Home & Gardens
Luther Burbank was such a highly regarded horticultural that his home state of California celebrates Arbor Day on his birthday, earlier in the year than the rest of the country. The Luther Burbank Home & Gardens is his home and it’s where he conducted his research for nearly 50 years. The gardens are open at no charge every day from 8:00 am to dusk. The museum and gift shop are open April through October from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm every day except Mondays. Tours are available for a fee. This registered historical park is located at 204 Santa Rosa Avenue.
2. Santa Rosa Symphony
The city’s symphony orchestra is one of the oldest orchestras in the Western United States and one of the most highly acclaimed for a city of its size. The SRS was founded in 1928. Today, it puts on a regular series of performances and offers classes for young people as well. In addition to its adult orchestra, patrons can listen to several Youth Ensembles at special concerts. The SRS has an Instrument Petting Zoo, which allows audience members to get acquainted with the instruments. Tickets can be purchased online after choosing an event off of the calendar.
1. Pacific Coast Air Museum
The Pacific Coast Air Museum, established in 1990, is dedicated to preserving historic aircraft, educating the public, and honoring veterans. The museum’s collection has grown to more than 30 planes since it’s beginning. With its impressive collection and numerous events, the Pacific Coast Air Museum is one of the best tourist attractions in Santa Rosa. Some events include Santa Fly-In and Climb Aboard! Their annual “Wings Over Wine Country” Air Show brings in 20,000 people each year. The museum, which is located at the Charles M Schulz – Sonoma County Airport, is open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm., with some exceptions. Tickets are available at the gate.
These are the best places to visit in Santa Rosa, besides the wineries, of course. Most of the city’s attractions are open year round. You’ll want to bring a jacket, as it is cool in the winter and also during the summer nights. Whether you enjoy getting dressed up for an evening out or getting suited up for a hike, you will find plenty of fun things to do in this town.