I have always driven right by Santa Rosa on the way to Sonoma or Healdsburg and never stopped. Thanks to a family wedding I was able to stay there and explore the county seat of Sonoma County. I found some really fun things to do and places to eat..
Railroad Square Historic District: West of 101, is an historic area that was rebuilt in the early 1900’s after the San Francisco earthquake. The shops, restaurants and wine bars of today are found in former hotels, macaroni factories, grocery stores, bars, livery stables and other wholesale operations from the past. This is where I stayed and was the main focus of my experience there.
Flying Goat Coffee: At 10 Fourth St., this is a regional coffee roaster based in Healdsburg. They have a sleek contemporary decor and great coffee and baked goods including muffins and scones. I also liked their own chai sweetened with honey.
A’Roma Roasters: A local coffee shop at 95 Fifth St. that is the oldest roastery in Sonoma County.
Hotel La Rose, 308 Wilson St.: This is a small 48 room boutique hotel in an historic building right in the heart of the Railroad Square Historic District. They also have accommodations in the newer Carriage House next door.
Jackson’s Bar and Oven: At 135 Fourth St., this is a great spot for lunch or dinner. They have a really attractive, contemporary decor. I had a chilled pea soup and their lobster rolls which were both outstanding. They have a number of salads, pizzas and sandwiches.
Omelette Express: A fun, casual local’s spot for breakfast and lunch. It has a great selection of eggs, omelettes, benedicts and sides. 112 Fourth St.
Whistlestop Antiques: Since 1996, this is a large antique store with a great selection. 130 Fourth St.
Rococo Mercato: An attractive store featuring artisan pieces, new accessories and vintage finds. They have jewelry, scarves, hats and handbags plus tabletop, home décor and gifts. 127 Fourth St.
Ancient Oak Cellars & Downtown Deli: At 621 Fourth St. Downtown, this is a tasting room for a local winery that also has a deli during the day and that offers small plates in addition to tastings on certain evenings of the week. It is a family winery with three estate vineyards. I really liked their Russian River Valley Zinfandel, their Pagnano Vineyard Zinfandel and their Pinot Noir Rose named after their daughter Lucy. The owner Melissa Moholt-Siebert, was delightful and very knowledgeable. .
Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi is a popular spot at 515 4th St. in downtown for sushi to barbecue and burgers.
Paradise Ridge: This is a very lovely Russian River Valley winery with stunning views from the tasting room. The reds are excellent, particularly the Rhone blend. 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr.
Station 1870: This is a wine and craft beer lounge located at 123 Fourth St.
Melissa Moholt-Siebert at Ancient Oak Cellars recommends Willi’s Wine Bar for small plates and wine flights. It is a classic California roadhouse located at 4404 Old Redwood Highway.