Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Santa Rosa, CA

  • Published 2022/05/10

Located close to San Francisco, Santa Rosa is a perfect destination if you want to spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest.

The city is filled with shopping destinations, public squares, vast state parks, and attractions boasting gorgeous views.

But do you know what makes it an even more interesting place to visit?

Santa Rosa is the hometown of iconic cartoon character Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.

The city has an entire museum and several statues that were put up in their honor.

Moreover, Santa Rosa features scenic landscapes where you can participate in adventurous activities like getting to see rhinos and giraffes.

With so much to offer visitors, this city will be an exciting place to explore on your next vacation.

These are the best things to do in Santa Rosa, California:

Walk around Downtown Santa Rosa

Name sign of Downtown Santa Rosa

Anzhelika Polyak /

Downtown Santa Rosa is the hub or the heart of the town.

It has everything people want to check out on their vacation.

With some of the best fashion boutiques, bookstores, and delicious restaurants in California, downtown Santa Rosa is a must for your itinerary.

Exterior of a bookstore at Downtown Santa Rosa

Anzhelika Polyak /

There are certain tourist attractions located downtown, such as the old district, Old Courthouse Square, and the Museum of Sonoma County.

This place also hosts public events like live music performances, movie nights, and special markets.

Exterior of a grille at Downtown Santa Rosa

Anzhelika Polyak /

Visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum

Interior of Charles M. Schulz Museum

Wasted Time R at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Santa Rosa takes pride in its talented people.

For this very reason, they have dedicated an entire museum to the talented Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz.

All of his life’s works are showcased here.

The museum features different facts related to the Peanuts cartoon.

Exterior of Charles M. Schulz Museum

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He worked on the famous comic strip for more than 40 years, right in his very own hometown, Santa Rosa.

The collection contains his photographs, letters, and several unreleased documents.

There is also a recreation of the Schulz studio and other characters from the cartoon.

Fans can enjoy coffee and ice cream at Warm Puppy Café and Snoopy’s Home Ice.

Charlie brown statue in front of Charles M. Schulz Museum

Stan DaMan /

Spot Wildlife at Safari West

Lemurs at Safari West Park, Santa Rosa

Kylie Alfaro /

Safari West is a gorgeous tourist attraction located just 10 minutes away from downtown Santa Rosa.

Want to experience an African Safari without actually going to Africa?

There are a lot of safari tours you can avail of here.

A giraffe at Safari West

Elysium Imaging /

The forest spreads across more than 400 acres, and there are a lot of wild animals like rhinos, antelopes, and giraffes.

If you want to spend a night here, you can book a say at one of the luxurious tent cabins located onsite.

You can also join a private safari and enjoy an experience of a lifetime!

A parrot at Safari West

*~Dawn~*, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Boating in Springlake Regional Park

Springlake Regional Park is perfect for your summertime adventures.

The main attraction of this state park happens to be the 72-acre reservoir.

People mainly go swimming or boating in this vast water body.

When you go swimming, you will get floaties, and lifeguards are always there on duty during the swimming season.

There are also available paddle boats and motorboats that will take you all around the lagoon.

There are a lot of fun-filled activities that you can try out at this park.

The park also happens to have a vast campsite where you can spend the night.

There is also parking available for your RVs.

Tennis courts, playgrounds, and picnic spots can be found here.

Pay a Visit to the Old Town

La Rosa in Old Town, Santa Rosa

Anzhelika Polyak /

The Old Town district is a go-to eating and shopping area near the lively downtown Santa Rosa.

The most interesting thing about this part of Santa Rosa is that it has very old buildings, some of which have been there for over a century.

The Old Town’s most iconic attractions are the Peanuts cartoons statues that were erected in honor of Charles M.”Sparky” Schulz.

Certain rail lines take passengers from the surrounding towns to this part of Santa Rosa.

If you want to feel the city’s historical significance, try to spend a night in Hotel La Rose, which is almost a hundred years old.

Learn about Horticulture at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

Exterior of Luther Burbank's Home and Gardens

Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Luther Burbank was once a well-renowned horticulturist in Santa Rosa.

Now, all that is left of him is his wonderful house and equally mesmerizing garden.

Beautiful flowers at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

Jeffrey M. Frank /

This urban garden is now a prized possession of Santa Rosa and is one of the city’s landmarks.

Decorated with a cactus garden, trees, and a greenhouse created by the man himself, the house is a dream for people who love gardening.

There is also a museum that showcases several of his artifacts.

Pathway leading to Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

Jeffrey M. Frank /

Ride a Horse in Trione-Annadel State Park

Swan in Trione-Annadel State Park

natmac stock /

Do you take your adventure activities quite seriously?

Trione-Annadel State Park is one of Santa Rosa’s state parks with some of the best hiking and biking trails.

Lupines at Trione-Annadel State Park

Brian Michelsen from Santa Rosa, California, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also enjoy picnicking, horseback riding, or fishing in the man-made Lake Ilsanjo.

Spring Lake Regional Park is located near Trione-Annadel State Park.

Taste Different Cheeses at the California Cheese Trail

The California Cheese Trail is a slice of paradise for cheese lovers.

Like a wine tasting, the cheese trail will take you to some of the best locations that offer the most delicious cheese for your taste buds to savor.

You can meet the chefs who make these delicious treats and ask them about the secrets behind their delectable flavors.

The milk and cheese of the Californian farms are known for their great taste.

Check Out the Museum of Sonoma County

Exterior of Museum of Sonoma County

Sanfranman59, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are a lot of museums here in Sonoma County, but the museum of Sonoma Country has an opportunity to teach more than the others.

Teaching visitors about the local culture, facts, and history of Sonoma County, the museum attracts a lot of attention every day.

There are a lot of paintings from the 19th century displayed here, along with historically important photographs.

The Fire Project has also been set up in the museum to raise awareness of the increasing number of wildfires in California.

Visit the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market

Fruits on a table at Farmer's market in Santa Rosa

Josh Steichmann /

Are you a big fan of farm-fresh organic goods?

The Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market might just be the place for you.

The city is well-known for its farmers’ market, operating since 1967.

Farmers and ranchers from all over the town gather here to sell their fresh goods.

If you love homemade and fresh local products, you drop by and check out the market’s fruits, eggs, vegetables, and many handmade goods like scented candles.

Admire the Art at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

Gordon Lightfoot performance at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

Sterling Munksgard /

The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is found in an exquisite location in North Bay.

This theater hosts performances by well-known and up-and-coming artists.

Showcasing work by local artists, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts houses stunning paintings, sculptures, installations, and more.

It has been around since 1981 and receives a lot of support from the local community.

The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts hosts various exhibitions that help the artists raise funds.

Learn about Planes at the Pacific Coast Air Museum

Aircrafts on the grounds of Pacific Coast Air Museum

Eugene Zelenko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pacific Coast Air Museum is located inside the Sonoma County Airport, stretching over 5 acres.

The coolest part about this museum is that it displays some original airplanes in a hangar that has historical significance.

Comprising almost 30 real airplanes, the museum also showcases military fighter planes and helicopters.

Name sign of Pacific Coast Air Museum

CrabTree13, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are certain events that allow visitors to enter the aircraft.

On Open Cockpit Weekends, you can climb inside any plan you want and sit in the cockpit.

Just like there are shows featuring cars, this museum has shows that showcase new and vintage airplane models.

An aircraft at Pacific Coast Air Museum

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rejuvenate at Osmosis Spa Day Sanctuary

Enjoy Japanese luxury without even going to Japan.

In the heart of Santa Rosa lies a Japanese-style spa that will take away all your stress with just one visit.

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary will work wonders on your tired body.

There are a lot of bamboo and bonsai gardens that bring a flavor of Japan to California.

Sit back, meditate, and blow away your worries with a wonderful Japanese-style spa day.

Let Your Kids Have a Blast at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is one of the most famous museums for children in the county.

Taking the kids here is one of the best things to do in Santa Rosa.

You don’t have to take your kids across the globe to teach them about arts, science, and the world.

Play and learn in Flavortown, BeeHaven, and AirMazing, among other exhibits.

Allow your children to get a taste of adulthood.

They can play farmer, nurse, sell fruit at the farm stand, and many other roles.

Ride a Little Train at Howarth Park

A 152-acre community park, Howarth Park is open to the public.

Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular hangout spots.

If you’re looking to spend some quality time with your loved ones, the park features a wide range of activities that are guaranteed to please.

The little park train is a great way to go about Howarth Park on a budget.

It’s a quarter-mile long and includes a tunnel, a pond, and a bridge.

Explore Different Shops at Railroad Square Historic District

Daytime view of Railroad Square Historic District

Sanfranman59, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Railroad Square Historic District is the core of Santa Rosa’s “Old Town.”

It is now a magnificent and historic hub of preservation and legacy surrounded by architectural jewels, charming businesses, antique shops, lively restaurants, and colorful cafés.

Many of the buildings in Railroad Square are on the National Register of Historic Places.

They have been lovingly renovated and maintained to evoke a period when the railroads were in their infancy.

There are many places to eat and drink in the plaza and plenty of things to see and do.

Tour and Sip Wine at St. Francis Winery and Vineyards

Exterior of St. Francis Winery and Vineyards

Jim G from Silicon Valley, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Over four decades, the St. Francis Winery and Vineyards family has worked hard to create a magnificent winery and vineyards.

There are more than 400 acres of sustainable vineyards on the property in the Sonoma and Russian River Valleys, where the estate has been producing fruit-driven wines since the 1880s.

The field of St. Francis Winery and Vineyards

Jim G from Silicon Valley, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The estate’s winery employs responsible and environmentally-friendly winemaking techniques to preserve the region’s natural resources and the surrounding environment.

The Visitor’s Center is an imaginative addition to the undulating vineyards with a rustic bell tower and a bronze bell from Marinelli Foundry that can be heard throughout the valley every hour.

Wine and cuisine are served at the estate’s modern tasting area, surrounded by stunning vistas.

The entrance of St. Francis Winery and Vineyards

Jim Gateley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Wine Tasting with a View at Matanzas Creek Winery

Scenic view from Matanzas Creek Winery

Kent Sorensen /

Bennett Valley is home to Matanzas Creek Winery, a secluded vineyard.

It first opened for business in 1977.

At Matanzas Creek Winery, you may enjoy delicious wines while taking in the stunning surroundings.

Beautiful flowers at Matanzas Creek Winery

Kent Sorensen /

In full bloom, the lavender gardens are just breathtaking.

If you want to sip wine and take in the spectacular scenery of Bennett Valley, Matanzas Creek Winery is the ideal place to do this.

A lush tree at Matanzas Creek Winery

Kent Sorensen /

Other Things to Do Nearby

Hike at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Beautiful mountain view from Sugarloaf Ridge State park

Sundry Photography /

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is a vast green area extending over 4,000 acres.

It offers scenes of the splendid Mayacamas Mountains, making it more beautiful.

Can you believe this place sits just 25 minutes outside Santa Rosa?

The hiking trails here are scenic—one offers panoramic views of Sonoma Creek, while another path even lets you see the Golden Gate Bridge if it isn’t foggy.

Nature trail at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sundry Photography /

Some trails even take you to the Bald Mountain summit.

There are over 40 campsites available within the park, giving visitors ample space for setting up tents.

The Robert Ferguson Observatory is a beautiful point with a telescope if you want to look at the stars on a clear night.

A waterfall at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sundry Photography /

Catch the Panoramic Views of Jack London State Historic Park

Winery Ruins of Jack London State Historic Park

Ryan C Slimak /

Are you interested in the books of Jack London?

A 30-minute drive away from Santa Rosa, Jack London State Historic Park is entirely dedicated to the novelist.

It’s built around The Call of the Wild author’s ranch, home, and gravesite.

Daytime view of Jack London State Historic Park

Andriy Blokhin /

The property extends for almost 1,400 acres that visitors can explore.

Though his home was almost destroyed in a fire in 1913, you can still see a lot of remnants and learn about the great man.

There are also a lot of hiking trails here.

People walking along Jack London State Historic Park

Ryan C Slimak /

Final Thoughts

Santa Rosa is a breathtaking place to visit, with various stunning landscapes and intriguing attractions.

Regardless of what you choose to do in this laid-back city, you can expect a good time.

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