SONOMA COUNTY

County Offices
575 Administration Drive
Santa Rosa 707-565-2431
http://sonomacounty.ca.gov

Chamber of Commerce
50 Old Courthouse Square
Santa Rosa 707-545-1414
www.santarosachamber.com

 

Services
Sonoma’s geography has played a vital role in the area’s growth and  development–a combination of coastal plains with three distinct north/south valleys divided by hills and mountains: Santa Rosa, Russian River, and Sonoma. The variety of elevations and climate created by this mix has encouraged a diversity of agricultural activity. California’s oldest winery, Buena Vista, can still be found just east of the City of Sonoma. Eleven different microclimates have given birth to more award-winning wineries than any other viticulture region in the United States–and wine is just part of the story.

The City of Petaluma at the southern section of the county serves as the center of the dairy activity and a growing industrial center. Sebastopol to the west is the hub of the apple industry, both in terms of orchards and the associated processing plants. The communities of Healdsburg, Geyserville, and Cloverdale to the north are known for grapes, prunes, and lumber as well as recreational attractions. Driven by a surge of high-tech manufacturing, the wine industry, and specialty food production, Sonoma County has assumed a leading role in the California economy–an enviable position that is likely to continue well into the new millennium.

Business and residential growth are both enhanced by the availability of exceptional services and an outstanding quality of life. Newcomers can look forward to cutting-edge healthcare in hospitals and medical centers throughout the county, supported by skilled professionals in every specialty.

Public and private schools provide a first-rate education on primary and secondary levels, while community colleges, vocational schools, and four-year institutions ensure opportunities for higher education within a short commute from home.

In addition to programs and classes offered by Santa Rosa Junior College and the two-year Heald College in Santa Rosa, students are able to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from the state-supported Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park.

While Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hayward are known for their leading universities, Sonoma County residents can find highly respected institutions much closer to home. The nearby private Pacific Union College in Angwin has been ranked among the top ten liberal arts colleges in the West by U.S. News and World Report.

 

Quality of Life
General Vallejo called Sonoma County “The Land of Enchantment.” Luther  Burbank praised it as the “chosen spot of all the earth as far as nature is concerned.” If their opinions seem biased, consider the indescribable beauty of 76 miles of handsome Pacific Coast beaches, majestic redwood forests, and 1,400 miles of scenic backroads.

Between the powerful Pacific Ocean and the forested coastal mountains, the Sonoma Coast claims some of the most spectacular vistas on the famous Highway 1. Stir in the ingredients of a charming fishing village, verdant vineyards, a restored Russian Colony outpost, cozy resorts and hotels, horse and wagon rides, and restaurants with a cornucopia of locally grown products.

Set against the backdrop of this exceptional natural beauty, Sonoma County offers virtually endless possibilities for pleasure and activity. Riding trails, horse shows, and yearly races thrill equestrians, while golfers perfect their backswing on 18 challenging courses.

Cycling enthusiasts consider the region to be the pinnacle of riding pleasure. Stroll along the beaches, watch for whales, snorkel or scuba dive, study the birds and wildlife in the wetlands, or paddle a canoe down the Russian River. You can also dine on a riverboat as it glides through tranquil waters, hike through a state park, sample the goods at a farmer’s market, or tour an artist’s studio.

Even the cities and towns that punctuate the countryside are known for their charm and warm hospitality. Serving as the county seat, Santa Rosa and the surrounding suburban area accounts for nearly half of the total population. Sonoma, on the other hand, is the historical heart of the county and noted for its gracious resort facilities.

Each community claims a distinctive character and personality. The quiet town of Healdsburg offers wonderful restaurants, cafes, bakeries, bookstores, galleries, and intimate shops. Petaluma is peppered with antique stores. Windsor is home to the great Hot Air Balloon Classic, and Rohnert Park serves as the local “Silicon Valley” center of high technology.

Cultural attractions are equally rich and diverse. Aficionados of the performing arts will enjoy the variety of musical and theatrical events at the Luther Burbank Center, including the Santa Rosa Symphony.

Community theater, choral groups, bands, orchestras, ballet–even an opera group is active in Sonoma County. You’ll find an event to match every mood, from quiet talks by touring authors at the local bookstore to the pulsating Russian River Jazz Festival each June.

Sonoma County manages to strike the ideal balance between sophistication and rural charm, blending modern shopping malls with picturesque rolling hills dotted with dairy farms and apple groves. Lush vineyards produce the award-winning wines that have made this corner of California so famous around the world, surrounded by some of the nation’s most beloved getaways.

The charming village of Glen Ellen, for instance, is home to The Gaige House Inn–an 1800s architectural wonder with a décor that mixes West Indonesian, Plantation, and pure sophistication. Arts and Entertainment lists the inn among the 10 most romantic getaways in the world.

Such world-class style and grace is a common theme throughout Sonoma County, ensuring its place as one of California’s most cherished treasures. Home choices range from small, secluded cottages to magnificent estates with Bay views. Quaint Victorians peek out of hillsides, while traditional suburban communities offer the finest of contemporary styling in closely knit neighborhoods. Offering a truly unparalleled quality of life, the heart of the wine country reaches the very pinnacle of desirability as a place to live, work, and play.

 

Cloverdale
Municipal Offices
707-894-2521
www.cloverdale.net

Chamber of Commerce
707-894-4470
www.cloverdalechamber.com

Characterized as a country town that is moving toward a suburban atmosphere, Cloverdale is conveniently located just 19 miles from Santa Rosa’s array of urban amenities. Housing options in this small and friendly town are varied, ranging from Victorians and Traditionals to bungalows and tract homes from the 1950s. The lovely adult residential community of Clover Springs, created by Del Webb of Sun City fame, is available on the southern side of town.

Recreational opportunities are exceptional, from the rolling Russian River to nearby Lake Sonoma. Highway 128 leads to redwood country and coastal Mendocino, although a local swimming pool, Youth Center, and athletic fields provide diversion for the young. In spite of recent growth patterns, Cloverdale has managed to retain the charm of tree-shaded streets where children ride bicycles, locals frequent the farmer’s market, and the entire town celebrates the annual Citrus Fair.

Serene in its wine-country setting, Cloverdale offers all the simplicity and intimacy of small-town living in close proximity to Santa Rosa’s urban advantages. Just around the corner from home, you can find centers for the arts, libraries, symphony and theater, 38 parks, two public lakes, an ice arena, senior center, movie theaters, aquatic center, and a roller-skating arena.

 

Healdsburg
Municipal Offices
707-431-3317
www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
707-433-6935
www.healdsburg.org

Well known for its undeniable charm, the river town of Healdsburg lies in the heart of Sonoma’s  premium wine region. The Russian River makes a sweeping loop around the east side of town, flowing by a community filled with yesterday’s treasures. Anchored by the town square and gazebo, the commercial district offers wonderful antique shops, galleries, bookstores, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. Impressive restoration investments that included landscaping, burying utility lines, and adding vintage streetlights have enhanced the ambiance. Healdsburg Plaza offers a Spanish-style park ideal for picnics, stargazing, and open-air concerts.

Lining the symmetrical, grid-patterned streets of “old town” are rows of elegant Queen Annes, bungalows, cottages, and elegant homes built in the styles of Italianate, Greek, and Mediterranean. The well-kept mix creates a beguiling image, making this a popular spot for visitors. Closer to the river are lovely custom homes and residential developments of newer construction, although small vacation cottages still line many points along the Russian River.

The river’s close proximity adds more than scenic beauty to the area, it encourages a wide range of recreational activities from boating and canoeing to swimming. A strong cultural community infuses vitality and richness into the small-town setting, filling the calendar with musical concerts, stage productions, and even live comedy.

 

Petaluma
Municipal Offices
707-778-4345
www.cityofpetaluma.net

Chamber of Commerce
707-762-2785
www.petalumachamber.com

As Sonoma County’s second largest  city, the river town of Petaluma is located near the southern border and offers the most reasonable commute to San Francisco.

The city is obviously divided by the Highway 101 into a quaint older section as well as an attractive newer suburban neighborhood. In contrast to cities that neglect their past, Petaluma is preserving the charm and beauty of its former mansions. The latter includes the hacienda-fort built by Mariano Vallejo.

Once known as the “Egg Capital of the World,” Petaluma still celebrates the glory of yesterday with an annual Butter and Eggs Parade. While the heyday of egg production is over, about a million hens still lay 200 million eggs in this region. Dairy farms create a rural backdrop for city life. At the same time, Petaluma offers attractions and amenities usually reserved for much larger towns, from a lively nightlife to an amazing variety of restaurants, festivals, a museum, a large auto mall, playhouses, opera, drama, ballet, car races, art galleries, and antique stores.

Housing options in Petaluma include older homes in the “old town” district that offer everything from ornate architecture to simple bungalows with unusual character and charm. East of the freeway, tract homes span the decades to offer a wide variety of styles, sizes, and price ranges. Private pilots will appreciate the municipal airport on the city’s eastern border.

 

Rohnert Park
Municipal Offices
707-588-2226
www.rpcity.org

Chamber of Commerce
707-584-1415
www.rohnertparkchamber.org

Distinctive as a sparklingly new  master-planned community built in the late 1950s, Rohnert Park is strictly a suburban residential city. Ideally situated between Petaluma and Santa Rosa, the county’s two most populated cities, Rohnert Park has never developed a true town center or commercial district. Nevertheless, the community has enjoyed remarkable growth and popularity over its brief history, attracting both retirees and families to its residential developments.

Among the highlights are Sonoma State University, college sports, a semi-pro baseball team, 500-seat performing arts center, orchestra, theater, ballet, lush parks, community and senior centers, two 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, athletic fields, four swimming pools, roller-skating rink, libraries–and more parks and recreational programs than cities twice its size usually offer.

Homes throughout Rohnert Park are primarily well-kept and neatly landscaped, most neighborhoods representing the epitome of “middle America.” Nearby shopping centers and plazas add to the convenience of daily life. Regarded as an educational innovator, the community’s high school has joined the International Baccalaureate program and the school district has invested $5 million into classrooms for high school students at Sonoma State University.

 

Santa Rosa
Municipal Offices
707-543-3010
http://ci.santa-rosa.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
707-545-1414
www.santarosachamber.com

The commercial and cultural hub of Sonoma County as well as the  county seat, Santa Rosa covers flat lands, hills, and valleys with its blend of sophistication and country charm. Already the largest city in the county, Santa Rosa is the focus of continued new construction in single-family homes and multi-family complexes. Building and renovating schools has remained a top priority for civic leaders, who have also managed to create an inviting, attractive, and vibrant downtown district. Retail, dining, and entertainment establishments are graced by renovations such as ornamental brickwork, fountains, and lush landscaping.

As the gatekeeper of resources for the entire county, Santa Rosa is a responsible and generous steward. Amenities include centers for the arts, symphony concerts, libraries, nearly 40 parks, lakes, an ice arena, teen center, senior center, aquatic center, summer camps, roller-skating arena, movie theaters, bowling, wildlife preserve, sports complex, and athletic facilities for every imaginable sport. Lake Ralphine offers sailing, and the county fair attracts 400,000 to its displays and diversions.

Adults of all ages can take advantage of the local community college, while the county’s state university is available in nearby Rohnert Park. Neighborhood shopping plazas meet the need for goods and services, although two regional shopping centers–downtown and Coddington Center west of Highway 101–combine a host of specialty shops with major department store anchors. Housing options range from newer tract and custom houses in the northern quadrant to more traditional homes and neighborhoods in the southern sections.

 

Sebastopol, Russian River
Municipal Offices
707-823-1153
www.ci.sebastopol.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
707-823-3032
www.sebastopol.org

Characterized as a country city, Sebastopol offers a casual brand of elegance that tends to captivate newcomers from the first moment. Progressive, culturally strong, and quietly upscale, the city became famous for its Gravenstein apple orchards, which are now giving way to acres of vineyards. Still considered the center of the county’s apple industry, Sebastopol is the hub for many of the farms that sell fresh produce throughout the region.

A community in the richest sense, Sebastopol features a new central plaza with fountain, gazebo, benches, and small pavilion. Three parks, playgrounds, swimming pool, tennis courts, bookstore, theater, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants combine with antique stores and retail or service establishments. Nearby Santa Rosa provides any major malls, cultural events, or expanded urban amenities that might be lacking at home.

The delightful Russian River area and Sonoma Coast are just around the corner, a popular summer resort destination where picturesque towns like Bodega Bay, Jenner, and Sea Ranch serve as second-home communities with a New England flavor. Prime recreational amenities, wonderful restaurants, colorful fishing boats, and powerful cresting waves make this a relaxing and invigorating getaway.

 

Sonoma
Municipal Offices
707-933-2213
www.sonomacity.org

Chamber of Commerce
707-996-1033
http://sonomachamber.org

One of the richest of California’s  many cities in historic significance, Sonoma claims the home of Mariano Vallejo and the site where the Bear Flag was first raised to claim U.S. rights to California. However, most of the city’s residential development occurred after World War II, shaping neighborhoods of suburban homes and neat lawns.

While most of Sonoma does not resemble a page from the history book, home choices offer a pleasing mix of periods and styles, from Spanish architectural lines to Victorians, redwood contemporaries, and sprawling ranches.

Sonoma manages to harmonize many aspects of work, play, and homelife that most communities tend to separate. Elements of old-fashioned country charm and modern suburbia are blended effortlessly into the cityscape, placing earthy farm scenes within a mile or two of downtown. The community’s country roots can also be felt in the town square–a delightful retreat of duck ponds and playgrounds–surrounded by restaurants, shops, bookstores, and a movie theater.

This “Valley of the Moon” is also renowned as the birthplace of California’s wine industry, and Sebastiani runs its winery within a block of the mission. Nearby communities like Glen Ellen and Kenwood or Boyes Hot Springs are filled with wine-country delights such as fine restaurants, spas, and luxurious inns. Closer to home, sports and recreation programs combine with social and service clubs to fill the leisure hours of every age group.

 

Windsor
Municipal Offices
707-838-1000
www.townofwindsor.com

Chamber of Commerce
707-838-7285
http://windsorchamber.com

As the county’s newest city incorporated in 1992, Windsor is still refining its identity and struggling to gracefully accommodate the rush of growth and development. New houses, new schools, new library, new civic center, and new recreational attractions make this an attractive place to call home–particularly for those employed in nearby Santa Rosa or Rohnert Park.

Offering homes that are less than 15 years old, Windsor is known for manicured lawns, lovely residences, well-tended businesses, and clean streets. Small lakes form the backdrop for some homesites, while others rely on the surrounding hills for tranquil views. Along the border of town, small vineyards and open countryside punctuate the suburban atmosphere with rural charm.

Local amenities include community and neighborhood parks, a public golf course, senior center with pool and spa, community gym, Boys and Girls Club, and a kaleidoscope of recreational program and activities for all ages and interests. Over 100 wineries cover the surrounding countryside, which also encompasses the vacation paradise of Russian River. All the pleasures and adventures of the Pacific Ocean are just a half-hour’s drive away.

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