Santa Rosa is the cultural, economic and political heart of Sonoma County. The rapidly growing city, which is the county seat, has a population of approximately 160,000, making it the largest city in Sonoma County. Santa Rosa’s population was only 50,000 as recently as 1970.
Sonoma County is known for the grapes grown here and the world-famous wines that result from that harvest. The area surrounding Santa Rosa is home to more than 250 wineries and vineyards, many with attractive tasting rooms, gardens and picnic areas.
The city of Santa Rosa has a diverse economy that is the envy of cities twice its size. Santa Rosa’s many businesses include manufacturing, electronics, wood products, tourism, higher education and more. Shopping areas are abundant and include the Historic Railroad Square, a mix of restaurants, retail stores and shops in refurbished stone and brick buildings. There are three malls, Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa Plaza and Montgomery Village, each featuring hundreds of shops in a variety of fashions. Downtown Santa Rosa includes every sort of restaurant, clothing store, gift shop, bookstore and business imaginable. It is a lively, vibrant area.
The train depot, circa 1904, located in Historic Railroad Square has been restored to mint condition and is now the home of the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the California Welcome Center.
The Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society transformed the former ticket office/telegraph room into an interactive museum of children’s activities and railroading exhibits, with an operational diorama of the depot area complete with model train and tracks. Memorabilia, photos and other exhibits are on display. The depot is located at 9 Fourth St. and is open seven days a week.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, located on the corner of West Steele Lane and Hardies Lane, was opened in Spring 2002. The 27,384-square foot museum includes permanent and temporary galleries, a 100-seat theatre, a room for drawing, and outdoor gardens.
A four-foot tall bronze sculpture of the Peanuts characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy, located in Depot Park in historic Railroad Square, is a tribute to Charles M. Schulz, who was a longtime Santa Rosa resident. The sculpture was a project sponsored by the City of Santa Rosa, the Cultural Arts Council of Sonoma County, and the Sonoma County Community Foundation.
The arts are an important part of Santa Rosa life. The city has several live theater groups. The Santa Rosa Symphony is known as one of the finest of its size, and the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts has a regular lineup of entertainers, dancers and other cultural events.
Natural beauty is also no stranger to Santa Rosa—the city has six acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents in more than 40 parks and recreation areas. Probably the best-known park in the city is the Luther Burbank Center, the former home of the famed horticulturist. For more information, contact the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 404-7673.