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Explore Snoopy and the Peanuts in Sonoma County 2-Day Itinerary

See how the Peanuts Comic strip characters developed over the decades in exhibits at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.

With the 2015 debut of the first full-length Peanuts movie in decades, this is the perfect time to celebrate the funny, touching, and loveable Peanuts cartoon characters by visiting their "home town" — Santa Rosa, California.

Created by the late cartoonist Charles "Sparky" Schulz, the Peanuts gang lives in our hearts and minds. Charlie Brown working up the courage to talk to the red-haired girl. Lucy pulling away the football at the last possible moment, or just being her crabby self. Linus philosophizing while clutching his security blanket. Snoopy flying his doghouse in a battle against the Red Baron, dancing with wild abandon, or simply being cool.

Schulz passed away in 2000, but his characters continue to charm us, and make us laugh. Nowhere is their presence felt more than in Sonoma County, which Schulz called home for more than 40 years. He moved to the town of Sebastopol in 1958, and settled in Santa Rosa in the early 70s.

A modest man, Schulz nixed the idea of sculptures of himself. However, he approved statues of his characters. In tribute, the city of Santa Rosa sponsored "Peanuts on Parade" art projects, in which local artists decorated five-foot-tall fiberglass statues of a single character.

Charlie Brown figures were decorated in the summer of 2005, Woodstock in 2006, Snoopy in 2007, and Lucy in 2010. In all, the program distributed more than 200 statues and raised more than $500,000 for art scholarships and to install permanent bronze Peanuts sculptures at three sites in town.

As a result, whimsically decorated images of these four Peanuts characters are scattered across Santa Rosa and its environs, tempting fans to explore the community that Schulz loved. Each individual statue has its own color scheme and personality, depending on the organization or individual who commissioned each piece and the vision of the artist who decorated it. Although they are privately owned, more than 70 are still in public view.

Find the Peanuts statues! Download this pdf with addresses and photos of the viewable Peanuts statues (list courtesy of Charles M. Schulz Museum).

 This two-day itinerary takes you to some of the most memorable and entertaining of those images, along with places significant to Schulz. Be prepared to smile, to laugh, and to celebrate life through Peanuts.

Charles M. Schulz Museum and Snoopy's Home Ice

Whether you fly or drive to Sonoma County, the best place to start your Peanuts adventure is at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (2290 Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa, 707-565-7243; designated as STS). The fact that the airport is named for Schulz illustrates the affection local people felt for this quiet and unassuming cartoonist. The airport terminal makes it clear that Sonoma County is Peanuts country.

Out front, large bronze sculptures of Charlie and Linus lean against a stone wall, watching visitors come and go. Inside, one wall is highlighted by a painting of the airport's logo, which features Snoopy on his doghouse, jauntily flying by a control tower. On another wall a narrow painted banner also features fighter pilot Snoopy and his doghouse, and proclaims, "Thank you for flying STS."

Have a question or need assistance? The airport information booth looks just like Lucy's psychiatric booth, complete with signs saying "Airport Help 5¢" and "The Helper is In."

And five-foot fiberglass images of Charlie and the gang are everywhere. Wearing his distinctive zigzag shirt, Charlie Brown directs visitors to the self-check-in computers. A camera-toting-tourist Lucy holds up a world map. Snoopy poses in his fighter pilot's helmet and goggles, leaning against an airport control tower. And Woodstock perches on his nest while around him small birds attempt to fly.

Hungry? The airport's Sky Lounge Steakhouse and Sushi Bar offers fresh, organic menu items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and its front wall of windows overlooks the runway, so you can watch the planes take off and land.

For your next stop, head east away from the airport on Airport Boulevard; after crossing Highway 101, turn right on Old Redwood Highway. In about two miles you'll reach the Kaiser Permanente medical offices (3925 Old Redwood Highway). Just to the left of the building's front door, Woodstock reads "The Life of a Bird" to small birds.

Behind the building, three characters are scattered along a nicely landscaped concrete patio. Snoopy holds a measuring stick, to see how tall Woodstock is; Charlie Brown wears sunglasses and carries a satchel; and Lucy sits at her psychiatric booth, waiting for the next person willing to pay 5¢ for her advice. Comfortable wooden benches are a nice place to sit and appreciate the statues, before moving on to the next Peanuts location.

Continue south on Old Redwood Highway, going straight where it becomes Mendocino Avenue; then head west (right) on Steele Lane. After driving under the Highway 101 overpass, watch on the right for signs to the Charles M. Schulz Museum (2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-579-4452).

You'll be visiting three buildings on the Schulz campus — Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop; Snoopy's Home Ice Redwood Ice Arena, which includes the Warm Puppy Café; and the Charles M. Schulz Museum. This is basically Peanuts Central, where Schulz spent most of his time, and where you can get a real feel for the cartoonist and his creations. Plan to stay here awhile, to be able to see everything.

The gift shop sells all things Peanuts, from fuzzy Snoopy dolls to Charlie Brown's trademark zigzag shirt in sizes ranging from toddler to 2XL adult. This is the place to get your official Peanuts souvenirs. In addition to clothing and toys, you'll find books, music, figurines, home décor, and more.

Next door, rent skates and glide across the ice. Or kick back at the café, enjoying a snack or meal while watching the skaters through the wall of windows facing the rink. Or curl up in front of the gas fireplace with a cup of Peppermint Patty hot chocolate. This café was one of Schulz' favorite hangouts, and he ate breakfast and lunch here almost every day. His favorite table by the front window is permanently reserved for him.

And just across a small side street from the ice rink, you'll find the Schulz museum — 8,000 square feet of art and whimsy, designed with clean, modern lines and a definite spirit of fun. There's something to appeal to fans of every age, from the "kite-eating tree" and oversized birdbath in the courtyard, to the mural a Japanese artist created using 3,588 comic strip tiles. There's also a re-creation of Schulz' studio, a timeline of his life, and an original wall that he painted in the nursery of his Colorado home in 1951.

The museum's 100-seat theater screens a variety of animated Peanuts specials and fascinating interviews with Schulz. It's a good idea to check the theater schedule in advance, so you can time your visit to watch the shows that interest you the most.

Schulz drew about 18,000 strips in his lifetime, and the museum owns about 7,000 of these original cartoons — the largest collection in the world. Changing exhibitions display this artwork 70 to 80 strips at a time, organized around themes.

For those traveling with children (or the young at heart), next door to the Schulz museum you'll find the Children's Museum of Sonoma County, with interactive, hands-on exhibits and experiences focused on art, nature, and science. Or, if you want to stretch your legs and explore the Schulz property a bit more, there's a baseball diamond and a cement slab for roller hockey just north of the Schulz museum's parking lot.

While Schulz spent a quite a bit of his time in his studio, the ice rink, and the Warm Puppy Café, he was also a frequent visitor to the nearby Coddingtown Mall, where he would spend hours in a bookstore. Unfortunately the bookstore is gone now, but just inside the mall entrance next to Whole Foods you'll find fiberglass statues of Charlie Brown and Snoopy keeping watch by a colorful play area designed for children under 42 inches tall, with padded benches where parents can sit and watch.

If you didn’t get something to eat at the Warm Puppy Café, Whole Foods offers an abundant salad and hot-food bar, as well as a deli. There's also a wide variety of restaurants in the mall and the surrounding neighborhood.

Now it's off to the Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa (2777 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-545-8530), a landmark hotel that owns eight fiberglass Peanuts characters — the largest concentration in Santa Rosa. You'll find Charlie Brown and Snoopy decked out in Giants baseball uniforms in the main lobby, and an Egyptian-style Snoopy with a King Tut-style headdress and golden staff in the lobby of the hotel's Courtyard building.

If you're ready to call it a day, the Flamingo is a good lodging option for the night, giving you time to check out the other Peanuts figures there. The hotel's Terrace Grille offers casually elegant dining with Wine Country cuisine.

Or, if you want to get a head start on tomorrow's location, other options include Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa (170 Railroad St., Santa Rosa, 707-284-1234), which has a fiberglass Lucy out front, or the historic Hotel La Rose (308 Wilson St., Santa Rosa, 800-527-6738).

Find the Peanuts Statues in Santa Rosa and beyond

Start the day in Old Courthouse Square at the corner of Santa Rosa Avenue and Fourth Street in downtown Santa Rosa.

There's a great breakfast menu at Flavor Bistro (96 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, 707-573-9600), including a variety of egg scrambles, breakfast gnocchi, and breakfast pizza, with ingredients sourced from sustainable-organic local farmers. Or, if you want coffee and a bagel or breakfast sandwich, there are several great delis in the neighborhood.

A few doors down from Flavor Bistro, you'll find a bronze statue of Marcie reading a book on a bench under shady pine trees. For a great photo, slide in next to her. Not far from Marcie you'll find a blue fiberglass Lucy, complete with butterflies in her hair. Next to Lucy is a glittery glass-mosaic-covered Woodstock (50 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa).

This is a great neighborhood to explore. Stoll down Fourth Street, where you'll find shops, galleries, coffee houses, outdoor cafes, and delis, plus a somewhat weathered Lucy in front of the Lotus Beauty Bar (309 D St., between Fourth and Fifth, Santa Rosa, 707-575-7940). And about four blocks south of Old Courthouse Square you'll find a fiberglass Lucy at Santa Rosa City Hall (100 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa).

Next up is Santa Rosa's historic Railroad Square district. Begin at the California Welcome Center (9 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-577-8674 or 800-404-7673), in the old railroad depot. A fiberglass Lucy welcomes visitors, and in addition to offering free tips for visiting Sonoma County, the center sells a bit of Peanuts memorabilia.

On the lawn near the depot, a bronze statue of a smiling Charlie Brown stands with his arm around his pal, Snoopy. Several fiberglass statues are also in the neighborhood, where you'll also find antique stores, specialty shops, coffee houses, and restaurants.

 

It's a great opportunity to browse and shop as you locate the other Peanuts statues:

  • A dapper Snoopy with a handlebar mustache in front of A'roma Roasters (95 5th St., Santa Rosa, 707-576-7765)
  • Woodstock as a Beaver Scout in front of Omelette Express (112 4th St., Santa Rosa, 707-525-1690)
  • Charlie Brown as a railroad conductor and, across the street from Charlie, Snoopy as a train engineer (corner of 4th and Davis streets, Santa Rosa)
  • A sporty Snoopy in front of Chops teen center (509 Adams St., Santa Rosa)

After you've explored this historic neighborhood, head to the Finley Community Center (2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa, 543-3738). The center's central courtyard features an impressive bronze sculpture of Schroeder, Lucy, and Schroeder's toy piano.

And it takes just a few minutes to also go by 110 Stony Point Road. Local architect Larry Simons collected five fiberglass statues, and had them bronzed. They're on display near his firm's office.

The next stop is out of town. Take Highway 101 south for about 10 to 15 minutes, to the Golf Course Drive exit for the Double Decker Lanes (300 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, 707-585-0226).

It's true that the Peanuts gang usually played baseball or football, but from time to time they went bowling. That makes this family-friendly, 50-lane bowling alley a natural stop on this Peanuts trip — especially since Double Decker Lanes has a way-cool fiberglass Snoopy holding a bowling ball, and wearing a bowling shirt and red-and-green bowling shoes.

In addition to the chance to bowl a few frames, this place offers a snack bar, video games, and a full-service bar. This makes Double Decker Lanes a true spot of Americana. If you want a good photo with the bowling Snoopy, the staff will be happy to pull out a curtain to create a better background. 

Now it's on to the town of Sebastopol, where Schulz first lived in Sonoma County. Located at the crossroads of state highways 12 and 116, Main Street Sebastopol features unique stores, galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms. And slightly northeast of downtown you'll find The Barlow, a 220,000-square-foot business center that's home to an intriguing mix of shops, as well as food producers, wine makers, brewers, distillers, and artists.

After exploring Sebatopol, it's time for a more reflective stop on this Peanuts journey. Head south out of town for a couple of miles to Pleasant Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary (1700 Pleasant Hill Road, Sebastopol, 707-823-5043), for a thoughtful visit to Schulz' gravesite.

The two-lane road that takes you there is narrow and winding, displaying the heart of rural Sonoma County. Although much has changed in the area since Schulz lived there in the 1950s and 1960s, this road is probably quite similar to how the entire area looked back then.

When you reach Pleasant Hill Memorial Park, park in the lot near the "Scharp" family marker. Three large fountains are staggered along a small rise, and Schulz' grave is at the top, next to the highest fountain. At the gravesite, an oversized stone bench is engraved with the images of four Peanuts characters. Above the images is the distinctive Schulz signature that graced his cartoons. Below the images are the words "Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy … How can I ever forget them …"

Two smaller stone benches form a "U" with the larger bench. A simple plaque in the ground says "Charles M Schulz, Sgt. US Army, World War II, Nov. 26, 1922, Feb. 12, 2000."

This is a gentle place. A soft breeze often carries the sound of water gurgling in the nearby fountain. Stay awhile, and remember the man who brought laughter, insight, joy, and understanding to millions of people worldwide.

This completes your two-day tour. From here you can take Highway 116 to the coast to explore the towns of Bodega and Bodega Bay, and enjoy a fresh seafood dinner at Lucas Wharf (there is a Charlie Brown Statue inside).

Or perhaps you'll want to take Highway 116 only as far as the turn north onto the Bohemian Highway. Only 10 miles long, this scenic two-lane roadway winds through towering redwoods, serene pastures, rocky ravines, and the tiny hamlets of Freestone, Occidental, and Monte Rio.

From there you can explore the small resort towns along the Russian River. Schulz and his wife, Jeanie, loved to kayak along the river near Healdsburg and Guerneville. If you have another day in Sonoma County, you could to paddle along the river in their wake.

You can also continue exploring Sonoma County, visiting all the other Peanuts statues.

Find more info about things to do, restaurants, and hotels in Sonoma County.

Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.