Whether you’re looking for quaint or quirky, simple or sophisticated, Sonoma County’s charming downtowns are chock full of locally owned boutiques. Shopping here is all about experiencing a locale. Pick a place and be amazed at the galleries and boutiques that offer hand-crafted or unique items.
There’s something so alluring about shopping on vacation: The thrill of the hunt for a bargain; the crafty little bag that’s one of a kind; the watercolor that’s so delightful it sang to you from the wall of the gallery.
While this is by no means a complete list, these locations will tempt you to explore.
Don’t miss Petaluma’s iron-front buildings, which earned the downtown district a place on the national historic register. This area boasts antiques, boutiques, and unique shops, including a heritage seed store. Take a stroll along the Petaluma River and find a local café for a quick bite. Suggested stops:
- Petaluma Seed Bank: The Sonoma County Bank building, constructed in the 1920s, is now home to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company's west coast location. It features more than 1,200 heirloom seed varieties, as well as books, local art, herbs, handmade items, gardening tools and gifts, and more.
- Think “green” and buy antiques at the Vintage Bank Antiques. Three floors of treasures for every taste and budget. Located in the historic American Trust Company building.
- A bit north of downtown is Petaluma Village Premium Outlets, a must for the serious shopper looking for designer outlet stores like Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor, BCBG Max Azria, and Nike. Groups of 15 or more can book a tour and get a VIP coupon book upon arrival.
You know you’re in for a treat when you’re greeted by a giant Holstein cow in the fields along Highway 12, as you drive into Sebastopol. This and other junk sculptures scattered around town are the work of artists Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent. In fact, three-block-long Florence Avenue, where they live, has become an outdoor art gallery where you can walk from whimsical sculpture to whimsical sculpture.
Charming and walkable downtown Sebastopol offers an eclectic mix of unique shops featuring crafts, health food, clothing, books, house wares, New Age items, and toys, along with restaurants, pubs, and art galleries.
About a half mile northeast of downtown Sebastopol, The Barlow is a 12.5-acre industrial park featuring restaurants, wineries, breweries, galleries, and unique shops. Many of these businesses make their products onsite, letting you watch the production process while you sip, nibble, or browse.
Other suggested stops:
- You may want to create your own souvenir. Pick up supplies at Art & Soul. Better yet, sign up for a workshop.
At the Tibetan Gallery & Studio, witness Tibetan thangka master Tashi Dhargyal creating a two-story traditional Tibetan scroll painting with hand-ground mineral pigments and 24k gold. While you're there, browse through ahimsa silk scarves, thangka paintings, and shrine items.
- California Carnivores is an extensive plant nursery that specializes in carnivorous plants, which lure, trap, and then devour insects. With more than 11,000 square feet of growing space, this place offers the largest carnivorous plant selection nationwide.
Buy a kite or surfing gear in Bodega and Bodega Bay. If you’re sweet tooth is hungry, some salt-water taffy may be just the thing. These two towns so inspired Alfred Hitchcock, he used them to film his masterpiece, “The Birds.” Wine tasting and noshing on fresh seafood is on the menu here.
- Is there a better combination? Candy & Kites, in Bodega Bay, is the largest selection of sport kites and single-line kites on the North Coast. The shop also sells flags, windsocks, toys, books, gourmet salt water taffy, and novelty candy.
- The Artisan's Co-Op gallery, in Bodega, showcases local art and craft: water-color paintings, photography, apparel and accessories, fused glass, jewelry, hand-woven rugs, hand-spun yarn, greeting cards from local artists, and much more.
- Gourmet Au Bay serves up more than 200 award-winning California wines and an international gift boutique that offers unique glassware and jewelry. Enjoy “Wine Surfing” both indoors and outdoors at the Sonoma Coast’s only waterfront wine tasting bar, bottle shop, and gift shop.
Duncans Mills is a shopper’s delight: A coffee house that roasts its own blend and offers wood-fired pizzas and pastries; an art gallery that feels more like a museum; a jewelry store that offers breathtaking pieces; and a fair trade shop with handcrafted items from around the world. Suggested stops:
- Pig Alley has delightful jewelry and gifts. The hardest thing will be deciding what pieces you want. Maybe you should pick two.
- Mr. Trombley's Tea and Mr. Trombley's Table: One shop features hundreds of new and vintage teapots, delightful and whimsical, as well as loose leaf tea and tea accessories (local honey, linens, gift items); and directly across the boardwalk, a related store offers a wide variety of dishes, serving ware, utensils, and a complete spice shop.
- Stop for coffee at Gold Coast Coffee and Bakery, where they roast their own beans and the wood-fired oven offers up pizzas and pastries.
The most difficult thing about Windsor’s Town Green and the greater downtown area is making a choice of where to eat and shop. From a bookstore, florist, and gift shop, to an amazing candy store and tantalizing restaurants, this small town lives big.
- You’ll find a great piece of jewelry at Images, which offers one of the most diverse selections of handmade jewelry and accessories in the area.
- Pages Books on the Green: What would a vacation be without losing yourself in the pages of a book? You’ll have a hard time just choosing one.
- Unleash your inner 8-year-old at Powell's Sweet Shoppe. Think of your favorite candy from your childhood; it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find it here. For those wanting a cool treat, the gelato bar in the front is a good stop. And in the back watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie on a continuous loop from the movie theater chairs installed in a corner.
- Spruce up your hotel room with a fresh bouquet from Artrellis Flower and Gift Shop, which features flowers, plants, and wine country gifts.
Santa Rosa’s downtown offers two squares: Railroad Square and Courthouse Square. Historic Railroad Square is home to coffee shops, restaurants, antiques stores, and the former railroad depot, which is now the visitors center. And if all that shopping makes you tired, three hotels (Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa, Courtyard by Marriott, and the historic boutique Hotel La Rose) are located here. Suggested stops:
- Sonoma Outfitters has been the Wine County's leading outdoor equipment and clothing store for 31 years. Specializing in outdoor equipment, outdoor clothing, footwear, travel accessories and gear.
- Walk through the door into the bright and interesting shop that is Whistlestop Antiques. Find a wide variety of antiques and collectibles including furniture and country pieces, pottery, art, china and glassware, estate and costume jewelry, books, and more.
- For a quick coffee, try out A'roma Roasters, the oldest roastery in Sonoma County. The staff cares about their products and customers.
- Head to Jackson's Bar & Oven for lunch. The team serves up “wine country eats” in a great atmosphere.
A cosmopolitan air radiates from the action around Courthouse Square – considered to be the heart of Santa Rosa. With all the hustle and bustle, it’s definitely a happening spot in Santa Rosa, day or night. Suggested stops:
- Santa Rosa Plaza offers two stories of name-brand stores and restaurants.
The Made Local Marketsplace at the ShareExchange gives artists and craftspeople a market to sell their wares. It’s one way to ensure your Sonoma County trinket is from Sonoma County!
- Venture out into this busy downtown to try Sonoma County’s second libation: Microbreweries. Russian River Brewing Company and Third Street Ale Works Brewpub will tempt your taste buds with refreshing brews and tasty pub fare. Of note, Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger was voted the number one beer in the world by Beer Advocate magazine.
- Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar entered its team in Food Network's Cupcake Wars – and won. You won’t be disappointed in any of their cupcakes.
Another shopping hot spot in Santa Rosa is Montgomery Village, where you'll find upscale boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.
Most wineries have well-stocked gift stores that have works of art that rival the wines. Go for the wine, stay to discover an amazing souvenir to take home. Suggested stops include the gift shops at Korbel Champagne Cellars, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, HKG Estate Wines (Hop Kiln), Imagery Estate Winery, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, and Clos de Bois Winery.
While driving around Sonoma County, stop in one of several country stores. You’ll discover locally made jams and sauces, wines from the immediate area, gift items and, even lunch. Suggested stops include Jimtown Store in the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek General Store in the Dry Creek Valley, and Kozlowski Farms in the Russian River Valley.
Each town and area has its own unique character and collection of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, brew pubs, and wineries nearby. The difficult decision will be which one to visit first.