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A stroll in Cloverdale

Cloverdale River Park is a great spot to get out in nature.

Main Street Cloverdale is both compact and worth discovering, and a stroll through downtown is a great way to experience this burgeoning arts and wine community at the far northern reaches of Sonoma County.

A good place to start is Pick's Drive-In (117 S. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-2962). Yes, as the name implies, you can drive your car there, too, but the old-time burger stand and shake shack has stools just a few steps from the sidewalk, and the burgers and the shakes can’t be beat. If you don’t need a burger now, remember this spot, as you’ll want to come back when you’re hungry.

If you love wine, or just want to try some good local vintages, then pop into Vino Di Amore (105 N. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-6166), which bills itself as “part tasting room, part lounge,” and try some wines from northern and southern Sonoma County.

A block past Pick’s is the plaza, site of the weekly seasonal Farmers Market (Cloverdale Boulevard between 1st and 2nd streets, Fridays, June to September). You’ll note numerous sculptures that grace the sidewalk and the public spaces around it – a testament to Cloverdale’s evolving role as an arts destination.

Further north is the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center (126 N. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-4470), which is staffed by friendly locals who know about the restaurants, wineries, and attractions around town.

The Cloverdale Performing Arts Center (201 Commercial St., 707-894-2214) is next, on the west side of the street just past the Visitor Center. The Performing Arts Center is new, built with donated funds, labor, and love from a community that values the arts. If there is a show in town, be sure to check the times and get a seat for this intimate performance venue.

And next door you'll find the Cloverdale Historical Society's History Center  (215 N. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-2067), which hosts old farm equipment and items from days gone by. Upstairs there's usually a display from Cloverdale locals — the photos themselves are worth the time. The history center also includes the Gould-Shaw House Museum, with its Victorian rooms decorated as they would have been at the turn of the 20th Century. 

Again heading north you walk past the small offices of the Cloverdale Reveille (207 N. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-3339), the oldest running newspaper in the state of California. An old printing press visible in the storefront is a testament to how far the written word has come. (Maybe take a photo of it and post it your Facebook wall – the evolution of communications continues …)

Across the street is Ken Knight Design (204 N. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-2520), which has a card and gift shop in front of the award-winning studio of the designer. It’s worth a quick look and a chance to talk to Ken, who has great perspective on design.

Though not on the main drag, some other spots worth exploring (and easily walked to in this small town) include Cloverdale Ale Company’s Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub (131 E. 1st St., 707-894-9610), which has been awarded the California State Award for its Golden Ale; and Panderia El Palomo (122 E. 1st St., 707-894-0104), a small bakery serving up Mexican pastries and ambiance.

For more information about Cloverdale, visit www.cloverdale.net.