If you’re not a commuter to Santa Rosa, Petaluma or one of the other towns along the SMART train route, you might not have had a chance to ride the North Bay’s passenger rail line. But with a dozen stops from the Sonoma County Airport to Larkspur and a handful more planned, there is more to do along the SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) line than go to the office.
Here are eight stops, from north to south, that offer things to see and do within a short walk from each station. You can take the kids or your out-of-town visitors to the Charles M. Schulz Museum, shop for antiques, and have a delicious lunch. Plus, you’ll save gas and parking-meter money.
Through Aug. 31, SMART fares are discounted 40% as part of the Welcome Back campaign. Depending on how far you travel, fares are $1.50 to $15, and half price for seniors, youth, low-income people and people with disabilities. On Saturdays, riders can buy a Weekend Day Pass, which covers unlimited rides throughout the day. The pass is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, youth, low-income people and people with disabilities.
Even if you’re not taking a flight, there are things to see and do at the Sonoma County Airport, roughly a 20-minute walk from the airport SMART station. Local French bakery Cousteax has an outpost at the airport, Cousteax On The Go, open mornings and afternoons on weekdays. Taste wines at The Flight Deck Lounge or check out the above-average menu, including sushi and steak, at the Sky Lounge. And the Pacific Coast Air Museum is just another five- to 10- minute walk from the airport terminal.
Santa Rosa North
Bring your out-of-town visitors to the Charles M. Schulz Museum, a 10-minute walk from the Santa Rosa North station. There are lots of events planned this year, which would have been the 100th birthday of the cartoonist, including upcoming talks with working cartoonists, a kids night and more.
Nearby is the Children's Museum of Sonoma County, with play areas and interactive exhibits designed for children ages 10 and younger, including a garden with a miniature version of the Russian River, an art studio and a scaled-down railroad and train station.
Santa Rosa Downtown—Railroad Square
This turn-of-the century neighborhood just across the street from the train station is a go-to spot for vintage and antique shopping, from Whistlestop Antiques to Hot Couture Vintage Fashion. The old Northwestern Pacific Railroad train depot starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt.”
Get lunch near this retro station. Just a couple of blocks down the road, you'll find Oliver's Market, where you can buy sandwiches, salads and other goodies in the deli section. Next door is Acme Burger and Red Bird Bakery.
The train stops more or less at the 1914 Railroad Depot Freight Building, which houses the Petaluma Arts Center. Here, you can see an art exhibition, listen to a concert, take a class or watch a film or play. And downtown Petaluma with its many restaurants and music venues, is a 10-minute walk across the Petaluma River.
Sofia Englund and Julia Green contributed to this article