Santa Rosa is the largest city in Sonoma County and houses more than 1/3 of the county’s population on almost 42 square miles. In 2016 U.S News and World Reports declared Santa Rosa the 4th best place to live in California.
Located just 50 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and along the 101 Corridor, Santa Rosa is within minutes of some of Sonoma County’s most iconic attractions. With a beautiful downtown, historic Railroad Square and vintage architecture, Santa Rosa offers the best of small town living with the conveniences of a large city. Santa Rosa is the gateway to some of the best Wine Country experiences in the world and is home to some of the most iconic wineries in California. Santa Rosa is home to almost as many restaurants as there are in the rest of Sonoma County combined. From local dives to world-class dining, foodies will never have to leave city limits. If you are a student of history, you will want to visit the Sonoma County Museum, Pacific Coast Air Museum, Indian Cultural Museum, and the Charles M. Schulz Museum.
Santa Rosa offers seemingly endless outdoor fun and activities at Spring Lake Park, Howarth Park, Annadel State Park and Hood Mountain Regional Park. Many of these parks are dog friendly and offer extensive hiking and walking trails of varying degrees of difficulty.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Santa Rosa was home to a large population of Pomo natives known as the Bitakomtara. The first documented European settlement was the homestead of the Carillo Family. The Carillos were the in-laws of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who settled the Sonoma Pueblo and Petaluma area.
In the 1830s, the family of María López de Carrillo built an adobe house on their Rancho Cabeza de Santa Rosa land grant, just east of what is now known as downtown Santa Rosa.
A Wells Fargo post and general store were established in downtown Santa Rosa in 1850.
In the mid-1850s, several prominent locals, including Julio Carrillo, son of Maria Carrillo, laid out the grid street pattern for Santa Rosa with a plaza in the center. The pattern is still the street grid for downtown Santa Rosa, now called Old Courthouse Square. Many of the original buildings can still be seen in Old Courthouse Square, Railroad Square, and the downtown area on and off of 4th Street. Incorporated in 1868, Santa Rosa is the third oldest city Sonoma County, after Petaluma and Healdsburg.
Things to Do
Rich in heritage and the arts, Santa Rosa is no stranger to fame with such famouse residents as Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz and famed horticulturist, Luther Burbank. Live performances can be enjoyed at the Sonoma County Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Repertory Theater, the Santa Rosa Symphony, the Wells Fargo Performing Arts Center, the 6th Street Playhouse and the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. With a beautiful downtown, scenic beauty and welcoming attitude, it is no wonder that Santa Rosa is a favorite backdrop for Hollywood movie producers. Santa Rosa has been the scene of well over 50 movies and shows, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Little Miss Marker,” “Die Hard 2,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Phenomenon,” “Cheaper by the Dozen” and Stephen King’s “Cujo.”
Santa Rosa has several colleges which include the Santa Rosa Junior College, Empire College, and University of San Francisco (Ext). There are also a half dozen school districts and nearly a dozen private schools, from kindergarten to graduate.