On a recent weekend getaway to the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country area, my husband Phil and I decided to explore a different side of this famous wedding region. To me, an ideal wedding locale allows guests plenty of options for exploration, and the towns of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Petaluma certainly kept us happily occupied.
First stop: Santa Rosa. Of course you have to love a town with statues of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Linus in their town square (an homage to Santa Rosa’s beloved Charles Schultz). Phil’s not sure how it happens, but I’m inexplicably drawn to new wedding locations in my wanderings. Exploring the older part of the city, we stopped at Hotel La Rose, which welcomed us on this blustery rainy day with plush Victorian décor in the lobby, followed by the hotelier’s friendly advice on the locals’ favorite wineries. During our tour of the hotel, we discovered (of course!) that it has a top-notch restaurant, Josef’s, where you can also host a rehearsal dinner.
Next, we visited Sebastapol. Arriving wet and cold, we soothed our chilled-to-the-bone muscles in steamy and stimulating herbal tonics at the Mermaids Spa. As I soaked, I imagined how perfect this place would be for nervous mothers-of-the-bride or other members of the wedding party. Once we were physically restored, we couldn’t resist a pass by Florence Street’s amusing “urban folk art” sculptures constructed of recycled metals by local artist Patrick Amiot. As our trip came to an end, we took a peaceful walk along the Petaluma river near one of our favorite places, the Sheraton Petaluma, on our way home.
Altogether, our weekend visit proved to me that these towns have more than just a list of adorable mansions, hotels, restaurants and country clubs: they have that unique small-town California charm that would make a destination wedding here an event to remember.