With a population of 167,800, Santa Rosa is the largest city of the Northern California region that is also called the Wine Country. It is the county seat of Sonoma County, which contains the most productive wine-growing region of the US. The city is located about 90 kilometres north of San Francisco. This is an area continuously threatened by earthquake potential and has been struck by a quake for the last time in 1969.
The big San Francisco quake of 1906 had hit Santa Rosa hard and had destroyed almost the entire downtown area. In the 1850s, the street grid of the city, back then a small town, had been set up. After World War II, population numbers grew faster than beforeschneller, between 1970 and 1990 the number doubled to a population of more than 100,000.
Santa Rosa offers a broad range of cultural offerings. From 1969 until his death in 2000, the city was home of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, creator of Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Schulz owned a skating rink here and has always supported sports on ice. Hardies Lane is home to both the Redwood Empire Ice Arena and the Charles M. Schulz Museum, where the cartoonist’s works are being collected. The museum is open daily until 5 pm, but closed on Tuesdays between September and May. Statues of Schulz’ most famous characters can be found at the corner of Wilson and Fourth Streets.
In addition, Santa Rosa has repeatedly been the filming location for Hollywood productions, for the first time in 1943 for a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. The city has a symphonic orchestra which also maintains a youth orchestra. It is also home to the North Bay Theater Group, an association of more than 40 theater companies from this region. The Sonoma County Museum has exhibits on the area’s history and hosts alternating special exhibitions. The museum is located on 7th Street and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Among further sights in Santa Rosa are a number of historic homes in downtown that survived the 1906 earthquake. Those can particularly be found around Railroad Square, a popular meeting point with a number of restaurants, many shops and bars. The historic buildings of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Depots and the Hotel La Rose built in 1907 are especially recommendable. An old cannery built in 1894 has been converted into a theatre stage for the 6th Street Playhouse. Popular with visitors is also the former house and garden of a famous American garden architect, Luther Burbank House and Gardens on Santa Rosa Avenue. The parks can be visited free of charge, there are also guided tours available. Another large park with many leisure opportunities, among them swimming and sunbathing on a sandy beach, can be found at Spring Lake Regional Park. There is also a network of paths here that may be used by hikers, joggers, bikers and horseback riders. The area borders the Annadel State Park, which also offers a number of activities and which is also habitat for a range of plant and animal species on a total of 20 square kilometres.