Old timers will remember Petaluma as the egg basket of Sonoma County.


The town of Petaluma has an interesting past since its founding during California’s Gold Rush when miners, on their way to the foothills of the Sierras, enjoyed the town’s many saloons and brothels. Later it became the “egg basket of America”, cranking out millions of eggs and roosters for West Coast dining tables.

Now Petaluma is one of the most desirable places in the Bay Area to live. It boasts a mix of housing ranging from old Victorians to modernist condo complexes. Moreover, it is surrounded by vineyards, pastures and boasts a tidy downtown that looks like it came from another era, because it did.

Petaluma is, according to Airbnb, fast becoming Northern California’s most interesting food destination as well. Unfortunately for visitors, Petaluma is often overlooked by their fancier wine country neighbors Sonoma, Healdsburg and Napa. Petaluma’s downtown has retained much of its pre-1906 earthquake buildings and storefronts which give it an authentic and quaint charm not found elsewhere. In addition, this laidback town is just 40-minutes north of San Francisco on Highway 101. What’s better than that?

Eggs, Lots of Eggs and Even More Eggs

Before Americans poured into the region hoping to strike it rich, Petaluma was a sleepy riverside town first occupied by the Miwok tribe. In the 1840’s, Mexico granted huge tracks of land to ranches and farmers hoping to populate the region.

More recently, Petaluma was remembered as the egg basket of Sonoma County- some claimed the world - when thousands of chicken farms operated on the outskirts of the city. By 1915, Petaluma had produced over 10 million eggs. That’s one big omelet.

Today, Petaluma retains much of its rural feel. Those chicken farms have given way to housing and vineyards by and large with a few dairy farms remaining outside of town.

Large historical Petaluma homes on the coveted Westside were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by the “Chicken Barons”.

 From there the city expanded outward creating new, affordable housing options. Up until the 1970’s, the commute to San Francisco was considered too far for most who worked in the city. Today, however, given the severe housing shortage and sky high home prices close to San Francisco, living in Petaluma is how viewed just a hop, skip and a jump to the city.

The ”Buzz” of Downtown

Petaluma is a “foodies” paradise. It is home to Amy’s Kitchen, a creator and distributor of organically prepared meals nationwide (and growing) as well as the iconic Lagunitas Brewing Company - recently brought under the wing of Heineken in a billion-dollar deal.  These are two of the largest private employers in the area.

Petaluma's commercial core is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the central shopping district, which consists of mainly two-story stone buildings, has recently undergone a revitalization that includes an emphasis on downtown living. Dozens of antique shops, clothing stores and restaurants operate in Petaluma’s old town district.

Petaluma is graced with a riverfront - once the third busiest in California - that has been restored as well as a newly designed river walk. The galleries along the river showcase works from some of the best artists in the North Bay. 

Restaurants along the Petaluma River provide a perfect place to gaze at sailboats as they pass through the distinctive D Street drawbridge. The annual Butter & Egg Days Parade & Festival, held in April, is a throwback to Petaluma's agricultural past eve. Even today when travelling abroad you will occasionally encounter “Petaluma Chicken” on the menus, especially in expensive restaurants and on cruise ships.

If that weren’t enough, since the 1970’s, Petaluma has held an annual “Ugly Dog” contest. Organizers claim they are not making fun of their furry friends but rather honoring those pooches with unconventional mugs. 

Buying a Home in Petaluma

Currently (3/23), there are 74 homes for sale* in Petaluma ranging in price from $440,000 for a 565sq ft, one-bedroom condo to a gigantic 129-acre equestrian multi-family compound for almost $20 million. The median prices of homes are much more reasonable in Petaluma coming in at $872,000. This compares to a nationwide median home price of $386,000 and homes for sale in California at $705,000. Homes for sale in Sonoma County had a median price of $745,000.

Prices have increased by 2.6% from the same period the year before and the time it takes to sell a home has increased to 44-days, up from just 29-days the previous year.

If you’re fortunate enough to someday live in Petaluma, don’t forget your egg beater and homely pooch.

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