Not many realize it but most everyone’s seen Petaluma in movies like American Graffiti and dozens of TV shows. Once the “Egg Capital of the World,” today the city’s well out of it’s carton. The small downtown’s saved the best of its 1800’s architecture. Storefronts house culinary exploits befitting a burg on the edge of the wildly popular Napa-Sonoma wine region and proximity to San Francisco. There are shops full of handmade clothing, retro to modern arts and crafts, and bakeries are full of locals in the mornings. Personality burbles onto the sidewalks. A river runs through it too.
I thought I had a handle on the place after visiting dozens of times over the years. So it was a revelation to pull up to the Metro Hotel and be transported into an eccentric version of Parisian culture.
There’s no question why accolades have been heaped on the inn. It’s in the top twenty most unique hotels in the country with awards from Sunset and Vacation Ideas magazines. Trip Advisor fans can’t speak highly enough.
Why the French accent? The couple behind the place took over the 1870’s building in 2004. The wife makes regular trips back home to France and can’t stop returning with retro remnants of her home country. Her husband runs the place and is doing well competing with the bigger hotel chains closer to the freeway.
My family stayed upstairs in a two bedroom suite with one bath. We had a claw foot tub with a shower and deeply comfortable beds. The staff was more than happy to give me a tour and I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
There’s a cottage to rent too and most amazingly, several shiny Airstream guest rentals on the property. I’ve heard they’re fun but can be chilly in the winter but would love to test the theory. A bocce ball court beckons just outside the back door.
In the morning we helped ourselves to pastries and pour over coffee. The WiFi was great. There were comfortable places to sit and relax, to work or read indoors or out, but the creative distractions kept me savoring the space with every sip.
There’s plenty of free parking, tandem bikes to enjoy on the flat terrain and it’s a short walk to restaurants (within a few minutes drive from downtown.)
Sadly we were there for just one night. For dinner we walked two blocks towards the riverfront and listened to a theater company doing a reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar while we supped on salads and pizza.
It was a perfectly unique sojourn and I look forward to returning to Petaluma again. Especially when the renovations at the historic and much larger, downtown Petaluma Hotel are complete.
What else might you find in Petaluma?
- Peruse the busy local calendar.
- Check out the Metro accommodations online.
- Take a tour of the Hollywood locations in Petaluma or DIY and Download a PDF listing film locations in downtown Petaluma.
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This was a completely independent trip, and all opinions are too.