Sofa Tours with a Travel Journalist

—Tour 2, Santa Rosa California

By Mary Charlebois

Santa Rosa CA downtown train station
Take the train or stop into the visitor center at California’s downtown Santa Rosa Train Depot.
Photo by Mary Charlebois

Two months of sheltering-in-place, and I’m beginning to have cabin fever. It doesn’t last long after I go outside, sit in the garden, take flower photos, listen to the surf, or enjoy a songbird concert. I’m grateful to live in a small town on the edge of the Pacific, where Nature is a constant healing influence.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel, I do. Until we are set free to explore I’ll continue to re-wind some of my past excursions hoping I inspire you to plan a trip when the world of travel has re-opened.

Sofa Tour 2 – Santa Rosa California

This week Sofa Tour 2 takes us to Santa Rosa California. Ninety minutes from Golden Gate Bridge, Santa Rosa is part of California’s Redwood Empire, Wine Country, and the North Bay regions.

In the 15-years I’ve lived on the Mendocino Coast, I’ve passed through Santa Rosa along Hwy 101 on my way to airports, shopping, and San Francisco. I didn’t know much about it until I began travel writing. After spending time there, I discovered a gem of a destination. Santa Rosa is a mélange of cultures, art, history, a vibrant foodie scene, classic and progressive wineries, craft breweries, one of the largest farmers markets in Northern California, and very friendly folks.

Wildlife in the city

Our tour starts with a video of one of the most unexpected places in Santa Rosa, Safari West, an African wildlife preserve. While it gives you an idea, my video doesn’t begin to show the wildlife and landscape. You’ve got to go there for the full Monty.

Scenes from Safari West, the Sonoma Serengeti, in Santa Rosa California
Photos, video, and editing by Mary Charlebois

When you go to Santa Rosa, make Safari West one of your top destinations. Don’t forget a camera, you’ll capture photos that rival an African Savanna. Take one of their unforgettable tours. You’ll ride in a double-decker jeep with a open view of the hundreds of African hoofed animals and spectacular birds. Your guide will drive and answer your questions.

Safari West double-decker jeep tour in Santa Rosa California Photo by Mary Charlebois
Safari West double-decker jeep tour in Santa Rosa California
Photo by Mary Charlebois

I urge you to stay overnight in their luxury glamping accommodations. Yes, it’s a tent, but the huge tent is atop a wood platform above the ground. A en suite bathroom, electricity, private deck, heaters, and heated blankets make for a cozy night.

Safari West luxury glamping tent, Santa Rosa California Photo by Mary Charlebois
Safari West luxury glamping tent, Santa Rosa California
Photo by Mary Charlebois

Here’s a quick read from The Travel 100, about the exceptional preserve in
California’s Wine Country.

Luxury Glamping and Wine Tasting on the Sonoma Serengeti

Peanuts and beer

Charles Schulz lived in Santa Rosa where he wrote and illustrated the Peanuts comic strip. His legacy thrives in the Charles M Schulz Museum and Snoopy’s Home Ice, a world class ice rink for kids and professionals alike.

Snoopy at Charles M Schulz Museum
Photo by Mary Charlebois

Some of the best craft beers in California are made in Santa Rosa. Check out the Craft Beverage Map to learn locations, styles, and hours of operation. Many breweries serve food and conduct tours and tastings. Visit brewery websites for happy hours and entertainment schedules.

3rd Street AleWorks, downtown Santa Rosa California Photo by Mary Charlebois.
3rd Street AleWorks, downtown Santa Rosa California
Photo by Mary Charlebois.

GoNOMAD published my story and photos about peanuts and beer. You’ll find details for Peanuts, beer, eateries, and some of the coolest lodging anywhere.

Where to Find a Beer in Santa Rosa California

Smell the roses

Among Santa Rosa’s numerous green spaces is Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in downtown Santa Rosa.

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, Santa Rosa California. Photo by Mary Charlebois
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, Santa Rosa California
Photo by Mary Charlebois

Horticulturist, Luther Burbank‘s driving passion was to increase the world’s food supply by manipulating plants; a goal he accomplished many times. Burbank introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants during his career, including – over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and hundreds of ornamental flowers.

Known for roses, the grounds of his home also have specimens of his work in numerous small garden settings. Tours are available or explore on your own in this historic property.

Weekend getaway for all

When travel returns, a long weekend in Santa Rosa will appeal to travelers of all ages and interest. After your months in lockdown, together or apart, a change of scenery is a must. In Santa Rosa the entertainment, food, libations, history, and people provide a genuine California Casual experience.

A weekend itinerary is suggested in my Short Weeks—Long Weekends’ piece for a mixed age group of travelers – Multi-Gen as hipsters call it.

Santa Rosa, a California Multi-Gen Getaway

NOTE – the opener for the above story says Santa Rosa is open for business. The piece was written before COVID-19 and after California wildfires passed through in 2019.
At this writing (May 16, 2020), Santa Rosa has only essential businesses open. Check with COVID-19 Information about Santa Rosa before traveling.

Getting there

Charles M Shultz - Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa California. Photo by Mary Charlebois
Charles M Shultz – Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa California
Photo by Mary Charlebois

Santa Rosa is on Hwy 101, 50-miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The closest airport, STS (Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport), has service to and from Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and beyond. Rental cars are available on airport property. WEBSITE

San Francisco and Oakland airports are about 65-miles from Santa Rosa. It can be a 3-hour drive depending on traffic conditions.

When flying into SFO or OAK, take the Sonoma County Airport Express to Santa Rosa Airport and pick up and return your car there. It’s worth the fare. Coaches are on time, Wi-Fi equipped, comfy, and clean.

More info

Santa Rosa has so much more than wine, peanuts, and beer to offer, it will become your favorite escape pod. More information about the region, attractions, eateries, and lodging is available HERE.

Thanks for sofa touring with me, I hope to see you out in the world soon. —MaryGo

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Another great story, Mary! Your take on Safari West has inspired me to reach out and explore a local attraction here in Orlando that appears similar but that I’ve never yet been to. Based on your report and experience, once it reopens, I’m going! Fascinated that your place has ‘glamping’ available, too.

    Like

  2. Thank you Terry for your kind words. Safari West is an amazing experience. I hope you can make a visit there someday. –MaryGo

    Like

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