Just in case you didn’t know, Petaluma is a great little town to spend an afternoon window shopping and sight-seeing.20140608_162328 (1)

I spent three years working at the Petaluma Visitors Center encouraging people…as the Sonoma County Visitors Guide says…to experience Petaluma’s “charm of hometown Americana with wine country sophistication.”

But I’m sorry to say now that I live in Cotati and work in Marin County, most of the time I think of Petaluma as the five miles on 101 where traffic is going to crawl. I just want to get to the north or south end of town so that this long snake of cars that I’m stuck in the middle of can pick up speed and I can get home or get to work.

However, because I have worked outside of the community for the past six months, when Steve and I decided to celebrate the first day of summer by sharing a gelato in Petaluma, I had the opportunity to look at it with fresh eyes and appreciate what a picturesque, walkable town it is.

We parked in the Theatre District where there was plenty of free parking – love that – and headed to Powell’s. Of course, this being Petaluma, within minutes, we ran into a friend whose children had gone through school with ours. We probably only spent five minutes chatting, sharing the headlines of the our families’ news, but hearing that her beautiful daughters were doing great and that she had found a job in town that she is perfectly suited for, was an encouragement to us. Good things do come to good people.

In downtown Petaluma, we reminisced about all the Saturday afternoons we spent with our kids in Copperfields – remembering how our almost 22 year-old daughter loved going to “Copperfee-leds” when she was three for a new Angelina Ballerina book, or how her older brother couldn’t wait to get the next book in the Redwall  series.

We walked across the Balshaw Bridge and commented on how the city is recognizing the potential of the river. Although the area south of Water Street looks a little sad now, if the restoration of the Trestle becomes a reality, Petaluma will have a River attraction like now where else. We poked our heads into Dempsey’s and Taps and both joints were jumping.  Getting a beer looked tempting but too bad for us, we had just scraped out every last molecule from our cup of vanilla, coffee and chocolate almond gelato. We’ll save the beer for another visit.

My only disappointment for the afternoon was discovering that Viva Cocolat had closed. Of course, their chocolate was the best, but I had especially enjoyed getting to know the owner during my time at the Visitors Center. Lynn Wong could always be counted on to generously contribute to community events.

When Steve snapped this photo on his phone, we commented that it looked like it could be anywhere in the world. But the great thing is, it’s Petaluma.