Vintage Bank Antiques
Housed in a former bank, built circa 1926, this is your if-I-could-only-go-to-one-antique-store-ever spot (pictured above). Extensive art, jewelry and furniture collections, as well as books, knickknacks and rare finds (not to mention the opportunity to shop in a bank vault) make this a must in the downtown area.
On-the-scene: My sister found large brass candlestick holders so great she was willing to lug them back on the plane.
Address: 101 Petaluma Blvd. N
Good to know: Don’t miss the downstairs.
Lombardi’s Barbecue & Deli
Serving up all things barbecue (tri-tip, ribs, chicken and more), sandwiches and traditional deli sides, this favorite-to-locals spot is family-owned and features big portions and friendly service. Outdoor seating available.
On-the-scene: This has become our regular lunch spot when in the North Bay.
Address: 3413 Petaluma Blvd. N
Good to know: Oysters are served weekends only.
Petaluma Pie Company
This tiny shop–a certified Green business–features sweet and savory pies, and showcases ingredients from Strauss and Cowgirl Creamery, as well as produce bought directly from local farmers. Cream pies include butterscotch, coconut cream and banana cream. Look for seasonal fruit selections such as nectarine blackberry, peach blueberry and strawberry rhubarb. Take-and-Bake pies available (think hot chicken pot pie out of the oven).
On-the-scene: We buy our pies early in the day and ask to have them held until closing.
Address: 125 Petaluma Blvd.
Good to know: Shop early. Pies sell out.
Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve was established in Fremont, Indiana, in 1992. Visitors can join a tour (daily, leaving every hour) for an up-close experience with the North American Bison. You’ll be driven in an open truck where the buffalo really do roam. The magnificent herd comes close, often following the vehicle, making for the perfect opportunity to see the majestic beauty of these incredible creatures. Along the way you’ll learn about the animals–they eat six meals a day and don’t sleep at night–and their very special habitat.
On-the-scene: The buffalo were magical and curious, coming up close to the truck to take a look at us.
Good to know: The preserve is open until 4pm but tours stop at 3pm. Check website for summer and winter hours/details.
Ever dream of being a 19th-century traveler? A hot air balloon ride definitely fits the bill. Rainbow Ryders takes passengers up and away in cities including Albuquerque and Scottsdale. You’ll get to see how the balloon is blown up before a one-hour ride that includes low gliding and climbing to elevations over 3,000 feet. Because balloons travel at wind speed, there’s no rocking or shaking, making for a serene, peaceful experience like no other (just don’t look straight down!). Sunrise balloon rides end with freshly baked cinnamon rolls and a toast.
On-the-scene: I was terrified to get into a 3x4 wicker basket and head thousands of feet up in the sky, but we had an amazing, enthusiastic pilot and incredible ride.
Good to know: Be prepared. Morning rides (even in summer) can be chilly so bring a jacket.
A three-minute walk from the Phoenix Art Museum, Giant Coffee is a go-to in the downtown Arts District, brewing the Bay Area-based Four Barrel beans.
Locals love the honey-vanilla latte and dishes such as the oven-baked eggs, prosciutto and levain toast. High ceilings, communal tables and friendly baristas make this a welcoming space.
On-the-scene: I love that in the Valley of the Sun they always ask if you want your drink iced (even in December).
Address: 1437 N 1st Street
Good to know: Check out the adjoining boutique–featuring clothing and accessories (with an emphasis on Arizona-made products).
The Potter Schoolhouse (pictured above) is one of the iconic locations featured in the 1963 Hitchcock classic The Birds. Built in 1873 and now a private residence, the space (technically in the town of Bodega, not Bodega Bay) once housed a restaurant, inn and museum. While you can’t go inside (guard dogs keep watch), it makes for the perfect outdoor photo op.
On-the-scene: Many years ago we were lucky enough to stop by when it was open to the public. It was amazing to see the inside of this historic building.
Address: 17110 Bodega Lane (Bodega)
Good to know: Tours no longer offered.
This cozy coffee shop is run by a father and his daughters and serves up top-notch espresso as well as friendly conversation. A great respite after a day out by the water.
On-the-scene: We stopped in for coffee to go and loved the space and owner so much we stuck around.
Address: 1580 Eastshore Road (Bodega Bay)
Good to know: Don’t miss the scones.
Spud Point Crab Co.
Hands down the best clam chowder on the coast, a retired firefighter owner and his wife opened this popular spot by the marina in 2004. The crab sandwich, crab cakes and tri-tip barbecue sandwich are other popular menu items. No indoor seating so grab a seat at one of the communal picnic tables.
On-the-scene: It’s become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for us to shop at the annual Bodega holiday fair held at the firehouse and then stop here for lunch.
Address: 1860 Westshore Road (Bodega Bay)
Good to know: Long lines on weekends. Whole cooked crabs available to go.