Cities and Towns 

  • Windsor-Town-Exterior-1280-525

Southern Sonoma County

A former railroad freight station located slightly east of the Highway 101 corridor in central Sonoma County, unincorporated Penngrove (pop. 2,522) offers a slice of slow-town life within a small community of farms and rural estates. Only a few blocks long, Penngrove's downtown Main Street boasts an eclectic array of local shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, in a variety of historic buildings.

Offering both a charming historic downtown and a strategic location on the southern edge of Sonoma County's Highway 101 corridor, Petaluma (pop. 57,941) was once known as the Egg Basket of the World for its highly successful egg industry in the early 20th century. Today, Petaluma nurtures dynamic industry clusters in food and beverage processing, information communications technology, diversified manufacturing, tourism hospitality, outdoor recreation, green services and construction, consumer products, high tech, biotech, and health and wellness.

    Central Sonoma County

    Covering about two square miles along the Highway 101 corridor in central Sonoma County, Cotati (pop. 7,275) blends the benefits of living in a small city with the cultural advantages of being located near major urban centers and the acclaimed Sonoma State University. Home to a very clean light industrial area, Cotati boasts about its mixed-use development, "green" building programs, and energetic and involved business community.

    Rohnert Park
    Laid out in the 1950s as one of the nation's first planned communities, each neighborhood in family-friendly Rohnert Park (pop. 40,971) is designed around a park and elementary school. On the eastern edge of town you'll find the 269-acre campus of the acclaimed Sonoma State University; on-campus facilities include the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center, a world-class performing arts complex with multiple performance venues.

    Located in Southwest Santa Rosa, this former redevelopment area is poised for a rebirth with Roseland Village, a new seven-acre development site on Sebastopol Road earmarked for a mixed-use affordable housing and commercial development. Restaurants and retail shops dot this corridor with tasty tamales and pan dulce available at neighborhood mercados. 

    Santa Rosa
    Surrounded by natural beauty and serving as both the county seat and the region's business and service hub, Santa Rosa(pop. 167,815) is the largest city in the North Bay area, the fifth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the heart of Sonoma County. It boasts a thriving restaurant and tourism scene, as well as vibrant industries in agriculture, high-tech, biomedical, education, creative arts and services, and the environment.

    Northern Sonoma County

    Tucked just off the Highway 101 corridor on Sonoma County's northern border and recently named one of "America's Coolest Small Towns," Cloverdale (pop. 8,618) features a compact downtown filled with rambling Victorians and a variety of intriguing stores, galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms. Surrounded by oak-studded rolling hills, vineyards, wineries, and small farms, Cloverdale offers outstanding outdoor recreational opportunities, as well as a burgeoning arts community and a family-friendly atmosphere.

    Located in the beautiful Alexander Valley and settled in the mid-1800s, Geyserville (pop. 862) owes its name and beginnings to the discovery of geothermal springs in the Mayacamas Mountains just east of town. Geyserville charms its visitors with a short block of Wild West storefronts and wooden boardwalks, and the area is a magnet for bicyclists, artists, photographers, and those who simply love the picturesque and unique.

    Surrounded by three prime winegrowing regions (the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley appellations), Healdsburg (pop. 11,143) combines small-town charm with a growing reputation as a wine, culinary, and arts epicenter. The town is centered by Spanish-style plaza, originally developed by town founder Harmon Heald. Surrounded the plaza is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, tasting rooms, bars and other retail businesses; more than 20 art galleries are within walking distance of the plaza.

    Named in 1855 by a Pony Express rider who thought the area looked like the grounds surrounding Windsor Castle in England, Windsor (pop. 26,801) wasn't formally incorporated as a town until 1992. Deliberately designed with a family-friendly emphasis, Windsor is centered around its pedestrian-friendly Town Green, and features more than 1,600 firms doing business in six uniquely different commercial districts, plus the Windsor Business Center corporate park.

    Sonoma Valley

    Slightly off the beaten track in eastern Sonoma County (and reachable only by two-lane roads), this lush valley includes a number of distinctive wine-growing regions and three small towns. The largest town is Sonoma (pop. 10,648), which is centered around an eight-acre town square (the largest in California) and includes a number of historic buildings, including the last and northern-most Spanish-Mexican mission built in California.

    The Springs
    Located just north of Sonoma, the Springs is home to the iconic Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn built in 1927 in the style of California’s early missions. It includes the hamlets of Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and El Verano and is home to a number of restaurants and markets that serve up everything from scrumptious tacos to classic barbecue. It is just minutes away from the beautiful landscapes and wineries of Sonoma Valley.

    Other Towns
    In the northern end of the valley, the unincorporated villages of Glen Ellen (pop. 784) and Kenwood (pop. 1,028) offer a delicious blend of small-town life and Wine Country living.

    West Sonoma County

    The largest town in western Sonoma County is the diverse, dynamic, and semi-urban community of Sebastopol (pop. 7,379), located at the crossroads of state highways 12 and 116, and offering a small-town vibe blended with a global vision. Officially named a nuclear-free zone and a "slow city" (reflecting its commitment to staying green, local, friendly, and artistic), Sebastopol combines rich agricultural traditions with a whimsical, creative spirit and an abiding interest in the fine arts, healing arts, fine dining, healthy dining, wine, farming, the environment, sustainable living, and outdoor recreation.

    Other Towns

    A delightful mix of villages are scattered throughout the area. Located amid rolling hills at the southern end of the county and slightly inland from the coast, Valley Ford (pop. 147) offers a small cluster of restaurants and shops in rustic and historic buildings, in the heart of Sonoma County's dairy belt.

    Slightly less than five miles north of Valley Ford and only about a half-mile long, Freestone (pop. 32) is a common stop for cyclists and car clubs cruising the western county roads, and offers artisan breads and cheeses, as well as a luxurious day spa.

    And about five miles west from Freestone on the two-lane Bodega Highway (and about five miles inland from the coast), a diverse mix of shops and businesses line a short stretch of roadway in tiny Bodega (pop. 220) several landmark buildings in this hamlet were featured in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller movie, The Birds, including a church and a former school.

    To the north of Freestone along the exquisitely scenic Bohemian Highway, the tiny community of Occidental (pop. 1,115) boasts a two-block-long main street, with galleries, gifts shops, diverse stores, and renowned dining establishments; the Occidental Center for the Arts provides diverse, high-quality arts and cultural events.

    And tucked away just north of Sebastopol, Graton (pop. 1,707) offers a laid-back home to artists, artisans, writers, retirees, working-class families, and some of the best restaurants in the county.

    The Russian River

    An intriguing mix of towns and small communities hug the banks of the Russian River as it makes its slow and stately way to the Pacific Ocean. Rio Nido (pop. 522) offers a roadhouse, an English Tudor-style lodge, a public pool, and numerous summer homes and cabins clinging to the hillside in the canyon where Rio Nido Creek flows into the river.

    On the south side of the river, dining options vary from basic burgers to a Michelin-starred restaurant in town of Forestville (pop. 3,293), where winding Highway 116 becomes known as Front Street for three blocks through Forestville's "downtown."

    On the north side of the river, the charmingly rustic resort town of Guerneville (pop. 4,534) has been a welcoming destination for gay and lesbian tourists since the 1970s, and, with the recent opening of several upscale, farm-to-table eating establishments,  is becoming a foodie Mecca as well.

    A little to the west along the river's banks, the hamlet of Monte Rio (pop. 1,152) welcomes visitors with a 1950s-style arch proclaiming "Welcome to Monte Rio Vacation Wonderland."

    Tucked away in the hills above the Russian River watershed, the former lumber town of Cazadero (pop. 354) hugs the banks of Austin Creek, under the shade of towering redwoods; a destination bakery, a 100-year-old general store, and a family-operated sustainable sawmill operation entice visitors.

    And on a wide, flat area along the river just four miles inland from the coast, Duncans Mills (pop. 175) boasts about a dozen specialty shops offering hand-crafted goods, antiques, art, and other items, plus several restaurants and a tasting room.

    The Coast


    A number of small communities dot Sonoma County's 50-+ miles of stunningly beautiful coastline. Highway 1 winds along the Pacific Ocean, affording breathtaking views of long sandy beaches and secluded coves surrounded by rocky bluffs. While there are a number of ranches, farms, and vineyards in the coastal region, much of it is still open and undeveloped. The Sonoma Coast State Park stretches along 17 miles of the coast, preserving its natural beauty and offering recreational opportunities to tourists and other visitors.

    On the southern end of this state park, the small fishing village of Bodega Bay (pop. 1,077) harbors a small commercial fishing fleet (with charters available for fishing or whale watching), plus a mix of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and lodgings catering to the tourists drawn to the area's natural beauty and outdoor recreation.

    Slightly more than 10 miles north of Bodega, the town of Jenner (pop. 136) perches on a high bluff overlooking the estuary where the Russian River enters the ocean. This small community hugging Highway 1 provides stunning vistas and spectacular sunsets, as well as several restaurants and lodgings. The Jenner postal address includes Fort Ross State Historic Park, which preserves the Russian colonial presence, plus the lodge, restaurant, and scattering of homes that make up tiny community of Timber Cove (pop. 164).

    About 30 miles to the north, the environmentally-planned private community known as The Sea Ranch  (pop 1,305) stretches for 10 miles along the northern end of Sonoma County's coastline; the area includes both private and public trails as well as a regional park, and it's estimated that about half the houses in The Sea Ranch are rented out as vacation homes.

    Contact Information

    Economic Development Board
    Business Hours
    Monday – Friday
    8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Contact us by Phone
    141 Stony Circle, Suite 110
    Santa Rosa, CA 95401