Located about 45 miles north of San Francisco sits Rohnert Park, a slow-paced suburban city in the Bay Area. Its close proximity to wineries in Sonoma and Napa, as well as to the Pacific Ocean, makes Rohnert Park a desirable location with beautiful landscapes. Designed around schools and parks, the neighborhood mostly attracts families and nature lovers. Sonoma State University adds to the diversity of the population, and the community centers and performing arts theaters add culture.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Fast food and casual dining chains make up the majority of dining spots in Rohnert Park, but a few locally owned establishments serve up local favorite dishes, too. Head to Don Julio’s Rincon Latin Grill and Pupusas on Southwest Boulevard for affordable El Salvidorian food. Along with the perfectly stuffed pupusas, patrons favor the tropical burrito and mango salsa. Order the zesty guava aguas fresca and a side of the house-made curtido, a spicy cabbage slaw.
Rohnert Park residents consider Sam’s Mediterranean Café & Deli a hidden gem. Tucked away in a business park near Graton Rancheria Casino, the kitchen serves up specialty sandwiches to patrons stopping in for a quick lunch break. Order the falafel wrap with homemade hummus or the fresh Greek salad topped with tabbouleh.
For a box lunch to take along on your wine-tasting adventure, stop in at Rob’s Lunch Box on State Farm Drive. The knowledgeable staff makes recommendations for which sandwiches travel best and pair well with different wines. Try the chicken salad sandwich or the grilled California panini paired with garlic cilantro fries.
Rohnert Park provides a range of entertainment and nightlife options from family-oriented spots to dive bars. The pool tables and bowling at Double Decker Lanes draws a family-friendly crowd with happy hour specials that cater to adult patrons. Kids bowl free on summer weekdays, and the bowling alley hosts Rock 'n' Glow bowling on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Locals travel south of Rohnert Park to neighboring Cotati for a favorite dive bar, The Eight Ball. The crowd consists of a mix of older regulars and young Sonoma State University college students, keeping the vibe fresh but relaxed. With pool tables, a jukebox and an outdoor patio, the bar provides a fun place for a late-night drink.
Located on the Sonoma State University campus sits Green Music Center, Rohnert Park’s premier music venue. Featuring casual summertime concerts on the lawn and intimate performances by the San Francisco Symphony, the Green Music Center has become a favorite entertainment spot among locals and visitors alike. Sip a glass of wine while taking in the breathtaking acoustics.
History & Culture
In the early 1800s, Spanish settlers moved into the Santa Rosa Valley to overtake the land from the Coast Miwok American Indians and divide it into ranchos. The ranchos eventually sold to Yankee squatters and homesteaders who moved in after the gold rush. In 1929, Waldo Emerson Rohnert purchased the land and turned it into an expansive seed farm.
The post-World War II boom in agriculture brought a growth in population, and cities began sprouting in Sonoma County. The Law Firm of Golis and Fredericks sought to develop the Rohnert farmland into a master-planned community. The Rohnert Family sold the land in 1955, and Rohnert Park was born. Residential construction commenced and the city incorporated in 1962.
Though Rohnert Park does not house any museums, residents enjoy an active arts scene. Spreckels Performing Arts Center hosts captivating plays with a full orchestra, while the Sonoma State University Art Gallery features modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
Though residents prefer using personal cars as their primary mode of transportation, Rohnert Park provides bike and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. Bike routes run through the town with ample bicycle parking available along the way. Residents can catch a ride on the Sonoma County Transit bus to travel along the major roads in Rohnert Park. To hail a cab, call Ace Taxi to request a ride, or schedule a ride with Uber using your smartphone. With several major streets running through Rohnert Park and its proximity to Highway 101, traveling in and around the area proves easy.
The cost of living in California runs higher than in the rest of the country, and Rohnert Park residents pay a little more to live in the well-landscaped, amenity-filled community. The cost of living in Rohnert Park sits around 3 percent higher than California overall. A one-bedroom apartment costs about $1,247 per month. Gas prices in Rohnert Park run about 20 percent higher than the national average, though slightly lower than California’s average prices. With a number of bars and dining options, residents pay about $4 for a domestic beer.
While Rohnert Park residents shop at Walmart and Target, some travel outside of Rohnert Park to Santa Rosa for bigger shopping selections. Montgomery Village houses Chico's, Sur La Table and other popular retailers, while Santa Rosa Plaza provides a one-stop shopping experience with Gap and Macy's.
To shop in town, head to Delicious Boutique on Roberts Lake Road for a unique selection of women's clothes and accessories. Patrons love the friendly service they receive while searching for the perfect pair of designer jeans. The trendy accessories and jewelry provide a stylish and affordable way to embellish a new outfit or refresh an old one.
North Bay Discount Bedding & Furniture specializes in mattress sets and discount furniture, making it invaluable to college students in particular. The knowledgeable owner assists customers personally and quickly delivers new bedding.
If you enjoy thrift shopping, head to Crossing the Jordan Thrift Store on Commerce Boulevard. This large consignment shop carries everything from designer clothes to furniture. Locals love the cheap prices and unique pieces. New inventory arrives daily, so you never know what you might find when you walk through the door. The sales profits go toward a women and children's 12-month rehabilitation program, making every dollar well spent.
Most Rohnert Park residents rely on big chain supermarkets like Raley's and Safeway for grocery shopping. From June through August, residents enjoy shopping for locally-grown produce at the Rohnert Park Farmers Market. During off-season months, locals head down south to Cotati, where Oliver's sells fresh organic produce. Sample the cheese and vast beer selection, and order grass-fed steak from the butcher.
With 13 neighborhood parks and eight mini-parks throughout Rohnert Park, residents enjoy a variety of outdoor entertainment options, from quiet, shaded picnic spots to vibrant playground areas. Crane Creek Regional Park provides sweeping views of the hills and vineyards of Sonoma County, making it a favorite among locals. Take your dog on a hike along one of the many trails, or join in a game of disc golf. The park charges a small fee for parking.
Head over to Alicia Park for the perfect picnic spot. Horseshoe pits and a playground provide entertainment for all ages, and plenty of shaded picnic tables promise lots of space to relax. Catch a game on one of the youth baseball fields, or partake in a game with friends on the softball and soccer fields.
Rohnert Park hosts Founders Day each year to celebrate the history of the town. A parade kicks off the celebration, followed by live music and dancing. Food and art vendors line the streets, and families can choose from many kid-friendly activities.