The older part of Petaluma, about 57,000 residents -- to the west of Highway 101 -- has retained many of its old Victorian homes, the former mansions of the chicken barons. Petaluma's commercial core is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the central shopping district, which consists of mainly two-story stone buildings, has recently undergone a revitalization that includes an emphasis on downtown living. Dozens of antique shops operate in the old-town district.
Petaluma is graced with a riverfront -- once the third-busiest in California -- that has been restored, as well as a river walk. The galleries along the river showcase works from some of the best artists in the North Bay. Restaurants along the river provide a perfect place to gaze at sailboats as they pass through the distinctive D Street drawbridge. The annual Butter & Egg Days Parade & Festival, held in April, is a throwback to Petaluma's agricultural past.
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