Charles M. Schulz Museum and Snoopy's Home Ice
Whether you fly or drive to Sonoma County, the best place to start your Peanuts adventure is at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (2290 Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa, designated as STS). The fact that the airport is named for Schulz illustrates the affection local people felt for this quiet and unassuming cartoonist. The airport terminal makes it clear that Sonoma County is Peanuts country.
Out front, large bronze sculptures of Charlie and Linus lean against a stone wall, watching visitors come and go. Inside, one wall is highlighted by a painting of the airport's logo, which features Snoopy on his doghouse, jauntily flying by a control tower. On another wall a narrow-painted banner also features fighter pilot Snoopy and his doghouse, and proclaims, "Thank you for flying STS."
And five-foot fiberglass images of Charlie and the gang are everywhere. Wearing his distinctive zigzag shirt, Charlie Brown directs visitors to the self-check-in computers. A camera-toting-tourist Lucy holds up a world map. Snoopy poses in his fighter pilot's helmet and goggles, leaning against an airport control tower. And Woodstock perches on his nest while around him small birds attempt to fly.
Hungry? The airport's Sky Lounge Steakhouse and Sushi Bar offers fresh, organic menu items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and its front wall of windows overlooks the runway where you can watch the planes take off and land.
For your next stop, head east away from the airport on Airport Boulevard; after crossing Highway 101, turn right on Old Redwood Highway. In about two miles you'll reach the Kaiser Permanente medical offices (3925 Old Redwood Highway). Just to the left of the building's front door, Woodstock reads "The Life of a Bird" to small birds.
Behind the building, three characters are scattered along a nicely landscaped concrete patio. Snoopy holds a measuring stick, to see how tall Woodstock is; Charlie Brown wears sunglasses and carries a satchel; and Lucy sits at her psychiatric booth, waiting for the next person willing to pay 5¢ for her advice. Comfortable wooden benches are a nice place to sit and appreciate the statues, before moving on to the next Peanuts location.
Continue south on Old Redwood Highway, going straight where it becomes Mendocino Avenue; then head west (right) on Steele Lane. After driving under the Highway 101 overpass, watch on the right for signs to the Charles M. Schulz Museum (2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa).
You'll be visiting three buildings on the Schulz campus — Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop; Snoopy's Home Ice Redwood Ice Arena, which includes the Warm Puppy Café and the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Essentially, this is Peanuts Central, where Schulz spent most of his time, and where you can get a real feel for the cartoonist and his creations. Plan to stay here awhile, to be able to see and take in everything.
Next door, rent skates and glide across the ice at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, aka Snoopy's Home Ice. Or kick back at the Warm Puppy Café, enjoying a snack or meal while watching the skaters through the wall of windows facing the rink. Or curl up in front of the gas fireplace with a cup of Peppermint Patty hot chocolate. This café was one of Schulz' favorite hangouts, and he ate breakfast and lunch here almost every day. His favorite table by the front window is permanently reserved for him.
Just across a small side street from the ice rink, you'll find the Schulz museum — 8,000 square feet of world-class art and whimsy, designed with clean, modern lines and a definite spirit of fun. There's something to appeal to fans of every age, from the "kite-eating tree" and oversized birdbath in the courtyard to the mural a Japanese artist created using 3,588 comic strip tiles. There's also a re-creation of Schulz' studio, a timeline of his life, and an original wall that he painted in the nursery of his Colorado home in 1951.
The museum's 100-seat theater screens a variety of animated Peanuts specials and fascinating interviews with Schulz. It's a good idea to check the theater schedule in advance, so you can time your visit to watch the shows that interest you the most.
For those traveling with children (or the young at heart), next door to the Schulz museum you'll find the Children's Museum of Sonoma County, with interactive, hands-on exhibits and experiences focused on art, nature, and science. Or, if you want to stretch your legs and explore the Schulz property a bit more, there's a baseball diamond and a cement slab for roller hockey just north of the Schulz museum's parking lot.
While Schulz spent a quite a bit of his time in his studio, the ice rink, and the Warm Puppy Café, he was also a frequent visitor to the nearby Coddingtown Shopping Mall, where he would spend hours in a bookstore. Unfortunately, the bookstore is gone now, but just inside the mall entrance next to Whole Foods, you'll find fiberglass statues of Charlie Brown and Snoopy keeping watch by a colorful play area designed for children under 42 inches tall, with padded benches where parents can sit and watch.
If you're ready to call it a day, the Flamingo is a good lodging option for the night, giving you time to check out the other Peanuts figures there. The hotel's poolside Terrace Grille offers casual dining featuring Wine Country cuisine.
Or, if you want to get a head start on tomorrow's location, other options include Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country (170 Railroad St., Santa Rosa), which has a fiberglass statue of Lucy, or the historic Hotel La Rose (308 Wilson St., Santa Rosa).
Find the Peanuts Statues in Santa Rosa And Beyond
Start the day in Old Courthouse Square at the corner of Santa Rosa Avenue and Fourth Street in downtown Santa Rosa.
A bronze statue of Marcie reads a book on a bench under shady pine trees. For a great photo, slide in next to her.
Not far away a blue fiberglass Lucy, complete with butterflies in her hair, stands near a glittery glass-mosaic-covered Woodstock (50 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa).
If you didn’t start with breakfast at your hotel, about a half mile from the square you’ll find Dierk’s Parkside Café (404 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa), popular for its modern twists on classic comfort food — think homemade cinnamon rolls grilled up like French toast, or scrambled eggs with Sonoma duck confit. Or, less than a block from the square, Mac’s Deli & Café (630 Fourth St., Santa Rosa) offers a selection of omelets, Benedicts, breakfast bagels or sandwiches, pancakes, and more. You may want to stroll down Fourth Street, where you'll find shops, galleries, coffee houses, outdoor cafes, and delis. Take your time, this is a great place to explore. Also, within walking distance, you'll find a fiberglass Lucy at Santa Rosa City Hall (100 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa).
Next up is Santa Rosa's Historic Railroad Square district. Begin at the California Welcome Center (9 Fourth St., Santa Rosa), in the old railroad depot. A fiberglass Lucy welcomes visitors, and in addition to offering free tips for visiting Sonoma County, the center sells a bit of Peanuts memorabilia. On the lawn near the depot, a bronze statue of a smiling Charlie Brown stands with his arm around his pal, Snoopy.
Several fiberglass statues are also in the neighborhood, where you'll also find antique stores, specialty shops, coffee houses, and restaurants.
It's a great opportunity to browse and shop as you locate the other Peanuts statues:
- A dapper Snoopy with a handlebar mustache in front of Aroma Roasters (95 5th St., Santa Rosa)
- Woodstock as a Beaver Scout in front of Omelette Express (112 4th St., Santa Rosa)
- A sporty Snoopy in front of Chops Teen Center (509 Adams St., Santa Rosa)
After you've explored this historic neighborhood, head to the Finley Community Center (2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa). The center's central courtyard features an impressive bronze sculpture of Schroeder, Lucy, and Schroeder's toy piano.
And it takes just a few minutes to also go by 110 Stony Point Road. Local architect Larry Simons collected five fiberglass statues and had them bronzed. They're on display near his firm's office.
The next stop is out of town. Take Highway 101 south for about 10 to 15 minutes, to the Golf Course Drive exit for Double Decker Lanes (300 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park).
It's true that the Peanuts gang usually played baseball or football, but from time to time they went bowling. That makes this family-friendly, 50-lane bowling alley a natural stop on this Peanuts trip — especially since Double Decker Lanes has a way-cool fiberglass Snoopy holding a bowling ball and wearing a bowling shirt and red-and-green bowling shoes.
After exploring Rohnert Park, it's time for a more reflective stop on this Peanuts journey. Head west on Highway 12 to Pleasant Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary (1700 Pleasant Hill Road, Sebastopol), for a thoughtful visit to Schulz' gravesite.
When you reach Pleasant Hill Memorial Park, park in the lot near the "Scharp" family marker. Three large fountains are staggered along a small rise, and Schulz' grave is at the top, next to the highest fountain. At the gravesite, an oversized stone bench is engraved with the images of four Peanuts characters. Above the images is the distinctive Schulz signature that graced his cartoons. Below the images are the words "Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy … How can I ever forget them …"
This is a gentle place. A soft breeze often carries the sound of water gurgling in the nearby fountain. Stay awhile, and reflect on the man who brought laughter, insight, joy, and understanding to millions of people worldwide.