Beating the heat in Petaluma and beyond

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Our feelings toward the summer heat can change just as abruptly as our body temperature does after leaving an air-conditioned car and planting our feet on the sizzling cement.

To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

All year long we anticipate the summertime, daydreaming about its endless possibilities, from a much needed vacation, to a chance to regain familiarity with the other half of our wardrobe hidden in the back of the closet, to spending countless days lounging at the river.

Not the Petaluma River, our beloved but mostly un-swimmable tidal slough.

The Russian River.

Sonoma County’s not-so-hidden gem, the Russian River acts as many Petaluman’s main source of relief from the sweltering heat. It provides us a welcome opportunity to become submerged in the water, a luxury usually unavailable at, say, Bodega Bay, due to its choppy water, danger of rocks and, of course, the fear of what is lurking underneath.

The opportunity for a classic summer day is always in the palm of our hand, whether it be floating down the river with a stash of beer and bluetooth speakers, or simply buying an inflatable Orca whale from the local Rite Aid and floating stagnant in the shallow end.

The ingredients for a good time are easily attainable, as long as you don’t forget the necessities - SPF 50 and water-friendly shoes to protect your feet from the rocky terrain.

We often forget about the little things, especially during a heat wave.

Here are some other hot-weather pastimes this summer that may have slipped your mind.


Thursday, July 26, after sunset (space open at 6 p.m.)

Lucchesi Park

Of course, another way to beat the heat is to go to the movies, or (starting soon in Petaluma, to just wait for sunset and watch a movie under the evening sky. Movies in the Park will be kicking off with the 1989 adventure comedy, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Wayne Szalinski, played by Rick Moranis, is a family man and aspiring inventor who unintentionally shrinks his four children down to the size of an ant when they go searching for a missing baseball in his lab. Upon returning home, Szalinski throws his not-so-faulty shrink ray in the garbage can across the backyard. In an effort to be made kid-sized again, the children now must make the perilous journey through jungle-like grass, harsh rainstorms set off by sprinklers, and escape from giant predators in the form of backyard critters. Free Admission.


Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Casa Grande High School

See gorgeous classic cars of all kinds, plus all manner of family fun, from bounce houses a live music to raffles, food and shaved ice. A benefit for the Salvation Army’s local Back to School drive, to distribute school supplies to kids in the community who need them. The event is free. If you’d like to show of your car, there’s a $25 entry fee.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Call 707-769-0716 or write


Thursday, August 2 – Sunday, August 12, gates open 11 a.m.

Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa

The theme this year is ‘A Salute to Heroes,’ a celebration of the real-life heroes who risked everything during last October’s fires, as well as a fun-filled chance to salute the kind of heroes who wear capes and fight supervillains. Daily activities will include special programs for all. The Hall of Flowers this time out will feature the theme Seasons of Sonoma, with floral representations of the county’s rugged coastal bluffs, towering redwoods, color-changing vineyards and more. Special musical events for 2018 include appearances by rock legends Blood, Sweat and Tears, plus country crooner John Michael Montgomery, the inaugural Sonoma County Fair Blues Festival, with Grammy winner Grady Champion and others. The fair will feature the Norcal Brewfest, horse racing, a vast carnival and midway, all the usual fair foods and activities, and lots more besides.



August 3 - 19, 7:30 p.m.

Jack London State Historic Park

The Transcendence Theatre Company’s four-part summer series is prepared to entertain hundreds of eager patrons a night with Broadway-inspired productions featuring established singers and dancers with diverse and multifaceted backgrounds ranging from appearing in “Mamma Mia,” Young Frankenstein,” and “Mary Poppins.” Broadway Under the Stars includes a pre-show picnic on park grounds as well as local food vendors and food trucks, and of course, an abundance of wine. “Shall We Dance” showcases movement and rhythm in addition to impeccable vocals. Tickets range from $45 for general admission to $145 for VIP access.

Want to know more? Visit


Saturday, August 4, 12 Noon to 9:30 p.m.

Petaluma Fairgrounds

Railroad Earth, The Brothers Comatose, Royal Jelly Jive, Danny Click, The Rainbow Girls and many additional musical acts will performs on multiple stages at this annual fundraiser to keep music in our local schools. The extravaganza unfolds at the Petaluma Fairgrounds. Tickets $55 general, $149 for the VIP treatment.



Friday, Aug. 16 – Sunday, Aug. 18

The Mystic Theatre and the Big Easy

The goofy name says it all: The inaugural Pet-a-Llama Comedy Festival will aim to make Sonoma County laugh. The festival will unfold over three days in August, with simultaneous shows at the Mystic Theatre and The Big Easy. Highlights will include comedian Brian Posehn (“The Big Bang Theory,” “The Sarah Silverman Show”), The Comedians’ Cinema Club (an L.A.-based group that reenacts popular movies on the spot), The Sklar Brothers (Netflix’s “What Are We Talking About?”), Buddy Cole (from Kids in the Hall), Todd Glass and the Todd Glass Band, and a whole more.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? To see the full lineup and get information on each of the acts, check the website at


Saturday, Sept. 8, Noon – 5:00 p.m.

Petaluma Fairgrounds

With the eye-catching tag-line “See things you can’t un-see! Music you can’t un-hear!” the annual Lagunitas Beer Circus returns after an unforeseen last-minute cancellation last October, in the midst of the Santa Rosa firestorms. Back with a vengeance, the massive, multi-arena event will take place at the Petaluma Fairgrounds, and will feature “freaktacular entertainment” of all kinds. Acts and attractions will include a roaming marching band, plenty of live burlesque and a sideshow of jaw-dropping performance art anomalies, death-defying aerialists and first-rate musicians from all over the world. The beneficiary this year is the non-profit Petaluma Phoenix Center (better known as the Phoenix Theater), and General Circus Freaker tickets are a flat $40, wchich includes the first beer. Did we mention there will be beer? Well, it’s the Lagunitas Beer Circus, so of COURSE there will be beer.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Information at


Saturday, Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Block and Trolley-Railway Museum

Piano-playing musicians of all ages will compete for cash prizes and trophies on colorful, artistically-adorned pianos, as part of this tuneful fundraiser for Petaluma Trolley Living History Railway Museum. Petaluma’s John Maher – aka Petaluma Peter – is organizing the event. All styles are encouraged (not JUST honky-tonk, but that said, honky-tonk rocks!), and a number of renowned players are already on board to compete, including David Dodd, John Allair, and Mark McQuilkin. $10 online, $12 at the door.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? (search for Petaluma piano).


Saturday, September 15, 1 p.m - 5 p.m.

Historic Downtown Petaluma

With the slogan “Brews from our backyard, right by the River,” local craft beer fanatics are destined to celebrate the 6th annual festival by lining up to sip on 23 local breweries such as Lagunitas, Henhouse, Fogbelt, 2 Tread, Bear Republic and more. Participating food venues include El Roy’s, Chicken Pharm, Petaluma Coffee & Tea Company. Food and drinks will be accompanied by live music by the riverfront. You must be 21+ to attend this event. Tickets are $40.


Show Comment

Our Network

Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine