Exploring the World of Snoopy and Peanuts in Sonoma County

Originally published at: Exploring the World of Snoopy and Peanuts in Sonoma County -

Author: Ariel Landrum

When envisioning a girls’ weekend getaway, the typical images that spring to mind are spa treatments, leisurely brunches, and shopping sprees. While my friends and I certainly relish these traditional delights, we also harbor a shared passion for diving into fandoms and seeking out unique experiences. This led us to Santa Rosa, California, the “hometown” of the beloved Peanuts cartoon characters. Instead of just sipping mimosas, we found ourselves immersed in the world of the entire Peanuts gang. We were eager for a journey that would be a trip down memory lane and a restorative escape. Who knew that chasing the Red Baron with Snoopy or seeking psychiatric advice from Lucy could be as rejuvenating as a spa day?

Charlie Brown’s persistent efforts to converse with the red-haired girl and Lucy’s infamous football pranks have made these characters timeless icons. Created by the late Charles “Sparky” Schulz, they have secured a permanent place in our hearts and Sonoma County. Schulz called this county home for over four decades, and it is where he is laid to rest.

Although a modest man who declined sculptures of himself, he approved of statues of his characters. As a tribute, the city of Santa Rosa sponsored “Peanuts on Parade” art projects. Local artists decorated five-foot-tall fiberglass statues of various characters, and over the years, more than 200 statues were created. These unique pieces, which raised over $500,000 for art scholarships and permanent bronze Peanuts sculptures, have become significant attractions for both residents and tourists.

As someone who embarked on this Peanuts-themed weekend trip, I can attest to the magic of Santa Rosa and its deep-rooted connection to Schulz and his timeless creations. For fans and those looking to explore a unique aspect of Sonoma County, a visit to these attractions offers a delightful journey that celebrates the legacy of Charles Schulz and the timeless appeal of his characters.

Day One: A Peanuts Journey from the Skies to the Shores

Our adventure began the moment we set foot in the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport. Everywhere we looked, the world of Peanuts greeted us. Decals of Snoopy in his pilot gear, Woodstock floating in a hot air balloon, and many more adorned the pristine white walls. It felt as though we had stepped into one of Schulz’s comic strips, half-expecting to see Charlie Brown trying to kick a football or Schroeder playing his piano. The baggage claim transformed into a Peanuts gallery, with standout pieces like Snoopy in his iconic plane, his nemesis, The Red Baron, and a traveling Lucy. Informative acrylic boards detailing Schulz’s history and bond with Sonoma County added depth to our experience. Even the restrooms didn’t escape the Peanuts charm, with delightful, tiled mosaics capturing our attention.

On our departure day, we found a silver lining despite the debacles of flight delays. It gave us ample time to photograph the impressive bronze sculptures of Charlie Brown and Linus outside the airport. While inside waiting for our flight, we had ample time to marvel at the unique sculptural trees adorned with felt leaves. Upon closer look, we saw one that cleverly incorporated a kite, reminiscent of the comic’s Kite-Eating Tree.

Heading for the coast, we found ourselves in Bodega and Bodega Bay. Although the Lucas Wharf Restaurant & Bar had closed its doors earlier in the year, a statue of a scuba-diving Charlie Brown, clutching an abalone shell, stood as a testament to its legacy. Our appetites led us to the neighboring Fishetarian Fish Market, where we indulged in scrumptious fish tacos. The children’s meals, complete with adorable fish-shaped cookies and Goldfish crackers, were an instant hit! And, of course, we ordered these meals in a moment of playful indulgence. Honestly, who could resist fish-shaped treats by the bay?

The market also offered a delightful array of crab dips and other savory spreads, perfect for anyone looking to enhance their charcuterie board. We decided to sample some, and the rich flavors paired wonderfully with the fresh, crisp air of Bodega Bay. We found a cozy spot by the water, making our dining experience more relaxing and lovely. The gentle lapping of the waves and the serene ambiance were the perfect backdrop for savoring the market’s renowned chowder, which was, without a doubt, a bowl of creamy perfection.

Our day’s adventure continued with a picturesque drive along the Bohemian Highway to Sebastopol, Schulz’s initial residence in Sonoma County. We cruised Main Street and The Barlow, a bustling hub of shops, food producers, and artists.

To rest and recharge, we opted for an Airbnb stay. However, for those whose love for Peanuts knows no bounds, the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country and the historic Hotel La Rose beckon, both rumored to house Peanuts statues.

Day Two: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Beyond

Our day kicked off with a visit to the iconic Charles M. Schulz Museum, an essential stop for any Peanuts enthusiast. Schulz crafted approximately 18,000 strips throughout his lifetime, and the museum proudly displays around 7,000 of these original masterpieces. Beyond the vast collection, visitors can step into a re-creation of Schulz’s studio and enjoy animated Peanuts specials and insightful interviews with Schulz in the museum’s theater, offering a holistic Peanuts experience. We explored the two newest exhibitions:

“It’s Time for School, Charlie Brown!” (September 24, 2023—March 10, 2024): This exhibit, nestled in the Downstairs Changing Gallery, whisked us back to grade school. Original Peanuts art, paired with vintage school memorabilia, stirred memories of lunchboxes, classroom antics, and the familiar ring of the school bell. Walking through the showcase, we found ourselves saying, ‘Good grief!’ as we reminisced about our own school days. My friend Stef, a passionate teacher, felt a deep connection with the classroom setting. Drawing parallels with the Peanuts gang, she humorously pondered if her students ever heard the iconic ‘wah-wah-wah’ when she spoke, reminiscent of the cartoons. Embracing the spirit, my friend Malaysha and I took a playful turn as therapists at the iconic “Psychiatric Help” booth, channeling our inner Lucy.

“Snoopy in Orbit” (July 13, 2023–July 14, 2024): Located in the Upstairs Changing Gallery, this exhibit unveiled Snoopy’s profound ties with NASA and space exploration. Snoopy’s space odysseys exceeded our expectations, from his 1960s association with NASA to his recent role in the Artemis I mission. The display featured historic space-traveling Snoopys and rare space-flown Peanuts artifacts. Highlights included the Astronaut Snoopy from the International Space Station in 2019 and Snoopy’s zero-gravity escapade during the Artemis I flight test in 2022. A special segment on Snoopy’s collaboration with NASA’s safety program unveiled intriguing previously unknown facets. It’s amazing to think that while we’re grounded here on Earth, Snoopy has been soaring among the stars, proving that even dogs have dreams that reach the heavens.

Every corner of Sonoma seemed to whisper tales of the Peanuts gang, making us feel like kids on a treasure hunt. Adjacent to the museum lies Snoopy’s Home Ice, a favorite spot for ice-skating enthusiasts. Whether you’re skating or sipping a beverage at Schulz’s cherished Warm Puppy Café, the ambiance is undeniably cozy and inviting.

Our Peanuts journey continued at Santa Rosa Plaza, where a modern rendition of Charlie Brown, sporting a backward baseball cap, greeted us. We finally indulged in some of the traditional girls’ weekend expectations as we wandered through the mall. We spent hours browsing through various stores, hunting for the perfect fall outfits that even The Great Pumpkin would approve of. The thrill of finding deals and discounts added to our excitement, making it a charming blend of our Peanuts adventure and a classic girls’ weekend activity.

In the end, the entire vacation was a testament to how seamlessly the unconventional can merge with the traditional.

While our weekend was packed with Peanuts-themed adventures, Sonoma County has even more to offer. A detailed map lists all Peanuts locations throughout the area for those contemplating a longer stay, ensuring a thorough exploration.

As Snoopy would say, ‘Keep looking up… that’s the secret to life.’ Our trip to Sonoma County certainly had us looking up in wonder and admiration. The Charles M. Schulz Museum exhibits weren’t merely informative but deeply immersive, rekindling childhood memories and the joy of the Peanuts gang’s escapades. While traditional girls’ trip activities have their charm, this unique blend of nostalgia and exploration elevated our experience. Every step of the way, we were reminded of the simple joys of childhood, the thrill of adventure, and the importance of friendship – all themes Schulz masterfully wove into his comics.