Santa Rosa can best be thought of as a city made up of four large neighborhoods with a downtown sitting in the middle. This came about quite naturally because of the highways that divide the city into relatively equal quadrants. Due to these geographical divisions, each section of Santa Rosa has developed its own, unique character and lifestyle.
There are three parts to Downtown Santa Rosa: 4th Street (which is what most people mean when they say "downtown"), Historic Railroad Square, and the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping mall.
At one time, Downtown Santa Rosa was considered a jewel and city planners from throughout California used it as a model. Little by little, due to earthquakes and poor city planning (such as Highway 101 running right through downtown and building a mall in the middle), downtown had lost much of its former charm.
However, the pendulum is on the upswing, and revitalization efforts have been steering downtown back to its former glory.
Northeast Santa Rosa
North of 4th Street (Highway 12) and east of Highway 101 is the Northeast quadrant of Santa Rosa. It has many of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and a number of historical areas.
Most famous of those is the McDonald Historic District. This has been the setting for many popular movies, including Wes Craven's "Scream," Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt," and "Pollyanna."
St. Rose is a prestigious neighborhood and home to great historical architecture. For the highest concentration of 19th century buildings, the Cherry Street Preservation District is the place to be. And, if you enjoy an urban "artsy" neighborhood, head to the JC Area.
Northwest Santa Rosa
The northwest quadrant of Santa Rosa is the area north of Highway 12 and west of Highway 101. While the area was once dominated by prune orchards, today it is filled with subdivisions.
This section of the city is known for its sports. It boasts the area's largest swimming complex at Finley Aquatic Center along with soccer centers, baseball fields, and a golf course.
It is also home to Redwood Empire Ice Arena. This venue is better known as Snoopy's Home Ice because it was created by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. Nearby, you'll also find the Charles M. Schulz Museum and that promises a good time.
The Pacific Coast Air Museum is another good destination. You might also be interested in local wineries, including the popular Kendall-Jackson, Hanna Winery & Vineyards, and the Martin Ray Winery.
Southwest Santa Rosa
You will find mostly rural and residential property in the southwest quadrant of Santa Rosa. This is the area south of Highway 12 and west of Highway 101.
One of the best-known communities is Roseland Village, which is a tight-knit and family-friendly neighborhood.
Need to buy a car? You'll find Santa Rosa Auto Row on Corby Avenue. It's nearly impossible to miss the number of car dealerships located there.
Southeast Santa Rosa
Finally, the Southeast quadrant includes the areas south of 4th Street and east of Highway 101. It is the original setting for Santa Rosa and the 1830-built Carrillo Adobe. This was the area's first home and it still stands.
Montgomery Village surrounds the site and this is considered one of the more upscale areas, as is its shopping center. Another neighborhood that's popular is Bennett Valley, which has a public golf course.
Southeast Santa Rosa is home to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and three picturesque parks: Howarth Park, Spring Lake, and Annadel Park.