Out There on Valentine's Day

Get out there in Santa Rosa on Valentine's Day.  Out There SR blogger Amanda Janik tells you how.

Okay, so people have different opinions about Valentine’s Day. For example, my boyfriend hates it and tries to pretend it doesn’t exist, which makes me moody and very “woe is me, I’ll just be over here in the rocking chair, sighing…” for about a week afterward. Other people (I’m told) love the excuse to express the affection and adoration they feel for their partner, and go all out.

Whichever category you find yourself in, this Valentine-deprived gal is going to show off some of Santa Rosa’s best date spots…and if you have some ideas of your own, please add them in the comments below!

mirageFirst off, flowers. I’ll admit to being a sucker for flowers, even though yes, they just die -- bla bla bla leave me alone -- I love them anyway! When receiving these I’m always very excited to see they didn’t come from the sad pre-packaged bin in the checkout line, but in fact from a real live local florist. I like City 205 Flowers on 5th Street, and Mirage Florist, which is right downtown on 4th. However, I also love growing my own flowers to pick myself down the road, so I’d be happy with seeds or a plant from King’s Nursery, which is tucked over on 13th Street on the east side of town.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, on to the date ideas. Here’s a list of some of the imaginary Valentine’s date activities I’ve dreamt up, in no particular order:

arthurmurrayDancing! Hey, it’s a romantic holiday; I’m starting big. I’ve always wanted to do the whole “dinner and dancing” thing because secretly I want to be one of those flawlessly dynamic women in those gorgeous old dance movies. It kind of doesn’t matter which one, as long as I’m in a fabulous dress. Alas, while I can shake some major tail feathers to the poppy music of my youth, I’ve never learned the classics. Goals! Luckily there’s Arthur Murray Dance Center on Davis Street near Railroad Square. Learn to dance; dance on Valentine’s Day. BAM!

Being active seems to be a big date winner around here, and luckily Santa Rosa has a plethora of options just wrapped up and waiting for us like a big ol’ heart-shaped box of chocolates. When polling those in my vicinity (i.e. the teenager and his friend who happened to be in the kitchen at that moment) about their ideal Valentine’s Date, one said a hike and picnic at Spring Lake; the other said a walk around town and a movie. Not too shabby, boys! Personally, I hate hiking.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.32.19 PMBut I do love climbing! Santa Rosa’s climbing gym, Vertex, would be such an unexpected place to request from my date he’d have no idea what he was getting into by agreeing to go. Not only is using focused communication and teamwork to get from Point A to Point F a surprisingly crazy sexy activity, the bonus for me is I can get all sweaty and smelly during a date and it’s totally acceptable!

Back to the fluffy stuff.  I’m kind of a book nerd and so I’d love to check out a romantic reading at Copperfield’s Books. Sure, these aren’t on Valentine’s Day itself, but Copperfield’s in Montgomery Village has a super-swoony lineup of authors reading and talking All Things Love on February 12th and 13th. Think of it as a literary appetizer to whet your appetite for the main course. Of, you know, love.

the-pullman-kitchenOr, of food. Under normal circumstances I’d avoid the restaurant scene on this most major of romantic days (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day; otherwise known, in the biz, as “amateur night”), but we love The Pullman Kitchen (205 5th Street) so much I’d be willing to brave it. Every meal we’ve had here has been incredible, without exception. Plus, they have a few tables outside of the main restaurant which are still indoors, where they let us bring our dog. Valentine’s date with the dog? Yes, please!

If we felt like cooking-in as if it were any other day of the week, we’d pop over to Imwalle Gardens on West Third for some locally-grown fresh produce, then grab something to grill at Sonoma Meat Company on Sebastopol Ave. Oliver’s Market on Stony Point Road is our standard for whatever else we might need. Dessert, maybe? No one can accuse me of being inflexible when it comes to dinner.

equus-loungebarCocktails: these are essential. Because we are very well-rounded people, we might find ourselves at The Villa, Equus, Kozy Kar Bar or The Zoo at any given point in this date. Each of these watering holes is very unique and offers its own great vibe, depending on what you’re going for. The Villa on Montgomery Drive is very “50’s Mafia meets Grandma in her Lady Gloves” with a little bit of “Suburban Tract Home” thrown in for good measure. Equus at the Fountaingrove Inn is all shiny brass, piano in the corner, waitresses in heels. Kozy Kar on Mendocino is an explosion of nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, with every surface packed with quirky memorabilia to go along with the Playboy posters covering the walls, vintage pinball machines and video games, and TV’s playing snippets of old television shows and commercials, along with **WARNING WARNING WARNING** unexpected video clips of a, errr, more ‘adult’ nature.

the zooThe Zoo is our favorite dive bar in Santa Rosa - the kind you don’t want to use the bathroom in but the drinks are strong and cheap so you just do what you gotta do. With a "wide variety" of clientele, an oddly-assorted jukebox and bartenders that care just enough, it’s the place we end up after every special occasion. Plus, our good friend and famous ceramist Karen lives down the street, so every time we go we text her and say “Hey Karen! We’re at The Zoo!” and soon she shows up with a paper grocery bag full of freshly made popcorn. Here’s her number: eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-ni-e-ine.*

Again, this is just one gal’s Valentine dreams put to print, and I’d love to hear YOUR favorite date spots around Santa Rosa. In the meantime, if you need me you can find me in my rocking chair.

*That is not Karen’s real phone number. Or, if it is, I apologize to its owner. I was making an 80’s musical reference, so….

48 Hours In SR, v1: Suzanne Karp

If you live in Santa Rosa and haven’t had visitors yet, just wait; you will. We here at OutThereSR have taken it upon ourselves to collect some favorite activities of people who actually live here. We asked them what they would choose to do if given 48 hours in Santa Rosa. Over the next few months we’ll be sharing what we found with you, so the next time your favorite uncle in Nebraska needs a getaway, you’ll be ready.

First up, Suzanne Karp. She’s a local photographer of All Things Weddings and Families (and everything in between), who has been up and down this fair coast for her gorgeous, highly sought-­after work. Recently featured in Sonoma Weddings Magazine, Suzanne’s photographs have won awards and been featured on countless blogs and websites. Needless to say, this woman stays busy. When you’re on the road a lot like she is, it’s always a treat to stay home and have friends come to you. Here’s her perfect 48 hours in Santa Rosa weekend:

We’d start at Dierk’s Parkside Cafe on Santa Rosa Ave for pull­aparts ­because who doesn’t love an oversized, deep fried donut?

48 hours in santa rosa: Dierk's Parkside Cafe pullapart pastry

Then we have to burn that giant fried sugar bomb off, so we head over to one of our favorite walking spots, Spring Lake. It’s super beautiful there and our friends from LA think we live in Paradise. Which, let’s admit, we do. Plus, the walk isn’t even strenuous for such a picturesque payoff.

After all that exercise and fresh air, we’d go to Super Burger for the greasiest burger in town. Sitting at the old­fashioned counter sipping a vanilla shake makes me feel like it’s 1955.

48 hours in Santa Rosa superburger2We love heading up to Paradise Ridge Winery. They have an epic view and a cool sculpture garden to walk through. Some are interactive, some make these great clanging noises, some are very peaceful. I love photographing at this place because there’s so much to see. I’ve photographed several couples and families there at the giant LOVE sculpture ­and have even caught some engagements there! It’s a truly great spot. Plus, there’s wine, so…win­-win.

48 hours in Santa Rosa karp loveWe like to keep our second day with guests more chill, starting with Village Bakery in the cute Town and Country Shopping Center for coffee and their cardamom rolls. Side note: we also always stop by our local Pacific Market for deli sandwiches (roast beef and avocado on a dutch crunch roll, ­ yum!). After the bakery, some ice skating and hot chocolate at Snoopy’s Home Ice, which is right by the Charles M. Schulz museum.

48 hours in santa rosa: snoopy ice rinkAfter we cruise on the ice for a while, we like to just stroll around Railroad Square. They have thrift shops, antiques stores, good coffee and my kid loves to check out the costumes and funny gifts at Disguise the Limit. From there we head over to Stark’s, where during happy hour they have amazing small bites like prime rib banh mi sandwiches, truffle fries and tuna tartare tacos, for cheap. After all that I think we’d be ready to call it a night!

Thanks, Suzanne! I know we live in the same town, but I’d like to sign up to be your next visitor, immediately.

New Year's Eve Mischief Masquerade

Dust off your bedazzled masks and little black dresses, your New Year’s Eve just got a little bit naughtier.

masqThe North Bay Cabaret - Santa Rosa’s monthly parade of babes, brawn, boobs, burlesque, bad boys, biting wit and a bunch of other B words - is pulling out all of the sexy stops for this year’s well-deserved descent into that dark night, with their New Year’s Eve Mischief Masquerade. Featuring, first and foremost, YOU! Drape yourself in your dress-blacks, your elegant formalwear, or heck, your wackiest feathered costume - anything goes on New Year’s Eve! But of course, don’t forget your mask.

masq3Once you’ve arrived, the mischief begins! Under the warm glow of The Whiskey Tip’s heat lamps you’ll settle in to take in an eccentric and elegant feast for your senses: daring fire performers, amazing circus acts, beautiful burlesque (and yes, even boylesque!), cutting-edge comedy, sultry belly dancing, surprising sideshow acts, and as always, so many more surprises than you could possibly imagine.

masq2For your dancing pleasure check out the lounge, where the DJ will keep spinning the best dance beats on vinyl until 2am. Don’t forget to grab your lover, your friend, or the nearest sexy stranger* for the midnight toast, with free champagne to make it all official!

masksThis delightfully sultry event is expected to sell out so buying tickets in advance is strongly encouraged. After that, general admission tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

Thursday, December 31st - New Year’s Eve!
Doors @ 7pm
Live Show @ 8
Dance party till 2!

Whiskey Tip
1910 Sebastopol Rd.
Santa Rosa

21+ with ID only, sorry kiddos - it’s the grown ups’ night to play

Buy tickets here: http://mischiefmasquerade.brownpapertickets.com/

*Please ask for consent before kissing sexy strangers at midnight, or any time for that matter. Thank you in advance for ringing in the New Year in a non-creepy way.

A Day South of A

When I want to spend a low-key day moseying around a cool neighborhood in Santa Rosa, I head to the SOFA district.

SOFA cool neighborhood in santa rosaSOFA, or in layman’s terms Santa Rosa’s South A neighborhood, is found on…well, South A Street, at the intersection of Sebastopol Ave. This smattering of small businesses and art galleries qualifies as a bona fide cool neighborhood in Santa Rosa and is the perfect place to take your time, visit with friends who you’ll almost surely run into, or just grab a coffee. Plus, there’s free 2 hour parking so you don’t have to panic about the meter.

Criminal bakery cool neighborhood in santa rosaEarly in the day I like to start at Criminal Bakery at 463 Sebastopol Ave. They open at 7:30 AM weekdays, 8 AM weekends, and only stay open until about 2 or 3 depending on the season. So it’s a perfect place to stop in for something delicious to nosh on before perusing other shops. Criminal uses locally sourced ingredients so their bakery and casual eatery menu items are on constant rotation, always giving their patrons something to look forward to. They are friendly and familiar with their regular customers, asking about upcoming trips or recent visits from relatives, and the selection of baked goods makes my eyes all a­goggle. Here’s a short video of Dawn from Criminal Bakery talking about the SR foodie scene.

Criminal1 cool neighborhood in santa rosaSadly I can’t eat sweets first thing in the morning, but luckily they have a dangerously tempting selection of warm, savory items as well, including Huevos Rancheros, frittatas, English muffin sandwiches, and more. I pair it with a glass of hot tea and I’m good to go!

Jeramiah2 cool neighborhood in santa rosaA few doors west and directly on the corner is the aptly named Jeremiah’s Photo Corner, a small shop full of every element of a photographer’s needs: film, backdrops, tripods, various things I don’t know the use of because I’m not a photographer and, of course, cameras.

Jeramiah cameras cool neighborhood in santa rosaIn the back, Jeremiah has a studio where he takes the most exquisite and striking tin-type portraits, among other things. It’s worth a stop in to see the photos taken over the years…or buy a camera themed tote bag or necklace for the picture taker in your life.

JamJar1 cool neighborhood in santa rosaFrom Jeremiah’s, I always turn right like a moth to a flame and head to JaM Jar, ­a gorgeous little jewelry and art boutique owned by friends Jamie Jean Wilson and Molly Perez. Wilson makes the jewelry, while Perez creates the art found on the walls throughout their small shop. The place is teeming with creativity and the heart and passion these ladies feel for their crafts is fully apparent in every detail. They’ll be celebrating their three year anniversary this coming Friday, January 29. I’m sure they’d love it if you stopped by.

JamJar2 cool neighborhood in santa rosaThese artsy ladies are in perfect company; the SOFA district houses around 30 artists’ studios tucked inside its unassuming buildings and down its alleys. That’s more than anywhere else in Sonoma County, and when the studios are open, it is an unforgettable visual treat.

Atlas1 cool neighborhood in santa rosaSince shopping makes me sleepy, after I leave JaM JAr I turn right again and walk until I get to the alley where I’ll find Atlas Coffee. This place reminds me of being an angst-y young teen who spent hours upon hours writing emo poetry in the corners of my favorite coffee shop. The music sways between rockabilly and punk on any given day, there’s always new art on the walls, and there’s a spacious courtyard for those with kids, dogs, or the need for a good healthy debate with friends.

Juliard park cool neighborhood in santa rosaCoffee in hand, I might walk a little through Julliard Park if the Bocce league is out in their all whites playing a game, or if there’s live music or another event happening. Otherwise, a walk down Art Alley is a must.

ArtAlley2 cool neighborhood in santa rosaEverywhere you turn in the SOFA district you’ll find a mural, a yarn bombed bike rack, a sculpture, or any other manner of art being fueled into whatever form it can find.

ArtAlley1 cool neighborhood in santa rosaIt can take some time to see it all, especially if you enter one of the warrens of artists’ studios ­but it’s worth it.

mural cool neighborhood in santa rosaIf you don’t have time for all the galleries, you’ll still see plenty just walking around.

Spinster sisters cool neighborhood in santa rosaOn the southwest corner of South A and Sebastopol Ave (directly kitty corner from Jeremiah’s) is The Spinster Sisters.

spinster2 cool neighborhood in santa rosaIt’s an open plan restaurant with bar seating in the middle where locals ­or tourists who’ve done their research come for an incredible meal, or just a glass of wine or beer. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a smaller bar menu between later services, this place is always high on our go-to list. And yes, there’s always a rotating art show up on the walls.

Imaginist1 cool neighborhood in santa rosaFinally, if you’re lucky, there will be a performance happening at The Imaginists, Santa Rosa’s most avant-garde theatre company. They’re right next door to Criminal Bakery, which is good because I’m a fan of full circle days. The Imaginists team, headed by founders Brent Lindsay and Amy Pinto, is continually breaking the norm and blowing expectations out of the water with their innovative, political, provocative and inclusive style of theater. For me, it doesn’t matter what production they’re performing,­ every one is a thought-provoking masterpiece not to be soon forgotten.

Next time you wake up at a reasonable hour and think “I’d really love a muffin,” find your way to South A, and see where the day takes you.

In the meantime, if you want to keep up with the goings on in this cool neighborhood in Santa Rosa, you can keep up with events like Winterblast, gallery openings, and monthly art walks by visiting SOFA’s Facebook page*