One of the most beautiful parks you’ll find in Santa Rosa is actually a cemetery.  I’m dead serious!  The Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, 17 acres large, is an awe-inspiring destination for all ages.


Smack dab in the center of a beautiful neighborhood, this unique spot is hard to miss. Now over 160 years old, even its history is remarkable, the result of an unfortunate drowning of a young father who had recently emigrated from Missouri. With nowhere else to bury him, he was laid to rest here, on what was then part of a Mexican land grant. For the next thirteen years many other families, also in need of burial space, utilized the land for that purpose as well. In 1867 it was officially made a cemetery. Far more recently, in 1997 the city made it a Historical Landmark, making it an important and beautiful part of Santa Rosa history to be valued and maintained indefinitely.


Located at 1600 Franklin Avenue, there is ample parking at both the Monroe Street and MacDonald Avenue entrances. Fido and the whole fam is welcome so long as you clean up after yourselves. The first thing to meet the eye upon entrance is the welcoming nature of the “park” with its meandering paths, giant old oaks and colorful native plants. You won’t have any trouble finding your personal Zen among the sounds of tree leaves lightly brushing against each other, happy birds chatting and the sweet buzzing of insects. The cemetery houses over 5,000 graves. A few points of interest are the memorial for those who died in the 1906 earthquake, the grave of Thompson Mize, who was the first to be buried there and Dr. John F. Boyce, who was Santa Rosa’s first physician.


In a pinch for time or just a loner? A rebel? Take a self-guided tour so you don’t miss all of the cool stuff. Pamphlets for self-guided tours are located at both entrances. Having said that, I can’t encourage you enough  to sign up for one of their guided tours and events. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook page, as they are always offering something new. From historic tours, to eco-friendly garden tours, and my favorite, the nighttime spooky lamplight tours and graveside reenactments. There really is something for everyone.


Most recently they have added a new tour to their offerings called the Stones and Images Tours. This is a free docent-led tour discussing the meaning behind various symbols and shapes of stones. Again, totally free! Free! The Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery is worth a visit or better yet, give this cool place the whole day, take a tour and bring a picnic.

-5Thanks again to gracious guest blogger Robyn Grace Jennings for another great post. Robyn is a freelance writer, enthusiastic gardener and cook and crazy chicken lady. She can be reached at