SANTA ROSA, Calif.
Visit Santa Rosa said the wildfires in Santa Rosa left 90 percent of the town untouched and the city is awaiting the return of visitors, which support a local tourism economy that employs one in 10 residents. While hotel inventory is down due to the loss of two hotels, as well as hotels housing evacuees and first responders, restaurants, wineries, breweries, shops, galleries and tour operators are open for business.
“Now is when we need our drive-market visitors more than ever,” says Brad Calkins, executive director of Visit Santa Rosa. “Tourism employs 10 percent of our workforce here in Santa Rosa and this is typically our busy season. Visitors are vital to sustaining the large majority of businesses that were undamaged and supporting jobs that will help our community fully recover."
Visit Santa Rosa said the restaurants, tasting rooms and shops in both the Historic Railroad Square and walkable downtown Courthouse Square were untouched by fire.
For beer lovers, Russian River Brewing Co., Third Street Aleworks, Cooperage Brewing Company, Plow Brewing Company and the new Beer Baron are busy serving local brews. Hundreds of Sonoma County wineries are open, including Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Balletto Vineyards; and on October 21, Paradise Ridge Winery, which lost several buildings on their winery estate, reopened their Kenwood tasting room with plans to further rebuild.
“We’re definitely open for business and need visitors now, but it’s not quite business as usual. We ask that people coming to Santa Rosa bring kindness and a sensitivity about,” Calkins said.
Area attractions, such as the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Safari West wild animal park, were undamaged and will reopen in the coming weeks. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa’s premier live entertainment venue, was damaged but not destroyed; President and CEO Rick Nowlin assured fans on Facebook that he will keep the public apprised of their projected reopening date.