Just finished a luxurious vacation to Sonoma. Sonoma is organized around a beautiful central plaza, the largest plaza in California at 8 acres. The plaza has separate "rooms" for making more intimate areas within the larger area. There is an historic building reconfigured for bathrooms and glorious rose gardens surrounding it. In the center is the historic city hall, designed with four identical sides to make the same pleasing face to merchants on all sides. Parallel parking is used around the plaza in order to increase the parking opportunities.
The plaza is surrounded by a combination of historic buildings and other buildings designed to fit within the area. The retail uses front directly onto the sidewalk, making a cozy pedestrian environment. There is still plenty of space for seating and sidewalk dining along with lush plantings throughout the area. The storefronts are filled with inviting displays, luring the shopper inside. The most intriguing were the uses of recycled objects to make either clothing or art (a picture of maps made into a dress is shown above, see others at the end of the slide show, don't miss it. To get to the slide show, click on Sonoma at the beginning of the post and start the slide show.) At the end of the slide show, there are pictures of another fun city, Healdsburg, also built around a central plaza.