California’s Sonoma County, an hour north of San Francisco, might be known as a place dedicated to the growing of the grape and the making of first class wines. But it’s also a place dedicated to keeping the spirit of Charles Schulz and his gang – Charlie Brown, Snoppy, Linus, Lucy, Spike, and Peppermint Patty – alive and kicking …the ever moving football.

Planes come and go from the Charles Schulz Airport just outside of Santa Rosa. And at the Charles Schulz Museum and Research Center visitors are exposed to the inner workings of the man who created Charlie Brown and his gang.

charlie_brown_charles-schulz-museumBuilt in 2002, two years after the artist’s death, the museum draws fans from around the world who want to spend a little time with the irrepressible Snoopy and hapless Charlie Brown.

It’s quite a sight. Life size statues of Charlie and Snoopy great you at the door and welcome you into the museum. Inside, you’re greeted by staff who give you a map and discuss the best way of experiencing the museum.

charlie-brown_lucy_charles-schulz-museumFrom there it’s a short step to the Great Hall and a visual display, created by Japanese artist Yoshiteru Otani, that provides an understanding of exactly how prolific an artist Schulz was. Covering the whole west wall, the 17 by 22 foot image shows the ever optimistic Charlie Brown running toward Lucy as she holds the football (and we all know what happens there!) From a distance it looks like any other Charles Schulz comic but get closer and you’ll see that the work is made up of 3,588 two by eight inch ceramic tiles, each one featuring a different Peanuts strip.

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Amazingly, these comic squares only make up about one-fifth of the total 18000 Peanut strips that were created.

Upstairs, there are displays covering Schulz’s work before the advent of Charlie Brown and his gang. There’s also a re-creation of Schulz’s studio, complete with his drawing board, cluttered desk, and bookcases.

Two auditoriums, one with a constantly running video featuring Charles Schulz’s widow discussing life with ‘Sparky’ and the creation of the museum and research center, and the other running various different films featuring Charlie and the gang.

Once you’ve finished touring the museum, head across the street to the Ice Rink built by Schulz in 1969 and have a coffee at the Warm Puppy Café. The café was Schulz’s lunchtime hangout. Every day he’d head here for a tuna salad sandwich and cup of tea.

Located at 2301 Hardies Lane in Santa Rosa, Calif., The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center,  is open every day but Tuesday. Admission: $8 (adults), $5 (children, students, and seniors), and free for kids under 4. For more information, call (707) 579-4452 or visit www.schulzmuseum.org.