Happiness Is…Visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Warm Puppy Cafe

There is something so incredibly charming about the comics page of the newspaper. Here, in the middle of politics, tragedy, and change, are rows and rows of little boxes, each telling their very own story. Growing up I loved turning to this page and following the lives of the characters in Stone Soup, Luann, Zits, Mutts, and more. Until 2000 I enjoyed a fresh laugh and words of wisdom from a dog, a round headed kid, and others with Peanuts (my mom’s favorite strip), which had been going strong since 1950. Charles M. Schulz’s passing in 2000 was a blow to the comic community and anyone else who had been touched by his work through his strips and the variety of television specials. Thankfully his work has lived on with the 2015 film, and the new Apple+ TV show, but there is really no better place to appreciate and learn about the man behind the comic than the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.

Myself standing in front of a slate gray sign reading "Schulz" wearing a jean jacket, a blue shirt featuring Woodstock on the beach, and tan corduroys.

Exterior of the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

The characters of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and Lucy hang on the wall just inside the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

It seems Schulz was destined to be in the comics. Just two days after he was born his uncle gave him the nickname “Sparky” after the horse Spark Plug in the comic strip Barney Google. Citing comic strips has one of his main sources of entertainment growing up, he expressed wanting to be a cartoonist early, and even applied to work at Disney. His talent was apparent at an early age, as he was published at just 14 in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which was an illustration of his dog, Spike (a name he would later re-use for one of Snoopy’s brothers) and his ability to eat bizarre items. Later he continued to cultivate his artist skills through the Federal School of Applied Cartooning’s correspondence course.

After serving in the army during World War II, Schulz taught art, while also having his first weekly panel comic, Li’l Folks, beginning in 1947, which ran in his local paper and occasionally in the Saturday Evening Post. While it never really took off, he honed his skills, and on October 2, 1950, Peanuts debuted and eventually would go on to be read in over 2,600 newspapers. Just five years into Peanuts, Schulz received the Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year award from the prestigious National Cartoonist Society.

The museum features rotating exhibits, and is home to thousands of works of art by Schulz, from original strips to murals he painted in his homes for his children, which were painstakingly removed and transported to the museum, as well as a recreation of his office. This year marks what would have been Schulz’s 100th birthday, and an area currently showcases various original cartoons that influenced Schulz growing up. There are also several large scale works of art that pay homage to Schulz, including a mural of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. This mural is made up tiles featuring various Peanuts strips, each in their entirety, to make up the large image. It’s nothing short of impressive.

Myself, wearing a jean jacket that has a Lucy brooch, a blue shirt with Woodstock at the beach, at the bottom it reads "Where's the Chicks?, standing in front of a large mosaic made of tiles of various Peanuts strips designed to show Lucy holding a football, and Charlie Brown running to kick it.

Close-up of my brooches, which feature Lucy in her iconic blue dress, and a text bubble reading "Sigh"

An emerald green wall with a photo of a young Charles M. Schulz and an illustration of a sitting Snoopy, and text reading "Spark Plug to Snoopy 100 Years of Schulz"

A wall featuring various framed comic strips from the era when Schulz was a child, and a small display case holding vintage toys from the comics.

Illustration from the magazine Ripley's Believe it or Not, which features an old man smoking a cigar, an old apple, a small dog, and a basketball player, text reads "Ripley's Believe it or Not What liquid will not wet anything? Mercury! Sr. A. Ramierz Tampa Champion Cigar Smoker averaged 10 cigars a day for 65 years 237,000 cigars. Petrified apple 75 years old owned by Franklyn Pearce - Philadelphia. A hunting dog that eats pins, tacks and razor blades is owned by C.F. Schulz, St. Paul, Minn. Drawn by 'Sparky'. Glen Roberts Pound, Va., scored 1531 points in 80 games E&H College Va.

A large layered wood sculpture featuring images of Snoopy through the years.

Myself, wearing a jean jacket that has a Lucy brooch, a blue shirt with Woodstock at the beach, at the bottom it reads "Where's the Chicks?, standing in front of a large mosaic made of tiles of various Peanuts strips designed to show Lucy holding a football,

Close-up of the tiles on the wall.

Myself, wearing a blue shirt with Woodstock at the beach, at the bottom it reads "Where's the Chicks?, standing in front of a large mosaic made of tiles of various Peanuts strips designed to show Lucy holding a football, and Charlie Brown running to kick it.

Original page from Schulz's earlier comic Li'l Folks, one panel features a boy holding a baseball bat with a broken window behind him, he speaks to the little girl next to him "Did you ever have the feeling of impending doom?" below a little boy draws a stick figure of a little girl in front of him, the text reads "You moved."

Proof sheets of the first three Peanuts comic strips.

Schulz's Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year award from the National Cartoonist Society.

A large mural featuring Patty with a balloon, elephant, tigers, rabbit, Snoopy, moon and stars, Charlie Brown, train, duck, and fish.

A mural of Snoopy running.

Mural of Charlie Brown dressed in a cowboy outfit. His brown cowboy hat reads "Monte" at the top. The sun and cacti are behind him.

Schulz's office, with a desk and drawing table. Various photographs are tacked up on the wall, and a painting of zebras hangs behind the chair.

Close-up of the pasted "Peanuts featuring 'Good ol' Charlie Brown' by Schulz"

Original comic strip of Lucy forming snow balls, throwing, missing Charlie Brown, then going up to him and kicking him.

An incomplete strip, with only inked letters reading "When did I promise that?"

Original strip of Lucy missing catching a base ball, she returns it to Charlie Brown and walks away, her speech bubbles read "Sorry I missed that one manager..I was hoping I'd catch it. Hope got in my eyes." Across the top in pencil reads "To Mike with friendship -Charlies M. Schulz (Sparky)

A kite hangs in a tree, emulating the infamous kite eating trees of the strip.

Just across the street from the museum is the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, also called Snoopy’s Home Ice, which was built and run by Schulz. It also features the Warm Puppy Cafe, where Schulz would eat breakfast and lunch during work days. His favorite table remains reserved in his honor. After touring the museum, we stopped at the Warm Puppy for lunch and then continued to Snoopy’s Gallery and Gift Shop which hosts the history of the ice rink, a skate shop, fantastic carpet tufted murals, as well as a range of Peanuts items to purchase.

Exterior of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which is done in a sky chalet style.

Concrete drawing of Snoopy ice skating.

A topiary of Snoopy dancing.

Exterior of the Warm Puppy Cafe.

Above the order counter at the Warm Puppy, features Snoopy wearing a chef's hat, and holding utensils. Black script reads "The Warm Puppy Cafe at Snoopy's Home Ice"

A cafe table featuring a floral arrangement and photos under glass. A sign reads "Reserved" and another reads "That you for visiting the Warm Puppy Cafe! This cafe was a favorite of Charles Schulz for daily breakfast and lunch. In his honor, this table remains reserved for Mr. Schulz. This table is Reserved. Please enjoy the memorabilia but do not sit at the table. Thank you!"

Sign featuring Snoopy with a large ice skate on his foot, and text below reading "Please do not change skates in cafe"

A zamboni glides across the ice rink, and features images of Snoopy and Woodstock ice skating.

Myself seated at the Warm Puppy, with a fireplace behind that features Snoopy at a campfire and reads "The Warm Puppy Cafe" above.

Overall image of the ice rink, which features faux Swiss Chalet style buildings on the wall. An image of Snoopy ice skating is on the scoreboard.

A stained glass featuring Snoopy and Charlie Brown wearing party hats and looking at a birthday cake.

Photos of Schulz at his drawing table, with his dog, and playing hockey.

A large scale miniature of a Sopwith Camel hangs over the Peanuts gift shop.

A carpet mural of Snoopy in his "Beagle Scout" outfit, with yellow Woodstock birds behind him.

A large round stained glass window features Snoopy dancing, leaning against his dog house wearing sunglasses, atop his dog house in his Flying Ace outfit, and ice skating with Woodstock.

This was actually my second visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum. My mom is obsessed with Peanuts, and we made a pilgrimage in 2002 when the museum opened. I was thrilled to return to see what had changed and what had stayed the same. If you’re interested in Peanuts or a better understanding the thought process behind what it takes to develop a daily comic strip, I highly recommend visiting.

Learn about the rich history of Peanuts at the Charles M. Schulz Museum at 2302 Hardie’s Lane, then grab a tuna melt (Schulz’s favorite) at the Warm Puppy Cafe located inside the Redwood Empire Ice Arena at 1667 W. Steele Lane, and find treasures to take home at Snoopy’s Gallery and Gift Shop at 1665 W. Steele Lane, in Santa Rosa.

Jean Jacket: Buffalo Exchange
Lucy & “Sigh” Brooches: Erstwilder
Cal Berkeley Woodstock tee: thrifted
Corduroys: Lee
Shoes: Classic Rock Couture

Leave a Comment!

4 comments on “Happiness Is…Visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Warm Puppy Cafe”