Top Things to do in Sonoma County with Kids

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  • by SUSAN WILLIAMS
  • on FEBRUARY 26, 2019
  • 1573
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Courtesy of Xavier Mouton / Unsplash
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While it may be most well-known for its grown up activities like wine tasting and vineyard tours, Sonoma County offers plenty of kid-friendly fun, too.

Whether seeking outdoor adventures at beaches and parks with the whole family or leaning toward more educational diversions like tours and museums, this Wine Country region offers a fantastic assortment of one-of-a-kind experiences that will keep little ones and big kids alike stimulated, entertained, and begging to come back for more. To navigate all the options, here is your guide to the best family-friendly activities in Sonoma County for kids of all ages.

Santa Rosa

Courtesy of Charles M. Schulz Museum

For over fifty years, 152-acre Howarth Park has been one of Santa Rosa’s most beloved destinations for family fun. Inside, there’s a kid-friendly rock climbing wall, carousel, bounce house, animal barn, and pony rides, along with an amusement park, playgrounds, and a miniature train ride. With a lake for boathouse rides, as well, this historic park appeals to pretty much every kind of outdoor adventurer.

Great for toddlers and primary school children, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is the perfect venue for art, science, and imaginative play, offering hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, camps, and even birthday parties. Right next door, at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, older kids can explore the art and history of the famous Peanuts comic strip creator at his namesake museum. Afterwards, pay a visit to Snoopy’s Home Ice for a day of ice skating, followed by a look at all the one-of-a-kind Snoopy collectables and memorabilia displayed at Snoopy’s museum and gift shop.

For those interested in airplanes, a visit to the Pacific Coast Air Museum is a must do. Located adjacent to the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, kids can peek inside the cockpit of vintage airliners or get a hands-on, in-flight experience through the 3D virtual reality simulation.

Courtesy of Cheryl Crowley / Safari West

At Safari West, on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, children can discover over 90 species of wildlife at the 400-acre private reserve, including giraffes, wildebeest, rhinos, and zebras. Families looking for an extra thrill can book an overnight safari in the African tented camp and fall asleep to the lively sounds of Sonoma’s Serengeti.

Another family-friendly idea for exploring the beauty of Wine Country and its vineyards is Getaway Adventures. Offering hiking, biking, and kayaking tours, as well as custom wine tours to family-friendly wineries, groups can create their own Sonoma County adventure to suit travelers of all ages.

Petaluma

Baby animals at Windrush Farm, Courtesy of Windrush Farm

For lovers of arts and crafts, a visit to Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory won’t disappoint. Kids will learn fun facts, with a bit of history peppered in, before touring the factory and gathering their fair share of free stickers. Just note that tours are not available on the weekends.

Families with a penchant for cute animals and farm life have several different options to consider in Petaluma. McClelland’s Dairy offers farm tours during annual pumpkin patch season, while Tara Firma Farms offers free tours every weekend. Twenty minutes west of Petaluma at Toluma Farms, visitors can meet the resident sheep and goats at this organic farm and creamery, then sample cheese made with the animals’ milk. And, at Windrush Farm, kids can see goats, sheep, alpacas, cows, llamas, and chickens, or learn about spinning wool at one of the farm’s annual spring lamb days.

At the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, where local animals are rehabilitated before being released back into the wild, visitors are invited to tour the facilities on Saturdays. Tours include a bag of pick-your-own produce from the center’s organic garden.

Another favorite pastime with events and activities for the whole family is Petaluma’s annual Butter and Eggs parade which happens each spring. Be sure to check out the cutest lil’ chick contest and kids’ pre-parade.

Sonoma Coast & Russian River

Ziplining, Courtesy of Sonoma Canopy Tours

Families looking for outdoor adventure should head toward the coast or the Russian River, where you’ll find plenty of space to run around, splash around, and kid around with the littles.

Sonoma County’s state beaches offer miles of sandy dunes perfect for affordable fun like building castles and flying kites. If you plan ahead, there’s even a Castles and Kites Festival in Bodega Bay each May at Doran Beach.

At Goat Rock State Beach in Jenner, see a colony of harbor seals in their natural habitat; just be careful not to disturb the animals, especially during pupping season when mama seals are fiercely protective of their young. Nearby in Bodega Bay, kids (six and older) and families will love Horse N Around Trail Rides, where guided tours are offered with panoramic views of the Pacific.

Family horseback ride, Courtesy of Jared Photography / Horse N Around

A few miles inland, Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville is a popular spot during warm months for families and kids of all ages. This Russian River beach tucked into the redwoods offers canoe, paddleboard, and kayak rentals, along with a sandy waterfront perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

For older kids looking for more excitement, Sonoma Canopy Tours in Occidental offers ziplining through the redwoods. These eco tours provide unparalleled views of the region’s majestic forests at thrilling speed, but only for those ten years of age and up.

Sonoma and Sonoma Valley

Cooking class at Ramekins, Courtesy of Ramekins Culinary School

For easy, affordable fun in Sonoma Valley for the little ones, the historic Sonoma Plaza in downtown Sonoma offers prime picnic areas on the grass, along with two great playgrounds and a duck pond that’s always brimming with activity. Just south of the town square is the family favorite, TrainTown. This historic amusement park features a miniature railroad, along with a handful of rides, a carousel, and even a petting zoo.

For wannabe chefs, Sonoma’s Ramekins Culinary School and Inn offers hands-on cooking classes and culinary camps for kids throughout the year, and for more adventurous types, Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen offers miles of hiking trails and ruins to explore, plus the occasional organized family nature walk.

Vineyard tour at Benziger, Courtesy of Benziger Family Winery

If kids are open to a little compromise during their Wine Country trip, there are definitely a few family-friendly wineries in Sonoma Valley everyone will enjoy. In Glen Ellen, Benziger Family Winery offers tram tours daily where kids are welcome to join their parents on a hillside ride through the biodynamic vineyards. Tours include a stop into the winemaking facilities and cellars, where kids can learn about the entire production process from grape to glass.

At Buena Vista Winery, California’s first premium producer, families can experience Sonoma’s earliest days of winemaking. The landmark winery offers tours inside its historic wine tool museum featuring antique tools and fascinating tales about the eccentric founder, The Count of Buena Vista; tours end with a visit to the Champagne cellars, where parents can indulge in a tasting of current releases.

Cornerstone Sonoma is another great option offering kid-friendly wineries, shopping, and beautiful gardens fit for hide-and-seek, picnics, or leisurely afternoon strolls.


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Author

Susan Williams

Susan Williams is a baker, writer and entrepreneur based in Sonoma, California. When she’s not busy in the kitchen assembling tiers for her garden-inspired wedding cake business, Cake Bloom, she's usually at the farmers market looking for something new to inspire her next creation. Follow her in the kitchen @cakebloom and in the vineyards @sonoma_williams.

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