For families, there are so many benefits to camping. Aside from leading a healthy outdoor life and having fun, you’ll enjoy each other as a group. You’ll spend entire days hiking, swimming, paddling, and having adventures together, racking up all kinds of wonderful memories to carry though life.
An added benefit here in Sonoma County? Our campgrounds are located at extremely beautiful locations, with plenty of exciting things to do in the surrounding area.
Here are a few good bets for camping with your family:
Just north of Sonoma Valley on the rustic edge of Santa Rosa, Spring Lake is perfect for families, thanks to a gorgeous setting, swimming lagoon, lakeside grill, small boating lake, hiking trails, and many other activities. The park's Environmental Discovery Center, geared to kids and their families, is a natural science museum with hands-on displays, naturalist-led hikes and many other activities.
Spring Lake offers 31 campsites for tent, trailer and RV camping; sites are nestled into oak trees not far from the lake and are available daily from May through September (weekends and holidays only from October through April).
By the way, Spring Lake adjoins Santa Rosa's 152-acre Howarth Park, where a kid-oriented amusement area features a miniature train ride, carousel, pony rides and animal farm. Download a campground map of Spring Lake Regional Park. Details: 93 Violetti Road, Santa Rosa; 707-539-8092.
Offering a beautiful, two-mile stretch of golden sand that rests between Bodega Harbor and the open ocean, Doran is a popular campground for families who love the sea. The park has more than 120 tent, trailer and RV campsites available year-round (RV hookups are not available). Campground restrooms contain electrical outlets, flush toilets and coin-operated showers, and a free EV charging station is located in the Cypress Day-Use parking lot.
Protected as it is by Bodega Bay, Doran’s calm waters rank among the county’s safest for swimming. You can launch a kayak or a speedboat from a jetty at the harbor’s mouth, take a lovely walk on dozens of trails (including the avian fancier’s favorite, the Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail), fly kites, build sand castles, go on whale-watching visits to nearby Bodega Head, or visit the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory (Fridays only) to view aquarium displays. Download a Doran campsite map. Details:201 Doran Beach Road, Bodega Bay, 707-565-2041
Consistently rated one of the nation's best camping and RV parks, Petaluma KOA campground is situated on 70 rural acres and offers more than 300 pine-covered tent and RV sites, each with a fire ring and picnic table; the large pull-thru RV sites offer 30amp/50amp, full hookups, cable and WiFi.
There is plenty for the whole family to do, with bike rentals, hot tub/sauna, swimming pool with cabanas, waterslide, off leash dog park, bocce ball court, horseshoe pits, bounce pillow, rockwall climbing, ring toss, basketball courts, petting farm, hayrides, outdoor movies, a farm-themed playground and Friday karaoke. Guided tours to San Francisco and wine country are available for a fee. Details: 20 Rainsville Road, Petaluma, CA 94952, 707-763-1492.
Nestled into the majestic Mayacamas Mountains between Sonoma and Napa Valleys, Sugarloaf Ridge holds the headwaters of 33-mile-long Sonoma Creek, a 25-foot seasonal waterfall, and 2,729-foot Bald Mountain. The nearly 4,000-acre park is known for fabulous hiking through tree-covered ridges and a canyon redwood forest, and many trails also accommodate mountain bikers. For families, a big draw is the splendid Robert Ferguson Observatory, which houses several big telescopes and is open to the public on weekends. The Observatory has also created an outdoor scale model of the solar system, allowing you to hike from planet to planet.
Sugarloaf has 47 family campsites in a large meadow; sites accommodate RVs up to 27’ long and campers up to 23’. Each site has a table and fire ring; flush toilets and drinking water are nearby. A group campsite, capable of handling 50, is available. Download park brochure and camping map; learn more or make a reservation by visiting this page. Details: 2605 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood 95452; 707-833-5712
which consists of 17 miles of fabulous beaches, bluffs and headlands that stretch from Bodega Head to 4 miles past Jenner, has two campsites that make for great family vacations:
Bodega Dunes offers 99 campsites with token-operated hot showers, flush toilets, and a trailer sanitation dump station. Maximum trailer length is 31 feet; no hook-ups available. Campfire and junior Ranger programs held during the summer. Day use area includes a disabled accessible boardwalk out to a classic sandy beach. 2485 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, 707-875-3483.
Wright’s Beach has 27 developed campsites adjacent to the beach. Each site has a picnic table, a fire ring and a paved parking spur. Running water and flush toilets are available, but there are no showers (registered campers can use the hot showers 5 miles south at Bodega Dunes Campground). Maximum trailer length is 27’; no hook-ups available. To make online reservations for Bodega Dunes or Wright’s Beach campgrounds, visit this page or call 800-444-7275. Details: 7095 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923; 707-875-3483.
Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Liberty Glen has 96 campsites available for tent and RV camping (no electrical or water hookups, though). Each campsite contains a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern holder; firewood is for sale during summer months; restrooms, showers and potable water are available. Accessible sites accommodate the disabled. Download a campground map and other info.
An extraordinary diversity of activities awaits families, including boating, fishing, and swimming; an extensive trail system for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians; an archery field; a visitor center with interesting exhibits; and a salmon and steelhead fish hatchery. Kids always enjoy the campfire, Junior Ranger, water safety programs and other special events that take place during the summer. Details: 13005 Rockpile Rd., Geyserville, CA 95441; 707-431-4533.
Stretching for one mile along the Russian River, where it's nestled into gentle hills (and only four miles from the Pacific Ocean), Casini Ranch's family-pleasing campground activities include free outdoor movies, beach bonfires, duck feedings, guided hikes, watercraft rentals, summer ice cream socials, an historic barn, and hayrides. The on-site Moscow General Store, which has laundry facilities, makes life easier for parents.
The 110-acre ranch is open year-round, offering 225 tent and RV sites with fire rings and picnic tables (a few cabins are also available). Many sites have spectacular views of the river; others are secluded in wooded pockets and clearings, while some are large and expansive where the entire family can gather together. Restrooms with hot showers are located throughout the grounds. Tent sites have water nearby; sites with full hookup offer electricity up to 50 amp, with water, sewer and 48 channels of CATV. WiFi is free in various locations throughout the park. Download campground map. Details: 22855 Moscow Road, Duncans Mills, CA 95430; 800-451-8400.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.