Sonoma County is known for its award-winning wines, luxury inns, romantic honeymoon vacations and, yes, as the perfect place for an unforgettable fun-filled family vacation.
Many parents think their days exploring Northern California’s Wine Country are put on hold while their kids are small, but that’s not necessarily so, especially in Sonoma County. With a little planning, creativity, and flexibility, the whole family can enjoy a vacation in wine country.
With its exceptional variety of natural attributes — the Pacific Ocean, rivers, lakes, ancient redwood forests, and farm lands, you will discover unique and memorable adventures for the whole family.
Family Friendly Wineries
Consider visiting wineries that offer a kid-friendly atmosphere and some space, like a nice big lawn for them to run on. Little extras like a fish pond, picnic area, or garden to explore will help make the day fun. There are several wineries that go a step further by providing some specific things to entertain kids during their visit. The following examples will give you a taste of what’s out there.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville
This winery has a resort-like feel, with beautiful grounds, and lovely swimming pool (tickets required in advance) where you can reserve a cabine, which includes pool passes, lounge chairs, towels, and wine tastings. There’s live music on summer weekends, some kid’s activities, bocce ball courts, and more. The whole family can enjoy the pool with cabines, but be sure to reserve your spot early.
Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen
This organic winery has a playground, small bird zoo, beautiful gardens, picnic grounds, hourly tours, and fun Biodynamic Vineyard Tram tours in a tram pulled by a tractor.
Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg
You’ll appreciate a toy chest in the winery, and there are wine caves that keep little people happy while adults have fun too. They also hold entertaining events such as the Harvest Party in September, including grape picking, blessing of the grapes, brunch, a grape stomp competition, music, bocce ball tournament and more.
Landmark Vineyards, Kenwood
This beautiful vineyard is located at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, where you’ll find a bocce ball court, picnic area, coloring books and crayons in the tasting room, and horse-drawn wagon rides in the summer.
Larson Family Winery, Sonoma
The Larson Family Winery is an old rodeo ranch-turned-winery, which spells fun for families. This cowboy-style atmosphere is very relaxed and comes with farm animals, a bocce ball court, and grass area for picnic blankets.
Beyond the wineries, Sonoma County offers family friendly, exciting activities that will make the trip extra memorable. Here are just a few of these kid-approved experiences, listed alphabetically by city.
Candy and Kites, Bodega Bay
Candy and Kites specializes in kites, windsocks, flags, books, air toys, and beach toys. You’ll find just about every type of kite available including stunt, traction and single line. Come to Doran Beach Campgrounds in Bodega Bay on Friday evenings from 6-7 p.m. for the Friday Night Kite Fly with demonstration kites, or bring your own.
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, Guerneville
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve is a great stop for your family to see some amazing coast redwood trees. Some of their most popular trees include the Icicle Tree, with its mysterious “burl” formations, the Colonel Armstrong Tree, estimated to be over 1,400 years old, and the Parson Jones Tree, reaching heights of over 310 feet tall (that’s taller than a football field is long).
Sonoma Canopy Tours, Occidental
Go soaring through the treetops of a redwood forest. A zip line lets the magic of gravity do all the work. Fitted with a specially-designed harness, you'll reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour on the fastest zips.
Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory, Petaluma
Mrs. Grossman’s is the oldest and largest sticker company in the United States. The factory tours are free. Watch as millions of stickers get printed, packaged, and shipped. There’s a sticker museum, a gift shop, and a class where kids — young and old — decorate postcards using Mrs. Grossman’s stickers. Reservations for tours are required.
Driven Raceway, Rohnert Park
For kids who are a minimum of 48" tall, you can try out the electric indoor go-kart racing in Rohnert Park, which offers the extreme experience for all your family parties needs.
Scandia Family Fun Center, Rohnert Park
Scandia Family Fun Center is a kid’s fantasy land which includes two 18-hole miniature golf courses with tiny buildings, bridges, and waterways. Also featured are 18 batting cages with slow pitch and fast pitch. Bumper boats, equipped with water sprayers, are a great way to cool off on a warm day. And the Lil’ Indy Raceway gives a racing experience with its straight track and banked turns.
Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
If you happen to have some Peanuts fans in the family, take a stop to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and research Center. This fun, laidback museum has some interesting exhibits about the famed cartoonist and his beloved Peanuts characters. Directly across the street is Snoopy’s Home Ice stadium for ice skating with the family.
Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa
Imagination takes flight at the Pacific Coast Air Museum. The museum displays historic aircraft and features antique World War II planes. The museum’s mission is to preserve aviation history and educate children. “Climb Aboard” special events occur throughout the year. In August, there is the “Wings Over Wine Country Air Show.”
Safari West, Santa Rosa
Enjoy a “wild” time by taking an open-air safari vehicle along this 400-acre wildlife preserve. You’ll catch sights of giraffes, lemurs, cheetahs, and wildebeests. And it gets even better — you can stay overnight in one of their luxurious tents.
Simraceway Performance Driving Center, Sonoma
If you need some excitement, check out the Simraceway Performance Driving Center for a cool kart racing experience (ages 13 and older), let your teens try racing lessons or even take the defensive driving course.
Sonoma Train Town Railroad, Sonoma
This old-fashioned, scaled-down railroad will delight young train fans. The 20-minute train ride goes over bridges, through tunnels, and stops in its miniature town, “Lakeview,” which includes a petting zoo. Kids will also get to enjoy six other rides including a carousel and Ferris wheel.
State and Regional Parks, throughout Sonoma County
There’s a wide array of family fun, including fishing, kayaking, and horseback riding along the Pacific Coast or Russian River, hiking and biking dedicated trails in more than 55 state and regional nature parks, or discovering Sonoma County and California’s rich heritage in several history parks. Using Sonoma County Regional Parks trails are free but there are parking fees, usually $7. Those are waived with a Regional Parks membership.