Guide to Sonoma County Family Fun

Safari West Giraffes
1 of 1

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.

With its exceptional variety of natural attributes – the Pacific Ocean, California beaches, rivers, lakes, ancient redwood forests, Bodega Bay and farm lands, you will discover unique and memorable adventures for the whole family.

ONE-OF-A-KIND FAMILY FUN

Train Town is known as “the most well-developed scale railroad in the Americas” and is an adventure for all ages. It features a miniature steam railway that winds its way through 10 acres filled with more than 7,000 trees and a 50-foot clock tower.

Your journey will take you over five bridges and trestles, through two tunnels to the hamlet of Lakeview where the scale is three inches to the foot. Train Town includes three full-sized cabooses, dating from the 1930s and ’40s to explore at your leisure. Children will also enjoy a petting zoo and vintage amusement rides including a carousel and a 46-foot fully restored Ferris wheel.

20264 Broadway, Sonoma
707-938-3912
www.traintown.com

 

African safari in Wine Country? African safari on a budget? Yes. Bring the whole family to experience the Serengeti in the hills of Santa Rosa at the unique 400-acre Safari West Wildlife Preserve & African Tent Camp in the heart of Sonoma County.

From open-air authentic safari vehicles you will view hundreds of exotic animals, including cheetahs, zebra, antelope, and giraffes. The wildlife park is designed to give the animals the ability to interact and roam about freely, and give visitors a once in a life time experience - a wine country safari. Eat at Delilah’s snack shop or at the Savannah Cafe.

Safari West also offers overnight luxury “camping” in raised tented rooms – a unique opportunity to see the stars and listen to the night sounds of Africa.

3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa
800-616-2695/707-579-2551
www.safariwest.com

Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory is the oldest and largest sticker company in the United States. The factory tours are free and you’re invited to watch as millions of stickers get printed, packaged, and shipped right before your eyes. You will see the sticker museum, a gift shop, and a class where you’ll decorate your own postcard using Mrs. Grossman’s stickers. This is a place your kids won’t want to miss. Reservations for tours are required.

3810 Cypress Drive, Petaluma
800-429-4549
www.mrsgrossmans.com

Candy and Kites specializes in kites, windsocks, flags, books, air toys, and beach toys, and also carries 80 gourmet flavors of salt water taffy. You’ll find just about every type of kite available including stunt, traction, and single line.

Candy and Kites
1415 Coast Highway 1, Bodega Bay
707-875-3777
www.candyandkites.com

At Scandia Family Fun Center you will find a 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, fast pitch, and 40mph to 80mph machines.

Another unique offering for the whole family are the bumper boats equipped with water sprayers: a great way to cool off on a warm day. And don’t forget to stop by the Lil’ Indy Raceway with a track designed to give you the feeling of actually racing along its straight track and banked turns. There are both single and double cars, so all ages can enjoy the race.

5301 Redwood Drive, Rohnert Park
707-584-1398
www.scandiafunland.com

Driven Raceway, for older kids and adults, is a way to satisfy your need for speed in a safe environment. Driven Raceway is Sonoma County’s premiere indoor kart racing and family entertainment facility. Come experience European-style racing with the most sophisticated and high-speed electric karts available today.

Competition electric karts are fine tuned machines that have superb cornering and quicker acceleration than gas powered karts. The race karts are not only emission free, and environmentally friendly, they are extremely safe with staff having electronic control to slow down or even stop the karts (individually or all of them) at any time to ensure that all racers remain safe at all times. Driven also includes an arcade and party rooms.

4601 Redwood Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
707-585-3748
info@drivenraceway.com
www.drivenraceway.com

Escape, Northern California’s premier indoor entertainment center, offers fun for everyone. Inside this facility you can find Q-ZAR laser tag, arcades, food, and more fun. There are six party rooms available for special events, meetings, birthdays or bachelor/bachelorette parties. Come experience a different kind of family fun and entertainment.
5195 Redwood Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
707-585-8000, 877-585-8580
www.escapesonomacounty.com

Double Decker Lanes, family owned and operated since 1975, is located next to the Foxtail Golf Resort in Rohnert Park. The bowling center is the largest and most modern in the North Bay, featuring 50 state-of-the-art lanes with bumpers and automatic scoring.

We have a full-service lounge and sports bar with big-screen TVs, a snack bar serving everything from delicious burgers to fresh pizza, a banquet/meeting room available for all events, and a video arcade with the coolest games – complete with pool tables. The center also has the “Classic Sports” Elite Pro Shop for all your bowling equipment, accessories, and lessons. The shop is able to handle screen printing, embroidery, trophies, executive gifts, and awards.
300 Golf Course Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
707-585-0226, Pro Shop 707-588-8011
www.doubledeckerlanes.com

A great time for families, Cal Skate is a recreational center offering roller-skating, roller blading, and inline skate rentals and sales. The center offers various programs and special sessions, and also hosts birthday parties, fund raisers, and special events for schools, scouts, and clubs. It also has roller skating classes, adult morning skate and speed skating.

Its pro shop offers sales and repair services, skates, supplies, parts, specialty items and special orders. It staffs skate floor supervisors and party host managers to serve its clients. It also offers a full-service snack bar.

6100 Commerce Blvd.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
707-585-0500

Cal Skate and Roller Rink; and much more. It’s sure to put a smile on the face of any kid – even teens and tweens.

Find the ghoul factor that appeal to boys and girls of all ages – California Carnivores.It isn't just science fiction. Hundreds of carnivorous plants have adapted and evolved into this interesting plant group that lures, traps, and then devours insects. Carnivorous plants grow naturally in swampy areas around the world where the water that is constantly running over and below the ground washes the nutrients away in the soil. In order to get those missing nutrients, the plants have adapted to trap and consume insects.

Since 1989, California Carnivores have grown and sold the widest variety of carnivorous plants in the United States. Venus flytraps, American pitcher plants, sundews, butterworts, bladderworts, tropical pitcher plants and others – all commercially cultivated for either the curious beginner or the discriminating collector.

Operated by Peter D'Amato – author of the award-winning book “The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants” – California Carnivores houses the largest collection of carnivorous plants in the world open to the public, and sells plants at the nursery and through mail-order.

2833 Old Gravenstein Highway
Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-824-0433
www.californiacarnivores.com

EXPERIENCE FARM LIFE

Farming is the heart of Sonoma County. Families can pick up a free Sonoma County Farm Trails map at most of the visitor centers and hit the road to explore a variety of working farms. You will experience life-on-the-farm with sheep, llamas, honeybees and butterflies, pet bunnies, taste cheese, see demonstrations, milk a cow, or see baby lambs being born. Or you can buy organic fruits, vegetables, plants and trees direct from the farmers. Seasonal trips to pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and Christmas tree farms include hayrides, haunted houses, animal petting, and more.

P.O. Box 6032, Santa Rosa
707-571-8288
www.farmtrails.org

FOUR-FOOTED ADVENTURES

See California's most beautiful landscapes from the back of a horse as you tour with Triple Creek Horse Outfit through Kunde Family Estate Winery in Kenwood, in Sonoma's Valley of the Moon. Open year-round, weather permitting, and closed on Tuesdays, the rides take place on the 1,850 acre Kunde ranch – 700 acres planted with 20 varieties of premium wine grapes – family owned and operated for more than a century.

Small group, guided tours on lovingly cared for and gentle horses will take you through meadows, through wooded areas, and over creeks. Some trails encompass hilltop views of vineyards and Native American and early California sites.

707-933-1600
www.triplecreekhorseoutfit.com

The Armstrong Woods Pack Station offers horseback adventures through the beautiful giant redwood forest trails. You will see some of the tallest and oldest trees remaining in this part of California. The Parson Jones Tree is about 310 feet high; the Colonel Armstrong Tree is more than 1,400 years old. Trail rides include panoramic stops along the way for rest or lunch and instruction on well-trained quarter horses.

Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville
707-887-2939
www.redwoodhorses.com

The Chanslor Guest Ranch and Stables is a working ranch with horses, cattle and sheep grazing on the hillsides. Choose from a variety of horseback rides either on the ranch trails or on trails along the beach in the adjoining Sonoma Coast State Park. The coastal views are magnificent. The ranch also offers six guest rooms for overnight stays and serves a fantastic continental breakfast.

2660 Highway 1, Bodega Bay
707-875-3333
www.chanslorranch.com

The family-friendly Horse N Around Trail Rides along Highway 1 near Bodega Bay offers three different experiences in all, the 30-minute excursion that circles the ranch’s duck pond and the 60-minute Eucalyptus Trail outing where visitors amble through most of the 60-acre property. The final and most spectacular optioin is the “Donation Beach Ride,” a 90-minute trek along the coast from the dunes of Bodega Bay to the South Salmon Creek Beach. Every penny of the ride ($125 per person weekdays; $150 per person weekends) supports Hoof Beats of America Horse Rescue, a non-profit also located on-site. This non-profit arm rescues horses that have been neglected, abused, abandoned or destined for slaughter. Many of the horses used for this ride actually are rescue horses themselves.

16702 Coast Highway 1
Bodega, CA
707-876-3374
www.horsenaroundtrailrides.com

SkyHorse Ranch is a 190-acre coastal California wonderland located in the beautiful rolling hills of Valley Ford, overlooking the Estero De Americano. You can enjoy the panoramic views, pastoral spirit, and abundant wildlife within a stone’s throw of fine dining, wine tasting, bicycling, fishing, golfing, kayaking, bird watching, nature hikes, beach walks and much more. It is also renowned for its historic part in Christo’s Running Fence. Christo’s Running Fence, designed and built between 1972 and 1976 was an incredible work of art, a white fence 24 miles long and 18 feet high, that ran from Petaluma right through SkyHorse Ranch, disappearing into the ocean. SkyHorse is about much more than just the Ranch. SkyHorse represents a philosophy and “a way of being” that is focused on creating possibility out of complexity, and moving into the world with clear intention and authentic expression.

SkyHorse Ranch EGEA
13950 Hwy 1
Valley Ford, CA
www.skyhorseranch.com

You can enjoy some of the best and most diverse horseback riding in Northern California at Wildfire Stables, Bodega Bay. The broad range of riding activities includes lessons, open range rides for experienced riders, ocean view rides, trail rides, and of course, our romantic Sunset Ride.

2660 N Highway 1
Bodega Bay, CA
707-875-3400
www.wildfirestables.com

MUSEUMS

The Pacific Coast Air 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.

2330 Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa
707-575-7900
www.pacificcoastairmuseum.org

The two-story Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is dedicated to Peanuts cartoons creator, Charles Schulz, his life, career and art. Walk along the gallery of comic strips or stop in the theater for a showing of a Peanuts TV show. Kids can stretch their imaginations in the education room with a mini library of cartooning instruction books, drawing tables, writing and art supplies. Next to the museum are the Snoopy Home Ice, an ice skating arena, and the Warm Puppy Café. Be sure to stop in for a grilled cheese or tuna sandwich. (Mr. Schulz’ favorite.) Throughout the City of Santa Rosa, you will find Peanuts on Parade: 150 five-foot tall, uniquely painted statues of “Joe Cool” Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Woodstock.

2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa
707-579-4452
www.schulzmuseum.org

The Sonoma County Museum celebrates and interprets the region’s rich history, art, and culture through exhibits and collections. Visitors are inspired by the dynamic collections. Exhibits include an education area with hands-on exhibits and other relevant materials. The museum also hosts “free family days” and community events in connection with many of its exhibits.

425 7th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
707-579-1500
www.sonomacountymuseum.org

HISTORIC SITES

Sonoma State Historic Park is made up of a number of National Historic Landmark sites and buildings in Sonoma which include the Plaza, the Sonoma Barracks, and the home of the Mexican commandante, General Vallejo. It includes the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, popularly called the Sonoma Mission, the last and most northern of California's 21 missions which was built in 1823 and marked the end of “The King’s Highway,” El Camino Real. For 25 days in 1846, Sonoma was capital of the independent Republic of California. The Bear Flag Revolt started events that resulted later in the first California flag and American rule throughout the State.

363 3rd Street, West, Sonoma
 

Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park is a huge old adobe ranch building with authentic furniture and exhibits that depict early rancho life. It served as the center of General Vallejo’s 66,000-acre ranch and was the largest private hacienda in California between 1834 and 1846. The adobe home was the center of activity on one of the most prosperous private estates established during the Mexican period.

3325 Adobe Road, Petaluma
707-762-4871
www.parks.ca.gov/parkindex/

HIKES & WALKS

The Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve is a huge state park of California redwood trees native to the central and northern coast. A trek through this ancient redwood forest is an experience you and your kids won’t forget. The coast redwood is the tallest living thing on our planet and lives to be 500-1,000 years old, grows to a diameter of 12-16 feet, and stands from 200-250 feet tall. The Reserve includes a visitor center, large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails, and a variety of picnic spots. The park features strolls along easy, level trails that are disability accessible. While you can drive into the park, the best way to experience the dramatic affect of the towering redwoods is to park in the lot at the park entrance and walk in for free.
170000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville

707-869-2015
www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=450

The 350-acre Spring Lake Regional Park offers an amazing diversity of activities for families. It’s home to the Environmental Discovery Center, which offers interactive displays and activities geared to kids 6-12.  The Center’s “Science Saturdays” – the first Saturday of each month at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. – lets the whole family join in on fun science experiments. Family hikes take place with Center naturalists on the third Saturday of each month at 1 and 3 p.m. Much of the happenings here are centered around the72-acre Spring Lake including boating, fishing, and swimming.
391 Violetti Drive, Santa Rosa
707-539-8092
www.sonoma-county.org/parks/pk_slake.htm

Annadel State Park near Santa Rosa has 5,000 acres of rolling hills, streams, woodlands, and wildflower meadows. Hikers, equestrians, mountain bicyclists, runners and nature lovers can choose from over 40 miles of trails. Lake Ilsanjo and the nearby Spring Lake Regional Park offer fishing, swimming, boating and camping.

Santa Rosa
707-539-3911
www.parks.ca.gov/

THEATER ENTERTAINMENT

The Wells Fargo Center for the Arts Family Live Theater Show Series features world-class performances designed for kids ages 3-12 and their families … where music, comedy, dance and drama entertain all ages.

50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa
707-527-7006
www.wellsfargocenterarts.com

The Sonoma Country Repertory Theater presents “Theatre for Young Audiences,” offering an annual season of three productions geared for children and their families.

104 North Main, Sebastopol
707-823-0177
www.the-rep.com

BIKING

Sonoma County offers biking trails designed for the entire family to enjoy. The Joe Rodota Trail is paved and runs between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. It’s built on a former railroad right-of-way; several bridges have been constructed over the old trestles. The trail is especially popular in the spring with the vivid blooming of the wildflowers. It is an excellent place for bird watching year-round.

The West County Trail between the towns of Sebastopol and Forestville is a paved path and relatively flat with a few gentle climbs. An unpaved horseback riding trail runs parallel. The West County Trail and the Joe Rodota Trail offer beautiful farm and agricultural views.

For help with biking tours and plans, contact:

Getaway Adventures & Rentals
2228 Northpoint Parkway, Santa Rosa
707-568-3040
www.getawayadventures.com

ADRENALINE PUMPS

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience, check out Infineon Raceway where the Jim Russell Racing School has a full range of racing and karting options designed for experienced veterans as well as beginners. The school is one of the first to offer karting programs for children as young as eight years old, giving them the unforgettable fun and excitement of driving or racing a kart!

29305 Arnold Drive, Sonoma
800-831-5278
www.jimrussellusa.com

Enjoy this unique course that features a zipline more than 800 feet long. Walk sky bridges high in the air. Marvel at panoramic forest views and deep ravines. Discover the world-famous California Coastal Redwoods in a way you never imagined. Sonoma Canopy Tours. It's high adventure that's green, family-friendly and educational.

6250 Bohemian Highway
Occidental, CA 95465
(888) 494-7868
www.sonomacanopytours.com

Take a flight back in time in a restored vintage aircraft flight over the vineyards, hills and coast of Sonoma Country. Climb aboard a 1942 WWII open cockpit bi-plane with a Vintage Aircraft Company pilot for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

23982 Arnold Drive, Sonoma
707-938-2444
www.vintageaircraft.com

Float 500 to 1500 feet above the beautiful sights below in a hot air balloon without perception of motion or height. Above the Wine Country Ballooning flights begin just after dawn when the winds are soft and gentle offering the best views and delightful experience for the whole family.

397 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa
888-238-6359
www.balloontours.com

In Spring 2011, Up & Away Ballooning became the first hot air balloon operator in the United States to offer wheelchair-confined adventurers the opportunity to soar above the magnificent hills and vineyards of the Sonoma County Wine County. The special basket with a lowered rail, easy access ramp and window makes it possible for the seated passenger to enjoy more than180-degree visibility. The basket is only the fourth of its kind in the world.

2200 Airport Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
707-836 – 0171
www.up-away.com

 

COASTAL AND WATER ACTIVITIES

Sonoma County's Pacific Coastline, with more than ten miles of beaches, reefs, coves, tide pools, and headlands is a great family destination. It provides ideal spots for dune hiking, horseback riding, tide pooling, camping, and family picnicking. One of the most popular activities along the coast is whale watching as well as bird, seal, and otter watching. Bodega Head is one of the best whale-watching sites on the North Coast, and year-round home to many kinds of seabirds. The southern migration of the gray whale is from October to February; the northern leg generally occurs from February to April. One of the the best family friendly beaches on the Sonoma Coast is Doran Beach in Bodega Bay.

Sonoma Coast Visitors Center
850 Highway 1, Bodega Bay
707-875-3866

The Russian River area and its towns offer old-fashioned as well as modern charm and a host of great ways to explore the River. Kayaking, Canoeing, Boating, Fishing, Swimming are popular activities at the River.

Russian River Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center
16209 First Street, Guerneville
707-869-9000
www.russianriver.com

The Petaluma River is an estuary linked to the San Francisco Bay and has been named as one of the top ten Bay Area leisure boating destinations by Latitude 38 magazine. It offers fishing and a variety of other leisure and recreational activities. Boaters from the Bay Area can stay in the Turning Basin harbor right in the heart of historic Downtown Petaluma and the scenic River Walk area.

Petaluma Visitor Center
210 Lakeville Street, Hwy. 116, Petaluma
707-769-0429
www.visitpetaluma.com

 

Novice boaters and families with small children can swim, canoe or kayak on the warm and placid Gualala River, camp in one of six campgrounds along the southern Redwood Coast and explore historic Fort Ross State Park and Salt Point State Park, where marine life is completely protected in one of the first underwater park preserves in California.

Redwood Coast Visitor Center
39150 S. Highway 1, Unit 4, Gualala
707-884-1080
www.redwoodcoastchamber.com

Lake Sonoma has secluded coves for the quiet boater or angler (the lake is stocked), while water-skiing and jet skis are allowed in other designated areas. Facilities include boat and canoe rentals, a public boat ramp, full-service marina, swimming, a visitor center and a fish hatchery.

Lake Sonoma Visitors Center and Fish Hatchery

3333 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville
707-433-9483

Enjoy the sun and the beauty of the Sonoma Valley at Morton Warm Springs Resort nestled among 20 acres of spreading oaks and large open meadows. Originally a campground for the Wappo Indians, Morton’s is steeped in history, beauty and tradition, and is long known for its healthy geothermal mineral pools and picnic areas. The diving pool, swimming pool and a baby wading pool are all flushed and refreshed nightly with pure and natural sand-filtered artesian spring water. Bring a picnic and the kids for a fun-filled day. Open seasonally.

Morton Warm Springs Resort
1651 Warm Springs Road, Glen Ellen
707-833-5511
www.mortonswarmsprings.com

FAMILY LODGING/CAMPING

From rustic lodges along the river to hotels and inns with TV and cable, there are lots of overnight choices for budget-minded families. The variety is great and ranges from resorts set among the redwoods or oaks, with pool, sauna, hot tub and vineyard views, to cabins and campgrounds on the beaches. Also, available by the day, week or month are unique guest ranch homes, vacation cottages, or luxurious villas. Find all hotels/lodging and campground listings here.

 

Get the FREE Visitors Guide and Wine Map
Discover Things to Do
Browse Wineries & Wine
Find Hotels & Lodging and Deals