Most state and regional parks in Sonoma County offer activities for the entire family, but a few are standouts. Because of all its options, Spring Lake Regional Park is one of them.
On the eastern edge of Santa Rosa — just off Highway 12, and adjoining Trione-Annadel State Park — 350-acre Spring Lake is surrounded by hills. It’s home to a lake, ponds, oak woodlands, grasslands, meadows, and — in spring and well into summer — wildflowers.
Spring Lake holds the Environmental Discovery Center, with its interactive displays and activities aimed at kids 6-12. Youngsters touch sea creatures in tidal-action pools, watch fish from the park’s lake swimming in an aquarium, view taxidermied mountain lions and coyotes, and learn about Mother Earth in the storytelling cavern. They have lots of fun — but they also walk away with knowledge of earth stewardship and earth science.
The center is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission to the center is free (but parking inside the park is $7).
In addition, “Science Saturdays” are held on the first Saturday of each month, with naturalists hosting fun science experiments at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Naturalists also lead family hikes — September, November, and through May — at 1 and 3 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month.
Filled with filtered spring water and open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day Weekend, the Spring Lke Swimming Lagoon offers both lap swimming and unstructured water play with no admission fee. The lagoon also includes a multi-station floating playground where children and adults can bounce, climb, slide, and balance on a series of floating play stations. Children must be at least six years old to use the Water Park. Admission is $10 for children age six and older, and $15 for adults, or $45 for a family of four.
Spring Lake also offers year-round boating (no gas motors/engines): bring your own craft up to 16 feet in length or rent from the concession stand May to September). Other Spring Lake activiteis include fishing (you’ll need a license if you’re over 16), camping (learn more), hiking, and biking.
You can also enjoy a picnic (200 tables with barbecues) or visit the Lakeside Grill. This outdoor dining spot, open in the spring and summer, features salads, burgers, pizza, barbecue and a special kids menu. It offers free Wi-Fi, too.
And there’s even more! Spring Lake is directly connected to two other parks — 5,500-acre Trione-Annadel State Park (6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-529-3911) and Santa Rosa’s attraction-studded, 152-acre Howarth Park (630 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa, 707-543-3282), which has a small lake of its own and many resources for children including an amusement area with a miniature train ride.
Spring Lake Regional Park (393 Violetti Road, Santa Rosa, 707-539-8092) is open daily, sunrise to sunset; you can download a map of Spring Lake Regional Park. Entry is free, but a $7 parking free applies (free with a Regional Parks membership).
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez