Guide to Family-Friendly Fun in Sonoma County

Goat Rock Beach

With a lit­tle plan­ning, cre­ativ­ity, and flex­i­bil­ity, the whole fam­ily can enjoy a vaca­tion in Wine Country.

Many par­ents think their days exploring Northern California’s Wine Coun­try must be put on hold while their kids are small. Not so in Sonoma County. With its exceptional variety of natural attributes — the Pacific Ocean, rivers, lakes, ancient redwood forests, farmlands — and family-friendly indoor attractions, you will discover unique and memorable adventures for the whole family (along with plenty of world-renowned wine, of course).

Here are just a few kid- and parent-approved vacation ideas in Sonoma County.

Outdoor Adventures

A family looks up in awe at the trees in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Guerneville
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Guerneville

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Guerneville

This 805-acre reserve is a great place for your fam­ily to take in the towering majesty of Sonoma County’s coastal redwood trees. As big as the park is, it’s easy to navigate the mostly flat, mile-and-a-half-long Pioneer Nature Trail. Some of the 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, towering to 350 feet (that’s taller than a football field is long!).

Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, Bodega Bay

Families enjoy flying kites and sunbathing at Doran Regional Park, Bodega Bay
Doran Regional Park, Bodega Bay

Even though this paved trail runs along a salt marsh that’s home to wildlife and thousands of birds throughout the year, rowdy kids and leashed dogs are welcome. Give the kids binoculars and see which animals they can spy with their little eyes. The path is easy — looping one mile through Doran Regional Park and Bird Walk Coastal Access Park along Doran Park Marsh and tidal channels, over a new 110-foot bridge that spans Cheney Creek, and connecting to the Bird Walk Park up on the levees. 

Candy & Kites and Second Wind, Bodega Bay

With some of the best-ever kite-flying conditions found on Sonoma County’s breezy coast, it’s no wonder the tiny town of Bodega Bay boasts two kite stores. You could bring your own … or, shop for a delightful new one in town at Candy & Kites and Second Wind, both located on coastal Highway 1. The nearby Doran Regional Park hosts the Castles and Kites Festival each May, with spectacular kites, demonstrations, and kite-flying training on the beach, as well as sandcastle sculpture creations. 

 Horseback Riding, Bodega Bay

A young girl kisses her horse at Chanslor Stables, Bodega Bay
Chanslor Stables, Bodega Bay

The hillsides and coastal forests of Bodega Bay bring gorgeous Pacific Ocean views, made even finer on horseback. There are two great local options for guided horseback rides, each offering beach, sand dune, and inland trail rides, all as relaxing or exhilarating as your experience level allows: Chanslor Stables and Horse N Around Trail Rides. When you see the big, gentle eyes of the noble steeds, you know the creatures are well loved. Combine happy animals with stunning open range, vistas, cliffs, and beaches, and you’re in for a special encounter.

Howarth Park, Santa Rosa

Featuring an amusement park with a miniature train ride, carousel, animal farm, and pony rides, this community park is an ideal place to bring the family while out exploring Santa Rosa. Howarth Park also has several unique playground structures, a beautiful lake for fishing and boating, a softball field, tennis courts, picnic areas, and miles of hiking and jogging areas.  

Petrified Forest, Calistoga

Step back in time and witness redwood trees that were turned to stone 3.4 million years ago by a local volcano. Visitors can take self-guided tours throughout the forest on one or both of the park’s 1/2-mile trails. Although the post office lists this as a Calistoga (Napa County) address, the park is located just over the border in Sonoma County.

Safari West Wildlife Preserve & African Tent Camp, Santa Rosa

Enjoy a “wild” time by riding in an open-air safari vehi­cle through this 400-acre wildlife pre­serve. You’ll catch sight of more than 900 animals, including giraffes, lemurs, chee­tahs, and wildebeests. And it gets even better — you can stay overnight in one of their luxurious safari tents.

Sears Point Driving Experience, Sonoma

If your teens (ages 13+) need some excite­ment, check out the Sears Point Driving Experience, which houses the longest go-kart racing track in California. Or, quench your teen’s thirst for speed by booking a racing lesson with one of the seasoned professionals on staff at Sears Point.

Sonoma Zipline Adventures, Occidental

A woman rappels down to the forest floor with Sonoma Canopy Tours, Occidental
Sonoma Canopy Tours, Occidental

Discover the California redwoods from a heightened vantage point with Sonoma Zipline Adventures. Here you will traverse through a redwood forest, over a ravine, and along a creek from 300 feet in the air. Their course includes seven ziplines — one of which is the longest in California — as well as two sky bridges, a 30-foot spiral staircase, and a 60-foot rappel to finish. Families can choose from Tree Tops, Forest, and Night Zipline Tours. Tour times vary by day. Reservations are required.

Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma

This eight-acre park in the center of Sonoma includes a duck pond and two playgrounds, making it a great place for kids to burn off some energy. We recommend stopping here for a picnic and to feed the ducks before enjoying the shops, historic sites, and other things to do around Sonoma Plaza.

State and Regional Parks, throughout Sonoma County

The more than 55 state and regional parks scattered around Wine Country offer a wide array of family fun, including fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and dedicated cycling trails. Many offer seasonal programming, so check the schedule to see what’s happening during your visit.

TrainTown, Sonoma

Does your kid love Thomas the Train? If so, this old-fash­ioned, scaled-down rail­road will surely delight them! 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. 

While experiencing our many outdoor activities, please encourage your children to help us preserve and protect our natural environment for all of the other families making memories in Sonoma County by following the seven Leave No Trace Principles.

Activities on the Water

Two teen boys enjoy ice cream after inner tubing in the Russian River at Johnson's Beach, Guerneville
Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville

Finley Community Center & Aquatic Complex, Santa Rosa

If you’re visiting Sonoma County during the summer, come cool off at the Finley Aquatic Complex. Along with its two pools, this 12.2-acre community park offers a large playground area, picnic tables and barbecues, paved walking trails, and basketball, tennis, horseshoe, and sand volleyball courts.

Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville 

Two young men float in inner tubes in the Russian River at Johnson's Beach, Guerneville
Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville

Get the party started just beneath Guerneville’s entryway bridge, lounging on the spotlessly clean river sandbar — Johnson’s Beach. Here you can rent umbrellas and beach chairs as well as by-the-hour canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats. If you and your kids like to chat with new friends, you’ll like it here, since groups gather to socialize and gossip about small-town doings. Rustic cabin-type rooms and tent campsites are also available.

Ridgway Swim Center, Santa Rosa

This year-round public swimming center offers a nine-lane competition lap pool and shallow pool (2- to 3.5-feet deep) with a 140-foot water slide and several tumble buckets. Hours vary by season, so we recommend calling ahead before planning your trip. 

Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa

Two people kayak next to ducks at Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa
Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa

This 320-acre park features camping sites, fishing piers, hiking and biking trails, and picnic areas as well as paddleboard, kayak, and boat rentals. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the lake opens for swimming, and the Water Park — an inflatable, floating play structure on the lagoon — is available as well. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months. 

Spring Lake also includes the Environmental Discovery Center, with interactive displays and activities aimed at kids ages six to 12. Youngsters can touch sea creatures in tidal-action pools, watch fish from the park’s lake swimming in an aquarium, and learn about Mother Earth in the storytelling cavern. The center is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. 

Water Treks EcoTours and Kayak Rentals, Jenner

Owner Suki Waters is a local Native American descendant, guide, and kayak instructor specializing in wildlife, Sonoma County history, and ecology tours. From beginner boaters to skilled paddlers, there’s an adventure for all on the amazing coast. Explore the quiet estuary or tackle the dancing sea, and keep your eyes peeled for area residents like sea lions, harbor seals, otters, birds, and maybe even a whale.

See Sonoma County’s safety tips for water activities here.

Indoor Attractions

Two girls roller skate under neon lights at Cal Skate, Rohnert Park
Cal Skate, Rohnert Park

Cal Skate, Rohnert Park

As one of the North Bay Area’s only roller skating rinks, Cal Skate lets you strap on skates or blades and glide away. On Fridays, Open Skate features a series of games and modern hit music for a fun family night out.

Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa

Dedicated to instilling a sense of wonder and teaching children (and their parents) about the arts, sciences, and the world around them, the Children’s Museum provides hands-on, interactive exhibits and activities in a safe environment, custom-designed for families with children ages 10 and younger. 

Scandia Family Fun Center, Rohnert Park

This kid’s fantasyland includes two 18-hole miniature golf courses complete with tiny buildings, bridges, and waterways. A favorite for kids, the bumper “blaster” boats come equipped with water sprayers (a great way to cool off on a warm day), while the straight track and banked turns of Lil’ Indy Raceway gives kids an adrenaline-pumping racing experience. Also featured are 18 batting cages with slow pitch and fast pitch.

Fundemonium, Rohnert Park

This toy, hobby, and game store boasts 14,000 square feet of fun. Options include a children’s play area, a slot car track, an indoor, radio-controlled car track, rock tables for radio-controlled rock crawlers, a snack bar, and LEGO play. 

Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa

If you hap­pen to have some Peanuts fans in the fam­ily, visit 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. For more details about all things Peanuts, read Explore Snoopy and the Peanuts in Sonoma County 2-Day Itinerary.  

Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa

Imag­i­na­tion takes flight at the Pacific Coast Air Museum, whose mission is to educate children and preserve aviation history. The museum displays historic aircraft and features antique World War II planes. They also host several events throughout the year, like the Wheels & Wings Car Show in September.

House of Happy Walls Museum, Glen Ellen

The House of Happy Walls Museum sounds delightful even before you know what it is. What makes this National Historic Landmark abode so cheerful is that it salutes author Jack London’s artistic life, set appropriately enough in Jack London State Historic Park. Jack lived for adventure, and today, families can hike the 26 miles of connecting trails of this 39-acre backcountry woodland retreat and mountain expanse, just as he did. Free guided tours are available on the weekends.

Check out more family-friendly things to do in Glen Ellen.

Epicenter Sports and Entertainment, Santa Rosa 

Packed with a unique mix of attractions built for adults but fun for kids, Epicenter is the North Bay’s largest all-in-one destination for sports, recreation, entertainment, dining, and nightlife. The facilities includes a trampoline park, upscale bowling lounge, 100+ game arcade, two-story laser tag arena, multi-sensory 7D adventure ride, and much more. There’s also a sports bar on-site, so your family can make a whole day of it! 

Continue your family vacation planning with our list of kid-friendly wineries and the best hotels and campgrounds for families.

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