Guide to Sonoma County Family Fun
Known for its award-winning wines, luxury inns, and romantic honeymoon vacations, Sonoma County also serves 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 in Sonoma County.
Already thinking about how to get here? Consider flying into STS - Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, where you can fly direct from Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Diego and more.
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:
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Guerneville
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve provides a great place for your family to walk among towering coast redwood trees.
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, reaching heights of over 310 feet tall (that’s taller than a football field is long).
Candy & Kites and Second Wind, Bodega Bay
With some of the best-ever kite-flying conditions found along Sonoma County’s breezy coast, it’s no wonder the tiny town of Bodega Bay boasts two kite stores. Bring your own kite, or shop for one in town at Candy & Kites and Second Wind, both located on Coast Highway 1. Plus, 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.
Howarth Park, Santa Rosa
This 152-acre community park includes an amusement park with a miniature train ride, carousel, animal farm, and pony rides. It also includes 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, over 3 million years, and witness redwood trees that were turned to stone 3.4 million years ago by a local volcano. Both guided and self-guided tours are available. Although the post office lists this as a Calistoga (Napa County) address, the park is located just over the border in Sonoma County.
Enjoy a “wild” time by riding in an open-air safari vehicle through this 400-acre wildlife preserve. You’ll catch sight of 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 you need some excitement, check out the Sears Point Driving Experience for a cool kart racing experience on California's longest track (for ages 13 and older; those under age 18 must have a parent or guardian present at time of rental). Or, let your teens try racing lessons or even take the defensive driving course.
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. (Patricipants must be 10 or older, and weigh at least 70 and no more than 250 pounds.)
Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma
This eight-acre park in the center of town includes a duck pond and two playgrounds. This is a great place for kids to burn off some energy on the playgrounds, enjoy a picnic (tables are available, and the park is cool and shady), and feed the ducks. Surrounding the plaza you’ll find shops, restaurants, and historic sites, including the last and northernmost of the California missions.
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.
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.
Enjoy kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, and relaxing along the Russian River.
Finley Community Center & Aquatic Complex, Santa Rosa
In addition to swimming at the Finley Aquatic Complex (with two pools), this 12.2-acre community park offers a large, fun playground area; picnic tables and barbecues; basketball, tennis, horseshoe, and sand volleyball courts; and paved walking trails.
Ridgway Swim Center, Santa Rosa
This year-round public swimming center offers a nine-lane competition lap pool and a more shallow pool (2 to 3.5 feet deep) with a 140-foot water slide. Public swim sessions provide a fun time in the water for all ages and are typically offered spring to fall; lap swim sessions are typically available daily.
Water Park in Spring Lake Swimming Lagoon, Santa Rosa
This colorful, inflatable water playground lets children (age 6 or older) and adults bounce, climb, slide, and balance on a series of floating play stations. Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.
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. The Club Friday Night series offers games, socialization, theme nights, and modern hit music, for a fun 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 that are custom designed for families with children ages 10 years old and younger.
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 party 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.
Fundemonium, Rohnert Park
This toy, hobby, and game store offers 14,000 square feet of fun. Options include a children’s play area, a slot car track, a 1,200-square-foot 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. 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 and in August, there's the “Wings Over Wine Country Air Show.”
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
Relax in this resort-like winery setting, with beautiful grounds and a lovely swimming pool (tickets required in advance) where you can reserve a cabine, which includes pool passes, lounge chairs, towels, and wine tastings (be sure to reserve early). Enjoy live music on summer weekends, children's activities, bocce ball courts, and more.
Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg
You’ll fine a toy chest in the winery, and wine caves that keep little people happy while adults have fun too. Experience entertaining events such as the Harvest Party in September, which includes grape picking, blessing of the grapes, brunch, a grape stomp competition, music, bocce ball tournament, and more.
Belden Barns, Farmstead & Winery, Santa Rosa
Belden recently unveiled special scavenger-hunt backpacks for kids who accompany their parents for tastings. While mom and dad taste the latest releases (by appointment only) in a rustic century-old dairy barn, kids can borrow the packs and wander the 55-acre property in search of flora, fauna, and other random or whimsical items.
Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen
This organic winery features a playground, small bird zoo, beautiful gardens, picnic grounds, hourly tours, and fun Biodynamic Vineyard Tram tours in a tram pulled by a tractor.
Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma
Explore the oldest premium winery in California, which includes fun winery tours with the "Count," a maze, a "history" hillside, a wine cave, and a Wine Tool Museum.
Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood
Play bocce ball or test your puzzle-solving skills in the Unlock the Chateau Escape Room at this quintessential Sonoma winery. Picnic in select areas on the gorgeous Mediterranean-style property. In addition to tasting flights, wines are available by the glass or bottle, along with a selection of cheese and charcuterie.
Cline Family Cellars, Sonoma
This family-run operation offers an unpretentious, farmhouse tasting experience, and kids will love the property, with its resident turtles, birds, fish, and donkeys. Pack a picnic, take a guided tour to learn about the history of the winery, and visit the California Missions Museum, with its historic displays of all 21 California missions (built to scale in 1939 for the California Pacific Exhibition).
Landmark Vineyards, Kenwood
Located at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, this beautiful winery offers 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.
Preston Farm & Winery, Healdsburg
A must-visit for any kid who loves cats, this feline-friendly winery (leave your dog at home) also has gardens, bocce, and sheep. If you're lucky, your little one can help bottle-feed a little lamb. You can bring a picnic, and the farm shop features fresh produce.
Truett-Hurst Winery, Healdsburg
Nestled on a biodynamic farm in the heart of Dry Creek Valley, Truett Hurst is known for its Zinfandel and Petit Syrah as well as their iconic creekside red chairs and a salmon habitat restoration area. The property includes goats, chickens, and sheep, and, as a bonus, also hosts the tasting room for VML Winery (reservations recommended).
Family Friendly Hotels & Campgrounds
Here is a selection of family fun hotels and campgrounds.
Surrounded by two 18-hole PGA certified championship golf courses, this Tuscan-style hotel features 245 spacious guest rooms, an elegant selection of suites, and 18,000 square feet of indoor meeting space.
Located in family-friendly Rohnert Park, the Doubletree is near kid-friendly activities such as Driven Raceway, an indoor go-kart raceway; Scandia Family Fun Center, with bumper boats and miniature golf; Double Decker Lanes for bowling; Cal Skate roller rink; and much more.
A scenic hour drive from the world famous San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and only 20 minutes from the Sonoma County Airport, guests can visit more than 190 wineries in the immediate area.
The Flamingo Resort, in Sonoma Wine Country, is a Santa Rosa historic landmark. With the classic charm of the resort hotels of the 1950s and all the contemporary amenities important to today's guests, it is the perfect location for exploring Northern California's premier Wine Country.
The pool is perfect for kids, and families can get some of the rooms on the bottom floor around the pool, with easy access to kid-friendly diversions, including tennis courts and basketball hoops. It's also just a short walk to nearby restaurants, a pharmacy, and grocery stores.
One of the top-rated camping and RV parks in the nation, this 70-acre, full-service campground and RV park in Petaluma features 20 lodges (sleeps six with kitchen, private bedroom, full bath, and TV), 34 camping cabins, a tree-covered tenting area, 30amp/50amp large pull-thru RV sites, and six large group areas.
All total, there are more than 300 sites, and each comes with a picnic table and fire ring; 189 have full hook-ups, and 16 are partial (water and electric). Amenities include a large pool, hot spa, off leash dog park, bocce ball court, horseshoe pits, rock wall, petting farm, hayrides, outdoor movies, and karaoke night (May to October).
Tucked in the hills overlooking the magnificent Alexander Valley, this resort provides 60 acres of enjoyment.
Wooded tent and RV sites, combined with charming Kamping Kabins and lodges, make for an ideal location to setup base camp while you visit wineries, canoe, fish, and marvel at the towering redwoods and the gorgeous coast.
Sunny days and cool nights create a perfect climate for the more than 50 award-winning wineries nearby. Recreation sites such as Lake Sonoma, Warm Springs Dam, and the Russian River provide an exciting range of outdoor activities.
Starry nights, wireless Internet, a bountiful country store, mini-golf, large solar-heated summer pool and year-round spa on a hillside overlooking the Alexander Valley, basketball half-court, hungry fish in a catch-and-release pond, a gathering hall, and, of course, warm showers – all that you would expect of a KOA, and a whole lot more. This resort is a haven for cyclists, birdwatchers, grape lovers, and photographers.
Casini Ranch Campground nestles among beautiful hills resting on a gentle meander along the Russian River near Duncans Mills, just minutes from the Pacific Ocean. One mile of river runs along this 110-acre part of the ranch, offering campers a memorable camping experience.
The area hosts numerous events and activities at and around Casini Ranch. You will find something for everyone to enjoy just minutes away. Casini Ranch is open year round. Onsite facilities include the well-stocked Moscow General Store, complete with laundry facilities and video arcade. The Moscow Barn, a restored historic barn, is used as a recreation hall for clubs, groups, and special events such as weddings or family reunions. It offers a large kitchen, dining hall/meeting room, upstairs dance hall (the old hay loft), and a large outdoor patio to enjoy the summer sun.
Restrooms with hot showers are located throughout the park, and various watercraft rentals are available to enjoy on the mile-long beach amid the surrounding beauty of the Russian River. Casini Ranch offers a range of RV and tent sites with various features. 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.
Dawn Ranch Resort is a 15-acre property nestled among towering redwoods on the banks of the Russian River. Just 20 minutes from the beautiful Pacific Coast, it offers rustic tranquility and a contemporary atmosphere.
Individual cottages blend harmoniously into the stunning landscape of ancient apple orchards, bamboo groves, grassy meadows, and beautifully landscaped gardens.
A century-old guest ranch, Dawn Ranch Resort was renamed in 2006 in celebration of the rare Dawn Redwood; two mature trees are on the grounds. Originally believed to be extinct for over 15 million years, the Dawn Redwood was rediscovered in the 1940s growing in remote provinces in China, and a handful of saplings were reintroduced to North America. The 70-year-old trees grew from these original saplings.