Things To Do With Kids In Sonoma County
We’ve got our favorite things to do with kids in Sonoma County. Known for its world-class wineries, glorious foods, five-star spas, and everything that one would want when seeking that perfect all-encompassing adult get-away. Sonoma County is the perfect family getaway. But what if I were to tell you that while yes, Sonoma County is the perfect place for that romantic weekend or girlfriend trip you’ve been longing for, it’s also the perfect place to bring the family for some of the best kid-friendly activities around. From going on an African Safari to skating in the ice arena that is home to Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang, the next time you’re in the San Francisco area, grab the family and head north over the Golden Gate Bridge to find the warmth, sunshine and family-friendly fun that makes for the perfect day trip, or a weekend outing just waiting for you. Although there are so many options to pick from, here are our favorite things to do with kids in Sonoma County.
Why travel all the way to Africa when we have Africa waiting for you right here? Nestled in the hills just off of the 101 freeway a few minutes north of Santa Rosa is Safari West, an African adventure right in the heart of wine country. Guests are invited to climb aboard an open-air jeep for a three-hour tour through the 400-acre park that plays home to hundreds of animals including giraffes, zebras, gazelles, antelopes, wildebeests, and ostriches, who are known to get up close and personal with you. From the moment you step foot onto the property of this fully accredited zoo, you’ll quickly forget that civilization is just over the hill. For the more adventurous, there are luxury tents available to spend the night in and 5-star meals like none other.
Snoopy’s Home Ice
If you grew up here in Sonoma County as I did, then you knew the story of Charles Schultz, creator of “Peanuts” and his passion for ice hockey, and his desire for finding a rink for his own children and well as the community, to have a place to lace up the skates once the old ice arena was no more and thus Snoopy’s Home Ice was born. Also known as the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, this isn’t like any other ice rink that you’ve ever seen. Reminiscent of a Swiss chalet and adorned with panoramic scenes from the Swiss Alps, Snoopy’s Home Ice feels like an Alpine village that is nestled among the redwoods. A part of Santa Rosa for over 40 years, this unique family ice center offers the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening, no matter what your skating level might be. For the littles, there’s Puppy Practice every Sunday morning and for the ice hockey player in all of us, there’s a wide variety of nightly pick-up games as well as league play for every age. In the corner of the Warm Puppy Café right next to the fireplace, you’ll find Charles Schultz’s table, where it was not uncommon to see him having lunch every afternoon and still remains reserved for him to this day. Whether you’re looking for that sought-after Peanut’s collectible or the latest in skating gear, Snoopy’s Gallery & Gift Shop will not only have what you’re looking for, and upstairs you can see the office and drawing tables of where Schultz created many of the iconic Peanuts characters and cartoon strips.
The Charles Schultz Museum
Across the street from Snoopy’s Home Ice you’ll find the one and only Charles Schultz Museum. Designed as an interactive, hands-on museum, young and old alike can delight as they peek into the world of Charles Schultz, relive many of his comic strips, learn about the art of cartooning, enjoy animated Peanuts specials and documentaries in the Theatre, and have fun as they learn to draw and create their very own cartoons in the hands-on education room. Outside, kids and families can enjoy a stroll through the Snoopy labyrinth and enjoy the statues of Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Throughout the year you’ll find special activities, events, and of course screenings of all of your favorite Peanut’s classics.
The Children’s Museum of Sonoma Country
While you’re in the neighborhood and right up the street from Snoopy’s Home Ice and the Charles Schulz Museum is a little slice of heaven, especially if you have children 10 or younger. The Sonoma Country Museum was designed and built entirely by private donations by families who felt there needed to be a special place where children could go to create, discover and imagine all in a hands-on way while keeping the local culture and resources in mind. With everything from Mary’s Garden where kids can catch salmon in the miniature Russian River or visit a farm stand, to the Gravel Exploration Pit complete with trucks and tractors and designed to replicate the Sonoma County coastline, this exhibit is similar to a sand pit, but with a completely different feel to the Redwood Fairy Ring where visitors can gather to hear a story among a grouping of Redwoods to the Imagination Playground where children can build and create, the only downside with a visit here, is that your children won’t want to leave.
Howarth Park & Spring Lake
Looking for a place for your family to enjoy the great outdoors, look no further than Howarth Park. This 152-acre community park provides endless recreational opportunities including sailing out onto the 25-acre Lake Ralphine which offers a vast array of water fun including boating lessons, boat rentals, fishing, and more. Throughout Howarth Park, you’ll find picnic areas, unique playground structures including a replica of an old Western town, and an old-fashioned amusement area that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time that features a miniature train ride, carousel, animal farm & pony rides. Right behind Howarth Park is Spring Lake Regional Park an expansive 320-acre park featuring trails for walking, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding as well as a summer swimming lagoon, a lake for boating and fishing, a campground, picnic areas, the Environmental Discovery Center, and the Lakeside Grill.
Situated just one mile south of the Sonoma Plaza in the heart of Sonoma is every train enthusiast’s dream. Climb aboard the quarter-scale railroad that will take you on a 20-minute journey over 4 miles of track. Your train ride will take you through tunnels, over bridges, and even makes a stop in Lakeview, where you can disembark and enjoy the miniature town and petting zoo located there. When you’ve finished your ride, there are six amusement rides located right there in Sonoma TrainTown for you and the family to enjoy.
Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory
For the sticker lovers in all of us, look no further than Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory, located in Petaluma. Watch your child’s face light up as they step right onto the factory floor where they’ll get an up-close and personal look as they watch thousands of stickers coming to life right before their eyes. You and your family will be able to learn firsthand how the press operators combine art and technology to print the perfect sticker! And of course, what sticker factory tour would be complete without free stickers at the end and the chance to visit the Company Store to make a one-of-a-kind sticker art project. It’s fun for the entire family at Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory. Sadly, tours cannot be done on a walk-in basis but you can make reservations by calling 707-765-8554.
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
No trip to Sonoma County would be complete without a trip to visit the majestic redwood trees that the area is famous for. Located in Guerneville in the Russian River area this beautiful 805-acre park features a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods, a large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails, and a variety of picnic facilities. Take the family and walk along the 1-mile Pioneer Nature Trail to see the Armstrong Tree, which is thought to be over 1,400 years old, or enjoy the Discovery Trail with its interpretive features and especially designed for the visually impaired. This ancient redwood grove includes a visitor center at the park entrance that is staffed by knowledgeable docents. Visitors can obtain park information, and publications, and view the center’s natural history exhibits before beginning their tour of the grove. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day.
Sonoma County may be the heart of wine country but it’s the perfect family with something for everyone including but certainly not limited to some of our favorite things to do with kids in Sonoma County, Whether you’re looking for a day trip, or a weekend getaway, next time you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, an hour north across the Golden Gate Bridge, Sonoma County is waiting for you and your entire family.