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15 Things to do in Sonoma, CA with a Family

I’ll admit it. Our recent trip to Sonoma County was primarily about wine tasting. As I’ve demonstrated, it is possible to have fun at wineries with kids. But that doesn’t mean that is all there is to do in Sonoma County. We didn’t get to do everything, but we found a number of other things to do in Sonoma with kids besides wine tasting — here is a sample.

15 Things to do in Sonoma with Kids

1. Explore downtown Sonoma. Sonoma Plaza is a laid-back, old-world town center that combines Western charm with wine country sophistication. The lovely plaza offers wide lawns with gorgeous old trees for running around. It is surrounded by galleries, restaurants, shops, tasting rooms and historic buildings — a perfect place for exploring and relaxing.

The Sonoma Cheese Factory is a perfect place to sample some cheeses and pick up some goodies for a picnic in the plaza. If you do want to stop for a wine tasting, Bump Cellars just off the plaza offers a gallery-like setting that is family-friendly with couches and games for the kids (sorry, I couldn’t resist just one wine mention!)

Things to do in Sonoma with family

2. Visit Sonoma TrainTown Railroad. Just off the Plaza, TrainTown offers young train enthusiasts a quarter-scale railroad that operates over a four-mile track. Families can climb aboard for a 20 minute train trip through tunnels and over bridges, with a stop in the miniature town of Lakeview. Kids can enjoy a petting zoo and six amusement rides in addition to the train.

3. Go animal watching at Safari West. This one blew my mind when I first heard about it. Go on Safari in Sonoma?

Yup, Safari West offers a three hour riding and walking safari through their 400 acre animal park featuring over 900 animals including giraffes, gazelles, zebras, oryx, antelopes, cape buffalo, wildebeests and many others. You can even extend the experience with an overnight stay in a luxury tent.

Things to do in Sonoma with kids - Charles M. Schulz Museum

We didn’t make it to the museum but did get to see Snoopy at the Flamingo Resort Hotel

4. Visit Snoopy at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Kids will enjoy learning more about one of our most beloved cartoonists and the man behind Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.

Centrally located in Santa Rosa, the Charles M. Schulz Museum offers insight into the cartoon strip and animation through temporary exhibits, while permanent exhibits include Charles Schulz’s studio and a wrapped version of Snoopy’s dog house. Outside, kids can enjoy a stroll through the Snoopy labyrinth.

5. Go ziplining at Sonoma Canopy Tours. Adventure seekers will love soaring through the treetops of California’s famous redwood trees with Sonoma Canopy Tours.

Over a two and a half hour course, families zip across seven lines, traverse two skybridges, climb a spiral staircase and rappel to the forest floor. Note that kids need to be at least 10 years old and 70 lbs. and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

6. Fly a kite at Bodega Bay. Drive out to the coast and stop at Candy & Kites in Bodega Bay and then head down to the beach to fly a kite and splash in the waves.

7. Take a scenic drive along the California Coast. Drive north along Scenic Highway 1 from Bodega Bay and enjoy the rugged Sonoma County coastline.

If you are visiting between mid-January to mid-May, you may see some of the 20,000 gray whales that migrate past the Sonoma Coast each year. Viewing is best from Gualala Point Regional Park, The Sea Ranch, Stillwater Cove Regional Park, Timber Cove Inn and Fort Ross State Historic Park.

Things to do in Sonoma with family

The gorgeous California Coast

8. Hug a tree at the Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve. Take a family hike among the towering redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve. Follow the 1 mile Pioneer Nature Trail to see the Armstrong Tree, which is thought to be over 1,400 years old; or pick a longer hike if you have energetic walkers.

9. Go for a bike ride. Pack a picnic, rent some bikes from Sonoma Valley Bike Tours and head off through the gorgeous Sonoma Valley.

They are located right at the start of the Sonoma bike trail and fully equipped to outfit visiting families that want to explore on their own, while also running organized bike tours through the vineyards.

10. Ride a horse. Horse N Around Trail Rides offers a variety of guided trail rides on its 378-acre Chanslor Ranch, which overlooks the ocean with panoramic views of Bodega Bay. Rides range from 30-90 minutes and kids must be eight years old or older.

11. Get creeped out. Film buffs might recognize the village of Bodega for its distinctive landmarks that served as a backdrop to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic thriller “The Birds.”

12. Go for a swim. The Russian River is Sonoma County’s outdoor adventureland with opportunities to swim, float, fish, kayak, canoe or just splash around.

Some good spots for family-friendly swimming include Veteran’s Memorial Beach in Healdsburg, Forestville River Access, and Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville.

13. Go to a museum. The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County was designed exclusively for kids 10 and younger, with an emphasis on local culture.

Kids can catch salmon in the miniature Russian River, visit a farm stand, build a fort, listen to a story, put on a show, or paint a masterpiece with hands on learning and play.

14. Do a kefir tasting. Do a tasting that kids can actually partake in at The Kefiry in Sebastopol. The whole family can try this live-cultured, fermented beverage at the complimentary tasting bar.

They offer this non-alcoholic, non-dairy drink in lemon ginger ale, triple root beer, jasmine pearl green tea, Guayusa kola, OMG chocolate and more.

15. Shop in Healdsburg. Healdsburg also features a town plaza with a very upscale vibe. The town square is surrounded by excellent restaurants, upscale boutiques, galleries and tasting rooms.

While you are in town, you really should try the tapas at Bravas Bar de Tapas. Kids will enjoy sitting in the heated garden and sampling all the delicious small plates. I think we ordered nearly everything on the menu and it was all excellent!

Things to do in Sonoma with kids

Bravas’ amazing tortilla — as good as any in Spain

And, if you do want to visit some wineries, here are some suggestions for family-friendly wineries in Sonoma County.

Do you have favorite things to do in Sonoma with kids?

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15 Things to do in Sonoma County, California with kids (that don't involve wine tasting!) Some might surprise you!

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8 Comments on “15 Things to do in Sonoma, CA with a Family

  1. I had NO idea that there was a Charlie Brown museum! That is so cool. I was lucky enough to work at the Sonoma International Film Festival a couple of years which is in the downtown area and I had a blast. Ramekins in the downtown is a great spot for cooking classes as well!

      Oooh, a cooking class sounds fun. A friend of mine went to the Charles Schulz museum and highly recommended it. We had plans to go but a flight delay backed up our schedule and we missed it. Next time!

    I’ve never thought of Sonoma Valley as being a kid friendly destination but you have proved that to be wrong. If I had kids I would be thrilled at this news as I love doing winery tours!

    Whoa I had no idea that there was a safari up there! I would definitely want to do that! Seeing the Redwoods is also at the top of my US travel wishlist. I can’t believe I lived in Southern California for almost 2 decades and still haven’t been there! The kefir tasting also sounds really really interesting. I had no idea that there was so much more to Sonoma besides wine tasting!

      Me too! But the area is beautiful with so much to do.

    There’s So many greAT THINGs to do in sonoma county; My husband and I love going to comedy shows! We recently discovered that we have a lot of great local talent, and now we’re hooked!

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