5 Family Activities in Sonoma County
Often times when you think of Sonoma County, you might envision lush vineyards and endless samples of California’s best wine. While wineries aren't always kid-friendly, Sonoma County is also home to many other activities the whole family can enjoy. With towering redwoods and the postcard-ready Pacific Ocean, there is endless fun to be had in this area.
All Aboard for an Old-Fashioned Adventure
Families go for the train ride and stay for the amusement rides. TrainTown Railroad (20264 Broadway, Sonoma, CA) sits upon four miles of track. Hop aboard this 20-minute ride where you’ll go through tunnels and over bridges, then stop at Lakeview, which is TrainTown’s own miniature town featuring a petting zoo. The amusement park has a handful of rides from a mini-coaster to a classic carousel. TrainTown is open year-round with railroad rides starting at $6.75 per person.
Get Wild With Nature’s Wildest
Who says you have to travel far to experience a safari? Safari West (3115 Porter Creek Rd., Santa Rosa, CA) sits on 400 acres with over 900 animals grazing the terrain. Along the three-hour tour, you will see giraffes, gazelles, zebras, buffalo, cheetahs, rhinos and much more. Want the ultimate experience? Fall asleep to the sounds of these animals as you spend the night in a luxury tent. It may not be the lullaby you’re used to, but talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Safari rides range from $45 to $100 depending on age, day of week and time of year.
See the Land From Above
No, we aren’t talking about helicopter rides or hot air balloons. Be one with the redwoods as you zip line through the tippy tops of the tallest trees with Sonoma Canopy Tours (6250 Bohemian Hwy., Occidental, CA). It's open year-round, rain or shine, with discounts available for those who ride on weekdays. Whether looking for height or speed or a sunset flight, this place has course options for adventurers of all types.
Note: Riders must be 10-years-old and weigh 70 pounds.
Where the Cliffs Meet the Sea
While driving the entire California coast may not be feasible, catching a glimpse of the rocky cliffs is a must. Bodega Head (Westshore Rd., Bodega Bay, CA), boasts some unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean. Bring binoculars to get closer to the whales and pack an extra layer in case the winds pick up. This stop will delight the senses: waves crashing, the scent of wildflowers, seals playing in the surf and foghorns in the distance.
Walk Below California’s Tallest
To be fully immersed in nature, clear a day for the Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve (17000 Armstrong Woods Rd., Guerneville, CA). With self-guided nature trails and a place to picnic, the whole family can enjoy the beauty of the area on foot. From easy to difficult, there are paths for all hiking abilities—try the East Ridge Trail to get above the tall trees. What’s also great about this place is a lot of it is visible by car for those who need it. The park is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. until one hour after official sunset.
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Erinne is a freelance writer living in Maine. Her work has been published by The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Chicago Tribune, Men's Journal and more.