Just a quick 50 minutes from Berkeley, Sonoma’s TrainTown offers the perfect little-kid introductory amusement park experience (for those not yet ready– or tall enough–to visit a Six Flags). I took my four kids (ages 3-9) on a recent sunny Saturday morning, and everyone had a blast with limited line-waiting, whimsical backdrops, and affordable pricing.
My enthusiastic train-loving five-year-old was more than satisfied by the 20-minute ride on the scaled-down railroad through an enchanted forest filled with mini towns and bridges. My adventurous bigger kids relished the Mine Train roller coaster and TrainTown Flyer for their surprising speeds. And my more timid three-year-old rode the Iron Horse Carousel and Ferris Wheel over and over again with the biggest smile. So if you’re looking for an affordable day trip that’ll thrill your kids under age ten, Sonoma TrainTown offers a playful experience within an hour of the East Bay.
Sonoma TrainTown Amusement Rides
TrainTown has five amusement rides, which are all railroad-themed. Your kids will need to be a certain height or you’ll need to join them on the ride. Fees are based on one ticket per person per ride. They include:
- Iron Horse Carousel – 44″ to ride alone, all heights OK with adult
- High Iron Ferris Wheel – 48″ to ride alone, all heights OK with adult
- Mine Train Coaster – 42″ to ride alone, 34″ to ride with an adult
- Air Scooter – 42″ to ride alone, 34″ to ride with an adult
- TrainTown Airlines – 36″ to ride
Prices are $3.75 per coupon or 5 coupons for $14.75. Each ride requires one coupon per person, per ride, including babies of all ages and adults accompanying their children. I took my three-year-old on the coaster and she was none-too-pleased, but my older boys (ages 5, 7 & 9) rode on it at least five times. It’s surprisingly speedy and exciting, though still approachable for younger children. The coaster was by far the favorite of the day.
Pro-Tip: Hold onto your hats folks! Or better yet take them off and have someone hold them for you. We lost a favorite hat during the roller coaster ride, but thankfully we were able to retrieve it later with the kind help of a ride operator.
We rode everything else at least once, enjoying the Iron Horse Carousel multiple times with my three-year-old. Several benches are scattered around each ride, so younger children and adults not riding the rides can sit and relax or have a snack in between rides.
Sonoma TrainTown Train Ride
Another TrainTown favorite for all ages is the 20-minute train ride on a quarter-scale railroad over four miles of track. The fanciful trip through tunnels and over bridges is super cute. We loved the waterfalls, spotting the faces on the trees, and the charming tableaux of miniature towns and animals. The train makes a stop at Lakeview – an old-timey western town and petting zoo where you can feed goats and sheep (.$25 per handful of food).
Plan Your Visit to Sonoma TrainTown
Open Hours: June 15th through August 15th, TrainTown is open daily 10 am to 4 pm . September through May, open weekends only. 10 am – 4 pm. CLOSED when raining. Call (707) 938-3912 for schedule updates.
Cost: Free Parking; Free Entry; Train ride is $8.25 per person, per ride for ages 12 months +; Amusement Rides are $3.75 per coupon or 5 coupons for $14.75
Bathrooms: Yes, with changing station. Pretty clean.
Busy Times: The first few hours of opening. Later afternoons are less busy.
What to Bring:
- Hats and sunscreen for sure; it gets hot in Sonoma
- Stroller or wagon if needed; the park is wheelchair and stroller accessible. The park is pretty small, so toddlers probably won’t need a stroller.
- Snacks, water, lunch, blanket for lunch on the Square
Where to eat near TrainTown
Bring along a few snacks and water for your time at the park. Note that TrainTown is a sort of retro experience. The ticket booths, rides, and refreshments are old school. Don’t look for healthy choices — it’s BYO carrot sticks, else eat cotton candy. I’d highly recommend hopping into your car and heading up Broadway into the Sonoma Square for lunch. Find a park bench or spread a blanket on the grass if you’re organized enough to have packed a lunch, or just get a sandwich to-go. There are two fun playgrounds on the Square – one for toddlers and one for bigger kids. And there’s even a duck pond with turtles off to one side. If packing a lunch sounds annoying, worry not, the Square is also surrounded by great restaurants and shops. Here are a few of our favorites on and near Sonoma Square:
- Grab fancy sandwiches at Basque Boulangerie Café and eat by the playground. Grilled cheese for the kids, Siracha chicken and bacon for you.
- Drive over to Hopmonk Tavern for a family-friendly brewery vibe. They have outdoor seating and warm pretzels.
- Pizza is always a good idea, and Mary’s Pizza Shack just on the square offers a kid-friendly menu with tasty Italian offerings of all kinds.
- Craving chips and salsa? La Casa is just off the square and has tasty guac, tacos, and fried ice cream.
- For dessert, Sweet Scoops located on the North-East corner of Sonoma Square has some truly tasty ice cream and cones
Bonus activity when visiting Sonoma
If you don’t have to drive home for naptime, how about some wine tasting? Larson Family Winery is worth a visit when you have kids in tow, and luckily it’s on your way home. Cornerstone is another fun option that’s also easy to get to on your way back to the East Bay.
Bottom Line on Sonoma TrainTown
This quaint little amusement park is perfect for a day trip with kids under the age ten. Be prepared for a bit of line-waiting as well as pretty warm temperatures in the summer. But other than that, Sonoma TrainTown is good old fashion fun at its best. Bring the grandparents, have lunch on the Sonoma Square, then stop off for some wine on the way home. The perfect family day trip!