I was standing in line at Sonoma's Train Town when another mom started chatting me up. (She was observing a certain quirk of my 5-year old who frequently makes us get off a carnival-style ride just seconds before it starts.) I asked her if she was a local, and indeed she was. By the time we were done talking, my list of family-friendly destinations in Wine Country had grown by a lot. Many of you have given me even more tips.
Here are seven places besides Train Town in Sonoma and Napa counties that parents should know about:
Hopmonk Tavern is a casual restaurant with a beautiful large outdoor space, a friendly kids menu, and a big beer selection. It's a few minute drive from Train Town in Sonoma. I had just gone there, and then Heather from Poppy Haus summed it up as a place that has “Something for everyone.” Learn more >
The Charles Schulz Museum was mentioned by 510 mom, Amy. It is in Santa Rosa. A small museum, families will want to plan other activities for the same day. Young children who aren't familiar with The Peanuts comic strip may enjoy the outdoor garden labyrinth most of all.
Snoopy's Home Ice is across the street from the museum. A large indoor ice skating arena, this facility offers chairs for beginners to bring on the ice for balance! Check the schedule here.
Howarth Park, also in Santa Rosa, features a small train ride, carousel, ponies and a lake with paddle boats and more. The playgrounds there sound amazing, and in the summer, there is a huge splash pad. Learn more >
The Old Faithful Geyser of Calistoga is in a postcard-worthy setting and performs at regular intervals. The surrounding picnic area is also home to a petting zoo of goat and sheep. This attraction is open 7 days a week, including holidays. So if you want to impress visiting in-laws on a sunny December day, this could be your road trip.
Scientopia Discovery Center in Downtown Napa is a children's museum with reptiles, a puppet theater, a climbing tower, and tons of other hands-on activities for kids. This facility is closed to the public on Saturdays, so plan to go on Sunday.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is a great tip for lovers of the great outdoors from reader Mascha. “With both a swimming pool and a beautiful river that makes for hours of cool play for the kids, and a separate picnic area closer to the road, this park is about 15 minutes outside of Calistoga.”
photo of Howarth Park petting zoo from their website; Scientopia Tot Room from their Facebook page;