Kid-friendly Sonoma and Napa - 510 Families

Kid-friendly Sonoma and Napa

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 >

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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.

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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.”

Related: Train Town; Calistoga Public Pool; Santa Rosa Safari West

photo of Howarth Park petting zoo from their website; Scientopia Tot Room from their Facebook page;

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5 thoughts on “Kid-friendly Sonoma and Napa”

  1. Also a big hit in Napa is Playground Fantastico. We often meet our grandma there (it’s kind of a midway point) and have a picnic lunch. Their website doesn’t seem to be up anymore but the City of Napa site has information (as does Yelp). It’s kind of tricky to find the entrance driveway but so worth it! There are two sides to the park, one for the bigs and one for the littles, which is enclosed by a low fence. The structures are wooden and wind all over the place, providing lots of space for running and hiding. There’s a giant iguana in the sand and a water supply that makes a river (note: bring a change of clothes). It’s the kind of park the kids don’t want to leave so bring a book and a picnic and be ready to stay awhile.

  2. Oh, also if you are staying at Bothe State Park it’s just a spit away from a real Tuscan castle! Castello di Amorosa is a 13th century Tuscan castle that was brought here by the V.Sattui vintner to fulfill some crazy dream of having a castle in Napa Valley. It’s pretty cool! You can walk the grounds outside and check out the free range chickens, goats, and sheep or take one of several tours. I think you can also pay to enter and are limited to certain areas but kids must be at least five. There’s even a torture chamber in the lower level, and an authentic chapel that has a high Latin mass on Sunday mornings. Call to confirm what you can and can’t do with kids, it would be a bummer to get there and not be able to take them in.

  3. Pingback: Summer activities: Things to do in Berkeley and Oakland with kids

  4. Howarht Park in Santa Rosa is fantastic and totally worth the trek. Memorial Day through Labor Day everything is open including train, pony rides, playground, water play area, jumpy house and boat rentals. Parking is free and the rides are all pretty inexpensive. And the weather is usually really warm which is a great treat! It only 1 hour from Berkeley! If you havent been, go!

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