A family weekend in Wine Country sounds like a bit of a misnomer, but I’m a firm believer that you can take kids anywhere – it just takes planning, compromise, and a bit of balance. Luckily there is so much to do in Sonoma County, California to make the whole family happy.
Less than an hour north of San Francisco, Sonoma is a great addition to a family trip to Northern California. But with over 400 wineries, 27 landmarks, 20 beaches and 11 state parks, where is a family to start? The following itinerary will help you see some of the best that Sonoma has to offer in just two days.
As you drive up to Sonoma, make a pitstop at Cornerstone Sonoma on Highway 121 to grab a picnic lunch from Park 121 Café. While they are putting your sandwiches and salads together, pop into the Keating tasting room, where your kids can pet the dog while you taste their excellent Finvarra.
Then head over to Larson Family Winery for a picnic in the vineyard. If you have dog lovers they will enjoy meeting the winery’s three labs that are the namesake of the Three Lab Cab label. While you enjoy your picnic and a wine tasting, your kids can run around the open field or play lawn games or bocce ball.
Next, take some time to explore the quaint town square of Sonoma and a visit to Sonoma Train Town Railroad. Young train fans will love the 20-minute train ride through a miniature town and petting zoo.
If you are ready for some more wine, kids will enjoy the tram tour and a visit to the wine caves at Benziger Family Winery, or Landmark Vineyards, where you’ll find a bocce ball court, picnic area, coloring books in the tasting room and horse-drawn wagon rides in the summer.
When everyone has had enough, head to your hotel for some rest and relaxation. The Flamingo Resort Hotel in Santa Rosa offers family-size suites and an Olympic-size pool. Or, if you are feeling more adventurous, you could try a family luxury tent amongst the animals at Safari West. If you need a casual, family-friendly place for dinner, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa offers fresh flatbreads, salads, burgers, mac n cheese and even chicken and waffles.
Start your day off with a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and spend an hour gaining a new appreciation for America’s beloved cartoonist and his famous Peanut’s characters.
Then head west along Highway 12. Adventure lovers would appreciate a stop at Sonoma Canopy Tours, where you can enjoy a two-and-a-half hour guided eco tour through the California Redwoods across 7 ziplines, 2 sky bridges, a spiral staircase, and a rappel to the forest floor. From there, head out to the ocean at Bodega Bay and pick up a kite at Candy and Kites to fly on the beach.
Drive north along Scenic Highway 1 and enjoy the beautiful coast before turning back east at Jenner. If you haven’t eaten yet, you can stop by the Applewood Inn & Restaurant in Guerneville for a picnic, cheese board, chocolates, or some fine dining.
If you didn’t stop at the Redwoods in the morning, take a stroll through the Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve in Guerneville. If you have the time and inclination, stop by Korbel Winery for a tour of their champagne cellars on your way back to Highway 101.
For dinner, I can’t recommend highly enough Bravas Bar and Tapas in Healdsburg, which offers the best tapas I’ve had outside of Spain. A stroll through the upscale town of Healdsburg is a wonderful way to end your weekend in wine country.
If you are heading down to San Francisco at the end of your trip, don’t miss a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point (the last exit before you cross the bridge). Head up the hill for some amazing views, day or night!
Disclosure: Tamara was hosted by the Flamingo Resort Hotel and Benziger Family Winery on their tram tour. Thanks to the Sonoma County Tourism for arranging her visit. All opinions are her own.