Santa Rosa, California is a relaxed, artsy town in Sonoma County. The city lies just a few miles away from the Sonoma Coast, and is surrounded by views of the Sonoma Mountains. While Sonoma County is popular among adults due to its abundance of vineyards and “foodie” restaurants, Santa Rosa is a great place for families with children as well. There are lots of fun activities to enjoy, ranging from canoe trips down the Russian River to shows at children’s museums and community theaters. If you plan to book a Santa Rosa vacation rental, and you’re on the hunt for some family-friendly activities in and around the area, check out this top 11 list of things to do.
1. Say, “Hi” to Snoopy at the Charles M. Schulz Museum
If your kids are fans of Snoopy, the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is a must-see Santa Rosa attraction. Take a self-guided walking tour through the museum, and check out thousands of pieces of original Peanuts artwork designed by Mr. Schulz, as well as tribute artwork submitted by fans.
2. Canoe Down the Russian River
For a fun day on the water, sign up for a canoe trip down the Russian River with Burke’s Canoe Trips. Canoes and a map are provided for the 10-mile, self-guided tour, and return shuttle service awaits you at the end of your journey. As you float along the river, make sure to stop mid-trip at one of the beaches for a lunch break and some sunbathing.
3. Visit the Sonoma County History and Art Museum
Sonoma County is all about art and culture, and the Sonoma County History and Art Museum has a little bit of everything. Located in Downtown Santa Rosa, the museum has a special just for kids that features artwork created by local students from the Art4Kids Program. The history wing features artifacts, photographs, and artwork depicting the early days in Sonoma County, and the outdoor sculpture museum features some amazing sculptures by local artists. Stop by the museum for a guided or self-guided tour, then pop over to the on-site cafe for a snack.
4. Go Exploring in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
For a fun day in nature, take a 20-mile day trip to Guerneville and visit the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Over 805 acres of land awaits you, complete with picnic areas and nature trails. Hike along the redwood trees and work up an appetite, then enjoy a well-deserved picnic lunch with your family.
5. Visit the Children’s Museum
Combine fun with education by spending the day at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. Take the kids over to the museum to tour the interactive exhibits that include a hands-on kitchen, an art room, and a massive model train that cruises through the building. When you’re finished inside, head outdoors to Mary’s Garden, and check out the plants and veggies.
6. Epicenter Sports and Entertainment Complex
For a day filled with fun and games that both kids and adults can equally enjoy, head over to the Epicenter Sports and Entertainment Complex. Team up for some friendly competition at the bowling alley, or have a blast in the arcade that offers over 80 games. Play some laser tag, then take a break and feast on burgers and fries at the bar and grill.
7. Sample Local Cheese at Joe Matos Cheese Factory
Mingle with the dairy cows and taste some of the most delicious cheese in all of Sonoma County when you pay a visit to Joe Matos Cheese Factory. Open daily to the public, the factory is actually a dairy farm with an attached cheese shop. It specializes in two types of Portuguese cheese, and visitors from around the world rave about how tasty it is. If you enjoy your samples, you can purchase a wheel or two from the shop before heading back to your vacation rental.
8. Take in a Show at the 6th Street Playhouse
For a little live entertainment, visit the 6th Street Playhouse. This local theatre group puts on some amazing shows, and it was voted “Best Local Theatre Company” by the Best of Sonoma County Awards. Past productions include “Hairspray Jr,” “George M!,” and “The Children’s Hour.” Check online to find out what’s playing, and treat your family to an unforgettable night of theater.
9. Go Swimming at Spring Lake Park
If you’re itching for some recreation, spend the day at Spring Lake Park. In addition to over 9 miles of walking trails, the park has its own swimming lagoon and picnic areas. Fill up a cooler with a day’s worth of goodies, pack a beach bag, and head over to the park for some good-old-fashioned outdoor fun.
10. Camp Out for the Night at Hood Mountain Regional Park
If you want to spend some time outdoors away from your vacation rental, there’s nothing more exhilarating than an overnight camping trip. Pack up a family-sized tent and some cookout food, then pop over to the campsite area at Hood Mountain Regional Park. Enjoy amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge as you get to know other campers and grill up some dinner over the campfire. In the morning, take a hike along one of the trails and do a little birdwatching.
11. Visit Historic Railroad Square
For a fun day of shopping and local history all rolled into one, take a little trip to Old Town Santa Rosa, and stroll through Historic Railroad Square. Home to Santa Rosa’s first train depot, Railroad Square got its name in the 1870s and still houses some of the earliest buildings of the time period. Each year in September, the square hosts Wunderkammer Handcar Regatta, a celebration where local residents race hand-built, old-fashioned vehicles down the railroad tracks. Walk down the streets and check out the historic architecture, stop by the farmer’s market for some fresh fruits and veggies, then spend the rest of the day antiquing and perusing the vintage couture at local shops.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Santa Rosa vacation rentals on Tripping.com.