Explore Sonoma Valley’s family-friendly budget destinations
Sonoma Valley may be known for romantic getaways and world-class wine tasting, but there are plenty of family-friendly destinations. Many are free or low-cost, and several wineries offer attractions for children.
The historic region extends from Schellville to Kenwood, with the northernmost boundary reaching Santa Rosa. Toddlers to teenagers will find plenty to explore.
Many locals head to the seasonal Tuesday Night Market hosted by the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market, a popular draw on the Sonoma Plaza with live music, picnicking and vendors 5:30 p.m. to dusk. The picturesque 8-acre plaza is the largest of its kind in the state, with two playgrounds, a duck pond, the Bear Flag Monument and an amphitheater among its attractions.
Kids can learn about California history at Sonoma State Historic Park, where docent-led tours and special events bring history to life throughout the year. Mission San Francisco Solano, the northernmost of California’s 21 missions, is among the park’s historic sites.
Below is a look at some of the family fun in Sonoma Valley, with everything priced at $15 per child or less. Discounts are available for several attractions through Groupon.
The nonprofit arts center offers art camps, classes, exhibits and special events. Current exhibit, “Rite of Passage,” runs through July 27, featuring works by artists of all ages. Gallery admission is free.
Where: 17474 Highway 12, Sonoma
Details: 707-938-5551, artescapesonoma.com
The historic 375-acre private park is where Count Agoston Haraszthy established California’s premium wine industry. It offers hiking trails and walkways along vineyards, gardens and forests; Check out the replica of Haraszthy’s 1861 villa. The Villa museum opens noon to 3 p.m. weekends only. Stop by the on-site Bartholomew Estate Winery. Picnic tables are available. Cost: Free.
Where: 1695 Castle Road, Sonoma
Details: 707-938-2244, bartholomewpark.org
Benziger Family Winery
Blend wine tasting with family fun by taking kids on the 45-minute Biodynamic Vineyard Tram Tour, where visitors can watch for the sheep, cattle and insectary that are important to biodynamic farming. Cost: $30 for adults (includes wine tasting), $10 for those under 21. Reservations are requested.
Where: 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen
Details: 888-490-2739, benziger.com/experience-our-winery
City bike paths
Explore Sonoma along 4 miles of level, paved paths.
Where: Download a map at https://bit.ly/2WUhJPF
The winery features the free California Missions Museum, with scale models of all 21 California museums, plus lawn areas, ponds (watch for fish and turtles), donkeys, an aviary and picnic tables. The free “Family Day on the Great Lawn” runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 30, July 27, Aug. 25 and Sept. 22, with complimentary family portraits by Megan Cline.
Where: 24737 Arnold Drive, Sonoma
Details: 707-940-4044, clinecellars.com
Cornerstone Sonoma Gardens and Sunset Test Gardens
The garden displays (some interactive) allow kids to explore for everything from art installations and architectural designs to gardens highlighting food production and bee habitats. The cost: Free.
Where: 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma
Details: 707-933-3010, cornerstonesonoma.com/gardens
Depot Park Museum
Dive into local history in a replica century-old train depot, which includes railroading memorabilia. Visitors can even ring a steam locomotive bell. Explore the three railroad cars at Depot Park. Open 1-4 p.m. weekends only. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.