Wine Country

Pumpkins and More at the Tolay Fall Festival this Weekend!

October 13, 2016

Tolay Fall Festival

Many families in Marin and the North Bay have fond memories of visiting the popular pumpkin patch at Cardoza Ranch outside Petaluma. In 2005, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department acquired Cardoza Ranch, also known as Tolay Lake Ranch, turning its 1,737 acres of farmland into a county park.

An Overnight Wildlife Adventure at Safari West

September 27, 2016

Safari West

Wouldn't it be great if you could take your family on an amazing African Safari adventure, but still have the convenience of being in the Bay Area? Safari West, a wildlife preserve and private zoo located near Santa Rosa offers just that!

Tour this 400-acre preserve in Sonoma County's rolling hills and get up-close-and-personal with giraffes, rhinos, zebras, monkeys, cheetahs, and a huge variety of birds and African antelopes. Not only can you tour Safari West, but you can stay overnight in one of their luxury "glamping" tent cabins. We had a chance to stay over at Safari West and take one of their Classic Safari tours, and it was an unforgettable experience.

Wine Country Family Fun at Cornerstone Sonoma

July 16, 2016

Cornerstone Sonoma

One of our must-visit Wine Country family destinations is Cornerstone Sonoma. It's a fun, family-friendly place where you can explore, play, and take in the beauty of their six acres of gardens and art installations. Of course this being Sonoma you can shop, dine, and wine taste here, too. We always make a point of visiting whenever we head up to the Wine Country. It's constantly changing, and there's always something new to see. Best of all, admission to the gardens is free!

You'll find Cornerstone just outside the town of Sonoma, across from the Gloria Ferrer winery on Highway 121, so it's easy to get to. Look for the long white picket fence and Big Blue Chair on your right as you head towards Sonoma, and you'll know you're there.

Wine Country Swimming Fun at Morton's Warm Springs

July 7, 2016

Morton's Warm Springs

Looking for a great family day trip this summer? Try heading to the Wine Country town of Glen Ellen for a day of swimming fun at Morton's Warm Springs Resort. Morton's Warm Springs is a family resort famous for its geothermally heated pools filled with natural mineral water. Long thought to have healing benefits, these spring waters have lent their name to numerous communities in the Sonoma area, including Boyes Hot Springs, Agua Caliente, and Fetters Hot Springs.

Head to Sonoma Valley for Wine Country Family Fun

April 12, 2016

Sonoma Plaza and Town Hall

Living in Marin, we're lucky to have Sonoma Valley and its world-famous Wine Country as a next-door neighbor. While many think of Sonoma Valley as a destination for wine tasting, spas, and other grown-up activities, it's also one of our favorite local places to go for family fun. There's so much for families to do here, from visiting historic sites to riding trains at Sonoma TrainTown that a single day trip doesn't do it justice.

To get your Sonoma day trip planning off to a great start, here are 10 of our favorite things to do in the Wine Country.

Have a Picnic and Play on the Sonoma Plaza

The historic Plaza is the very heart of the town of Sonoma, and it's the perfect place to spend a relaxing day in the shade. Pack lunch and bottle of wine, snag a picnic table, and hang out all day while the kids feed the ducks and put the playground through its paces. Buy your picnic supplies at local institutions like the Sonoma Cheese Factory and Basque Boulangerie, both located right across from the Plaza. Read more about it here.

Spend a Day on the Farm at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma

February 28, 2016

tara firma farms petaluma

Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms is a family-run farm that produces humanely raised chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cattle on 300 acres just across the Sonoma County line from Marin. In addition to raising and selling their products, they're committed to educating the public about life on the farm, healthy food, and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

One of the best things about Tara Firma Farms is that you can visit and take a fun free farm tour. Every Saturday and Sunday, Tara Firma farms offers family-friendly tours at noon (they'll add additional tour times in late spring and early summer). The tours are a fantastic farm experience for parents, kids, and anyone who wants to get an up-close-and-personal look at where their food comes from. Come experience the sights, sounds, and, yes, smells of the farm first-hand! Spring is a great time to visit, with green grass, wildflowers, and baby animals galore.

Family Friendly Wineries: Cline Cellars in Sonoma

August 27, 2013

Cline Cellars in SonomaIf there's a winery out there that strikes the perfect balance of Wine Country sophistication and family-friendliness, it's Cline Cellars. Located on the south end of Sonoma Valley on Highway 121, Cline is a kind of winery wonderland that has a ton of things to see and do for wine tasters and children alike!

Cline looks pretty unassuming from the highway, where most of the grounds are obscured by vineyards and a low fieldstone wall. Turn into the entrance and you'll realize the expansiveness of the place, which is sited on 350 acres. Park around back or up front by the tasting room, which is housed in an cute 1850s farmhouse.

You'll probably want to take a moment to walk around the park-like grounds, which feature lawns, six spring-fed ponds, paths, thousands of rose bushes, fountains, and even some vintage Pullman railroad cars. In the lawn area to the right of the tasting room you'll find a row of large bird cages that house to a variety of brightly colored exotic pheasants and pigeons.

Home Spun Fun at the 2013 Sonoma County Fair

July 23, 2013

Sonoma County FairIn case you missed or just didn't get enough of the Marin County Fair, you'll be happy to know that the 2013 Sonoma County Fair starts Thursday, July 25 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, and runs through Sunday, August 11. It's worth checking out if you've never been: it's bigger and a lot different than Marin's smaller, more intimate fair, and has more of an agricultural focus, which is natural for a more rural county like Sonoma. The Sonoma County Fair also features the largest themed flower show in the country, which is usually pretty stunning—this year's theme is "Backyard Blossoms."

The fair includes a kids' area and playground with appropriate entertainment and activities, including craft projects, dress-up, and a parents' rest station with changing tables and chairs for nursing. Other kids' activities include the Corny Crow ventriloquism show, s LEGO building contest, sidewalk art, and a bubblegum blowing competition. You can see the full roster of family events and activities here.

Hiking with Kids: Sonoma Overlook Trail

November 3, 2012

Sonoma Overlook TrailWe love to visit the Sonoma Valley, especially during the fall. The weather's usually great, and it's a fun Wine Country destination for families, with family-friendly wineries, historic sites, and more. If you're up for an easy hike with the kids while you're there, check out the Sonoma Overlook Trail in the north end of town. With sweeping views of Sonoma Valley and interesting things to see along the way, it's well worth seeking out.

The trailhead is adjacent to the entrance to the Sonoma Mountain Cemetery at the end of 1st Street West, just north of the Sonoma Plaza. It's well marked, and there's a kiosk with trail maps and information. Make sure you pick up a brochure to take with you on your hike so you can learn about the plants and animals that live in the area.

The round trip is approximately three miles, although shorter hikes are possible. While the Sonoma Overlook trail winds uphill with a considerable change in elevation, there are plenty of gently sloped switchbacks which make the climb easy for anyone. In fact, you don't really realize how far you've climbed until you come into a clearing that offers a spectacular vista of the valley below.

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