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Monday, March 23, 2015

Visiting Wineries with Kids

You want to visit wine country in the worst way, but you have those little anchors. How do you keep everybody happy? It depends on the ages and number of the little darlings. I'll divide up the ideas below based on younger and older children. Visiting with a baby? You'll have to take turns babysitting while your spouse tastes. The best idea, of course, is to leave them with grandma.

Following are suggestions of what you can do to keep the kids happy in Sonoma County and some general tips on wine tasting with kids along. Key point: The worst thing you can do is to include them in a full day of wine tasting.

Activities for Younger Children

Howarth Park, Santa Rosa - A city park with activities for all, but with lots geared towards young children. Free, with some paid activities available.

Sonoma Train Town, Sonoma - A kid-scaled railroad.

For Older Children

Driven Raceway, Rohnert Park - Indoor go-karts.

Canoe/kayak the Russian River from Healdsburg to the coast - There are various rental companies on different parts of the river.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville. Restaurant, movie paraphernalia, and a pool.

Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa - Mostly WWII and early jet aircraft.

Snoopy Ice Arena, Santa Rosa - Part of the Charles Schulz Museum listed below.

Sonoma Canopy Tours, Occidental - Zip lining through the redwoods

For Kids of All Ages

Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville - A walk amongst the towering redwoods. Free.

Beaches - Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, Memorial Beach in Healdsburg, and Johnson's Beach in Guerneville are fine for the little ones. Doran Beach, Bodega Bay, is a protected coastal beach. Note that many ocean side beaches can be cold with dangerous surf.

Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa - The history of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Safari West, Santa Rosa - Take an African safari ride.

Wine Tasting with Children

Kids get bored quickly. Smart parents have computer games or something else to keep them busy. With smaller kids generally one parent babysits while the other tastes then they switch off.  

Treat a tasting room as you would a restaurant as far as your kids' behavior. Would you let your children run through a restaurant or scream inside one? I hope not.

The good news about visiting Sonoma County vs nearby Napa Valley is there are more kid-friendly activities available in Sonoma.

Wine tasting is not a kid-friendly activity. It is your responsibility to keep them well-behaved and safe. It is not the winery's or other guests' responsibility.

Yes, keep them safe. Here are a few of the dangers you might find at a winery: forklifts, stacks of barrels and bins, chemicals, rattlesnakes, steep hillsides, broken glass, and poison oak.