Sonoma Wine Country! The iconic getaway of lovers, and laid back destination for friends and foodies. There is much to love and admire about the lifestyle here, but did you know it can also be a terrific getaway for families? This may not be your first inclination when planning a trip with kiddos in tow, but you should know the culture in this region is extremely family friendly. I had a premonition when conceiving this trip, that it would make an amazing memory for the entire crew and I’m pleased to report it was everything I dreamed and more. Read on to discover our most notable destinations.
Comstock will always have a special place in our hearts as our first experience in wine country together. Our stay at The Residence completely swept us away. You might be surprised to learn though, that it’s not all romance and solitude here. This family run vineyard welcomes families of all ages to visit it’s grounds, and has the space to encourage just that. During our visit, our kids enjoyed the full tour of the winery learning all the science and artistry behind Mom and Dad’s favorite beverage. Just off the tasting room, the littles ran circles in the yard and got their wiggles out while the grown ups learned from winemaker Chris Russo what inspired him in the process of creating the elegant vintages we were tasting. It happened to be Easter during our visit and we were thrilled to learn that Comstock also hosts a festive Egg hunt every year complete with wood fired pizza and you guessed it, plenty of wine. It was a memorable visit for sure and we can’t wait to experience it all again some day.
Tip- Make sure to place an order. Comstock wines are available exclusively direct to consumer.
Combining biodynamic and organic farming methods, Quivira is leading the way in Sonoma Wine Country when it comes to sustainable farming and wine making. Their story is truly inspiring and one they are happy to share with you when you visit. Our family enjoyed the outdoor picnic area where the kids could run around and explore the gardens, and mom and dad could take their time tasting each varietal. The kids got a kick out of the chickens and greenhouse, and enjoyed the charcuterie tray paired with our tasting which even included olives from the trees covering us. The casual setting and friendly staff made us feel right at home. We could have easily stayed all day learning more about the holistic farming methods and full circle methodology incorporated in their award winning vintages, but alas more Vineyards awaited our attention.
Tip- Voted #1 Rose’ in the region.
This unassuming store on the side of Dry Creek Road is a Sonoma gem indeed. The perfect place to stock up on picnic supplies, Dry Creek General Store has gourmet sandwiches, artisan cheese, flavorful sides, and tasty treats. In addition to filling your stomach you can fill your gift bag as well. I was smitten with all the irresistible treasures, and had a hard time deciding which to put down! Although it’s known to be packed on the weekends, make sure you don’t miss this special piece of Sonoma County past and present. Take your picnic with you to your next tasting or enjoy noshing at a table in the garden.
Tip- In the evening head over the General Store for a shot of whiskey at the on site Saloon.
From boutique small batch wines to international brands, you never know what you’ll stumble upon while touring Sonoma. Francis Ford Coppola’s Winery is a shining example of a family vineyard operating on an international scale. Coppola’s campus in Alexander Valley is the perfect destination for families of all ages. Part vineyard, part museum, part country club and 100% fun, Coppola is a bucket list icon for sure. From the man who brought you The Godfather, comes a legendary wine experience like no other. Browse Hollywood history, rent a Cabana for the day at the vineyard’s epic pool, and dine on all of Francis’ favorite foods on site at the restaurant “Rustic”. While experiencing their terrific selection of wines you’re sure to have a hard time deciding if you’re at a vineyard, or a theme park.
Tip – Pay special attention to your small children here. There are lots of stairs.
Just below the basin of Lake Sonoma sits the Visitor Center and Fish Hatchery. An idyllic spot for a family picnic, hike, and eye opening insight into the history of the region. Learn about the Warm Springs Dam, the Pomo tribe of Native Americans who first settled the area, and the cultivation of spawning grounds for the Steelhead Trout as well as Coho and Chinook Salmon. We arrived at the tail end of the season, but there were still a few trout ascending the “ladder” leading to the spawning grounds. This came as a timely follow up to my older daughter’s first grade project on Rainbow Trout. She was transfixed as her book knowledge suddenly became a first hand experience. Our afternoon ended with a chance for the girls to feed the juvenile trout and watch them bubble up in a frenzy to the surface of the nursery waters. Truly a full circle experience for the whole crew.
Tip- Make sure to bring some quarters along for the fish food machine.
Situated on arguably one of the most visually stunning locations in the region, the Gustafson Family Vineyard’s are otherworldly. With sweeping views of Lake Sonoma, Gustafson sits 1800 ft above sea level and is the highest elevation vineyard in Sonoma County. Because of the sub climate created by the combination of elevation, additional sunlight and moisture differences, Gustafson’s wine have a delightful flavor all their own. We enjoyed a personal tour of the family vineyard with winemaker Emmett Reed and learned all about the inspiration behind each creation. We were particularly delighted to discover and tour the Vineyard’s vacation rental which was absolutely stunning and a covetable destination for anyone planning on visiting the region.
Tip – Enjoy lunch with a view before or after your tasting experience at their picturesque picnic area.
I admit it. We were newbies when it came to Airbnb. This trip to California was our first experience utilizing the site and we loved it! Our trip was part business and part pleasure, and during our free time we sought out a centrally located spot to bring the kids for a few nights while we explored more of the wilds of Sonoma County. We happened upon this adorable Blue Cottage in Forestville for a steal and made the best memories here. It reminded me of a little dollhouse straight out of the pages of Anthropologie. If you follow me on instagram you might have seen me go on about the loft, clawfoot tub, fire pit, and adorable kid’s fort in the back. We really struck gold on this little spot, and it was conveniently located no more than 30 minutes from everywhere we wanted to be.
Tip – Remember you are staying in someone’s home. Treat your surroundings with respect.
We simply could not visit the West Coast without introducing our children to the savage Pacific Coast. We headed out to Rock Point Beach at Sonoma Coast State Park to hike and explore with the kiddos. They were in awe of the larger than life surroundings which were polar opposite to our flat Florida Atlantic Coast. The perilous seaside cliff’s kept my heart in my throat, but we all made it safely up and down the trails. The ocean spray invigorated our senses and refreshed our souls as the youngsters climbed up and down boulders stretched out along the shore like sentinels on guard. It was a natural playground unlike anything our kids had experienced before, and it brought a smile to our faces as we experienced the wonder through their eyes.
Tip- Keep those toddlers in hand, and safely away from the dangerous seaside cliffs.
A mere thirty minutes away from where we entered the Sonoma Coast Sate Park sits Armstrong Woods, an epic 805 acre redwood forest. Visiting the forest was like entering a mystical fairy land. These massive redwoods can live to be 500-1,000 years old and are the tallest living creations on earth. It is almost a spiritual experience walking among these ancient species. The trails are accessible for all ages and the forest is shady and cool. It’s a great spot for a picnic or a jog. A humbling reminder of how small we really are.
Tip – There is a lot of moisture in the forest. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy.
Sea Ranch Lodge
Sea Ranch Lodge gets an honorable mention on this blog even though it wasn’t a part of our most recent visit. We actually stayed here on a babymoon back in 2015, but I had to mention them once again because this stunning Pacific Coast destination is perfect for families! Set on the rustic backdrop of a coastal ranch, there is much to explore. Miles of trails, and untouched coastline provides ample room for kids to run around. You might even spot a few whales frolicking off the shore as we did. Need more space? Sea Ranch Lodge also plays host to the areas Vacation Rentals where you can reserve an entire house for you and your entourage.
Tip – For parents weary with travel, book a massage at the spa for a little refreshment.
Our Sonoma County experience was truly a memory we will keep talking about for years to come. I can honestly say that both parents and kids were completely at ease on this trip and enjoyed each moment. You can be sure we’ll be returning again and again.
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West
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