Sonoma

Sonoma & Napa Wine Country Family Holiday Fun

November 13, 2017

Cornerstone Lighting of the Snowmen
Don't miss the annual Lighting of the Snowmen Holiday Festival at Cornerstone Sonoma

One of the benefits of living in the North Bay is having the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa right in our own backyard. It's a short trip from Marin but a world away, especially during the holidays, when the area does itself up in style.

Here are some selected family-friendly holiday events and happenings in Sonoma and Napa, as well as a few of our favorite places to visit in the Wine Country. Some of these events require tickets or advance reservations, so make sure you check for availability before you go.

Sonoma Valley

Lighting of the Historic Sonoma Plaza
Downtown Sonoma
Saturday, November 18, 5–8 pm

Experience Sonoma Valley and celebrate the fourth annual Lighting of the Historic Sonoma Plaza. Enjoy 8-acres of 100,000+ sparkling lights plus music and holiday treats! Free to the public and family friendly. Bring a picnic, including wine and beer! For more info, visit their website.

A Winter Circus for the Holidays at Cornerstone Sonoma

October 31, 2017

Cirque de Boheme Freedom 2017

This Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cirque de Bohème returns Cornerstone Sonoma for another magical holiday circus experience. An old-fashioned circus show based on French tradition from the 1920s, Cirque de Bohème's 2017 production, Freedom, features an amazing cast of characters including a unicycle tight rope, hand-to-hand acrobats, contortionist, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, hooper aerialist, mime, clown, and more.

This intimate circus gathering takes place under the charming tent in the gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, and is limited to 140 guests per performance. Shows take place November 24, 25, and 26 and December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 3 and 5 pm, except November 26 shows at 1 and 3 pm and December 2 shows at 11 am and 1 pm.

Riding the Rails at Sonoma TrainTown

July 15, 2017

Sonoma TrainTown Railroad

When we're in the Wine Country, we always make sure we visit TrainTown, the fun and fantastic miniature railroad located in the town of Sonoma. It's a place that I used to visit back when I was a kid, and it's the kind of destination that takes you and your family back to a simpler, less hectic time.

Sonoma TrainTown offers train-related activities that are fun for everyone, from toddlers to grade school kids (and adults, too), as well as a selection of carnival-style rides. It's also a short drive from pretty much anywhere in Marin, which makes TrainTown a must-visit attraction for North Bay families.

10 Summer Family Fun Things to Do in Sonoma County

June 12, 2017

Johnson's Beach Russian River

Sonoma County, Marin's neighbor to the north, has so much to offer for families, especially during the summer. From parks to beaches to unique attractions—not to mention the world renowned Wine Country—there so much to do in Sonoma County that you'll probably have to make several trips.

Pack up the kiddos and head north for a Sonoma adventure! Here are 10 fantastic destinations in Sonoma County that you have to check out this summer.

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.

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.

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.

Wine Country You-Pick and Picnicking at Sonoma Broadway Farms

July 15, 2013

Sonoma Broadway FarmsOn one of our recent visits to the Sonoma Valley, our favorite Wine Country destination, we discovered the newly-opened Sonoma Broadway Farms, a small organic, sustainable farm located just south of town. Tucked away on a plot of land between Broadway (hence the name) and Sonoma Creek, this six-acre farm offers a farm stand, a delightful picnic area, animals to visit, and the opportunity to go out into the field and pick your own vegetables and fruit.

Enter the farm via the driveway that it shares with the Sonoma Seventh Day Adventist Church. The farm is a cluster of weathered buildings that include a barn and a farm stand. There's a spotless picnic area to the side of the barn, with plenty of new picnic tables, each with its own patio umbrella to provide shade. It's a great place to bring your lunch and eat before or after your you-pick excursion.

The farm is just getting started for the season right now, which means that some of the you-pick options, like tomatoes, are a little limited, but give it a week or two and everything will be in full swing. Meanwhile, look for several varieties of heirloom summer squash, beets, hot and sweet peppers, kale, cucumbers, and sunflowers.

Fun Places to Feed the Ducks in Marin

February 25, 2013

Feeding the ducksOne of childhood's time-honored rituals is heading down to a local pond and feeding leftover bread to the ducks. Not only is it fun for small children, but it helps get ride of that leftover bread in your pantry, too. Feeding the ducks is something my kids always loved to do, and even still enjoy, and there are a few great places in and around Marin County where hungry ducks are plentiful.

Of course feeding the ducks isn't without its risks—pesky and aggressive gulls and Canada geese often try to elbow their way into the action, and they're pretty much ubiquitous in the Bay Area these days. We always try to make sure the ducks get their fair share and try to find a way to outwit the avian interlopers!

The Marin Civic Center

The Marin Civic Center in San Rafael is home to a large pond that's home to numerous waterfowl. There's also a new playground, nice paved walking paths, lawns, picnic tables, and even an island. It's fun to go feed the ducks after an outing to the nearby farmers market on Thursdays and Sundays.

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