Wine Country Family Fun at Cornerstone Sonoma
January 7, 2012Posted by pamela |
When we're looking for something fun for the family to do in the Wine Country, we often head to Cornerstone Sonoma to explore and play in the gardens. Located just outside the town of Sonoma off Highway 121 (Arnold Drive), across from the Gloria Ferrer winery, Cornerstone is unique complex of gardens, art, galleries, shops, and tasting rooms—and best of all, it's free.
For us, Cornerstone is all about their Gardens. Every time we go to Cornerstone, my kids have a fantastic time exploring the 20 different innovative installations, each with a different theme and each designed by a world-famous landscape architect. Gardens include plants, trees, natural materials, water features (often with fish), and various architectural elements. Wandering through the gardens can be a magical experience for both children and adults, and many of the installations include some sort of hands-on interactive or participatory feature.
Visiting Cornerstone is kind of like going to an outdoor museum, but one where you can run and touch the art. Keep in mind that while there’s a lot for kids to do here, many of the gardens weren’t designed specifically with children in mind, so they definitely need to be supervised.
For serious play, there's also the dedicated Sonoma Children’s Garden with its bright green arbor, grapevine trellises, sandbox, colorful bird houses, small huts that the kids can play in, and—my daughter's favorite—kid-size Adirondack chairs. Kids will also find boxes of building materials to play with, which can keep them occupied for a bit while mom and dad relax. Also in the center of the gardens are about 300 pink sunflower whirligigs that blow in the wind, which kids usually run to as soon as they see them.
Make a day of it at Cornerstone and bring your lunch for a picnic in the Gardens—picnic tables are available near the barn structure in the middle of the garden area. Cornerstone also has an on-site restaurant, Alsina Station Grill, serving up Argentine-style grilled beef and chicken, sandwiches, salads, and more. Last time we checked they had some selections for kids, too, and there's an extensive outdoor seating area. Even if you brought your own lunch, youl'll probably be tempted when you walk past their outdoor wood-fired grill.
While Cornerstone isn't a winery, you can sample some of the Wine Country's offerings at the tasting rooms for Keating Wines and Meadowcroft Wines. Shops to browse include Artefact Design & Salvage and the gift boutique Zipper, which carries both classic and unusual toys and games. Also, don't miss the photo op in the giant blue Adirondack chair at the entrance to Cornerstone.
If You Go
Cornerstone Sonoma is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm; the Gardens close at 4 pm. Admission to the Gardens at Cornerstone is free. This is the best deal in town, considering that you can spend the whole afternoon there. If you're there on a nice weekend day, you can also watch the planes take off and land at the Sonoma Valley Airport next door. Clean restrooms and drinking fountains are available.
Cornerstone is located at 23570 Arnold Drive in Sonoma. To get there, take Highway 101 to Highway 37 east, then turn on to Highway 121 (Arnold Drive) at Sears Point. Follow 121 north; Cornerstone will be on your right after the airport.
Find out more about Cornerstone's gardens, shops, wineries, dining, and special events at www.cornerstonesonoma.com or call them at (707) 933-3010.
As an alternate place to pick up lunch, consider going to our favorite Wine Country provisioner, Angelo's Wine Country Deli. It's just up the street on Highway 121. They make delicious sandwiches, as well as what may possibly be the world's best beef jerkey. They also make all their own smoked sausages, turkey, bacon, hams, fish, and more. It's definitely worth a stop.