The Russian River area can be enjoyed by kids and adults all year round, even in the wintertime. You just have to know what to look for and that is why we decided to come up with a list of the six best kid friendly winter activities along the Russian River.
The winter around here is generally mild and it doesn’t snow but it rains a fair amount and has a tendency to be soggy at times. But if you are prepared with some hiking boots or rain boots and some warm layers then you are good to go! However sometimes folks just don’t want to venture out into the muck so I have also included some unique indoor activities you and your family can also enjoy.
This is part 2 of our 4 part “Off-Season Russian River” series.
- Part 1: Six Great Fall Family Adventures on the Russian River
- Part 2: Six Best Winter Activities Along the Russian River with kids
- Part 3: Wine Events at the Heart of Russian River Winters
- Part 4: Winter Warm-up with Russian River Wine
#1. Armstrong Redwoods State Preserve
We have noticed that the redwood forest in Guerneville is great for hiking in the rain. The enormous trees block the wind and the foliage and branches distribute the rain a bit so it’s not pounding on you. We covered this hike in detail on our Six Fall Family Adventures post. The route we prefer is flat, so everyone in the family can wear their rubber rain boots and splash away! Hiking in the rainy forest could bring a new meaning to the term forest bathing, or is it forest showering?
#2. Sonoma Coast State Beach Kortum Trail
The beautiful coastal hike is located near Jenner, CA. When we visit this spot we usually start at Shell Beach and walk south to Wrights Beach. This is an out-and-back hike so you can turn around whenever you want. This little adventure takes you across the bluffs along the edge of the beautiful pacific ocean with views of cliffs, crags, and little beaches. The waves during the winter are bigger and more dramatic and a delight for your eyes! If you get lucky you might spot a grey whale or two. They are migrating during the winter time from December through April and the mothers and calves stay close to the coastline. This link is to a good article which summarizes the hike in detail. It’s in the reverse direction from what we recommend, since when we go on this hike we usually start from the north.
Pro tip: Head over to Sonoma Coast Vineyards afterwards. It’s only 15 minutes away in Bodega Bay.
#3 Epicenter Santa Rosa
Holy smokes, are the kids cooped up inside starting to get annoying? Someone already invented the solution that has active entertainment for literally every age group in the family. Epicenter Santa Rosa has a great variety of activities for your kids, and for adults who want to act like kids! They have laser tag, a trampoline park, a huge play structure, indoor soccer field, upscale bowling, and a sports bar. You can totally have a craft beer while the kids chase each other around with laser tag!
#4 Sonoma County Children’s Museum
If you are enjoying West Sonoma County with small children then a stop at the Sonoma County Children’s Museum in Santa Rosa is worthwhile. Vanquish the rainy day ya-yas with over 40,000 square feet of space for your children to enjoy including the Science and Imagination Gallery, Tot play space, an outdoor garden with water play features, and an Art Studio.
Pro Tip: Your library card can score you some free tickets to some great Sonoma County museums on Discover and Go. At the time this article was written, the link provided was not working, but I assume it will be back up and running soon. Another way to find Discover and Go is to do a google search for discover and go and your library name.
#5 Museum of Sonoma County
The Museum of Sonoma County is in Downtown Santa Rosa and close to the Historic Railroad Square. Check out the exhibits to learn about the local history and to appreciate contemporary art by local artists. There is also a sculpture garden so you can enjoy art outside in the fresh air. They have seasonal exhibitions so you can see something new with every visit.
Pro Tip: This museum is also available for free admission on Discover and Go.
#6 Ice Skating at Snoopy’s Home Ice
Snoopy’s Home Ice is a classic skating rink in western Santa Rosa. Pop in any time when they are open and you can skate as much as you want. If you go during December, the rink will be extravagantly decorated for Christmas.
Pro-tip: after your valiant attempt at ice skating you can soothe your achey body and mind with a relaxed wine tasting at Carol Shelton Wines. They are in an unconventional location with a homey, unpretentious tasting room where you may get to actually meet Carol and talk to her about her wine. This side trip may be better for big kids who can sit and play cards than little kids who prefer to run around.