Top Family Attractions in Santa Rosa, CA: Museums, Parks, & Dining

Exploring Santa Rosa, California, with family in tow is like uncovering a treasure chest of adventures that cater to all ages. From the lush landscapes of sprawling parks to interactive museums that spark curiosity, this vibrant city nestled in the heart of Sonoma County offers a plethora of attractions that promise fun-filled days for everyone. It’s a place where every corner holds a new discovery, making it an ideal destination for families looking to create lasting memories.

As I’ve wandered through Santa Rosa, I’ve been captivated by its charm and the endless opportunities for family bonding. Whether you’re splashing around in a water park, learning about local history, or marveling at exotic animals, there’s no shortage of ways to fill your days with laughter and excitement. Let me take you through some of the best family attractions in Santa Rosa that have made my visits unforgettable, ensuring your trip will be nothing short of magical.

Exploring Santa Rosa: A Family Adventure

In my journey to find the perfect family destination, Santa Rosa stood out with its inviting array of attractions that cater to both the young and the young at heart. I’ve discovered that this city is not just about wine country; it’s a treasure trove of activities that keep every member of the family entertained. Let me take you through some of the highlights that make Santa Rosa a must-visit for families.

Firstly, the Charles M. Schulz Museum is an absolute delight for fans of the Peanuts comic strip. I found it fascinating how this museum offers a deep dive into the world of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their friends with interactive exhibits and original artwork. It’s a place where both kids and adults can share laughs and learn about the creative mind behind these beloved characters.

Another gem is the Safari West Wildlife Preserve. Imagine the thrill of being on a safari without leaving California! Here, my family and I embarked on a guided tour, spotting giraffes, rhinos, and zebras. It was an exhilarating experience to observe these animals up close in their natural habitats, making it a memorable part of our Santa Rosa adventure.

For those sunny days, the Spring Lake Regional Park offered us a peaceful retreat with its beautiful lake, hiking trails, and picnic areas. It was a joy to rent a boat and lazily paddle around the lake, taking in the serene beauty of the surroundings. The kids had a blast at the swimming lagoon, complete with a waterslide that kept them entertained for hours.

Lastly, I can’t talk about Santa Rosa without mentioning the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens. This historical site provided a calming, educational experience as we strolled through the vibrant gardens and learned about Burbank’s contributions to plant breeding. It’s a wonderful spot to inspire a love for nature and gardening in the young ones.

Each of these attractions offered a unique experience, showcasing the diversity and family-friendly nature of Santa Rosa. From educational museums and wild safari adventures to peaceful park outings and historical explorations, there’s something for every family looking to create lasting memories. Santa Rosa has firmly positioned itself in my heart as an ideal destination for family adventures, blending educational experiences with fun and relaxation.

Top Family Attractions in Santa Rosa

Building on my journey through Santa Rosa’s delightful family-friendly attractions, I’ve found these spots particularly captivating for families looking to enjoy a blend of fun, learning, and relaxation. Each venue offers a unique experience, promising lasting memories for visitors of all ages.

Charles M. Schulz Museum

Exploring the Charles M. Schulz Museum, I discovered an imaginative world dedicated to the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Interactive exhibits and original artworks provided a fascinating insight into Schulz’s life and work, engaging both children and adults. The museum also hosts educational programs and workshops, making it both a fun and insightful visit for families.

Safari West Wildlife Preserve

My adventure at Safari West Wildlife Preserve felt like stepping into a slice of African savanna. Home to over 900 animals, including giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs, the preserve offers guided safari tours that astound and educate. Experiencing these majestic animals up close in their naturalistic habitats created unforgettable moments for my family and me.

Spring Lake Regional Park

A visit to Spring Lake Regional Park promised a day filled with outdoor activities amidst beautiful scenery. With options for hiking, boating, and picnicking, it’s a perfect spot for families seeking a leisurely day in nature. The park’s swimming lagoon, with lifeguards on duty, was a major hit with the kids, providing a safe environment for water fun.

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens

The Luther Burbank Home and Gardens offered a serene retreat into the world of horticulture. Celebrated for its historical significance and the breathtaking beauty of its gardens, this site provided a peaceful backdrop for learning about Luther Burbank’s contributions to plant breeding. Walking through the gardens, I felt a connection to history and nature that enriched my sense of place in Santa Rosa.

Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

Finally, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County captured my heart with its hands-on exhibits designed to spark curiosity and creativity. The museum’s interactive spaces, including a science and imagination gallery, allowed my kids to learn through play in an engaging environment. It’s a fantastic venue for stimulating young minds while having a ton of fun.

Outdoor Activities for Families

Santa Rosa, nestled in the heart of California’s wine country, offers more than just exquisite wine tasting for adults; it’s a treasure trove of outdoor activities that families can enjoy together. Reflecting on my travels, I’ve found that the natural settings and family-focused attractions in Santa Rosa stand out, providing unique experiences that are both enjoyable and educational for kids and adults alike.

One of my favorite spots for a family day out is Annadel State Park. Its expansive network of trails is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and even horseback riding, offering diverse landscapes from wildflowers in spring to the rich, green forests and lake views. It’s a haven for nature lovers and those looking to escape the city’s hustle for a breath of fresh air. Remember to pack a picnic, as there are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy a family meal amidst nature.

For those who prefer a more laid-back day, Howarth Park is an excellent choice. Known as the “Jewel of Santa Rosa,” this park features a picturesque lake where families can rent paddleboats or canoes, providing a serene way to explore the water. The park also boasts a miniature train ride, a carousel, and animal farm, ensuring the little ones have countless entertainment options. The various playgrounds scattered throughout the park cater to children of all ages, making it an ideal spot for families with diverse interests and energy levels.

The Sonoma County coastline is another must-visit for families in Santa Rosa. Just a short drive away, the beaches offer a refreshing change of scenery with their rugged beauty and the chance to spot local wildlife, from sea lions to myriad bird species. Doran Beach is particularly family-friendly, with its gentle waves and wide stretches of sand perfect for sandcastle building, picnicking, and kite flying. I always find this a perfect spot for introducing kids to the joys of the seaside.

Lastly, I can’t talk about outdoor family attractions without mentioning Safari West Wildlife Preserve. Although it’s on the edge of what you might consider ‘outdoor activities,’ this preserve offers a glimpse into the world of African wildlife right in California. The guided safari tours are an incredible way to learn about and witness animals in their habitats. It’s an educational and thrilling experience, reinforcing a love and respect for wildlife in young hearts.

Educational Stops for Kids

After soaking up the sun at Sonoma County’s beautiful coastline and experiencing the thrill of a safari tour at Safari West Wildlife Preserve, it’s delightful to turn our adventure towards more educational opportunities for kids in Santa Rosa. This city is not just about outdoor fun; it also serves as a haven for young minds eager to learn and explore. Let me guide you through some of Santa Rosa’s best educational stops that promise both learning and enjoyment for your little ones.

Charles M. Schulz Museum

First on my list is the Charles M. Schulz Museum. As the creator of the beloved Peanuts comic strip, Schulz’s work has captivated audiences for decades. This museum is a fascinating journey through his life and the characters he brought to life. Kids will enjoy hands-on activities and learn about storytelling, art, and even Schulz’s impact on popular culture. The museum also offers educational workshops that inspire creativity and imagination.

Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

Next, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County offers an interactive experience for children of all ages. This museum focuses on play-based learning, with exhibits that cover science, nature, and the arts. Children can explore a miniature Russian River, learn about the physics of water, and get creative in the art studio. It’s a place where learning feels like playing, making it a hit among the younger crowd.

Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

For kids interested in botany or horticulture, the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens can’t be missed. Luther Burbank was a pioneering horticulturist whose work in plant breeding made him a local and national legend. This site offers a glimpse into his life and work, with a variety of plants and flowers on display. Educational tours provide insights into Burbank’s contributions to agriculture, and children can learn about plant science in a hands-on environment.

Environmental Discovery Center at Spring Lake Park

Lastly, the Environmental Discovery Center at Spring Lake Park is perfect for young nature lovers. This center offers interactive exhibits and educational programs that teach children about local ecosystems and wildlife conservation. Hiking trails and a small lake offer up-close encounters with nature, providing practical learning experiences outside the classroom. It’s a great way to instill an appreciation for the environment in kids.

Hidden Gems in Santa Rosa

Moving on from the well-loved educational attractions in Santa Rosa, I’ve discovered some hidden gems that families shouldn’t miss. These spots may not make the headlines, but they offer unique experiences that can make your visit extra special. Here are a few of my favorites.

First up is the Railroad Square Historic District. It’s a quaint area that seems like a step back in time with its preserved buildings and antique shops. The district is home to several local cafes and eateries where families can enjoy a cozy meal together. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out the local art galleries and boutiques scattered around the area. It’s a fabulous place for a leisurely stroll, and you might just find the perfect souvenir to take home.

Next on my list is Annadel State Park, which is a bit of an open secret among the locals. While it’s known for its hiking and biking trails, many visitors don’t realize that it also features beautiful wildflowers in the spring and serene lake views. The park offers a chance to connect with nature, with plenty of picnic spots for a family day out. It’s an ideal location for those looking to escape the city buzz and immerse themselves in the beauty of Santa Rosa’s natural landscapes.

Then, there’s the Paradise Ridge Winery. Now, hear me out – while a winery might not seem like a traditional pick for family attractions, this one is different. It’s not just about wine tasting; the winery hosts a sculpture garden that features an intriguing collection of outdoor art. The pieces are set against the backdrop of stunning vineyard views, making it a visually captivating experience for all ages. The winery occasionally holds family-friendly events, so it’s worth checking their schedule before you visit.

Last but by no means least, is the Santa Rosa Creek, a spot that offers a gentle adventure. Following the creek, you’ll find a series of paths perfect for biking or walking. The trail is dotted with picturesque spots ideal for a rest or a picnic. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife and enjoy the tranquil sound of the water. It’s a simple pleasure, but one that offers a memorable experience of Santa Rosa’s natural beauty.

Eating Out with Kids in Santa Rosa

After exploring the educational gems and natural beauties of Santa Rosa, like the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Annadel State Park, families might find themselves searching for kid-friendly places to eat. My experiences dining around the city have highlighted several spots that cater exceptionally well to families, making meal times enjoyable for both kids and adults.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

One of my go-to recommendations is the Russian River Brewing Company. While it’s famed for its craft beers, the menu offers plenty of kid-approved foods like pizzas and burgers in a lively atmosphere. Families can enjoy a casual meal here, surrounded by the vibrant energy of Santa Rosa’s local brewing scene.

Another favorite of mine is the LoCoco’s Cucina Rustica, located in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. This Italian restaurant not only serves delicious, authentic dishes but also welcomes families with open arms. Their penne pasta and wood-fired pizzas are hits among the younger crowd, while parents can indulge in a glass of Sonoma wine.

Dessert Spots

No family outing is complete without dessert, and Santa Rosa has its fair share of sweet spots. Screamin’ Mimi’s Ice Cream is a must-visit destination for families. Their range of homemade ice creams, with flavors from classic vanilla to more adventurous options like lavender honey, ensures there’s something for everyone. The colorful, cheerful setting adds to the fun experience, making it a perfect stop after a day of sightseeing.

Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar is another establishment that catches my attention every time. They specialize in handmade pies and ice cream that use locally sourced ingredients. The Japanese Yuzu & Meyer Lemon pie is a unique treat, and their ice cream flavors are equally inventive. It’s a delightful place for families to enjoy a slice of pie or a scoop of ice cream together, bonding over the shared pleasure of trying new, delicious treats.

Health-Conscious Options

For families preferring healthier dining options, I recommend Amy’s Drive Thru. As a twist on the traditional fast food model, Amy’s offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Their quinoa bowls and veggie burgers are flavorful and satisfying, making healthy eating easy and accessible for traveling families.


Santa Rosa’s charm isn’t just in its picturesque landscapes but also in the wealth of family-friendly attractions it offers. From exploring the whimsical world of Charles M. Schulz to the natural beauty of Annadel State Park, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget the culinary adventures awaiting at places like Russian River Brewing Company and the healthier options at Amy’s Drive Thru. Whether you’re indulging in a scoop of Screamin’ Mimi’s Ice Cream or discovering the historical Railroad Square, Santa Rosa ensures your family trip is packed with memorable moments. It’s the perfect blend of adventure, culture, and delicious eats that makes Santa Rosa a must-visit for families.

+ posts

Ben Rutstein is the publisher of this website, he started traveling to northern California in 2014, and the Santa Rosa is one of his favorite places to visit, from that time onwards he has explored everything from visiting cafes to yoga in parks, local hikes.

He is known to drop everything at a moments notice for a visit to a winery or a visit to a park.

Scroll to Top