Winter Fun for Kids in Santa Rosa: Activities & Festive Events

Winter in Santa Rosa isn’t just about cozy nights and hot cocoa; it’s a season bursting with fun for families, especially those with kids eager for adventure. I’ve discovered that despite the chill, this city transforms into a playground for the young and the young at heart, offering a unique blend of indoor and outdoor activities tailored to keep everyone entertained.

From exploring hands-on museums to embarking on scenic nature trails that look like they’ve been dusted with powdered sugar, Santa Rosa ensures that the colder months are anything but dull. I’m excited to share some of my favorite spots and activities that promise to make your family’s winter experience in Santa Rosa unforgettable. Trust me, there’s a whole world of winter wonder waiting to be explored, and it’s all right here in our backyard.

Exploring Outdoor Adventures

Building on the charm and wonder that Santa Rosa brings during winter, I’ve found that outdoor adventures offer some of the most memorable experiences for kids. Despite the cold, these activities are perfect for children who love to explore and families ready to embrace the winter wonderland that the city becomes.

Hiking in Local Parks

Trione-Annadel State Park and Spring Lake Regional Park transform into stunning scenic trails in winter, ideal for families who enjoy hiking. The crisp air and possibly a dusting of snow on the higher ground make for a magical experience. Annadel, in particular, offers easy to moderate trails, which are perfect for little legs and include stops at fascinating rock formations and cool, clear streams.

Biking Adventures

The Prince Memorial Greenway is a gem in the heart of Santa Rosa and provides a safe pathway for families to bike alongside the Santa Rosa Creek. Even in winter, it’s a joy to ride here, with less crowded paths and the quiet beauty of nature surrounding you. Bicycle rentals are available in downtown Santa Rosa, making it easy to gear up and head out for a day’s adventure.

Bird Watching

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is an ecological treasure, and winter brings an influx of migratory birds to the area. Armed with a pair of binoculars and a field guide, families can enjoy identifying various bird species. It’s a calm and educational activity, allowing kids to learn about wildlife and the importance of conservation efforts in fun and engaging ways.

Farms and Petting Zoos

Though slightly chillier in winter, local farms and petting zoos offer a unique outdoor experience for children to learn about farming and animal care. One standout is the Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch, which, aside from its October festivities, remains open for farm tours and animal petting sessions. Dressing warmly is advisable, but the chance to feed goats, sheep, and perhaps even a llama makes it entirely worth it.

Embracing the outdoors in Santa Rosa during winter is about wearing the right layers and having an adventurous spirit. I’ve always found these activities not only warm the body but also the heart, creating special memories for my family and me. Whether it’s hiking, biking, bird watching, or making furry friends at a local farm, Santa Rosa’s outdoor adventures are a delightful way to spend the winter season.

Indoor Activities That Spark Joy

After exploring the great outdoors and embracing the chilly adventures Santa Rosa offers during winter, it’s time to warm up and discover the indoor activities that equally enrich our experience. I’ve found several places where families can continue their exploration and fun without the winter chill biting at their noses.

First on my list is the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. It stands as a beacon of creativity and learning, offering interactive exhibits that cater to curious minds of all ages. Kids get to dive into the world of science and imagination, engaging in activities that stimulate their creativity and critical thinking. From exploring the basics of gravity to dabbling in art projects, the museum provides an educational yet fun escape from the cold.

Another gem is Cal Skate, where families can lace up their roller skates and glide across the rink to upbeat music. It’s a perfect way for kids to stay active and families to enjoy quality time together, all while staying indoors. The friendly atmosphere and music make every lap around the rink more enjoyable than the last.

For those who enjoy quieter activities, the Santa Rosa Central Library offers a cozy retreat. Here, kids can lose themselves in the world of books, participating in story times or exploring educational programs. The library becomes a gateway to other worlds, all accessible through the pages of the countless books lining its shelves.

Lastly, I discovered Epicenter, which truly lives up to its name as a hub of entertainment. With a variety of activities ranging from laser tag and bowling to an indoor sports complex, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. The blend of sports, games, and dining options makes it a one-stop destination for a day filled with excitement and laughter.

Transitioning from the invigorating cold of outdoor adventures in Santa Rosa to the warmth of indoor spaces doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Whether it’s learning new things at the museum, skating to the rhythm of music, getting lost in a book, or competing in a friendly game of laser tag, the indoor activities in Santa Rosa keep the spirit of adventure alive. These experiences ensure that every moment spent in this beautiful city contributes to lasting memories for families and children alike.

Creative and Educational Stops

In Santa Rosa, a treasure trove of kid-friendly, creative, and educational activities awaits families looking to make the most of winter. I’ve found some wonderful stops that not only offer a break from the cold but also stimulate young minds and foster a love for learning and creativity.

Charles M. Schulz Museum

First on my list is the Charles M. Schulz Museum, dedicated to the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Here, kids can delve into the world of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their friends through art exhibits, a re-creation of Schulz’s studio, and hands-on workshops. The museum also offers cartooning classes, making it a fantastic stop for budding artists and storytellers.

Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

For families interested in science and nature, the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens is a must-visit. This historical site celebrates the life and work of renowned horticulturist Luther Burbank, who introduced over 800 varieties of plants. Winter is a unique time to explore the gardens, as you can see some of Burbank’s experiments in dormancy and learn about plant biology in a hands-on way.

Spring Lake Regional Park

Expanding on outdoor exploration, Spring Lake Regional Park offers an educational ranger-led program that covers various topics, from local wildlife to conservation efforts. While it’s more of an outdoor adventure, I find it fits snugly into this category because of its educational value. Families can enjoy guided nature walks where they’ll learn about the local ecosystem, making it an excellent blend of education and outdoor fun.

Snoopy’s Home Ice

Lastly, Snoopy’s Home Ice, also known as the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, presents a unique mix of physical activity and cultural history. After skating on the ice, families can explore the Warm Puppy Café adorned with Schulz’s memorabilia. It’s a perfect spot for kids to engage in physical activity while also learning about the rich legacy of Charles Schulz and the global impact of his work.

Each of these stops provides a distinctive experience that combines learning with winter fun in Santa Rosa. They complement the indoor and outdoor adventures previously mentioned, rounding out the winter experience for families. From exploring the botanical feats of Luther Burbank to sketching alongside Charlie Brown, there’s no shortage of creative and educational activities to enrich your winter in Santa Rosa.

Special Winter Events

After exploring the blend of indoor and outdoor adventures, as well as the creative and educational opportunities Santa Rosa has to offer, it’s time to delve into the special winter events that make the city uniquely delightful for families during the colder months. These events are perfect for those looking to immerse themselves further into the festive spirit and enjoy the community vibe of Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa Winter Lights Downtown Holiday Party

I always recommend the Santa Rosa Winter Lights event to families kicking off their winter holiday season. Held in downtown Santa Rosa, this annual celebration lights up the city with thousands of twinkling lights, mesmerizing everyone from the young to the old. Activities include a tree lighting ceremony, live entertainment, and the chance for kids to meet Santa Claus—a moment that’s both magical and memorable.

Snoopy’s Home Ice: Annual Tree Lighting

For fans of the Peanuts gang, the annual tree lighting at Snoopy’s Home Ice is a must-attend. Not only do families get to enjoy the ice rink under the glow of festive lights, but they also witness a unique tree lighting ceremony. The atmosphere, filled with the spirit of Charles Schulz’s beloved characters, adds an extra layer of charm to this event, making it a hit among children and adults alike.

Luther Burbank Home & Gardens Holiday Open House

The Luther Burbank Home & Gardens offers a serene escape into nature, but come winter, it transforms into a holiday wonderland. During their Holiday Open House, visitors can tour the beautifully decorated home and gardens, enjoy holiday crafts, and savor warm refreshments. It’s a peaceful, educational experience that also brings a sense of holiday joy to families.

Windsor Holiday Celebration and Snow Day

Though just a short drive from Santa Rosa, the Windsor Holiday Celebration and Snow Day event is well worth the trip for families looking for a snow-filled adventure. The town of Windsor creates a winter wonderland with real snow, offering children the joy of snowball fights and sledding, activities that are rare in California’s mild winters. The day also includes a tree lighting ceremony and live entertainment, ensuring a full day of festive fun.

These special winter events in Santa Rosa and its neighboring areas provide families with unique experiences to celebrate the season. From dazzling light displays and holiday crafts to meeting Santa Claus and playing in the snow, there’s something for every family to enjoy, making winter in Santa Rosa truly magical.

Eating Out with Kids in Winter

After spending a day enjoying the indoor and outdoor activities, or perhaps after exploring the festive winter events in Santa Rosa, families often find themselves searching for dining options that cater to their little ones. I’ve found that Santa Rosa boasts a variety of kid-friendly restaurants perfect for warming up and unwinding together during the colder months.

First on my list is the infamous Mary’s Pizza Shack. Known for its casual and inviting atmosphere, this spot makes everyone feel at home. The children’s menu is not only extensive but also comes with coloring activities that keep the kids engaged while waiting for their meals. Their pizza and pasta dishes are a hit among the younger crowd, and parents appreciate the quality and freshness of the ingredients.

Another gem I discovered is Hank’s Creekside Cafe. If you’re starting your day a bit late and looking for a hearty brunch, Hank’s is the place to be. Their breakfast menu is impressive, with pancakes that are as big as the plate and a variety of omelets and benedicts to choose from. The family-friendly vibe is palpable, with staff going out of their way to accommodate the needs of families with children.

For those seeking a more adventurous dining experience, Lola’s Market offers an authentic taste of Mexican cuisine that’s sure to win over both kids and adults. The colorful decor and lively atmosphere make dining here an experience rather than just a meal. Parents can savor flavorful dishes while kids enjoy simpler yet delicious options like quesadillas and tacos, all made with authentic ingredients.

Lastly, no visit to Santa Rosa in the winter is complete without stopping by Snoopy’s Home Ice: The Warm Puppy Cafe. Located within the Snoopy’s Home Ice skating rink, it’s the ideal spot for families to relax after a fun session on the ice. The cafe serves up a variety of kid-friendly snacks, hot cocoa, and even Snoopy-shaped cookies that are sure to delight any Peanuts fan.

Eating out with kids in Santa Rosa during winter adds another layer of enjoyment to your family’s holiday experience. From cozy cafes to lively markets, there’s something to suit every taste and budget, ensuring that your time in the city is as delicious as it is fun. Whether you’re wrapping up a day of adventure or starting a new one, these dining spots offer the perfect setting for quality family time.


Santa Rosa truly shines in winter, offering a treasure trove of activities that cater to families. From skating under the glow of festive lights to exploring the wonders of local museums and parks, there’s no shortage of ways to make memories. And let’s not forget the joy of indulging in the city’s cozy dining spots after a day full of adventure. Whether you’re a local or visiting, these experiences are sure to add a sparkle to your winter season. So bundle up and dive into the magic that Santa Rosa has in store for you and your family this winter.

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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.

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