By Sandi Funke
Each summer, parents face that seasonal challenge of entertaining kids home all day. Our advice? Go to the park, of course! Spending time outdoors has so many benefits for kids’ physical, cognitive and social development. Plus, it is just plain fun, so here are our ideas for enjoying Sonoma County’s parks with your children.
Roll the bocce ball
Did you know Shiloh Ranch Regional Park in Windsor features a bocce lane? Bocce is a fun game to play with children 5 and older. Teach them the rules or make up your own. Just keep the ball close to the ground! The Shiloh bocce lane features a scoreboard, but you'll need to bring you're own balls. (The lane is in full sun, so it's best to plan summer visits for morning or evening.)
Feed the goats
Join us for farm fun at Tolay Lake Regional Park in Petaluma. Kids can gather eggs, meet Pete, the mini horse, and hang with the goats. We have opportunities throughout the summer for kids to try their hands at farm work.
Head to the beach
Sand castles? Water? Splashing around? What more could you ask for? Drive to Doran Beach on the Sonoma Coast or visit our lifeguarded beaches at Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa or Veteran’s Memorial Beach in Healdsburg.
At Healdsburg, families can swim in one of the calmest spots on the Russian River. At Spring Lake, families can jump into our chlorinated swimming lagoon or bounce, climb and slide on our inflatable, floating playground.
Hit the trails
Discover your regional parks by joining the Sonoma County Trails Challenge with your family (even the dog is welcome!) Download our free hiking guide, pick five trails to explore and get free Trails Challenge t-shirts when you finish. Young hikers love leading the way and feel a sense of accomplishment when they see how many miles they can log.
Boating is a relaxing way to connect with your child while tuning into the natural world. Spring Lake is a calm body of water perfect for beginning paddlers and offers hourly rentals of peddle boats, paddleboards, double and single kayaks, and canoes. If you are new to paddling or prefer a guided experience, check our calendar for guided trips on the lake.
Plan your summer visits
The easiest, most convenient way to visit the parks all summer is with an annual membership. Members get 12 months of parking at all regional parks, a free night of camping and admission for two adults and two children at our annual Tolay Fall Festival.
Note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated.
About the Author: As Regional Parks' programs manager, Sandi Funke leads our education and recreation teams. She has more than two decades of experience connecting families to the outdoors.