Spring Lake Water Park father daughter splashing

Five Ways To Get Outside With Your Kids For a Sonoma Summer

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.)

Bocce ball court

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

Tolay Lake Regional Park goat

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. 

Doran Beach boys in surf

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.   

Spring Lake boy with inner tubes

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. 

Girl hiking the Trails Challenge

Paddle around

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. 

Spring Lake rental kayaks

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.

See the Blog Archive

Find park adventures, trail tips & and other outdoors stories