5 Family-Friendly Adventures in California Wine Country
While beach vacations and Disney resorts are familiar options for family getaways, there are others that are not as obvious. California wine country is absolutely an adult destination, but provides exciting adventures for all ages.There, families can enjoy everything from a Willy Wonka-esque candy tour to a dense redwood forest. Once the day's adventures are done, parents can take kiddos to local restaurants, so adults can experience the region's best wines. It's truly a multigenerational vacation spot. Here are five California wine country destinations fit for every member of the family.
1The Jelly Belly Factory
In Fairfield's Suisun Valley, there's the Jelly Belly Factory, home of the famous American-made candy. For just $5 for adults and $2 for kids ages 3-17, you can embark on a self-guided, quarter of a mile factory tour. You’ll be treated to a bird’s-eye view of the bustling plant below where more than 100 flavors of Jelly Belly beans are made. Quick videos tell the story of the operations and history of the candy company as you meander, and there are even interactive stops along the way including a sniffing station. Before leaving, make sure you try a bean-shaped burger or bean-shaped pizza from the cafe and fill up a bag of Jelly Belly beans to enjoy as your dessert.
Pro tip: Plan to visit during the week, so you can see the bean process in action.
2Western Railway Museum
Calling all conductors in training and train aficionados! The Western Railway Museum is for you. Located at the Rio Vista Junction, an actual stop on the Sacramento Northern line, visitors can get up close and personal to the 50 train cars that are on display. Making the experience even more fun is 22-miles of train track. The Interurban, a 50-minute train ride, is an example of living history. It follows the Sacramento Northern Railway Line giving riders a glimpse into California’s railroad past. Admission is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors (over 65), and $12 for children ages 2-14. Ticket prices include train rides, too.
Pro tip: Go during the month of April to take advantage of the museum’s annual scenic limited trains. During this ride, docents are on board to point out the region’s extensive and ever-changing spring wildflower blooms.
This majestic 2,000-plus acres of protected land is the ideal place for kids to run and roam. Rush Ranch is owned by the Solano Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) that preserves more than 22,000 acres of natural areas and agricultural lands in Solano County, California. At Rush Ranch particularly, there are several miles of walking trails including the Marsh Trail which travels through a tidal marsh, the Levee Trail which weaves through open pastures, the South Pasture trail which leads to an indigenous Patwin grinding rock, and the Suisun Hill Trail which climbs 500-feet to a scenic overlook. Visitors will find cattle, horses, and other animals at the ranch, as well as a nature center. It is free to visit and is open seven days per week.
Pro tip: Pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of 30 picnic tables at the ranch.
4Charles M. Schulz Museum
At the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, the world of Peanuts comes to life. Here visitors can learn the history of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and the rest of the gang as well as hear about the comic strip’s creator, Charles Schulz. The museum houses the largest collection of original Peanuts artwork in the world, and there are 3,588 comic strips to see. While at the museum, visit Schulz’s recreated art studio, watch Peanut specials, try your hand at comic strip art, and see loads of personal artifacts. Don’t miss the 7,000-pound, 9-foot-high Snoopy for an Instagram-able photo op.
Pro tip: Get the kids excited about visiting by doing a few activities from the museum’s online education center before your trip.
5Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve
In Guerneville, children and adults alike will be awestruck by the towering redwood trees in Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve. California’s redwoods are among the world’s tallest and oldest living things. Some of these trees have existed for more than 700 years, and one, Colonel Armstrong, is more than 1,400 years old. There are two main trails at the reserve, the Discovery Trail and the Armstrong Nature Trail. The latter offers informational markers as you stroll while the Discovery Trail has a place for you to stop and hug a tree.
Pro tip: Both the Discovery Trail and the Armstrong Nature Trail are ADA compliant, and the Discovery Trail includes Braille markers.