Santa Rosa, Open for Business and Ready for Visitors

This story was planned long before seasonal wildfires set California ablaze in October 2019. The scheduled publication date was at a time when fires were raging throughout the state. I waited for the “all clear” before posting this itinerary.

At this writing most Sonoma County wildfires have been contained. Santa Rosa and Sonoma County are open for business and ready to receive visitors. Give Santa Rosa the nod for your multi-gen trip or family vacation. Your smiles and your dollars will go a long way to help those recovering from California wildfires.

Safari West double-decker jeep tour. Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Safari West double-decker jeep tour. Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

By Mary Charlebois

Find a destination that everyone in a multi-gen group will love? Is that even possible? When your party ranges from babies to elders, it’s a big, big, BIG challenge.

Santa Rosa California is made for a family getaway. You’ll be spoiled for choice for lodging, eateries, culture, and breathtaking Nature. You’ll need several trips to experience all that Santa Rosa offers, but you have to start somewhere, right? 🙂
Give this itinerary a try; it’s a multi-gen winner.

FRIDAY – Stay with Flamingo

Hotel Flamingo is a perfect multi-gen basecamp while exploring Santa Rosa. The historic resort and spa have amenities that cater to families of all sizes and age range.

Flamingo Hotel, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Flamingo Hotel, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

Two heated swimming pools, hot tub, health club, spa, salon, tennis, cycling, and yoga are a few of the activities. Poolside and inside dining are offered. There is a childcare center for entertaining the children while adults are busy being adults.

Four dining options are offered; dining room, poolside, café, and in-room dining. The cocktail lounge has music and dancing in the evenings, with special Salsa and Bachata dance nights that include live Salsa music.

Pool party kickoff

Flamingo Hotel, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Flamingo Hotel, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

Settle in at the Flamingo and hit the heated pool. Plenty of deckchairs, towels, and poolside service make it the ideal place to unwind and get the weekend started.

Dinner and nightcap by the Flamingo pool will put everyone in the vacation mood.

SATURDAY – Get Snoopy

After breakfast – Charles M Schulz Museum

Charles M Shulz Museum, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Charles M Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa California.
Photo: Mary Charlebois

Everyone loves Snoopy, the ironic Beagle in the cartoon strip, Peanuts, by Charles M Schulz. The museum that bears his name was, in part, designed by Schulz. The museum’s mission is to preserve, display, and interpret his art.

The mission is met in the magnificent building that houses Schulz’s life work. Displays of his work and the popularity of the comic strip are fascinating. There is an art studio where all ages can learn to draw cartoons. Classes, camps, special days, theater, kid’s days, grandparents’ days, mommy and me groups, lectures, and much more can be enjoyed in one of the funniest museums you’ll visit.

An icy lunch

Snoopy's Home Ice, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Snoopy’s Home Ice, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

You don’t need to be a skater to enjoy Snoopy’s Home Ice. Olympic Gold Medalist and neighborhood toddlers have skated at the rink. The ice is regulation size for hockey, figure skating, and just having fun. In addition to public skating, lessons, and parties, Warm Puppy Café offers local, organic coffee and ice cream. Enjoy sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, burgers, and fries by the fireplace. Mr. Schulz’s regular table is still reserved for him. He ate here every day.

Keep an eye out for Snoopy, he’s been known to hit the ice.

Be a kid again

Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is an exciting, entertaining, learning lab for kids and grownups. Exhibits indoors and outdoors invite everyone to explore hands-on. The place is lively and colorful.

Children's Museum of Sonoma County. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. Photo: Mary Charlebois

The experiences are hard to explain but are easily understood by children as young as two. Dance, music performance, science, cooking, reading, art, gardening, and science are everywhere to enjoy. Be ready for fast-paced action and loads of laughs

Downtown dine-around for dinner

Pinot Noir. Perch + Plow, downtown Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Pinot Noir. Perch + Plow, downtown Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

Downtown Santa Rosa is filled with eateries, breweries, wine bars, and shops. I suggest an evening that starts in the Old Town Square on a bench. The kids can play on the green while adults chat over coffee.

Cross the street to Perch + Plow for a craft cocktail or glass of local wine. Family-friendly drinks and seating are available.

Just a few steps from Perch + Plow, pop into Gerard’s Paella, and Tapas, one of the hottest places in downtown. The menu has four types of paella, salads, soup, sandwiches, and loads of tapas.

After Gerard’s, walk around to Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar. Enough said.

SUNDAY – More Flamingos

After breakfast, drive to Safari West for a wildlife safari and lunch.

Safari West Lemur. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Safari West Lemur. Photo: Mary Charlebois

Tours in double-decker jeeps offer sightings of giraffe, zebra, gazelle, rhino, antelope, monkeys, cheetahs, and thousands of exotic birds, including lots of Flamingos. Lunch is available in the Safari Café. The menu is ideal for a multi-gen group.

Safari West flamingos. Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Safari West flamingos. Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

Sonoma County’s Safari West is a wildlife preserve, promoting conservation, education, and breeding programs for endangered African Wildlife.

Afternoon delight

Wine tasting, movie memories, and Bocce at Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Relax at Coppola’s around the pool in summer or around the Bocce Ball court the rest of the year. Wine tasting is a rich experience in the Italian villa. Visit Coppola’s movie memorabilia gallery, and dream of a ride in one of the classic cars.

Dinner at Bollywood downtown

A buzzy, colorful restaurant serving dishes inspired by India and wine country hospitality, Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven offers authentic Indian fare with a modern twist.

MONDAY – Bath in a forest

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve – Forest bathing doesn’t require clothing removal. You won’t need soap. You won’t even get wet. However, after bathing, you’ll feel light, happy, and refreshed. Some folks say it also lowers their blood pressure.

Armstrong Redwoods, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Armstrong Redwoods, Santa Rosa California. Photo: Mary Charlebois

Forest bathing is simple. Find a forest, go for a walk, take a seat,  get in touch with the natural world surrounding you. Listen to ravens calling; feel their wings beat as they move through the canopy; smell wildflowers, inhale the soil’s musk, be silent.

 Bring along a picnic to enjoy in the forest among the giants. Armstrong Redwoods is home to some of the largest trees on earth – Redwoods.

Getting there

Santa Rosa is on Hwy 101, 50-miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The closest airport, Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport, has service to and from Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and beyond. Rental cars are available on airport property.

San Francisco and Oakland airports are about 65-miles from Santa Rosa.

More info

Santa Rosa has so much to offer, it will become your most treasured family vacation spot. More information about the region, attractions, eateries, and lodging is available HERE.

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