The courtyard at the Mission in Sonoma
Sonoma, like Napa one valley over, is generally thought of as a playground for adults. But if you find yourself up that way with nary a babysitter in sight, there is plenty to keep a young child going, too.
We stayed with family in a sweet little cottage just outside of Glen Ellen, a little under eight miles north of the city of Sonoma on Rt. 12. In the morning we had a terrific breakfast at El Molino Central. I confess I chose this place because of its cuteness; happily the food was delicious too. It’s a tiny place - we sat on the back patio since the weather was nice; O had a little room to spread out this way.
Our first stop in town was the Mission San Francisco Solano, sited right off the plaza at 20 East Spain Street. Founded in 1823, it was the last-built of California’s twenty-one Missions. It’s a small but lovely place with a small courtyard in the rear. After some quiet time here we strolled across the street to the wood and adobe Soldiers' Barracks (built around 1840). This building now houses exhibits, including a recreation of the soldier’s sleeping arrangements and a replica of the 1846 “Bear Flag”; the courtyard is open for sitting or poking around.
The courtyard of the Soldiers' Barracks
Replica of the 1846 “Bear Flag”
Having picked up some sandwich fixings at the little grocery store in Glen Ellen, we had a picnic lunch in the square in downtown Sonoma. It was lovely, with tall trees providing lots of shade, and lush grass for lounging. There are two play areas, which kept O busy for a long time.
The most obvious child-friendly attraction in town is Train Town. Train Town is a small amusement park not far from Sonoma’s plaza. It features, of course, a train, which runs throughout the lush property making a stop in a miniature “ghost town.” The train halts for about 10 minutes, so there is time to explore the little buildings and feed the goats that reside here. There are also a number of small carnival-type rides. This is an easy-going little place, though - there is none of the stress or frenzy of a big theme park. When we visited, there were no lines at all. Warning: skip “The Scrambler” (I’m talking to you, not your kid!).