Cool Activities to Do With Your Kids This Summer

This was sent in from Jen Dahme and Kris Lee of Santa Rosa. Thank you for sharing this valuable list with the rest of us! I plan on printing this out to help formulate my own list!

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Cool Activities to Do With Your Kids This Summer

by Jen Dahme and Kris Lee

jen-dahme-left-and-kris-leeWe are two moms, best friends – each with two kids very close in age, two 5-year-olds and two 3-year-olds, also known as the “bigs” and the “littles.” At the beginning of the summer we made a list of fun activities that we wanted to do with the kids. Now that the summer is half over, we are reviewing our list and deciding what else we want to do before the “bigs” start kindergarten. Since we are fortunate to live in Sonoma County making our list was easy; there are so many fun activities right out our back door. Our list of summer fun looks something like this:

• Swimming – Lessons or open swim through the City of Santa Rosa, YMCA or just playing at a friend’s pool.
• Gail’s FUN Camp –
• Farmer’s Market – Saturdays at the Veterans building or the Wednesday Night Market Downtown Santa Rosa.
• Sonoma County Library – summer reading program.
• Santa Rosa Plaza – the kids love to ride the escalators, those little vending machine rides (enjoy the years when that don’t know they take money).
• Gilroy Gardens –
• Bike and hike around Spring Lake.
• Visit the grandparents.
• Friday date nights – parents take turns going out and kids have fun at each others’ houses.
• Hagemans Trout Farm -near Bodega Bay.
• Rockzilla climbing walls in Napa.
• Bodega Bay – find rock crabs, wear rain boots and go by west side camp grounds. The kids love turning over rocks and finding the crabs.
• Bay Area Discovery Museum – love it! Worth the trip to Sausalito –
• Marine World in Vallejo.
• Kidspot – In Santa Rosa –
• Sonoma County Fair – From July 28 to August 9.
• Zoos – Oakland and San Francisco.
• Traintown in Sonoma.
• Bike to Sebastopol for ice cream
• San Francisco – De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, Marina, Coit tower,Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium.
• Safari West.
• Boat to Angel Island.
• Armstrong Woods.
• Point Reyes.
• Visit parks you usually don’t usually go to – Petaluma, Sebastopol, Sonoma
• Town Square, Healdsburg and Windsor Town Green.
• Take bigger kids on AMTRAK train ride to Sacramento.
• Cheese Factory tour in Marin.
• Hallberg Butterfly Gardens in Sebastopol.
• Howarth Park – all the rides with a hot dog.
• Picking blackberries.

So far this summer we have mixed bigger field trips with local activities and no matter what we did we had a great time. Along the way we have learned a few “to do’s” and “not to do’s.”

1. Always bring food. Even though you may not feel like it in the morning, it really doesn’t take that much time and it is so much easier to stay at the park or go wherever you wind up when you have food with you. Avoid meltdowns and have more fun!
2. Bring a travel potty in your car – that $20 item is priceless!
3. Always bring extra clothes – for the kids and you! There are bound to be times where water looks inviting or someone gets dirty. It’s easier to change than stop the flow of fun.
4. Always check the hours of your destination. Don’t go to the Bay Area
5. Discovery Museum on a Monday because you will wind up at Corte Madera looking at the fountains (which is why you have extra clothes).
6. Must haves – jackets, hats, food (including lunch and gummy treats, sunscreen, travel potty, wipes, extra clothes) because you never know what will happen on these outings.
7. Keep your attitude of adventure, because what you have planned usually does not work out the way you have in mind. It is not the destination that is key, but having fun along the way
8. After a longer car ride, have a planned run-around-stretch-play time for kids before doing anything that they would be expected to behave – like restaurants, museums, etc. For example, do not drive straight to the SFMOMA for a special exhibit without run around time with four preschoolers. It is a good idea to take them to museums but keep in mind their age and the length of the car ride.
9. Don’t wait too long to eat your packed lunch.
10. Keep in mind rush hour traffic times on 101. Can be fine if your kids nap in the car and you are patient, but can really be a pain if you are all ready to get home. Our main goal for the rest of the summer is to enjoy this special time with the kids. We hope to follow their lead and our own intuition about having a “stay day” or a “go day.”
11. Sometimes the best days are the days when we just hang out and enjoy the lazy days of summer. We have learned if the moms are happy and positive the kids feed off that energy and it doesn’t matter if we are looking for bugs in the back yard or going to Marine World because we are having fun together.

Through all these experiences and adventures we hope that we are ultimately teaching our children the value of friendship and the importance of just enjoying where you are and what you are doing, no matter what it might be.

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Alright moms, now it’s your turn. The dog days of summer are here, there is only one month left till school starts. I challenge you to make your own list of “Cool things to do with your kids”. And I invite you to share them here, or on the forums. Thank you so much, Jen and Kris, for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us!


If you have any ideas you’d like to share, email me at


4 thoughts on “Cool Activities to Do With Your Kids This Summer

Add yours

  1. i would add a few things to do with the kids:

    Pump it up
    roller skating: open monday and thursday monrng 9:30-11:00 for kids skating time….

    pottery studio, downtown Santa rosa, or sebastopol

    sonoma county airport, wiht sandwiches and watch planes take off!!

  2. I’m now 19 and experiencing being a dad. I must say although it feels good it’s still hard. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but to be honest, the hard part is having to balance time. My daughter is great and makes managing her never dreadful. -Teen dad

  3. I had my first kid at 20. It was tough. You don’t realize how young you really are until you have a little being totally dependant on you. But you know what? You adapt. My baby is now 11 years old. And through some trial and error I admit, we’ve done pretty well. Best wishes to you and your family!

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