Thanksgiving Tips: Keep the Kids Busy After the Bird

When the tryptophan wears off, here are the the best family friendly activities for kids and visiting relatives


Kids are home from school for half the week, its raining and the grandparents aunts and uncles are piled into your house for four days: It's a recipe for a perfect stress storm, if you don't have a plan. 

Luckily I do. Here's my top picks to keep the family happy, and you sane, during this long weekend:

Pick out a Christmas Tree: There's no more festive way to get a Christmas Tree than to take the trip to one of the many North Bay Christmas tree farms!  Moon Mountain Christmas Tree Farm is the only real Christmas Tree Farm we have in Sonoma. They grow Douglas, Noble firs and Scotch pines, and do not offer pre-cut trees. Choose your tree; they cut it and carry it back to your car. They're located at 1550 Moon Mountain Drive, off Highway 12. Hours: Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through December 18. (707) 996-6454.

Head to Napa for a Christmas Parade: Join your family, friends and neighbors for Napa's 48th Annual Christmas Parade (Starts on First Street at Franklin Street.) This year’s theme will be “Vintage Toys”. Since becoming an evening parade, Napans have figured out how to add lights to any entry, cars, horses even children. Santa wraps this one up and leads everyone to the Rotunda for free cookies and hot chocolate.  Starts, rain or shine, 5 p.m. Saturday, November 26th.

Head to Six Flags "Holiday in the Park" in Vallejo: Sled down a snow-packed hill, stand around a toasty fire-pit, watch a holiday sea lion or dolphin show and see the largest lighted Christmas tree this side of San Francisco: Six Flags during the holidays is always a family favorite. Splurge on season passes ($49.99) and you'll get four extra Holiday in the Park passes for all of your visiting family and a free parking pass, when you buy four or more passes.

Go sledding in San Rafael at the 32nd Annual Winter Wonderland: Starting noon on Friday, the city gets winterized with snow, sledding and other kids activities, followed by a great Holiday Marketplace at 2 p.m. and a parade at 5:30 p.m.  Meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and other costumed characters, as they arrive with the mayor to light the holiday tree. (Stick around for Santa's meet and greet after the ceremony.) Free three-hour parking with validation. 

Catch the 'Lighting of the Snowmen' at Cornerstone: It's free, it raises money for _ Animal Shelter_:  this is a not-to-miss Sonoma tradition. It kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. with arts and crafts and face-painting for the kids, and popcorn balls and hot chocolate for everyone. Wear warm clothes!

Go ice skating in Downtown Napa: Lots of holiday fun for the entire family at the only outdoor ice skating rink in Napa Valley. Napa on Ice is located at the corner of 2nd and Coombs Street in Downtown Napa. $12 for skating and skate rentals. They will be open from 10a.m. - 10 p.m. all weekend.

Hit the Sonoma Cinemas for the Muppets newest movie:  Rated PG, the movie opens on Wednesday, plays all weekend.  I love the Sonoma Cinema: all tickets for matinees are only $6, and the large popcorn has free refills.

Hop on the train at Train Town. All trains and attractions and will be running from Friday - Sunday (weather permitting) from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.  For a half price offer for train rides check out viewpon.tv

Visit the Sonoma Library and load up on Thanksgiving books and movies, The will be open Wednesday (10 a.m. - 6 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.), closed Thursday and Friday. I always request my books in advance, but my kids love the children's books and DVD section.

Grab a round of golf at : This mini golf course is just large enough to keep the whole family happy. Head to the arcade or grab a hot chocolate at after.  It's located at 19171 Highway 12, in the Lucky Shopping Center. 707-996-3616 (Call ahead for daily hours.)

Go on a Belgian horse drawn wagon ride through Landmark Vineyards. Kids will enjoy Landmark's holiday tree, live music, and sleigh rides. Parents can enjoy a complimentary holiday flight. Perfect. (Landmark Vineyards is very family friendly.) Catch a ride 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Nov. 25 and 26.

Watch Santa's Riverboat Arrival in Petaluma at the Riverfront, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26. The Claus family will arrive onboard the tug to greet children and distribute candy canes.

Whether you decided to do all of these in one weekend or just enjoy one or two, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Suzanne Barbara November 23, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Great tips Michelle.
Michelle Rulmont November 23, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Thanks Suzanne! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Dorothy November 28, 2011 at 05:50 PM
As always, wonderful suggestions. And some of them are still viable--if you haven't gotten the tree, you can still pick your own and cut it; or ice skating is a fanstastic seasonal activity.


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