Twelve Things to Do in Santa Rosa for $12 or Less

June 15, 2021

Looking for things to do on your next visit to the urban heart of Sonoma County that don’t cost an arm and a leg? In no particular order, here’s a budget-friendly list that’s big on fun for very little dough. And speaking of dough…

1) Doughnuts, Anyone?

Enjoy handcrafted doughnuts made from wholesome ingredients at Johnny Doughnuts. Inspired by history, their recipes started with classic doughs from the 1920s that they play with based on seasonality and the freshest local ingredients they can find. In addition to doughnuts, Johnny Doughnuts also serves up Crodoughs (a take on Cronuts, or croissant doughnuts), Bismarck’s (aka jelly doughnuts), cinnamon rolls, wheat-free doughnuts, vegan doughnuts, and Equator coffee and tea.

1200 4th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 | 707-308-4836 |

Individual doughnuts range in price from $4.00 to $5.00


2) Step Back in Time

Originally locating to Santa Rosa in 1875, see what life was like for Luther Burbank and his wife Elizabeth at the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens. This Santa Rosa city park contains the former home, greenhouse, gardens, and grave of noted American horticulturist Luther Burbank. More than an acre of gardens includes many of Burbank’s horticultural contributions. Special garden areas focus on medicinal herbs, cutting flowers, roses, wildlife habitats, and ornamental grasses. Many unusual varieties of plants and new horticultural introductions are represented. Most plants are labeled with both botanic and common names. Follow the story of Burbank’s career with a self-guided tour. The Gardens in downtown Santa Rosa are open to the public every day from 8:00 am to dusk.

204 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 | (707) 524-5445 | Luther Burbank Home & Garden

Adults $10; Children 12-18, Seniors and College Students with ID $8.50; children under 12 free with an adult.


3) Open & Out Summer Flix

Every Wednesday evening in July pack up the kids and enjoy Movie Night on the Square in Downtown Santa Rosa. This outdoor series of family movies start at sundown and jammies, blankets and snacks are A-OK. Schedule: July 7th: The Princess Bride, July 14th: The Sandlot, July 21st: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and July 28th: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

Courthouse Square, Downtown Santa Rosa, between 3rd and 4th Street | Open & Out - Downtown Santa Rosa

Admission is free. No reservations are necessary.


4) Beach and Barrio Food

The Charro Negro Food Truck is home to the best ocean-to-table tacos and tostadas in Sonoma County. Hands down. No question. Everything is super fresh. Inspired by Mexican style “mariscos” the Charro Negro food truck is filled with colorful, earthy, and high tide seafood flavors. Aguachiles are a specialty of the mobile kitchen, a juicy ceviche made with raw shrimp marinated in lime is $10.00

665 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, CA, 95407 | (707) 385-6465 |

Open Wednesday - Sunday, 12-8 p.m. at Mitote Food Park in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa.


5) Walk (or Bike) on the Wild Side

Trione-Annadel State Park is an amazing park in the heart of Santa Rosa and a favorite for hikers and cyclists, offering miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. With its 5,200 acres and over 40 miles of interconnected trails, including an 8 ½ -mile section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, it is a popular destination for the mountain biking community. For wildflower lovers, Trione-Annadel State Park offers a great variety of flowers from early Spring until early Summer, especially on a hike around Lake Ilsanjo.

6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95409 | (707) 539-3911 | Trione-Annadel State Park

There is a $7.00 parking fee for entrance to Annadel State Park with a vehicle, or alternately, you can walk or bike in for free.


6) Play to Learn

The super-fun Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, targeted to kids 10 and under, provides a place where children can learn about science and nature in a hands-on way. Highlights include the outdoor garden, where an exhibit on the Russian River Watershed lets children catch and release toy salmon in a gently cascading man-made creek bed. Other immersive play includes steel water tables where kids can twist and turn gauges to experiment with water pressure, dams, wave power, and flood plains. Indoors, there are exhibits involving everything from X-rays and dentistry to the life cycle of bees. A variety of public programming throughout the year enriches the museum’s offerings.

1835 W Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 | (707) 546-4069 | Children's Museum of Sonoma County

Adults and children: $12.00


7) Chill Out at Snoopy’s Home Ice

It’s no secret that Charles Schultz, the creator of Snoopy the cartoon beagle (and the Peanuts comic strips that made the dog famous), had a passion for ice skating. A long-time Santa Rosa resident, Schultz grew up in Minnesota and featured ice skating and ice hockey in many Peanuts strips. Schultz later built the Redwood Empire Ice Rink, known as Snoopy’s Home Ice, which opened in 1969. Still going strong, Snoopy’s Home Ice has a variety of learning-to-skate options for children as young as 18 months and up through adulthood.

1667 W Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 | (707) 546-7147 | Snoopy's Home Ice

Adults $12.00, kids ages 4 to 18, $5.00


8) Fancy a Paddle?

Spring Lake Regional Park features a 72-acre reservoir open for boating (electric engines only) and paddling. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are popular activities at Spring Lake, where hourly summer rentals are available.  On a hot summer’s day, there is often barely a ripple on the water. While you’re paddling along picturesque coves and sandy inlets, Spring Lake will take you to the heart of nature, despite its close proximity to the city. You can paddle along the shore, while keeping a lookout for the diverse wildlife in the area, including river otter, deer, bobcats, turtles, beaver, and many bird species that call Spring Lake home.

393 Violetti Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95405 | Spring Lake Boat Rentals

Rental reservations are accepted online up to two weeks in advance. $12.00 per hour.


9) Fly Away

The Pacific Coast Air Museum is a non-profit organization that has worked to acquire, restore, and safely operate historic aircraft since 1989. It showcases a museum to help educate people about the history behind the aircraft. The Museum displays over 35 historic aircraft and has indoor exhibits as well. It is located on a five-acre parcel at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport and is open five days a week year-round. It’s a kid-friendly place for fun and for learning, with easy access, weekday and weekend Museum hours, and lots of special events for children and adults throughout the year.

One Museum Way, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 | Pacific Coast Air Museum

Admission for adults is $10.00, Seniors $7.00, and Children (6 – 17) $5.00


10) Taste Craft Brew History

Vinnie Cilurzo, co-owner of the Russian River Brewing Company is generally credited with inventing double IPA, also known as Imperial IPA, in 1994, while working on the first beer for his Blind Pig Brewery. The industry-wide craft beer boom he would ignite from producing his aptly named Inaugural Ale wasn’t entirely intentional. Cilurzo would go on to secure his position in the pantheon of hoppy beer in 2000 with the creation of Pliny the Elder. The dry, piney, intensely bitter double IPA remains Russian River’s bestselling brew more than 20 years later and, even as the category has evolved and a number of subcategories have developed, it’s still regarded as a premier example, currently ranked No. 2 on BeerAdvocate’s Top 100 list. (What holds the top spot? Its stronger sibling, Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger Triple IPA.) Stop by the brewery in Downtown Santa Rosa, order a pint of Pliny the Elder, and savor one of the best craft beers in America.

725 4th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 | Russian River Brewing Company 

Pliny the Elder is usually available on tap or by the bottle at the Downtown Santa Rosa brewery for $8.00 a pint.


11) Preserving Sonoma County’s Heritage

Made up of the Art Museum of Sonoma County and the History Museum of Sonoma County, the Museums of Sonoma County are dedicated to showcasing the region’s history, art, and culture. Housed in the historic Post Office building that was built in the early 1900s in a Renaissance Revival style with stark Spanish influences, the museums are home to a collection of over 25,000 works, including historic paintings and drawings, pieces of furniture, ceramics, textiles, and prints, as well as photographs, and graphics documenting the history and culture of Sonoma County during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The museums present a variety of discussions, lectures, interactive displays, and educational tours and programs on a regular basis with the aim of supporting, inspiring, and encouraging visitors to delve into the heritage of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.

425 7th St, Santa Rosa, California 95401 | Museums of Sonoma County

Adults: $10.00, Seniors (62+), Students, $7.00, Children 12 and under are free.


12) Art in Paradise

In 1960 Walter Byck proposed to his Dutch girlfriend Marijke Hoenselaars in a sculpture grove in the Netherlands. This was the beginning of a love affair between Marijke, Walter, and art. After moving to Sonoma County and opening Paradise Ridge Winery, Walter focused his attention on finding a place on the estate for an outdoor sculpture garden. He found the perfect location in a four-acre grove of wooden glens with ancient, gnarled oaks and open meadows. These “galleries” were connected by simple footpaths. The sculptures were placed among mossy rocks and grassy clearings. After working with a number of curators, Walter began to oversee the yearly art exhibits himself. In 2006 after Marijke’s sudden passing, Walter dedicated the grove to her, and it is now known as Marijke’s Grove.

Instead of permanent pieces, Marijke’s Grove supports the arts with a biennial changing exhibit. In 2012 the Byck Family began working with the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation. Their combined efforts bring cutting-edge free public art to the foothills of Sonoma County.

The gates to the estate are open to the public from 10:00 - 4:00 daily, allowing visitors a chance to experience the art and nature of Paradise.

4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 | Paradise Ridge Winery

Admission is free.


Santa Rosa is the happening hub for all there is to see, do, eat, drink, hike, bike, and explore in Sonoma County.

The list above is just a small sample, but as you can see, when you visit Santa Rosa, with so many things to do, trust us when we say you’re going to need more days.

Visit Santa Rosa Visitor's Guide Cover'