1 day in Pataluma with a 6 year-old

My wife is flying out to Novato for the week for work and my son and I decided to join her at the end of the week. My son and I have never set foot inside California.
On Saturday we’ll be staying in SanFrancisco and doing the touristy cable cars and pier thing.
However, on Friday while my wife works my son and I have the entire day free.
We’ll have spent the night in her hotel in Pataluma.
I have no idea what we’re going to do.
Alcatraz sounds interesting but I heard it is a bore for small kids.
The Exploratorium sounded good but on further inspection it looks like it has the same exhibits that he’s seen at Science museams in Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago.
I saw there is a Six Flags in Vallejo but I really didn’t want to fly all the way to California to go to Six Flags.
Are the Muir redwoods worth checking out?
Any really cool stuff a 6 year-old would love to for a day in the northern bay area?

I assume you mean Petaluma. Not much going on there. But it’s true you’re not far from the Redwoods, which are great. But I just wanted to put in a good word for the exploratorium. I still love going there. I think it’s a (small, but definite) notch above the usual science exhibit.

Petaluma. Take your son to Battery Spencer if it’s a clear day. The place itself is pretty cool (kids love it), but it’s the best place to view the Golden Gate Bridge. You exit just north of SF from 101, loop around the freeway, and head up into the hills. I take all my out of town guests there.

If there are any Americas Cup trials going on, take in the view from SF.

Muir Woods is definitely beautiful and worth seeing. You can combine that with a trip out to Stinson Beach via either Hwy 1 or a direct backroad that goes through a beautiful valley. You will also be on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais so you can go up to the top and look at the (spectacular) view. You can also check out the old forts and gun emplacements on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate (very last exit before the bridge).

As far as Petaluma itself, well, er…but you’re only half an hour from all the abovementioned things. Just don’t get stuck on Hwy 101 in Marin after 3 PM–or if you find yourself in that situation, pull into one town or the other and have dinner, since you aren’t going to get back to Petaluma for a couple of hours anyway.

Rather than going down 101, you can also take D St. from Petaluma and navigate the back roads to Hwy 1, Stinson Beach, then Muir Woods. If you feel like being adventurous, take Marshall-Petaluma Road out to Marshall and then go down the coast–that’s a gorgeous drive.

A lot of good stuff here.
Maybe we’ll head to the Exploratorium first thing, then after that work our way back north stopping at Battery Spencer, Muir Woods, Stinson beach, and drive up US-1.

I saw a mini-Exploratorium-type museum in another city (Fresno) once. If the others you’ve seen are similar, then they are all small-time Exploratorium wanna-bee clones. The Real Exploratorium is the grand-daddy of them all. Definitely a hot kid-friendly property! The California Academy of Sciences museum in Golden Gate Park is probably a really good place for a kiddo too.

The Bay Modelin Sausalito might be of interest to a 6 year old, and depending on what day you have available, the fully restored Nike Missle Site in the Marin Headlands is extremely cool. There’s also the Disney Museum in The Presidio.

How excited does your 6-year-old kid get over redwoods, scenic drives, hiking, and stuff like that? I assume you’re specifically looking for attractions that would be interesting to your kid, other than that amusement park in Vallejo. Thus, the suggestions for Exploratorium and Cal Academy.

Years ago, that amusement park in Vallejo was Marine World, with dolphin, killer whales, and sea lion shows. I have no idea if the current park still includes all that.

In Sausalito, there is a working scale model of the entire San Francisco Bay. It fills up a sizeable warehouse-type building. You can walk all around the Bay in there, and watch the tides come in and out in something like a 4-hour cycle. It was built by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, I think, and was used for many years to simulate Bay conditions for research. For example, whenever a major oil spill would happen, they could run a simulation in the model, and after a few hours they could see which way the oil was going to go over the next several days. Now it’s a somewhat-glitzed-up museum, but the model, being the centerpiece, is still kept running.

See also the several other recent threads on things to see and do in and around San Francisco area. You can search or google them fairly easily.

I second this. Also, stop by Point Reyes national seashore - I’d suggest Limatour beach, but the lighthouse may be more interesting to a kid. There is a deli in Point Reyes Station where you can grab a couple of sandwiches for a picnic on the beach.

And while the 6 year-old may not approve, stop along Tomales bay around Marshall and eat some oysters, they are fantastic there.

Oh, and take a light jacket- it can be cool and overcast along the coast, even if it is sunny in Petaluma.

Contact the MESA/Boogie guitar amplifier manufacturing company and arrange for a factory tour. They are based in Petaluma.

Go find the Horowitz house - where Winona Horowitz grew up before changing her last name to Ryder.

…what? The 6yo would love the amplifier factory, right?? :wink: :smiley:

There’s a neat display of kooky public art a half-hour north in Sebastopol all along Florence Avenue. I think a 6 year old might really get a kick out of it.