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3 Jul 2024
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Starting with local favorites, here are ways to get through a heat spell comfortably or at least more comfortably.

Ice Cream!
There are amazing ice cream shops throughout Sonoma County. Who’s to say which is the best? You’ll just have to try them all and see.

Head to the Coast. 
Ocean breezes and the cooler Pacific Ocean water are an immediate solution. Even if you don’t want sandy toes, you can hike along coastal bluffs or grab a bench with a view. Linger a little longer and grab dinner at the coast before heading inland and the rest of the county will start to cool too. Here are a few Coastal beaches.

Visit the Redwoods. 
The shaded trails of Armstong Redwoods are a favorite with families and folks with dogs searching for cool surfaces for hot dog paws. The valley floor is much cooler than surrounding areas and the hilly trails above. There are many redwood-laden parks, but Armstrong has bathrooms, water fountains, and a visitors’ center.

Hit the River. 
Jump in. There are beaches all along the river – some with a bit of shade. Look for parks and beaches with free loaner life vests if you’re less comfortable in the water. Some also have real bathrooms or port-o-potties. Please remember to pack out any recyclables, trash, or gear you brought with you. If you’re lucky enough to stay at a house with direct river access, enjoy the dock, boats, or beach at your leisure.

Local Pools. 
There are a handful of local pools with day-use passes/fees. Some require advance reservations or tickets, but most take folks up until they reach capacity. Best to call or check online first to avoid disappointment. The Rio Nido Roadhouse and Surrey Resort and Gym in Guerneville are good West County options.

Ice Skating! 
Snoopy’s Home Ice Rink in Santa Rosa has open skate periods, skate rentals, and a café with snacks and hot chocolate in case you get too cool.

Visit a Museum. 
Most have excellent air conditioning and you can see something amazing, learn something new… Museums can be magical. Did you know there’s a hand fan museum? Or one dedicated to wine tools? Locals love the Charles M. Schulz Museum and all things Peanuts and Snoopy.

Go to a Movie. 
Movie theaters throughout the county are a great place to avoid the heat. You may be able to purchase tickets in advance and/or specific seats, a meal, drinks, etc.

Epicenter for Family Fun. 
In Santa Rosa, Epicenter has bowling, games, an arcade, trampolines, and activities for the whole family in an air conditioned space.

Wine Caves. 
The cool, steady temperature that makes wine caves so excellent for wineries is also attractive to human visitors when the temperatures soar. And Sonoma County has many to choose from. Check websites for tastings and tours specifically in the caves. Most require reservations. Please designate a non-drinking driver and remember that you’ll feel alcohol even more in the heat – drink lots of water and pace your tasting.

Find a Restaurant with A/C. 
Enjoy local fare and cool off at the same time. We have so many restaurants to choose from!

Folks with dogs: 
It’s extra hard to be a hot dog. Here are dog-friendly activities, beaches, hikes, restaurants and more. If your dog needs a cold treat, mix some kibble with cream cheese (might need to add a little water) and freeze in a paper cup. Share once frozen. It’s a fun puzzle, cold, and a bit messy, so best enjoyed outside where you can rinse away lingering mess.

Cooling Centers. 
If it’s hot enough, the county will work with local organizations to open cooling centers. You can get out of the heat, have some water, charge devices, meet and chat with interesting folks. This site updates when cooling centers are open.

If you’re at a vacation rental and it’s uncomfortably warm, we have some simple tricks to share. They will help keep you and the house cooler:

  • Let fresh air in before it starts to warm up outside. Open windows and/or doors to catch the breeze.
  • Before it starts to get hot, close windows, doors, and blinds. This blocks sunlight and gives a layer of insulation to keep the cold air you let in this morning.
  • If you have A/C, start early. If you wait until it’s hot, it will have a hard time catching up. Make sure windows are closed!
  • Use ceiling and freestanding fans.
  • Turn off lights you aren’t actively using.
  • Use the BBQ outside to cook instead of the oven or stove top inside the house.
  • Once the heat of the day starts to fade and it’s cooler outside than inside, open windows and doors to catch the breeze. Keep the fans running to circulate the fresh air.
  • Most locals don’t have A/C, so we leave windows open overnight and fans running.
  • Popsicles, cold water, and Gatorade help keep us cool and hydrated. Put a pitcher or bottles of in the fridge for later. Keep a cooler with ice and drinks near you in the yard or on the dock during the day to make it extra easy to grab a drink. You can even have fun with kids making popsicles out of Gatorade, fruit juice, fruit, etc. and you won’t have to remind them to “stay hydrated” because they are having fun and begging for another popsicle. Stick a watermelon in the fridge too! Make ice out of frozen fruit! So many options.

Of course, you can always ask us! Folks in our office have favorite ways to avoid the heat, so let us know if you’re looking for suggestions or if you find a great recommendation we haven’t already listed to share with fellow travelers. We’re happy to test it out too!