Passionate About Wine Country
and the Moms Who Live Here

The Localist: Flying to and from Sonoma County with Kids

{The Oxford Dictionary defines localism as “preference for a locality, particularly for one’s own area or region; a characteristic of a particular locality, such as a local idiom or custom.” I may not live here currently, but I consider myself a Sonoma County localist. Through this monthly post, I hope to offer mamas who live here the opportunity to see home through new eyes. For those who are visiting as a tourist, this post will be a guide to navigating the area like a local.}flying with kids

I’ve seen Sonoma County through many sets of eyes in different stages of life. Whenever I’ve returned to Sonoma County after spending time away, I’ve always found things not quite how I left them. About 18 months ago I had another perspective shift: I greeted Sonoma County as a mom and what a different place it seemed. And yet, the same somehow.


One of the gifts motherhood has given me is the ability to glimpse the world through my son’s eyes. Nothing has illustrated this more profoundly than going back home to Sonoma County. Everything seems bigger, brighter, greener now. We are exploring new treasures the area offers to families – some things I’ve never done or seen. While traveling anywhere with a baby can be intimidating, exploring Sonoma County doesn’t have to be. There is so much more to the area than vineyards – if you know where to look and where to go.

Getting to Sonoma County

You have three options when traveling to Sonoma County – drive, fly to the Bay Area and drive, or fly directly into Sonoma County Airport (STS). When I first had my son, I thought our best option was to drive because we had so much stuff. How could we possibly pack it all through the airport? So, we drove the first few visits. Nothing makes you get creative (and become a minimalist) like being in a car for 8.5 hours with a fussy baby. So, we started flying directly into STS.

Alaska Airlines (via Horizon) offers flights between Sonoma County and Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Seattle, and Portland; Allegiant Airlines will offer flights to and from Las Vegas and Phoenix soon.* I was hesitant to try the direct flight from San Diego to STS but with a long frustrating drive fresh in my mind, I booked my direct flight and have never looked back since.

flying to Sonoma County with kids

Flying with kids, directly into Sonoma County:

  1. When we first get to the check in counter, we drop off our stroller (which flies for free).
  2. We carry our carseat through security (to avoid it being jostled around with other baggage), along with our bags (a carry-on and a personal item), and check it plane side. Because the overhead compartments on the plane are smaller than on your typical flight, you often have to check even your typical carry-on by placing a green “a la cart” tag on it while you are waiting at the terminal, walking it down the catwalk as you go to board the plane, and then placing it on the two tier cart next to the boarding staircase.
  3. I bring a diaper bag with me onto the plane with snacks for the baby, books, and a toy and always wear a shirt that facilitates easy nursing (for take off and landing) and an infinity scarf for easy coverage. Alaska offers a free glass of wine or beer (from one of the regions it flies) during beverage service.
  4. You pick up all of your “a la cart” bags after you deplane and get your checked bags at the only baggage claim conveyer in the airport (while your littles look at all the Charles Schulz character statutes).

When leaving Sonoma County, be aware of several things. Unlike many airports, the check-in counters aren’t perpetually open. They open approximately 90 minutes before flights and close 40 minutes before the flight; so, if you thought you could get there early, check your bags and go through security at a leisurely pace, think again. Just know that there are often lines, but they move fast. Also, Alaska allows you to check a whole case of wine for free. You heard me right – free. Take your wine home with you for the ability to escape to Sonoma County any old night. Make sure you put it in a standard wine case which many wineries will give to you when you make a purchase. (Check here to confirm before you fly and/or call with any questions.)

Flying over Sonoma County offers the most spectacular views, bookmarking what is sure to be a wonderful visit with a beautiful memory. Happy travels, mamas!

, ,

2 Responses to The Localist: Flying to and from Sonoma County with Kids

  1. Anna April 19, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    You should mention the Sonoma County Airport Express at SFO & Oakland. If you’re going to/from Petaluma, RP, or SR it’s great! Nice buses, reasonable schedule & pricing. We use it a lot! Much easier than a connection to get to STS if you’re traveling to/from a city that Alaska doesn’t serve direct.

  2. Kate Casebier
    Kate Casebier April 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi Anna! Thanks so much for your comment. You are right – the Airport Express is a great resource for those making the journey from the Bay Area to Sonoma County and utilizing other carriers. I had focused this post on flying directly into Sonoma County and had planned to write a future post about other travel options. Until I have a chance to do so, here is the link (for those reading that want to know more): Thanks again, Anna!