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Family staycations - Keeping the kids busy and amused

  • Elijah Finley of Healdsburg watches as 11,000 vaux swifts fly into a chimney on the campus of the Rio Lindo Adventist Academy in Healdsburg. (John Burgess/Press Democrat)

There's no greater anticipation for kids than the first day of summer vacation. For parents, there may be no greater anticipation than the first day of school. Somewhere in between is roughly three months of free time that is perfect for traveling, summer camps and lounging by the pool. To make the most of it, explore your own home town, acting as a tourist on a staycation in Sonoma County.

Here are some of the events you can look forward to, as well as a few places to visit before you pack up the pool toys and sharpen your pencils to send the kids back to school.

Every Friday from 2-4 p.m., the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory offers drop-in tours to the public for groups of less than 10 people. A volunteer docent leads groups of all ages, teaching marine science while displaying local fish, anemones and other marine life in aquariums and tidepools. It's a tricky way to incorporate learning during the study-free months of summertime. During a visit, your family can discover new things about sea creatures and their habitats, as well as get a chance for an up-close interaction with safe-to-touch sea life. The Bodega Marine Laboratory is located at 2099 Westside Road, Bodega Bay. Info: 875-2211, bml.ucdavis.edu.

The library is the perfect place for kids of all ages to hang out, particularly in these dog days of summer. Each Sonoma County location hosts something different almost every day of the week. Tweens in grades 4-6 can join a book club at the Healdsburg location. Beginning readers can read to a dog in just about every town's library. The Petaluma Library hosts Family Storytime, and Rincon Valley has a fun Family Night planned on Aug. 21. Even the youngest members of the family can have fun at the Wee Read or Wiggle Time events in Sebastopol. Info: www.sonoma.lib.ca.us.

Keep the kids unplugged this summer by taking them to the bowling alley. All summer long, AMF Bowling in Petaluma is offering kids two free games every day of the summer. Shoe rental isn't included, but that's a small price to pay for an afternoon of cheap fun away from the house. Visit freebowling.amf.com to sign up and start bowling today. AMF Bowling is located at 1100 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma. Info: amf.com/boulevardlanesca.

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