Love wine-tasting but have kids? Don’t worry, Napa Valley is still the place for you. We have made several trips to Napa wine country with our preschooler and had tonnes of fun. Here’s how we did it!
Yes, it’s possible. While you may not be able to enjoy the boutique, exclusive wineries that dot Napa Valley, there are some pretty big names out there that make it possible for you taste wine in the company of your little ones.
If you can ignore the busloads of tourists that land here, it’s a very fun winery to hang out in. Large open grounds, outdoor art installations and a wine tour that you can take your kids on! The wine tasting room allows for outdoor seating which is perfect when you have loud kids with you.Visit their website for tour information.
Location: Robert Mondavi Winery, 7801 Saint Helena Highway, Oakville, CA 94562
The wine is middling but you get on a cable car to go up to the winery! I mean it’s a freaking cable car! Well, an Ariel Tram to be exact and you can only ride it if you have signed up for the wine tasting tours. The cheapest is the Signature Wine Tasting Tour at $35 per person.
The Ariel Tram will take you to the main building where you can continue wine tasting at your own pace. The wine tasting includes 4 wines, and each tasting happens in a different location on the terrace.The location of Sterling Vineyards provides with you stunning views of the valley and is a great way to spend the afternoon.Visit their website for tour information.
Location: 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515
This is one of my favorite places in Napa Valley. The winery is beautifully situated on a hilltop and has a castle as its star attraction. And this is not one of those Disneyland castles – this is the real thing.A fourth-generation winemaker, Darlo Suitte, became obsessed with medieval architecture while traveling in Europe. He came back to California to restart his family wine business and brought a large property in the Napa region.
In 1994 he began construction of an authentic medieval castle. Over one million antique bricks along with other antiques and decorations were imported from Europe to build Castello di Amorosa. This project took 15 years to complete. It was totally worth the effort – with a real moat, towers, winding staircases, stables and defense ramparts – this castle is the real thing and the main highlight of the winery.
General tickets give you access to two levels of the castle along with a wine tasting. The wine tasting room is kid-friendly and has a children’s area to keep them busy.
Kids love exploring the large grounds of the castle. My son loved running up and down the stairs and seeing the animals in the stables.For more information, go their website here.
The Silverado Trail is a narrow two-lane road that runs parallel to CA 29 from the intersection of Lincoln Ave/ CA-29 in Calistoga to the exit 121 near the town of Napa. This winding road passes in between the backyards of many wineries and provides a stunning view of the valley.
Travel Tip: Spend the day hitting wineries on CA-29 all the way up to Calistoga and then take the two-lane Silverado Trail southbound. Try to hit this drive in the late afternoon, around 4 or 5 PM, when the light just starts to go down so you get lovely views of the vineyards. Since this is a two-lane highway, its kind of hard to stop and take pictures so just enjoy the drive unless you get stuck in a traffic jam
Napa’s downtown is those typical cutesy places that dot all wealthier American towns. Located next to the river and lined with boutique stores, heritage B & B inns and quaint coffee shops, it has a lot to see.A great way to do this is to take the Napa ARTwalk (maps here). Napa works with artists all over the west coast to exhibit their work on its streets. This is a rotating exhibition and artworks get updated every 2 years.
We recommend turning this into a treasure hunt with your kids. Hand them the map and ask them to hunt down the installations while you enjoy a walk around town.
The Napa Wine Country has some of the best dining options in the state, from Michelin starred fancy restaurants that require reservations months in advance to hipster farmers markets where you can walk around and sample food. Either way you are not likely to be disappointed with the food. We travel with a loud preschooler, and prefer noisy and crowded places. So here’s our pick!
Oxbow Public Market - This covered food market is a cool place to hang out. With multiple dining options and outdoor riverfront seating, it’s a great place to take an afternoon lunch or early dinner. If you are a culinary connoisseur, there are quite a few cheeses, tea, spice stores to check out.
Other honorable mentions in Napa include Alexis Baking Company for breakfast/brunch and Grott’s Roadside for burgers.
Bouchon Bakery - If you are in Napa Valley, then do not miss grabbing a bite at Bouchon Bakery. Run and managed by the same teams that operate the Michelin starred French Laundry in Yountville. It’s not a kid-friendly place to eat at, as there is always a long line to reach the counter, but the promise of cake keeps them hooked. We always buy half a dozen baked goods for those in-between-meal snacks.
Napa wine region stretches from the town of Napa all the way north to Calistoga on CA-29. The route is dotted with wineries and boutique downtowns in Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helen and Calistoga. The region is famous for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The best way to get Napa Valley is by road. If you are sight-seeing in California, you are probably based in either San Francisco or Los Angeles. From San Francisco it’s a short drive on either I-80 N or US-101 N. From Los Angeles, it can take up to 7 hrs to get to Napa Valley and you drive straight up north on I-5 N. Use a GPS
Wine drinking should be done in leisure. Along with wine, Napa Valley has some of the best restaurants in the state. We recommend a full weekend of relaxation, good food and wine! Watch this space for 2 day itinerary to Napa Wine Country.
Honestly, we wouldn’t know since we never took it. I have heard great reviews and know folks who have done this with their kids. We just did not have the courage to voluntarily put our hyperactive son in a confined space for 3 hrs. Not worried about him, but definitely concerned about the experience of other passengers who would have paid good money to enjoy the ride! So, I guess it’s your call!
If you have time to spare you may enjoy the Train Town in Sonoma. It’s been on our wishlist but as it adds a lot of driving time on our way back to Los Angeles, we always end up skipping it.
The other fun thing to check out in Calistoga is the Old Faithful Geyser of California. It’s a hot spring that gushes out in regular intervals throwing large spurts of hot water high into the air. A spectacle for sure.
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