The Napa Valley is well known for its sprawling wineries and luxurious adult getaways, but the region is also home to several opportunities for family-friendly adventure. Located about an hour north of the San Francisco Bay area, visitors of all ages can enjoy the famous California climate while exploring the protected natural landscapes, various restaurants, or a relaxing spa day in the mineral pools.
Calistoga’s Old Faithful Geyser is a definite family favorite and is one of only three “faithful” geysers in the world. Even the most restless kids will be entertained with a 350 degree spout of water erupting every half hour. The sprays of mist form spectacular rainbows, creating the perfect photo opportunity with a serene Napa landscape. While waiting for the eruption, families can stop by the Old Faithful Animal Farm, a petting zoo featuring Tennessee Fainting Goats, Jacob’s four-horn sheep, and Guard llamas.
For a little natural history lesson you can drive five minutes up the road to the Petrified Forest. Take a walk through the worlds largest petrified redwood trees that were turned to stone 3.4 million years ago by a massive volcanic explosion. The redwood trees, now extinct, have become fossils and are decorated with sparkly mineral quartz that are sure to catch your eye.
Food and Drink
Foodies on Foot is a pet and family accessible culinary walking tour highlighting several restaurants in Historic Downtown Napa. The 3-hour tour features 5-7 different eateries with picky eater friendly dishes like pizza and ice cream. Kids under six eat free, those between 6-12 are half price ($35), and the ticket price is $70 for everyone in between.
Many parents would be weary of bringing their children along for a wine tasting, but Castello di Amorosa has more than enough activities to keep your little knights and princesses occupied. The idyllic reproduction of a 13th century Italian castle is near exact, with a moat, dungeon, and suits of armor available to explore. Peacocks, emus, and sheep roam the grounds and can keep the younger ones occupied while parents enjoy an authentic Tuscan wine or cheese tasting.
For something more hands on, The Culinary Institute of America at Copia offers Family Funday every Sunday for all ages and experience levels. Bring the whole family for an hour-long cooking demonstration that teaches both adults and children useful cooking tricks and kitchen skills. The courses always end with a taste of that day’s dish, so your family can learn and enjoy some culinary secrets from some of the best chefs in California.
Arts and Culture
The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is centered around the charming Winery Lake and features several educational programs and exhibitions for all ages. Two galleries and a walkable Sculpture Meadow highlight contemporary Bay Area artists on the sprawling 217 acres in Napa’s Carneros region. Admission is free for children 17 and under and the museum offers additional discounts for seniors, military, educators, and students.
Silverado Resort and Spa ($) offers one or two bedroom suites with a full kitchen, private patio, and Wi-Fi access. While parents are enjoying a day at the spa or picking up treats at the Silverado Market and Bakery, children ages 6-12 can participate in a supervised eight-week Golf, Tennis, and Swim Camp (GTS).
At the Indian Springs Calistoga Resort ($$) you can choose between a room, cottage, bungalow, or full house for your visit. It is home to two swimming pools, including a temperature regulated Olympic sized mineral pool. The casual atmosphere is perfect for a relaxing getaway, and the amenities include several outdoor games and complimentary bikes to explore the town.
The Carneros Resort and Spa ($$$) offers several cottages with ample space for the whole family. The resort has three restaurants on-site, two pools, fitness classes, and a selection of dog-friendly amenities for your furry friend. Carneros also hosts Kids’ Night, June through September, with board games, ping-pong, and a kid-friendly movie.