The thought of a wine country vacation may have you as giddy as a school-aged child, but don’t be surprised if your kids aren’t as enthusiastic. That is, unless you know about the best kid-friendly spots in the Napa Valley.
Below, we have organized some fun kid-approved things to do in this region. You may want to choose a few to work in between tastings to keep the kids happy.
Tour of Castello di Amorosa
Cinderella, Elsa and Belle would likely feel at home at Castello di Amorosa. Although this isn’t exactly a playground, you and your kids will be in awe of the stunning views at this castle. Children must be 5 years of age or older to take the tour.
Old Faithful Geyser
The Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga is one of three geysers in the world with the distinction of “old faithful.” This one erupts every 30 minutes, so you’ll never have to wait long to see one of mother nature’s most stunning displays. There are also picnic tables and a petting zoo on site, which will make it easy for you and your troop to make a day of the excursion.
This story began about 3 million years ago when Mount St. Helena erupted and spewed lava and ash across the valley. And the redwoods and pine trees turned to stone. Beginning in 1870, the Petrified Forest began to be uncovered. Today, you’ll walk on stroller-friendly shaded trails to marvel at the petrified trees and rocks. Don’t expect the trees to be brightly colored as they are in Arizona, but this forest is still an amazing sight.
This outdoor urban gallery offers the perfect compromise for art-adoring parents who would otherwise have trouble getting their kids through the doors of a traditional museum. Instead of being confined between structured walls, you and your kids can take a walking tour through downtown Napa and gaze upon an assortment of modern sculptures.
Walk-In Wednesdays at Connolly Ranch take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and they give families an opportunity to see what the ranch has to offer. Visit the garden, relax in the grove or take a hike on the woodland trail and see the animals.
Napa Valley Wine Train
What kid wouldn’t love to take a ride on a fancy train? The Wine Train may be more of an excursion for the adults, but kids will surely enjoy the ride – especially with family-themed events, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Santa Train.
If you’re gritting your teeth at the thought of dragging the kids to another museum, you can now relax. This is definitely not just another museum. The 217-acre gallery hosts over 2,000 pieces by 800+ local Bay Area artists. Imagine taking a nature stroll with peacocks and contemporary art. This is DiRosa Gallery.
This non-profit organization exists to foster artistic creativity among adults and children of all ages. Here, you’ll find classes for kids from toddlers (2+) to teens.
As long as your kids are old enough to sit through a movie, you should be able to find a family-friendly show at Cameo Cinema. This single-screen theater is a great go-to destination for a rainy Napa Valley day.
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
This may be a trip for the older kids who enjoy learning about history and culture. Kids may be intrigued to learn about the life and legend of the famous Treasure Island author. This museum is housed in a wing of the St. Helena Public Library, and you could easily make an afternoon of visiting both. As a bonus to the parents, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum is just two blocks from the Napa Valley Roasting Company. This may be a must if you’re making an early morning trek.
Helena Skateboard Park
A trip to wine country with teenagers may be a bit of a challenge, but the skateboard park makes the experience a bit more bearable for everyone. The 18,000 square-foot park is open on every sunny day of the week until dusk. Helmets are required, and park officials are not kidding about safety. There’s a $200 fine for skating without proper equipment. And while the older kids are skating, there’s a nearby playground for the younger kids to enjoy.
OUTSIDE NAPA VALLEY
You’ll find the following kid-friendly spots just outside of the Napa Valley area, but they may be worth the day trip.
If you’re looking for the kind of adventure that your family will not soon forget, travel the road between Santa Rosa and Calistoga. Here, you’ll find Napa’s Safari West with over 400 animals and jeep tours. You can even feed the giraffes!
Jelly Belly Factory Tour
Wine is to adults as jelly beans are to kids. Okay, let’s face it, jelly beans are on the same level as wine for some adults too. Nonetheless, a tour of Jelly Belly’s factory is sure to keep the family satisfied. Take a self-guided walk along a 1/4-mile lane to get a birds-eye view of the entire operation. Along the way, you’ll find interactive exhibits, games and free samples.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
This kid-centric destination is a bit of a trek from Napa (about 25 miles), but it may be worthwhile when you see the smiles on your children’s faces. It is Six Flags, after all. Enjoy pulse-pounding coasters and let the little ones have fun on the kiddie rides. Catch a show and a bite to eat. At Discovery Kingdom, there’s something for everyone.
Some people may tell you to leave the kids at home when you visit the Napa Valley, but those people probably haven’t done their homework. Sure, wine isn’t an option for kids. But there are so many other things to keep your kids entertained and occupied. It’s easy to plan a family trip that everyone will enjoy.