Napa Valley is in Northern California, about an hour northeast of San Francisco where we live. When people hear Napa Valley, they usually think of wine tastings and Michelin-star restaurants, so naturally they consider it a “grown-up” vacation spot for couples and girls trips. However, Jason and I love to visit Napa as a family multiple times a year.
There are accommodations, activities and plenty of fun things for all age groups, and the emphasis on outdoor activities makes it particularly ideal for young kids! Willow and Caden love to be outside, so Napa is a great road trip destination for a day trip or overnight for us in the Bay Area, and a good option if you’re further away looking for a fun weekend getaway that you can bring the kids along with plenty of options for the parents and the kids. Here’s a round-up of our favorite things to do in Napa as a family:
20 Things To Do In Napa With Kids
Best Napa Valley Fun Activities with Kids
If you happen to be in Napa during the Connolly Ranch open house, it’s a great place to take the whole family. It’s an educational center for kids to learn about the environment and animals naturally through play. They have farm animals, a garden, and lots of “wild spaces” for kids to run around. If your kids are old enough, consider looking into their day camps. You could drop the kids off for a few hours to enjoy hiking around the farm while you and your partner get some alone time. Everybody wins.
No, this isn’t the “Old Faithful” you’re thinking of, but California has their very own natural geyser that goes by the same name. The Old Faithful Geyser of California is exciting for kids young and old, and while on the park grounds your family can explore gardens, see farm animals, have a picnic, visit the geology museum, or even play a game or two of bocce ball.
Napa is known for wine and food, but it also has a colorful art scene. Nimbus Arts features some of that signature Napa art and provides lots of opportunities for artistic expression for your kids. You can join an “art escape” or stop by for toddler studio time. Everyone will get a chance to create something to bring home and keep as a memento from their trip.
Boat and Kayaking Tours
Depending on the age of your children, you could go boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, or jet skiing down the river to see the sites. The Napa River is gorgeous and there are lots of boating opportunities I recommend you take advantage of!
If you’re not boaters, but like bike riding, Napa Valley Bike Tours has both guided and self-guided tours special for families. It’s an ideal way to let out some energy and enjoy nature while in Napa with kids of all ages. You don’t need a bike either, because they have bike rentals for big kids all the way up to adults. They even offer a little kid (age 4 to 8) tag along setup to attach to your bike, as well as trailers that can hold 1 to 2 toddlers. And if you’re wanting some extra support, rent an electric bike to make this ride a breeze.
If it’s an especially warm day, I recommend bringing along this adaptable personal fan–it can be carried, attached to a stroller, or adapted to fit right on the bike. Very handy!
Kid-Friendly Wineries in Napa
Hall Wines in St. Helena is one of our favorite wineries to visit in Napa. They have fantastic wine, of course, but the venue is rich with modern art and architecture. Although you may want to pack a change of clothes in case your child decides the water sculpture should actually be a water park.
I think this one is great for kids, because it has a huge field for kids to play in, and the scenery is so beautiful! It’s a great place to have a picnic and some wine (or sparkling grape juice for the kids.)
This venue offers over a dozen unique wine experiences, and a few of them are great for kids! If you do the Tasting in the Grove experience, you can sit outside and drink wine while your children run through the sycamore trees and enjoy the garden space. After the tasting, you can all enter the “Row of Senses” for a fun sensory experience and the “Theater of Nature” to learn about the biodynamic agriculture process!
Fun fact: Jason and I have been wine club members here since 2012 and got engaged at Raymond in 2014!
V Sattui is a very popular lunch picnic spot. Get there early to be able to relax with some wine, while enjoying great food and the picturesque mountain view. It’s really well-shaded and you can sit at picnic tables or roll out a blanket on the grass with crafts or games to keep the kiddos entertained. Afterward, you can explore over 2.5 acres of estate gardens and museum caves.
Both Caden and Willow are huge animal lovers. When we vacation, they really miss our dog Bear, and we love going to Hoopes Vineyard because not only do they have an animal sanctuary with dogs, but they also have donkeys, goats, pigs, and chickens. At Hoopes, you can also enjoy the gardens and, of course, wine!
The Wagner family has been winemaking and farming in Napa Valley for five generations, and their vineyard is full of that familial love and history. There’s something about it that feels like home, and we love to go there with our kids when we go to Napa. Their gardens are some of our favorites in the area and they have wide paths, too–perfect for kids running around and playing!
Accommodations in Napa with Kid-Friendly Activities
It’s always nice when you’re traveling with children to have as much as possible in one place. Having accommodations with a place to sleep, play, and eat is a huge plus. The Grand Reserve at The Meritage is The Meritage’s upgraded sister property across the street. It has a big family-friendly swimming pool and an on-site bowling alley. There’s also an adults-only swimming pool if you’d like to sneak away during nap time. And there are several restaurants on-site.
The one bedroom suits are spacious and feature full kitchens, which I always recommend when traveling with young kids. It’s also the cheapest one-bedroom suite at this caliber you’ll find in Napa Valley. The only downside is the lack of restaurants nearby. If you plan on cooking most of the trip, this probably won’t bother you since you can cook right in your hotel room if you’re in the suite.
The Estate at Yountville is definitely a bougier hotel, but sometimes you just need that luxury experience to take your trip to the next level. I ran several customer events at this hotel, so can vouch for the top-notch customer service and attention to detail in the design.
This hotel has a great location in the middle of all the best Napa has to offer and walkable to restaurants, shops, coffee shops and a park with a playground right in downtown Yountville – perfect if you’re looking to post up in one spot and not drive anywhere. On hotel grounds, you’ll find a spa, a nice pool, and great restaurants. Bottega is one of our top 5 restaurants we’ve been to, and cannot be skipped. I can’t recommend their complimentary breakfast enough—it’s amazing! And of course your kids will devour croissants and you’ll love the incredible iced coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up at the famous Bouchon Bakery.
If you like a cozier feel that reflects the history and culture of Wine Country, this is your family’s spot. The rooms are a comfortable size and you get complimentary breakfast and daily wine tastings. Plus, there’s a large outdoor pool, a hot tub spa, and lots of outdoor space to sit and play–perfect for the kiddos! We’ve stayed at this bed and breakfast several times over the years, and I especially love it during the cozy fall months.
The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa provides a really unique experience with their camper rooms! The suites are designed to look and feel like a retro camper. I can’t wait to take Willow and Caden when they’re a little older and will fully appreciate “playing pretend” in these camper look-alike rooms.
Onsite, there’s also an Italian and Mediterranean restaurant, a spa, 3 mineral pools, outdoor games, fire pits, water bottle refilling stations, and even dog treat bags when we bring Bear. If all that wasn’t enough to make it perfect for a family, hotel staff also provide daily fresh-ground organic coffee. What more could you want?
Another fun fact: This lodge was completely renovated several years ago and reopened as the Calistoga Motor Lodge. In its former life it was a different lodge that we stayed in with friends and family the weekend of our engagement.
Places to Eat in Napa with Kids
The Oxbow Public Market is a big communal space with all sorts of meal, snack, and drinking options. Think of it like an elevated food court! You can get everything from ice cream and cupcakes to pizza and street tacos. Of course, you can also grab some wine. We love the many options in the market that can cater to our grilled cheese loving kids and our love for farm-to-table meals.
People love Hot Island Oyster Co. at Oxbow Market!
One restaurant that is an absolute all-time favorite for our family is Gott’s Roadside. It’s a non-negotiable anytime we’re in Napa! It serves burgers, tacos, salads, and sandwiches. Gott’s also has a large wine, beer and beverages menu that’ll please anyone. Caden loves the kids’ menu options and their organic shakes! My go-to order: The kids cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and strawberry lemonade.
This is an upscale market that sells meats, cheese, bakery items, jams, wines, and more. We like to go there with an empty picnic basket, fill it up with our favorite lunch items from the market, and then have a picnic at a winery with some of the most beautiful views in the valley.
Oakville Grocery is a similar experience to Gary’s Wine & Marketplace. Get a lot of great grocery essentials to cook back at your hotel room or rental, or find a spot for an afternoon picnic.
This is one of our favorite spots for sandwiches! If you need a quick place to grab lunch, you and your kids will be happy with these classic subs. Get a custom sandwich, a bag of chips, and a drink and then be on your way to your next excursion.
Other Entertainment Options in Napa
There is nothing specifically “wine country” about this playground…it’s just plain fun. It’s a massive park with multiple climbing structures and activities suitable for toddlers and older kids. The grounds are covered mostly in sand, so make sure you bring sand toys (and dump the shoes before they do it themselves on the hotel bed.)
Toys for Down Time
Napa Valley is a great place to visit with kids
If you’re trying to decide on your next family vacation and want a place you, your spouse and kids will equally love, Napa Valley should be on your list. It’s the ideal spot for a low-key vacation and scenic road trip. The whole family can enjoy the trip—even your infant. I talk a lot about traveling with a newborn on the blog, but here are my tips for a newborn’s first road trip. And finally, you can shop all your weekend road trip essentials HERE!
Have a great trip! We’ll see you there. 🙂