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Visitor's Guide to Napa Valley (with the kids!)
Part 1: Kid-Friendly Wineries & Where to Eat!
Who needs a little Napa wine fix? I know we sure do! While in quarantine, we’ve been sipping on some of our favorite wines from some of our favorite wineries in Napa. Although the tasting rooms haven't quite opened yet, it’s exciting to think about them opening up and enjoying the gorgeous scenic views all while sipping on our favorite reds and whites. Living only about an hour away from Napa, we’re lucky enough to be able to visit the Napa Valley several times throughout the year.
Often times I hear people tell me they want to visit Napa, but they have kids and don’t think it’s kid friendly. Well, let me tell you…this is a major misconception! And I talk from experience having taken on our kids with us on most all of our Napa Valley trips.
The Napa Valley includes the wine regions of Carneros, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga to name a few and a little pre-planning on where to go will make your Napa wine experience even easier than you think. I can honestly say that our kids love the Napa region as much as we do!
Having been to several wineries (with and without kids), we’ve narrowed down our top five kid friendly wineries worth checking out in the Napa Valley.
V. Sattui Winery
- V. Sattui Winery, located in the heart of Napa Valley, is the most popular and most visited winery in all of Napa and for good reason! From its old-world charm, picnic grounds, deli and cheese marketplace and award-winning wines; there are a lot of great reasons why you need to add this family-friendly winery to your list of places to visit in the Napa Valley.
- The picnic experience at V. Sattui is unmatched by any other property in the area and features:
- More than 200 types of cheese and a wide array of salads, sandwiches and desserts available in the marketplace deli.
- BBQ on the weekends (big hit with our kids!)
- Dozens of highly rated and award-winning wines sold on site.
- Sprawling picnic grounds that include two dozen tables nestled beneath ancient Valley Oak trees and tri-level terraces that overlook beautifully manicured gardens and vineyards.
- Kids can sample grape juice and enjoy BBQ on the weekends or grab food from the deli and cheese marketplace and enjoy it on the picnic grounds. After enjoying some wine and a picnic, be sure to grab some gelato and continue touring the grounds of the winery.
Castello di Amorosa
- Castello di Amorosa is a must see castle and a winery located near Calistoga. Just the word castle is enough to have our kids jumping up for joy! This winery not only allows children, but welcomes well-behaved and well-supervised kids and offers grape juice tasting in a friendly Knights Hall tasting room with a table for coloring. Now how cool is that?
- And to top it off, there are also farm animals and birds just outside the castle that kids will love checking out.
- A fun fact: this castle took 14 years to build!!
- Sterling Vineyards is a perfect wine tasting adventure with the kids. One of the highlights that our kids still talk about is the one-of-its-kind gondola ride up the hill to the winery.
- Once up to the top, the winery offers terraces where you can sip on a glass of wine (and grape juice for the kids) and enjoy great panoramic views of the valley.
- One of the major perks with this winery that was a plus for us is it offers food and wine pairings that are kid friendly! On our most recent visit, we did the Platinum Experience and were blown away by the food and wine pairings - it is the perfect splurge for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. The kids got a snack and juice box, while we enjoyed the food and wine pairings; I’d call that a win-win for everyone.
- Chateau Montelena boasts one of the most peaceful settings in the Napa Valley, with a stone castle carved into a hillside overlooking a Chinese garden, lake and vineyards reaching out to the base of Mount Saint Helena. It’s a great family-friendly experience with entry level tasting and gorgeous grounds for the whole family to explore. The lake and gardens will be a big hit with kids and the variety of wine tasting experiences offers something for everyone.
- Fun fact: The winery is famous for winning the white wine section of the historic "Judgment of Paris" wine competition back in 1976. This wine competition helped put Napa Valley on the map and was famously portrayed in the 2008 movie Bottle Shock.
- Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley and is listed under both the National Register of Historical Places and as a California Historical Landmark.
Where to Eat
So with all this wine tasting, you’re bound to get hungry and will be looking for a great place to eat.
Here is a list of fun family-friendly places we love to stop off at that the kids will enjoy too:
- Napa’s most famous burger spot that has about eleven burger variations. But aside from the burgers, there’s several other options such as tacos, soups, fish, salads etc.
- Oxbow Market is a large indoor market that has a little everything from several restaurants, bakery, cupcakes, candies, ice cream, cheeses, and wine tastings are just to name a few.
- Mustard’s Grill is an outstanding culinary experience for adults, but it also has a great kid’s menu with a variety of options including fried chicken, pastas, burgers, ribs, tostada, and much more!
- Although this gem of a place is located halfway between Napa and Sonoma, it’s definitely worth a visit. Indulge in some of the best fried chicken and waffles you’ve ever had! This place was a huge hit with our kids with a large outdoor bench-style seating perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
- Although this isn't an actual restaurant, but a small town located just outside of Napa (only about 10 minutes away from Napa!), it has several small bakeries and eateries that you can check out while walking through this quaint French inspired town.
- Our favorite spot here that the kids love to grab some fresh pastries and chocolate milk is Bouchon Bakery. And if you ever visit without the kids, there are world-class Michelin Star restaurants, including The French Laundry!
Part 2 of our Visitor's Guide to Napa Valley (with the kids!) includes the best places to stay from family-friendly hotels and resorts to the best splurge-worthy hotels that the Napa Valley has to offer!
Visitor's Guide to Napa Valley (with the kids!)
Part 2: Where to Stay - Coming Soon!
Given all of the worldwide travel advisories amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, now is not the time for non-essential travel. I personally don't advise booking any trips until at least later this Summer until there is some sense of normalcy and knowing where we will be domestically/globally in terms of Covid-19, but at the end of the day it comes down to your own personal risk assessments.
There are serious health concerns and a lot of risks involved at this time, in my opinion, but while the world today is clouded in uncertainty, we still continue to believe in the allure of (future) travel. It's still okay to dream - travel provides the joy of dreaming, the excitement of the experience, and a lifetime of memories that grow more valuable each day. So keep dreaming and when the time is right and when you are ready we'll be here to help.
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