Doing Napa with Kids

If you’re coming to the Napa Valley with kids in tow, your itinerary is probably not going to be filled with elegant tastings and leisurely meals. Instead, you want to come armed with a roster of “active-ities” and a lot of outdoor time. Here’s a great list to get you started.

Best places to stay

The Westin Verasa, right in downtown Napa, has a great pool area and offers a special “Eat Well” menu for kids, as well as a guide for family activities. The Carneros Resort and Spa also features a nice kiddie pool as well as a bocce ball court, and the Boonfly Café for more casual dining options. If you book a two-bedroom suite, you’ll get a 10% discount off the best available rate– you’ll also receive welcome wine for mom and dad, cookies and milk for the kids upon arrival, as well as a complimentary s’mores kit for you to enjoy as a family during your stay.

Best places to eat

The Oxbow Public Market is a bustling food court that features a range of casual dining options –from burgers (Gott’s) to pizza (Ca’Momi) to ice cream (Three Twins) – plus an expansive deck overlooking the “oxbow” formation of the Napa River.

Best activities

Napa Art Walk. This rotating exhibition of 14 juried sculptures created by artists from the Western U.S, is displayed all around downtown Napa. A map with descriptions of all the sculptures can be downloaded from the website, or an audio tour can be found under “Napa Art Walk” on Otocast app.

The Napa Valley Wine Train. This restored historic train offers a scenic wine country tour up the valley to St. Helena and serves locally sourced American fare. The majority of the train’s cars were built in 1915 by the Pullman Standard Company as first­class coaches for the Northern Pacific Railway.

Playgrounds. If you have younger kids who need to work off some serious energy outside, the two best playgrounds in Napa are Fantastico (Old Sonoma Road and Freeway Drive) and Fuller Park (560 Jefferson Street).

Napa Valley Paddle. For older kids, this is a great way to see the town from the water, with paddleboarding, kayaking, and tours.

Rockzillla. Napa’s best and only climbing gym, featuring rock-climbing walls and equipment. An especially great option on rainy days.

Skyline Wilderness Park. This is a terrific spot with hiking trails and even offers disk golf, located close to downtown Napa.

CIA at Copia. Billed as a “playground for food and wine lovers,” this is the Napa-based venue for the Culinary Institute of America. It offers a calendar of cooking classes and demonstrations, and every Sunday is “Family Funday” with a special class for all ages.

Napa Valley Horse Company. You can book vineyard rides or a private session that features grooming, tacking-up, a short riding lesson, and a trail ride with the whole family.

Gymnastic Zone. This requires a group reservation, to be booked in advance.

Heron Lake Challenge Ropes Course. This too requires an advance reservation, for groups only.

Photo credit: City of Napa/Do Napa

Kirsten Mickelwait is a St. Helena-based writer who has lived and raised her family in the Napa Valley for nearly 20 years.

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