5 Family-Friendly Activities to do in Napa Valley


You’ve finally got your chance to have that dream Napa Valley vacation – but there’s only one problem. Kids aren’t exactly built for wine tastings.

Good thing there are so many family-friendly things you can do in this area.

You can still have a dream vacation – if you adjust your idea of what that means. And don’t worry, there will most definitely be some wine involved.

Here are 5 family-friendly activities to do in Napa Valley.

1.      Sonoma TrainTown Railroad

Now, this isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of wine country, but that’s only because you’re not a kid anymore. If you used to go to Napa when you were a child, you probably have some very fond memories of the TrainTown Railroad.

This amusement park sits on 10 acres and features a 15-inch gauge miniature railway, which is a rather accurate model. It’s a pretty cool attraction when you’re a kid or even an adult train enthusiast. You’ll also enjoy a petting zoo and six vintage amusement rides.

This probably isn’t a place where you’ll spend an entire day, but it would be a very fun morning or afternoon.

2.      Sterling Vineyards

Now, it’s time for that wine tasting. And Sterling Vineyards is probably the best place for it when you have kids. To get there, you’ll take a beautiful gondola ride that soars 300 feet above Calistoga. And when it’s time for the wine tasting, your kids can enjoy gondola-shaped snack boxes with cookies, juice and coloring books to keep them busy.

3.      Hot air balloon ride

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hot air balloon ride above Napa Valley. The views of the rolling hills below will take your breath away, and the thrill is enough to keep the kids entertained during the ride. It’s definitely one of the cooler things you can do in Napa, and it’ll be something you tell your friends about for years to come.

Here are a few tips for making the most out of the experience.

First, be sure to arrive early or right on time. Most companies do not offer refunds, and if you’re 15 minutes late, you’re out of luck.

Next, wear layers. If you’re setting off in the early morning, it’s going to be cold on the ground. The heat from the fire will keep you warm once you get going, but that wait for liftoff can be quite uncomfortable without a jacket.

And finally, try to secure a spot in one of the corners of the basket to get the best selfie moments. This is obviously one you’d want to do with older kids and not toddlers, but it’s definitely a fun family experience.

4.      Old Faithful Geyser

This is one of the few old faithful geysers in the world, and that alone is pretty spectacular.

In fact, in the old days of National Geographic Society, they declared this Old Faithful Geyser as just one of three of its kind.

Interestingly, if this geyser goes off track, meaning it doesn’t erupt within 20 to 30 minute intervals, you can expect an earthquake within the next couple of weeks within a 500 mile radius of the geyser.

So if you’re visiting and the geyser doesn’t erupt on schedule, you may want to distance yourself from the area.

This attraction is one anyone would enjoy, but it’s probably best suited for younger kids.

The geyser itself goes off about every 20 or 30 minutes, and the water shoots up about 50 feet. And the resulting rainbows you’ll see in the spray are extraordinary. They are probably the reason why this is one of the most photographed locations in all of the state.

And while you’re waiting for the big event, there’s a petting zoo to keep you busy. You should know that there is an admission fee that’s about $14 per adult.

5.      Safari West

This Santa Rosa attraction is as much of an African Safari as you’ll get in California. This is seriously a fun and unforgettable experience for the entire family.

Here, you’ll embark on a guided Jeep ride through the “Serengeti of Sonoma” where you’ll encounter many of the same animals you’d find on an African safari.

Obviously, it’s not their natural habitat, but it certainly feels like you’ve been transported to another continent as you gaze upon giraffes, zebras, and rhinos just bathing in the sun.

Go for the 4 pm safari and stay for dinner. You’ll get up close and personal with so many beautiful animals (vastly different than viewing them through fences at a zoo) and have a great meal to finish off your day.

For the perfect kid-friendly day in Napa Valley, set out early for a hot air balloon ride and end your day at Safari West.

Now that you have some inspiration for that family fun vacation to Napa, have you booked your tickets yet?

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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