10 Family Friendly Things to do in Napa Valley

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In general, one does not think “Napa Valley + Kids”, but on our recent visit, our kids had the best time (and so did we!)  Here is a guide from our friends Mark & Kris Hoffmeister of the Wydown Hotel in St. Helena and their  favorite picks for 10 Family Friendly Things to do in Napa Valley…

Here’s what Kris wrote:

My husband and I love living, working and most importantly raising our three little girls (ages 5,4 & 1) in a truly beautiful and unique place, the Napa Valley. Our kids are exposed to nature, agriculture, fresh, wholesome food and have limited knowledge of fast food and strip malls (no chain restaurants are allowed up valley). While most visitors come to Napa for girls’ weekend, birthday celebrations and romantic getaways, there are many family friendly options as well. Here is a list of our favorite family activities (the list does not end here). . . . . Happy reading and cheers to planning your wine country weekend!

Wine tasting is not off limits with the kids. Stick to larger wineries with outdoor space to run. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Frog’s Leap: Opt for the Garden Tasting. This casual tasting allows you and the kids to explore the surrounding gardens and orchard. There are chickens, a resident cat & straw hats to borrow while roaming.

2. Velo Vino: This tasting room for Clif Family Wines (yes, Clif Bars) offers a unique experience blending, wine and cycling in an inviting setting. The patio out back offers more room to roam and frequent live music. They give the kids snacks & offer free wi-fi in case you need to re-load the iPad with movies & games for the wee-ones.

3. Rombauer: Explore the winding garden and sculpture park at this winery. You will end up with a breathtaking view of the valley.

4. Frank Family: There is room to run and roam at Frank Family. After your tasting, relax at the picnic tables, run in the grass or sit under the giant elm trees.

5. Gotts: The original St. Helena locale specializing in burgers and shakes has ample outdoor seating, more grass to run around and a view of the wine train. Save room for a milkshake!!

6. Oxbow Public Market: Wander and taste through this gourmet food hall. Sit indoors or out. Wander out back for a view of the Napa River. Our favorite stop for lunch is C Casa for tacos followed by coffee at Ritual. Kiddo faves include Kara’s Cupcakes and three twins ice cream.

7. Farmstead: Farm-to-table and family friendly. The menu changes seasonally- but don’t miss out on the meatballs. If the kids need a break during dinner stroll through the garden or take a seat at a picnic table outside.

8. Yountville Park: A favorite playground right off highway 29. Pack a lunch, stretch your legs and let the kids have some fun.

9. Cornerstone Sonoma: If you are driving from Napa to SF, take the scenic route through Sonoma and stop at Cornerstone. Take the kids and walk around the one-of-a-kind garden installations (free admission). Need a shopping fix – explore Zipper and Artefact. There is also a restaurant and tasting room on the grounds.

10. Market at Carneros Inn & Play Bocce: Located on Carneros Highway between Sonoma and Napa. Grab a quick sandwhich or salad at the Market and eat while playing a game of bocce.

Wydown Hotel, St. Helena

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The Wydown Hotel in St. Helena

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A couple of weeks ago my husband, Mike, took part in the Vineman 70.3 race up in Sonoma County.  He spent so much time training & prepping for this race over the last 6 months we decided the girls and I had to be there to cheer him cross the finish line He finished strong and we were SO proud!  As a treat, after the race we extended our stay and ventured over to the Wydown Hotel in St. Helena for a few days of R&R.

When Mike signed up for this race he called our friend Mark from college to see if we could come stay at his newly remodeled boutique hotel called The Wydown.  The Wydown is located in historic downtown St. Helena in the breathtaking Napa Valley.

Since Mike had so much gear for the race, we packed the car (to the brim) and made the 8 hour drive north.  Our girls actually do pretty well on car trips with the DVD player and a few fun snacks + suckers.  We woke up SUPER early and hit the road so they sleep through some of it.

Or if you prefer to fly it’s easy to travel into Oakland, San Francisco or Sacramento, rent a car and make the 1.5-2 hour drive.

St. Helena is rich with scenic countryside and small town charm boasting some of the world’s best wineries, great shops, art galleries, theaters and an almost an overwhelming amount of amazing dining opportunities.

The Wydown Hotel is located in the heart of it all~on the north end of Main Street, a few steps to just about everything.

Mark and his wife Kris bought the 12 room Inn a few years ago, fully remodeled it and re-opened it in May 2011 and named it after their favorite street in Mark’s hometown of St. Louis.

It is gorgeous.  I was SO impressed.  I just loved all the choices they’ve made, the feel is cozy but with very clean lines.  The architecture is classic, yet has a current vibe.

The Wydown is just oozing with charm.  There is a puzzle on the table in the lobby just screaming at you:   s l o w   d o w n.  You’re on vacation!   

It totally feels more like you’re visiting a super stylish designer home rather than a big chain hotel.  

Our room was just perfect- everything is brand new and it feels it!  Clean and plush and elegant, with very high ceilings.  They’ve thought of everything down to the adorable smaller Keurig coffee makers and mini fridges in each room.

Our room even had this uber cozy tempur-pedic pull out chair bed.  Perfect for our Sadie to cozy up on each night.

As a guest at the Wydown you can enjoy a free coffee at the nearby Napa Valley Roasting Company, work out/swim at the Health Spa Napa Valley, wine taste at the Materra Tasting Room (adjacent to the lobby) or utilize the Conceirge to set up a wine tours, dinners or other activities in Napa Valley.

We had such a blast galavanting around the Valley we can’t wait for our next visit!  I would have never thought of visiting the Wine Country with my kids but it turns out there are a ton of fun family friendly things to do in this area.

Stay tuned for a Post of Mark & Kris’s “10 Favorite Family Friendly Things to do in Napa Valley”…

Wydown Hotel

1424 Main Street

St. Helena, CA 94574




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