It may seem like an oxymoron but “kid-friendly wine tasting excursions” are not only possible in Napa, they can also offer opportunities for learning.
However it goes without saying that alcohol should be imbibed in moderation and that you should avoid getting behind the wheel of a car if you have been drinking.
You may also want to think carefully about the type of wine tasting trip you want to experience when visiting California’s Napa region. If you are looking to try as many wines as possible, not to mention visit as many wineries as you can, this is not the right trip for your kids. But if you are looking to parlay a little wine tasting with other nearby family-friendly activities like Safari West, Old Faithful and the Petrified Forest, here is how you can do it.
Step Back in Time at Castello di Amorosa
While the castle is only two decades old, it has been styled to look like a 13th century Tuscan castle, complete with moat, drawbridge, livestock, frescoes, towers and a dungeon. This in and of itself is extremely cool (for kids and adults alike). But not everything is comparatively new. You will also find wine-related antiques dating back over a hundred years old, including old wagons, dotted throughout the grounds.
Regardless, Castello di Amorosa represents a great opportunity to talk about Europe in the Middle Ages – or simply let your child pretend they are a princess/knight/king for the day.
There is also a great wine tasting room downstairs that is just for families. Here you can enjoy a tasting at the standing bar, while your child sits and makes friends at an oversized table, complete with coloring sets, breadsticks and cups of their own special “wine juice.”
Picnic at V. Sattui
Visitors to Napa may be surprised to know that most wineries are legally not allowed to serve real food – cheese and crackers, yes, but restaurant-style food, no.
V. Sattui Winery, with its onsite Italian Deli, scrumptious barbeque, and two acres of picnic grounds is an exception to the rule. Its lawns and gardens are also perfect for little legs to explore before (or after) you sample the wine and a wood-fired pizza.
Take a Sky Ride at Sterling Vineyards
The best kind of tours, when you are with young children, are often the ones that are self-paced and without a schedule. And that is exactly what you get at Sterling Vineyards. The fact that you can make your own way between wine tasting stations – located throughout the grounds, both indoors and out – makes the whole experience much more doable with kids.
And the views from the terrace are spectacular. You can even see Castello di Amorosa in the distance.
Best of all, is the aerial tram that takes you up to the winery. What child doesn’t like riding in a cable car?
Fly.com Expert Tips
How To Get There: The closest major airport, San Francisco International Airport (SFO), is approximately 60 miles from Napa Valley. Oakland International Airport (OAK) is an alternative, and is about 50 miles away, but depending on where you’re flying from, there are more options for flying into San Francisco. From San Francisco, you can just rent a car and drive over to Napa. San Francisco Airport is served by over 40 domestic and international airlines. Information regarding area transportation is available here.
Best Time To Visit: Although summer is the most popular time for tourists, it is often characterized by fog and wind – so pack a sweater — and be prepared to pay higher hotel prices during this peak season. September and October, as well as spring months, tend to have the most pleasant weather. But year-round, although temperatures are moderate, visitors should prepare to dress in layers. One of the best times to visit is during the less-busy winter, which coincides with holiday shopping and lower hotel rates.
Sample Fares: Calendars display lowest roundtrip fares over the next 90 days to San Francisco from:
* All fares are roundtrip including all taxes and are accurate at time of publication. For updated pricing, conduct a new search on Fly.com.
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