My darling husband planned a weekend in Napa for me for my birthday! Which is about time, because I have lived in the Bay Area for almost five years now and never been (ok I was pregnant for a large chunk of that time... but still, travesty). Of course, these things never go to plan and there was more than a little panic when our childcare fell through a week before our trip. Like crazy people we decided to do it anyway, babies and all, and treat it like a test-drive now that we have to travel with two kids. I think we all had a great time, even with the sleep deprivation and a surprise bit of projectile vomiting. If you have to take kids with you to Napa (it can be done, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to) then read on for some child-friendly options.
We stayed at the Harvest Inn in St. Helena, and we loved it. This is a great choice if you’re traveling with kids, it was very child friendly and there were a lot of families there. That being said, it didn't feel over-run. We really loved how quiet and secluded the grounds were (I’m positive my husband chose this place because he read a review that referred to it as shire-like). The kids loved the coy pond, the restaurant's garden complete with apiary, and some of the more whimsical sculptures that are scattered around the property. The restaurant, Harvest Table was fantastic, I would recommend eating there even if you aren't staying there. I had the best whiskey cocktail, it’s called the Highlander and you should get one, or three… Definitely make reservations if you want to eat in the dining room, but the bar is comfortable for small plates and appetizers.
This is not the newest or fanciest place you could stay, but it was comfortable, quiet and close to most wineries. There is also a Dean & Deluca within stumbling distance for all of your over-priced but so very pretty culinary needs.
Since we didn't want to deal with grumpy babies and hang-overs we didn't hit the wineries as hard as we might have done. A lot of the wineries are 21 and over and not child friendly, so if you’re traveling with the kiddies, check that out first. We were sort of rolling with the punches so I found a winery on a kid friendly list that looked like we all might enjoy it. We ended up going to Castello Di Amorosa, a replica of a medieval Italian castle complete with turrets and moat. The tastings are done at the bar, but they have a family tasting room with tables for the kids to color at and fancy grape juice. There are also some goats and sheep paddocked outside the exit that you can look at on your way out.
The other winery I would highly recommend was Duckhorn, we were already big fans of the wine, but the winery tasting was amazing. This is by appointment only, but that just means the experience is way more relaxed. Tastings are done at private tables, and they also serve small bites. There were a bunch of babies and small children there as well. Even without the fantastic wines, this is worth it just to sit on their beautiful patio.
I couldn't resist hitting up Yountville on our way out of town. While we still haven't managed to get that reservation at The French Laundry (hahahahaha) and I chickened out of taking the babies into Bouchon Bistro, we did stand in line at Bouchon Bakery for Macrons and it was so worth it.
While I wouldn't take the kids with us the next time we go to Napa, I would definitely say that its doable. So if you're vacationing in the region with your kids, or you're like us and your childcare falls through, don't panic! It can be done.