Napa Valley has long been known as one of the top wine destinations in the country and the world. This designation has made it where families like yours choose to skip over this area, because everyone thinks it is only about the wine. However, I can tell you there is so much more to do in Napa Valley with your family than drink wine! You can spend days exploring the hillsides in between shopping adventures and time at the pool or the shoreline. Plus, you can still taste a few new wines while the kids wander around a local vineyard. Imagine doing so much during a family vacation in Napa Valley!
The very first grapes were planted in Napa Valley back in 1839. George Yount planted those grapes and the rest you could say is now history! Napa City was founded by Nathan Coombs in 1847. The very first building within the city was a saloon. It was located at the corner of Third Street. A general store was constructed next on Main Street.
None of those buildings could hold a candle to the very first commercial winery in the area though. Charles Krug opened the first winery in Napa Valley back in 1861. Many other wineries opened over the next twenty years and many of them are still serving visitors like yourself today.
Before you think everything has been wonderful in Napa Valley over the years, there have been a few problems. In the early 1900s, everyone started growing walnuts and prunes instead of grapes. This was due to Phylloxera killing the grapes. And of course, Prohibition caused many of the remaining wineries to shut their doors for thirteen years. Could you imagine not being able to drink wine from a winery for that many years?!
The temperatures in Napa Valley begin to rise when springtime approaches. Yet, the rainfall increases as well. This means you must be prepared for cooler temperatures in the morning and evening, and warmer temperatures throughout the day. An umbrella is also going to be handy throughout your entire visit if you choose to go to Napa Valley in the spring.
Summer begins early in Napa Valley with warmer temperatures arriving during the month of June. The hottest temperatures arrive during August, which also happens to be the beginning of harvest season in Napa Valley. It is normally dry during this time of the year, but a storm can come through at any time.
The temperatures begin to drop during the month of September, and you will be throwing a sweatshirt on most days by October and November. Rain begins to fall more often again at this time of the year, but it won’t be enough to make up for the really dry summer.
Surprisingly, it can get really cold in Napa Valley during the winter. The month of January is the coldest with lows reaching down to the middle 30s. Since it doesn’t get warmer than the middle 50s on most days, you will always want to be prepared by dressing properly. Also, this is the time of the year when rain is most likely to fall.
It is easy to pack for a family vacation in Napa Valley during the summer months, because all you need are shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. Throw a pair of sandals and sneakers in your bag and you are ready to go!
The rest of the year will require pants and sweaters or a sweatshirt. A light coat is often necessary early in the day or later in the evening. You won’t need to go all out with the winter gear if you choose to visit Napa Valley during the winter. However, a warm coat or layers can be helpful on the coldest of days.
As I mentioned above, an umbrella can be helpful. And hiking boots are a must if you want to hit the hiking trails.
There are so many things you can do with your family when you visit Napa Valley on your next vacation. You may not be able to spend every day at a winery or taking wine tours. However, you can add one or two to your list without an issue. Most of the wineries are family friendly, so the kids are always going to be welcome. And if you make this a multi-generational vacation, you can always have the grandparents watch the kids while you venture over to a winery for a couple hours!
If you choose to take the kids to a winery, I recommend choosing one that has everything from dungeons and drawbridges. Those wineries will capture your kids’ attention the most!
Activities that are a little more family friendly include visiting a farm to see the animals. History is everywhere in Napa Valley, so take advantage of it by doing a little exploring. Historic parks are filled with wonder and your kids won’t be able to resist a little time out in nature.
You can also choose to go hiking, whether through vineyards or along the nearby trails at a state park.
If your kids love trains, and you love wine, you may want to combine the two and take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. This train ride will allow you to see twenty-five miles of the gorgeous valley. During the ride, you can sip on wine, while the kids enjoy their own juice or soft drink. A little time can also be spent at the Napa Valley Love Lock Bridge.
Art is everywhere at the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. A massive lake, multiple galleries, and sculpture park can be found on two hundred plus acres of land. You will find all these artistic destinations on land that was once a vineyard. If your kids still have some energy left, and want to check out more sculptures, you can head over to the Napa Art Walk.
You cannot spend time in Napa Valley and not check out the Oxbow Public Market. You can easily grab a bite to eat at this market, while shopping for souvenirs at the same time. This is also an excellent place to have a glass of wine, because you can drink it as you are walking around.
Outdoor adventures are everywhere in Napa Valley but a favorite destination of many is Skyline Park. This park is perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and even biking adventures. I recommend you check out the Martha Walker Native Plants Garden during your visit.
Additional top places to check out when on a family vacation in Napa Valley include:
Napa might be known for its wine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t taste some amazing beer during your next family vacation! Time at this local festival will have you tasting more than thirty micro-brewed beers. In between sips, you can chow down on some incredible BBQ and listen to live blues music. The live music is performed on three different stages, so you will have an option of where to sit back and listen if you choose to do so.
Okay, so a Christmas Parade might not be a full festival. However, you can’t go wrong when you attend this holiday parade in Napa Valley. The locals really know how to parade through the town. While you may be used to vehicles and people being lit up, out here, they light up the animals too! You can combine this parade with Holidays in Yountville if you plan your family vacation in Napa Valley during the month of November.
Every September, ten restaurants join together with forty local wineries to create a delicious festival you won’t be able to resist. All the food and wine are placed on a one-thousand-foot-long table, which is placed in the center of downtown Calistoga. Tickets are a must for the meal, which is at six in the evening. However, the hour and a half prior is open to the public. That is when you can sip wine before the highlight of the evening.
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