How to make a trip to Napa Wine Country successful… with a Toddler

My husband and I are HUGE foodies/wineos. We are the type of people who believe that food should be an experience and love the adventure of finding hidden gem restaurants everywhere we go. This might make it obvious that we are big Napa fans… it is basically our Disney World.

Our last visit to Napa I was pregnant with our daughter, so I got to eat a lot of good food, but sadly only watched my hubby drink all the amazing wine. Every sip he took was followed by lots of “Mmmm’s” then a comment about how this was the best wine he had ever had. So, this year, I decided to call in a solid “you owe me”, and we planned our fall vacation to Napa Valley so I could do the tasting this time 😉

At this point our daughter is now 20 months old, and though I am sure it would be fine I am just not emotionally ready to leave my daughter overnight, let alone for a week-long road trip. We decided to make it a family road trip and drive down from Seattle to Napa just the three of us! The driving itself is a story for another time, but the time spent in wine country was incredible, and I was very grateful for a handful of kid-friendly wineries and restaurants we came across while we were there.

We spent most of our time in the Calistoga area, and here are some wineries and activities I would absolutely recommend if attempting California wine country with kids:

Castello Di Amorosa

I am not one for gimmicks, but this winery is seriously amazing if you are toting kids with you. The grounds take you back to a historic, authentically built castle, equipped with pigs, goats and geese pastured outside for kids to look at, while indoors there are winding staircases up to towers, a stone wine cellar for tasting, and even a re-created ‘torture room’ if you do the full tour. Go to the back room in the tasting cellar and there is a kids table with coloring pages, and they even have their own pressed grape juice so kiddos can ‘taste’ too. The tasting room was pretty noisy and busy even on a week day, so it was refreshing to be somewhere that I didn’t have to worry about trying to keep a busy toddler quiet.



Tamber Bey Vineyards

The vineyard is a converted stable with a super cool story, and Arabian horses at pasture all around. We sat outside and the person pouring tastings was so kind to our daughter, and sat out with us giving us the winery history despite lots of squirming J. They also offer a ‘cookie parking’ to go with the tasting flight, and our daughter enjoyed little nibbles of those with us.

Sam’s Social Club

This restaurant was stellar! The atmosphere was very cozy with a big fireplace and soft benches topped with oversized throw pillows. For its upscale feel, they were still very kid-friendly… even though our daughter still had chicken fingers, it was the fanciest little kids plate I had ever seen. My husband and I had rave-review meals and the wine list was awesome.


Gott’s Roadside Cafe

A fun place in St. Helena to go for lunch. It’s a drive-in type roadside burger joint, but still have a great menu, wine and beer on tap, and a delicious list of homemade milkshake flavors. Stopping here and eating outside on the picnic table was a fun change of pace from all the upscale eating we had been over-indulging in.

Enjoying a handmade Strawberry Shake outside at Gott’s Roadside.

Goose and Gander

Guys. This place is AMAZING. The food knocked our socks off and they are especially known for their craft cocktail list. With kids, go when you can sit out on their beautiful patio. They have a coy pond and give LO’s little cups of food to feed the fish. I was tickled when they brought her a Peter Cotton Tail book with the kid’s menu pasted on the inside of the front cover… plus the waitress wasted no time bringing our daughter’s meal immediately which we all know is a life saver with toddler attention spans 🙂

Hubby had a bone marrow burger and I had the most amazing roast chicken. Vivienne loved her mac and cheese and “balls” (Peas).


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