It stays warm and sunny all the way through October in Saratoga, so if you’re looking for a new outdoor adventure for the kids, Villa Montalvo is a real treat to visit and it isn’t far to go.  The villa’s beautiful grounds are home to a collection of  eye-catching, whimsical sculptures that everyone will enjoy, there’s a gigantic picnic lawn, and oodles of space for the kiddos to run and play games.

When to go: Spring through to early fall, especially if you plan to have lunch outside.

Travel time: Saratoga is located 47 miles south of San Francisco.

What to see/do: Explore the formal Italianate and cactus gardens, discover some never-seen-before trees at the arboretum, enjoy lunch al fresco, search for sculptures (you’ll often find them in unexpected places), play a game of catch, Bean Bag Toss, or T-Ball on the lawn,  and make the most of the gorgeous surroundings for snapping some great photos to send to family and friends. If you have older kids, or a baby who loves to see the world from a backpack carrier, take them on a hike along a shady forest trail or two in the hills behind the villa.   If you’re all up for it, walk the entire two-mile loop (take a peek at the trail map on Villa Montalvo’s website for more info.)

Where to have lunch: Bring your own, or stop at Vienna Woods Delicatessen on 14567 Big Basin Way in downtown Saratoga for freshly-made sandwiches to go and other yummy creations.

What to bring: Pack a blanket to picnic on, a camera for all those photo-ops, sunscreen, and good walking shoes for everyone if you’re  going for a hike.

How to dress: Warm weather clothes are best, and remember the sun hats.

Bonus: Be sure to stop by artist/celebrity Yoko Ono’s ‘Imagine Peace’ Wish Tree, with its hundreds of wish-tags made by visiting families.  Find out more about the project by clicking here.

Cost of trip: Inexpensive. It’s all free (parking included).  Want to visit the villa itself? You’ll need to wait until the kiddos are a wee bit older; docent-led tours last 2 hours, so are geared to ages 12 and up.


– Annie Sheldon