When visiting California’s wine country, you probably have visions of a delicious glass of cabernet or chardonnay overlooking the romantic vineyards. But California’s famous wine country isn’t just for couples! Napa and Sonoma have a lot of fun, family-friendly activities, too.
As you might expect from one of the world’s most well known wine regions, Napa and Sonoma offer an incredible number of kid-friendly wineries. But beyond the vineyards, you’ll find quaint towns like Calistoga and Indian Springs, unique attractions like a wine train and a wildlife zoo nestled among the trees.
Kids will have a blast exploring the area’s many museums, wineries that have special perks for kids, and the beautiful forests and other natural wonders that make this one of the nation’s most beautiful destinations.
Did we miss something? Leave a comment below, and we’ll update our guide!
1. Sonoma TrainTown Railroad
If it’s trains your kiddos are into (or even if they’re not!), a visit to Train Town is a must. This miniature amusement park in the middle of the wine country is both cute and fun for kids. The ‘grand’ scale railroad, charming carousel, and other train themed rides and attractions are a blast for any little engineer. Be sure to check the website for hours of operation.
Location: 20264 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476
2. Safari West
While the last thing you might expect is a zoo right in the middle of wine country, there’s an African-style “Sonoma Serengeti” teeming with exotic wildlife. Safari West will transport your kids to another continent, courtesy of its 400 acres of exquisite land that play home to more than 900 unusual mammals and their feathered friends.
You can take a large group tour, or an even more memorable jeep tour (sit on the top of it!) to observe animals like giraffes, antelope, addax and cape buffalo in their natural habitat. Walking tours and overnight “glamping” in luxury tents are also available options.
Location: 3115 Porter Creek Rd., Santa Rosa, CA
3. Larson Family Winery
At Larson Family Winery, it’s all about great wine and family fun. Anything but stuffy, the tasting room and grounds have a ‘down home’ vibe—there are pet goats, bocce ball courts, an expansive lawn for picnicking, and vineyard horseback rides.
Location: 23355 Millerick Rd, Sonoma, CA
4. Sterling Vineyards
If the grown-ups have their hearts set on doing some tasting, there are a few wineries up here that cater to kiddos. At Sterling Vineyards, kids enjoy a tram ride with great views at the top.
Location: 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA
5. Castello di Amorosa
The ultra-romantic Castello di Amorosa resembles a medieval Italian castle, and provides grape juice for children to sip on while their parents taste the real deal.
Location: 4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA
6. The Old Faithful Geyser of CA and the Tennessee Fainting Goats
Earthquake predictor. Rainbow maker. On-time awe-inspirer…Call it what you will, but the Old Faithful Geyser of CA lives up to the hype. Old Faithful goes off every 20 to 30 minutes, often creating rainbows in the mist. It’s also a reliable predictor of earthquakes when its eruption patterns become irregular. Onsite picnic nooks, serene gardens and the Old Faithful Goat Farm—including Jacob’s Four-Horn Sheep, Guard Llamas and the famed Tennessee Fainting Goats with myotonia congenita, which makes them topple over when excited or surprised—combine to create the recipe for a truly delightful day excursion.
Location: 1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA
7. The Petrified Forest
Visit the World’s Largest Petrified Forest, where you’ll find California’s majestic redwood giants with a twist: they were turned to stone by a volcanic eruption long ago. All the petrified trees are on the main trail, which is about a half-mile walk. Walk the trail on your own, or take a docent-led tour.
Location: 4100 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, CA.
Online: California’s Petrified Forest
8. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
When it comes to kid-friendly wine country hotels, the Calistoga Spa Hot Spring is the best. Its multiple geothermal mineral pools make it a favorite for both kids and adults. There’s a soaking pool that never exceeds 100°F; a slightly “chillier” large 80°F lap pool, that’s perfect for splashing around; and a shallow wading pool with a trickle-down waterfall—ideal for babies and toddlers. Nearby is a large whirlpool that guests age 12 and up can enjoy. Surrounding the pool are ample chaise lounges, tables and chairs in both shady and sunny areas. Families can fire up some meals on one of the many BBQ grills directly outside of the pool area, equipped with adjacent seating spaces as well. Guestrooms—which have kitchenettes—also surround the pool, so are convenient for quick changes for the littles. Spa services are on hand for parents to sneak away for some relaxation—and the hotel’s location is convenient to downtown Calistoga for easy off-property exploration.
Location: 1006 Washington St. Calistoga, CA
Located in Sonoma County’s wine country, this glamping spot is a destination in its own right. Located on the Russian River near the fun downtown of Guerneville, you’ll find rows of modernized Airstream trailers nestled among the trees, all for overnight camping.
Boasting indoor and outdoor fire pits, a mid-century modern architectural clubhouse, and many more amenities, AutoCamp is a stone’s throw from river activities like tubing and kayaking. Plus, our sources say there are plenty of other kids.
Location: 14120 Old Cazadero Road Guerneville, CA 95446
10. Cornerstone Gardens
At Cornerstone Gardens, kids can explore totally unique gardens designed by the world’s most innovative landscape architects, all for free! Our favorite is the 1,800 square foot garden made exclusively of colored pinwheels! Guided tours are also available by appointment.
Location: 23570 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476
Online: Cornerstone Gardens
Traveling to other cities with your kids? Don’t miss Red Tricycle’s guides to the best family activities in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C.