City Stories: Napa and The Coast of California, part 1 of 2
The Field Trip Newsletter: #32
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City Stories: Napa and The Coast of California
We recently took our first plane ride in two years. That’s a long time for a family that travels as much as we do, but we have been sticking close to home besides a few small road trips. We decided for our first time out that we wanted to visit family faraway. My grandparents-in-law live in Napa Valley, and since it had been two years since we saw them, that is where we knew we needed to go. We’d had such a great visit to them this same time in 2019 that we wanted to add to that trip. Jump below to recreate your journey to Northern California, and let me know how you like it if you can go.
Napa Valley isn’t the first place that you think to take your children for a vacation, but honestly, it’s a marvelous place to visit with children. It is full of some of the best food in the country, there’s so much to do besides visiting wineries, and it is an incredibly relaxing place. More to do than visit wineries, you say? Well, yes, let’s jump in.
We’ve been to one or two wineries with our son, and even then, it was to wander the grounds. There’s so much more to this beautiful region and so much to explore.
I’ve rounded up a list for you for family-friendly activities, but please do let me know if you know of other things too. I’m always looking to add to my list.
Wander the main street in Calistoga. Great shops, bookstores, restaurants, art galleries, and more in this charming little town.
Hike in Bothe Napa Valley State Park
Pick up picnic goods from Bouchon Bakery
Swim in Lake Berryessa
Hike to the falls at Linda Falls
Book a family tasting at Frog’s Leap Winery. They offer a flight of sodas for the kids.
Visit the Petrified Forest
Sign up for a family cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America
Take a family train wine tour
Rent bikes for a ride through the valley from Napa Valley Bike Tours and Rentals
Eat at the Oxbow Public Market
See olive oil made at Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing
Eat burgers at Gott’s Roadside
Visit a chocolate factory at Kollar Chocolates
Visit the Napa Farmers Market
In Sonoma, but worth the drive, eat at El Molino Central
*Secret spot* Get happy hour oysters for $1.50 apiece from Pizzeria Tra Vigne. We had the patio to ourselves and ate dozens of Tomales Bay oysters. It was very kid-friendly and very unpretentious.
After leaving Napa Valley, we headed to the coast…
Our son loves oysters like no child I’ve ever met, so in support of this love in him, we took him to a tour of the famed Hog Island Oyster Co. Kids under 12 can tour for free. The tour is very interesting and we learned so much about the art of sustainable oyster farming.
On to Point Reyes National Seashore…
Point Reyes National Seashore:
We went straight to the visitor’s center at Point Reyes National Seashore and picked up a map and a passport for Tom to get a stamp in. From there we drove through shoreline and cattle ranches to reach the Chimney Rock parking lot and walk down to see the Elephant Seals. They were all napping, but it was still really special to see them in the wild. On the way back we stopped by Drakes Beach, which is a beach that feels like it was right out of the English Channel.
Take your time here. Explore. Get out of the car when you can. Visit the cute little towns of Point Reyes Station, Inverness, and stop through Tomales Bay State Park.
After an afternoon of exploring, we headed to Tony’s Seafood Resturant for an early dinner. This is owned by the folks at Hog Island and was just named a Bib Gourmand from Micheline guide. It was delicious! Everything is hearty portions, so just be prepared.
I’m going to write this city story in two parts. It’s so packed with information that I want to be able to get it all to you. I’ll send out part two tomorrow…
As always, thanks for reading!