We just finished up visiting beautiful San Francisco and now it is was time to visit Napa Valley! The great thing about traveling with younger children is that they really don’t care what the final destination is going to be, as long as it is NOT home and there is a swimming pool!
You can read about our visit to San Fran here.
So, we left Walnut Creek, CA and headed towards Fairfield, CA which is about a 30 minute drive from east. We found our hotel, Homewood Suites, and decided to head into Napa, which is about a 15 minute drive from Fairfield. We decided to stay in Fairfield because it was about $100 cheaper a night versus staying in downtown Napa (only 15 minutes away)…hello!
My husband and I have been to Napa before but it has been almost 7 years. The downtown was completely different and for the better! Lots of great new buildings going up with local restaurants, shops, wine tasting rooms, etc. We couldn’t believe it! So, we stopped and walked around downtown for a bit and found a cute toy store. It was a nice break for the kids!
We found a great little restaurant that we all enjoyed, Small World Cafe. It was not your traditional restaurant…which was fun! The server was extremely friendly and they mentioned we could help ourselves to any of the beverage cases (bottled water, Snapple, Ice tea, soda, milk, etc), or if we wanted a beer we could order through them. The menu was mostly Middle Eastern food but if I remember correctly, the kids got cheeseburgers and fries.
After lunch, we decided to hit up a winery to finish up the day. We were advised by many to leave Napa before 4pm otherwise it will take us a good hour to get back to Fairfield (normally a 15 minute drive). So, we headed north for a bit and ended up at the Monticello Winery. What a beautiful property! My husband and I went inside to get a glass of wine and decided to take it outside to enjoy the beautiful views.
The time was quickly approaching the 4pm mark so we decided to jet and get back to the hotel before traffic got too bad. We actually should have left a little bit earlier…we still hit quite a bit going back.
The kids were ready to hit up the complimentary dinner that the Homewood Suites puts on Monday thru Friday. Plus, they have complimentary wine and beer too! It was a great ending to a great day!
The next day, the kids wanted to do something a little hands on, instead of walking around and looking at stores. Luckily, the Jelly Belly factory was only a 5 minute car ride from our hotel (Homewood Suites)! They were so excited to visit this wonderland of sweetness, and quite frankly, so was I! You know the old saying, “the early bird gets the worm”, well our family isn’t actually the early birds..well not all of us. By the time we all got ready and ate our complimentary breakfast, it was around 11am when we arrived at Jelly Belly. The line was really long for the the factory tours so we decided to skip it, which was fine anyways. The Jelly Belly store, Jelly Belly artwork (yes….artwork), Jelly Belly samples, and Jelly Belly food court was enough for kiddos. We probably spent a good hour walking around looking at everything and found a few gifts to take home.
After our sugar rush at Jelly Belly, we were getting hungry and decided to make our way back into Downtown Napa. Of course, the kids fell asleep on the drive so we took a few extra minutes and drove around downtown looking for a place to eat. We found a great place on the Napa River in downtown called Downtown Joe’s Brewery & Restaurant. A great family-friendly restaurant that has plenty of seating (indoor & outdoor), plenty of flat screen TVs to watch your favorite sports, great microbrews, plenty of local wine, and great food for the kids! A win-win for everyone in our family!
While we were eating lunch we saw a bunch of ducks in Napa River and our server kindly offered our kids some crackers to feed the ducks. The kids loved it even though the rain had just started. The kids were ready to swim, and it was about time to get out of Napa before the traffic got too crazy.
The pool at our hotel was being serviced so the hotel staff directed us to their “sister property” next door, the Staybridge Suites. Nice indoor pool with hot tub and plenty of space and seating. We haven’t stayed at Staybridge Suites before but it would be on our list for family travel. As we were leaving the hotel, I noticed they also have a complimentary dinner (pizza and spaghetti), and complimentary beer and wine! Winner, winner chicken dinner! I’m not sure which days they host the complimentary food and beverages…it maybe similar to the Homewood Suites.
We couldn’t decide if we wanted to stay another night or make our way up to the Redwoods and the California coast. We finally decided to finish up Napa Valley and make our way up to Medocino, CA. We packed up the car the next morning but had to make 2 more stops before we departed.
The first stop was, Castello di Amorosa, the “Castle of Napa Valley”. It is a winery and also an Tuscan style castle! We were all excited to get inside. There are castle tours but we opted to walk around the free area of the castle and did some wine tasting. One of the reasons that I really enjoyed this winery is because they have grape juice for the kids and a large table with crayons and
coloring sheets. It was just enough to keep them occupied while we picked out our favorite wine!
After our wine tasting we were getting hungry and drove down to Santa Rosa for lunch. We heard that Russian River Brewery had great food for the whole family so we decided to give it a try. We were not disappointed! It is a very large restaurant and we were seated immediately, even though they were packed. We order a pizza for the whole family and my husband got a flight of the beer. The server asked if he wanted a “half” or “full” flight…of course he said full flight! Oh my goodness! See the picture below of the full flight and what was included. It was a good thing it was my turn to drive! Luckily, the people sitting next to us were interested in the beer and my husband gladly shared.
It was time to hit the road and leave the Napa Valley area make our journey to Medocino on the California Coast. Napa Valley with the kids was a great experience for us!
Tell us about your trip to Napa Valley in the comments below!
Check out our next post as we our way to the Redwoods and California Coast!