I know that visiting Napa Valley with kiddos isn’t everyone’s first instinct (obviously, it’s much more romantic to visit as a couple or fun to go with a group of friends, etc.), but we don’t have childcare for Sophie and we didn’t want that to prevent us from visiting one of our favorite destinations this summer! We also love to travel with Sophie so that she can be exposed to all kinds of locations and experiences too. If you want to visit the Napa region with your little ones, it can absolutely be done… but you’ll just have to do it in a modified way.
Sophie is two now and even though she is absolutely in her Toddler Era (🤪), her personality is pretty chill so we felt confident taking her with us to do winery tastings. It’s also worth noting that we have been taking her out to eat with us since she was pretty young, so she’s definitely become familiar with that type of experience and wine tastings are usually fairly similar.
If you’ve been here for a while, you may already be familiar with my Napa Valley Travel Guide — while I still stand by all of those recommendations (what to wear, where to eat, lots of tips like where to fly in/out, etc.), but this updated version includes a couple of spots that are especially kiddo-friendly, specifically for toddler parents.
GENERAL TRIP PLANNING INFO:
We used this article and this article to find family-friendly wineries to visit. Tasting lengths can vary, so take that into consideration when scheduling your tastings according to your little one’s ability to sit still / self entertain; you know your kiddo best!
For this trip we scheduled tastings at: (1) Alpha Omega Signature Selections Tasting, (2) Frog’s Leap Garden Bar Experience, and (3) The Oasis Experience at Hoopes Winery.
Unfortunately, we weren’t in town during the Family Day on the Farm at Frog’s Leap August event, but we would have loved to check it out! Maybe on another future visit because it looks like a great time for all ages!
There are over 400 wineries in the Napa / Sonoma region so there are a TON to choose from and always somewhere new to experience, but I think most locations are geared toward adults and don’t take tots into consideration with their hospitality so if a place interests you, it’s worth reaching out to see if they can accommodate your whole party (including your littlest member!).
Family-friendly dining options (are high chairs and changing tables available?, menus that include approachable food options for non-adventurous eaters, lack of fussy atmosphere if your kiddo accidentally drops some food) — thankfully, California as a whole is very inclusive so most locations will offer these amenities, but it’s worth investigating ahead of time if these concerns sound familiar to you!
For every day’s breakfast we got Bouchon Bakery to-go (which we enjoyed in our hotel room)
For lunch we ate at: Sam’s Social Club and La Calenda
For dinners we ate at: The Restaurant at North Block, The Charter Oak, and Bouchon Bistro
We opted for proper sit-down meals on this visit, but you could choose destinations that are picnic-friendly (like V. Sattui Winery or Tres Sabores!) for outdoor sensory enrichment time, minimizing driving back-and-forth (grab food to-go from Gott’s Roadside, Oakville Grocery, or The Station for picnic locations that allow outside food) and give kids an opportunity to eat in an ultra casual environment.
As far as suggestions for things to do with kids in Napa, I found a great list here (admittedly, most suggestions are geared toward children older than two so this wasn’t particularly helpful for us).
Parks / playgrounds to burn off that toddler energy (I suggest downloading this locator app); we especially liked the look of Fuller Park and Playground Fantastico. Note that these playgrounds weren’t conveniently located near our hotel, but would have been worth traveling to for Sophie to get some playtime. If we had had the time to go, we would have made sure to maximize our time in the area by stopping at little shops and tasting rooms in downtown Napa!
We also suggest a family-friendly hotel with a pool for the same reason ^ (I still stand by my recommendation for the North Block Hotel, but they are a decidedly luxury resort and aren’t the most family-friendly option).
NAPA-SPECIFIC TODDLER TIPS:
(1) Bring your stroller to tastings if your little one is a bit of a wanderer (read: a runner! 😉). It’s so much more challenging to enjoy a tasting if you’re spending all of your attention wrangling your little one. *Note that not all wineries / tastings are stroller-friendly (read: ADA compliant), so this may require reaching out to the winery to confirm before booking.
(2) KEEP THEM HYDRATED. It’s so easy to get dehydrated in the hot California climate, so to prevent this, I always suggest bringing bottles of water with you (wineries don’t always offer water at their tastings). These are our favorite spillproof sippy cups.
(3) Bring snacks and entertainment with you to tastings. This suggestion may feel a bit obvious because that’s essentially all we ever do as toddler parents (😜), but it’s an important one to remember even when out of town. Staying prepared, especially for these periods when you need your littles to stay occupied, will be worth the added effort of keeping snack packs of Goldfish crackers in your tote!
*Also of note: no shame in the tablet game, but don’t forget to download movies and shows ahead of time because not every location offers public WiFi (and if they do, the signal can be weak)!
(4) Coach your kiddo ahead of time and explain what they can expect, to the extent that you can, and how they are expected to behave in the environment (“this is a place where we use our inside voices” etc).
(5) Don’t try to cram in a ton of winery visits every day… space them out reasonably (depending on availability / timing we like to either do two tastings before nap time or one in the morning and one after nap time) to give Sophie time to get her wiggles out between experiences.
(6) Keep as many things consistent for your kiddos as possible. I say this in regards to the things you can control (like providing snacks that they love; having a white noise machine, sleep sack, and their favorite lovey on hand for naps; etc). There will always be a lot of variables when traveling, but having those comfort items will keep things familiar enough for little ones.
Toddler Packing Recommendations:
Keep their clothing choices light and airy, but pack an outerwear layer if you have plans to be out at or after sundown because wine country gets pretty chilly at night! And be sure to pack two more outfits than you think you’ll need, just in case (stains, accidents, etc).
For obvious reasons this sippy is ideal for plane and car rides, and even for meals out.
Reusable Snack Bags
These come in so handy and are easy to toss into your bag with your toddler’s snacks for the day (or at least for a few hours. We also love these little snack cups with closing lids for travel! If your little one will eat pouches (ugh, Sophie won’t!) then these resealable caps are ideal for those half-finished pouches.
The best summer accessory. This small fan has three modes (low, medium and high), can be propped up on a flat surface on it’s little legs like a tripod or the bendable legs can be positioned on parts of a stroller, high chair, etc.
An absolute necessity. We either fill these TSA-approved travel tubes with liquid sunscreen or bring the solid sticks (which kids usually prefer anyway). If you aren’t able to pack your own sunscreen, you’ll want to pick some up at a drugstore or something for any outdoor play / al fresco tastings or meals.
Protect those little eyes from harsh sunshine!
Admittedly, traveling with toddlers is probably the LEAST restful and relaxing experience that there probably is, but it’s always rewarding to expose your little ones to new experiences! And in the worst case scenario if you bring them to Napa with you: you’re still getting to taste wine. lol
I hope this post gave you confidence to visit Napa with your kiddos!
Sending hugs —