napa valley

The town of Napa is a good home base for exploring the Napa Valley with kids. There's plenty of restaurants, cafes, bakeries, delis (our favorite the Oxbow Public Market), farmers market May to October, family friendly hotels and house rentals, public parks for picnic suppers and hiking in the hills close by.

Napa River Promenade - Take a walk along the Napa River, on the big wide promenade that goes along the river front from the Napa River Inn (historic Hatt Building), north to the Veterans Memorial Park (Third and Main St). Lots of ducks in the water (but don't feed them). At the park, bring your picnic lunch and sit out on the grassy seating area.
Napa Fire Fighters Museum - This small museum is a gem, stuffed to the gills with old fashioned fire trucks, hand drawn hose carts, a horse drawn fire truck, whole collection of toy fire trucks, hats, uniforms, hoses, nozzles, fire alarm boxes, model fire house, and two huge stuffed dalmatian dogs. Kids will have a great time. Open Wed. to Fri.
Napa Valley Wine Train - Take a three hour train ride from Napa to St. Helena and back. In the Silverado Car, May through October, food can be ordered from the a la carte menu (which includes hamburgers, chicken and ribs etc.). This is definitely a splurge experience, but this old-fashioned train has a great ambiance and it's a luxurious feeling "drifting" through the Napa Valley. There are special holiday trains, such as Mother's Day, Easter, Santa and Christmas trains. Call 800.427.4124 for more information, children's rates, and reservations.
Fuller Park - Right in the historic part of town, Fuller Park is a big old shady park, with plenty of picnic tables, a large playground with climbing structures and swings, and a great place for kids and parents alike to relax.
Napa High School Pool (Jefferson St.) - At Napa Valley High School, there is public swimming mid June - mid August, Mon. & Wed. 2:00-5:00pm, Sat. 1:00- 4:00pm.
Connolly Ranch (Browns Valley Rd.) - Little ones will be charmed with a visit to the Connolly Ranch, a little farm with a barn and pond. The chickens, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, are lots of fun. (Days they're open to the public are variable, currently walk ins are Wednesday afternoon 3 - 5pm.) Click here for family events or call ahead 707. 224.1894.
Westwood Hills Park and Carolyn Par Nature Center (Browns Valley Rd.) - Next to the Connolly Ranch, Westwood Hills Park has picnic tables (this is a great place for picnic dinner in summer) and easy trails for a hike through the oak trees. At the Nature Center, open on weekends 1:00 - 4:00pm, there are dioramas of plants and animals of the Napa Valley, and exhibits of rocks and minerals, an insect display, plus a touch corner of skins and skulls.
Skyline Wilderness Park (Imola Ave.) - Get out and hike in the rolling hills east of Napa. The easiest hike is on Lake Marie Road, 2 miles to Lake Marie (bring your fishing rods, no swimming in the lake). One of our favorite trails is the Marie Creek Trail, which follows a bubbling creek lined with leafy ferns, under the shade of the oak and laurel trees. Skyline Wilderness Park is the perfect place to bring a picnic, there are plenty of tables in the shade, right next to the parking lot and native plant garden.
Fun food
Oxbow Public Market (First St.) - The Oxbow Public Market is our favorite place to eat with kids in Napa - locally made ice cream, cupcakes, bakery goodies, sandwiches, hamburgers, salads, tacos, coffee and wine. Family friendly, there are even kids' size tables. Also there's live music in the evening; click here for a calendar of events.
Also in the parking lot next to the Oxbow Public Market, Napa Farmers Market, with local vegetables, fruits, baked goods, takeaway food, May to October, Tues. and Sat.

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