Where in the world can you pet a dolphin, dodge a geyser, fly high in a hot air balloon, ogle at ostriches, and tour a castle â all in a single day? Napa Valley, of course.
California’s Napa Valley is famous for its 300+ vineyards and wineries, but there’s so much more. It’s also an exciting, family-friendly destination. The area’s beautiful scenery draws hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. If your family prefers water sports, the Napa River has cruises, boat rentals, and even kayaking for the adventurous.
The Napa Valley is a short drive from San Francisco. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (formerly Marine World) is nearby in the town of Vallejo. Children (of all ages) are entranced by the marine shows featuring dolphins, seals, and killer whales. The many amusement park rides range from 11 gravity-defying roller coasters including the Boomerang â which goes backwards â to go carts, climbing walls, and toddler-friendly water play areas.
Continue north and you reach the town of American Canyon, gateway to the Napa Valley. The town offers affordable lodging options and convenient access to Napa and Sonoma County vineyards. Many wineries offer special wine tasting events, behind-the-scenes tours, and dinner packages.
The town of Napa is just 7 miles from American Canyon. Along with upscale shopping and dining options, the town is home to many Napa Valley tour companies. The hot air balloon tours won’t take you around the world, but do offer an exhilarating birds-eye view of the serene wine county landscape. Depending on the tour package, extras may include a champagne toast or even full gourmet breakfast after your flight.
There’s plenty to do on the ground too, as you continue north. Many families head straight for the small town of Calistoga, where wineries meet geysers.
The âLittle Old Faithful” geyser is a top attraction. Stand back â way back! â and watch as scalding hot water shoots over 50 feet into the air every 30 minutes or so.
While the geyser is an impressive display of the area’s geothermal activity now, the Petrified Forest is a powerful reminder of the area’s violent volcanic history. Three million years ago, a massive volcanic eruption toppled a Redwood forest and covered it in a thick layer of ash. The silica-rich ash eventually turned the trees into solid stone. There’s a museum and shady trail where you can view the major tree excavations.
Calistoga’s Safari West offers a different sort of trail â one filled with cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, and other exotic animals. It’s not just an animal park; Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve dedicated to education and wildlife preservation. Visitors can take guided safari tours and even stay overnight in a luxury safari tent. Be sure to plan ahead: reservations are required for all tours.
Now, any parent who managed all this in a single day would surely be ready for at least one glass of wine. The Castello di Amorosa is just the place. Set in a stunning castle, the winery offers relaxing horse-drawn vineyard tours and welcomes visiting families with a special area for kids to enjoy grape juice and coloring while parents attend an adults-only area wine tasting.
Of course, nobody could adequately experience the Napa Valley in a single day. You may visit the first time just for the wine, but you’ll soon discover that Napa has something for everyone in your family to enjoy. The area’s beauty and diversity beckons to travelers of all ages, encouraging many repeat visits.
Calistoga Police and Fire Log: Officers report: ‘Dogs gone’
2:09 a.m. — An officer responded to a neighborhood off Foothill Boulevard on the report of a suspicious vehicle driving slowly. The vehicle had left before officers arrived.
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