Calistoga is primarily known as an adult destination for wine and wellness, but there are lots of fun things to do here with the kids. If you’re traveling as a family, you can all enjoy the attractions, outdoor activities and laidback dining as part of a kid-friendly trip to wine country.
Here’s a plan to get you and your family started:
Check into your room at one of many kid-friendly hot springs resorts such as Carlin Country Cottages, with family suites and private cottages, or Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa, which features road trip-themed décor, board games and a hula hoop in the rooms. Other great options include Calistoga Arbors, which features one- and two-bedroom cottages, and the Best Western PLUS Stevenson Manor, where the breakfast room is family-friendly.
Go for a walk or ride bikes along the Vine Trail from Washington Street to Dunaweal Lane where you can stop for a visit to Sterling Vineyards. The aerial tram to the top of the hill is fun and visual eye-candy for everyone. Once you arrive to the top, you can take a self-guided tour of the winery, where adults can taste a variety of world-class wines while the whole family enjoys the spectacular Napa Valley view.
By the time you head back downtown, everyone should be hungry for dinner! Try the kid-friendly pastas at Bosko’s Trattoria and Checkers Restaurant, the handmade pizzas at La Prima Pizza or go for Mexican food at Pacifico Mexicano Restaurante.
If you’re staying at one of the hot springs resorts, this would be a good time to take an evening swim in the mineral pools before bedtime.
The quirky Café Sarafornia is a good stop for an old-fashioned diner-style breakfast of pancakes or waffles for the kids, while cuevos rancheros or more upscale options are on the menu for adult palates. While you’re there, you’ll learn a bit about the history of Calistoga and how the town is rumored to have been named!
Continue the history lesson with a visit to the Sharpsteen Museum, which features a massive diorama of what Calistoga looked like in the 1860s, complete with an authentic stagecoach. Walk through the restored cottage that was one of the original buildings in Calistoga, and explore the history of our town.
Next, drive down to Castello di Amorosa, a winery modeled after a 13th-century Tuscan castle. Sign up for a guided tour through the vaulted barrel room, torture chamber, dungeon and other fun areas of the castle complex. While the adults taste wine in the main tasting room, kids can try the winery’s non-alcoholic grape juice!
For another historic stop, check out the Bale Grist Mill just to the south of the castle. The mill was built in 1846 and has an impressive 36-foot water wheel. If visiting on a Saturday, you can even watch the attendants mill grain — and you take home a bag of freshly milled flour!
On your way back into town, stop by Buster’s Southern BBQ and pick up pulled pork sandwiches to go. Take your dinner to Old Faithful Geyser of California, where you can head to the picnic prep area and help yourselves to wine chillers, glasses, silverware, plates and napkins. Relax in the covered cabanas with a view of the geyser as it faithfully erupts amid a backdrop of the setting sun. Once you’ve finished eating, stroll to the geology exhibit about learn more about the region before partaking in a bit of bocce ball. Be sure to walk over to the petting zoo where you will find Tennessee fainting goats.
Another fun option for dinner is the Napa Valley Wine Train, a delightful experience for children and adults alike. You will enjoy a meal, wine and beautiful vistas of the Napa Valley while the kids will thrill at riding on a real-life train!
Today is all about outdoor adventure! In the morning, grab a quick bite to eat and wash it down with coffee for the grown-ups and hot cocoa for the kids at Calistoga Roastery.
On your way out of Calistoga, drive up to the Petrified Forest, where you can hike a mile through new growth forest and trees petrified 3.5 million years ago when the nearby volcano, Mt. Saint Helena erupted. Learn all about the geology of the area and get a little exercise while you’re at it!
As your final stop, go on safari at Safari West, known as the Sonoma Serengeti. There are nearly 900 animals from over 90 unique species on the property, including giraffes, rhinos and zebras, and you can tour as a family in a custom canvas-covered vehicle. After your safari tour, head to the Sonoma County Airport (STS) where you can catch your flight home, or an easy hopper flight to connect to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)!