Kayak down the Napa River (Visit Napa Valley)
Take a ride on a kayak in the Napa River (Karen D’Souza)
SoundThe gallery will resume inseconds
Hop aboard a kayak in Napa (Karen D’Souza)
A new view of the Napa River from a kayak (Karen D’Souza)
Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group
The Old Faithful Geyser of California erupts in Calistoga on Sept. 26, 2015. The geyser is powered by geothermal forces below the surface and is said to be a reliable earthquake predictor. In the winter months, when activity is more frequent, the geyser erupts every five to fifteen minutes.
This Wednesday, July 14, 2010 photo shows the Old Faithful geyser as it erupts in Calistoga, Calif. This isn’t the biggest geyser in the world, but it is regular, spouting off every 40 minutes or so and it’s popular with families. The water, about 350 degrees, shoots as high as 60 feet. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Train rides at Sonoma TrainTown Railroad whisk families off to the amusement park’s animal attractions. You might call it a choo-choo to the zoo. (Sonoma TrainTown Railroad).
Sonoma TrainTown offers so much kid-friendly amusement, from trains and amusement park rides to a zoo, your family may not want to leave. (Sonoma TrainTown Railroad).
(Sonoma TrainTown Railroad)
Sonoma TrainTown’s denizens include llamas and other animals. (Sonoma TrainTown Railroad).
Castello di Amorosa may look like a Tuscan castle, but it’s a prestigious winery in Napa Valley’s Calistoga.
CLICK HERE if you are having trouble viewing these photos on a mobile device
Slipping our kayak into the calm Napa River waters, we’re greeted by a gaggle of fuzzy baby ducklings hiding amid the swaying grasses. Bouncing around in the blue water, they seem almost as delighted as we are to float down the river, letting the cares and stresses of everyday life melt away.
Most corkheads dream of pinots and cabernets when they plan a wine-country getaway. But if you’re bringing the family along, be sure to pour on the quirky and fun activities, too, so you can keep the children amused.
Getting my little one, Daphne, 7, to savor a Napa vacation usually means making sure we have at least one big adventure planned — and kayaking proved the perfect activity. It combines Instagram-worthy views, fun and exercise. It’s the sweet spot where the whole family can achieve a blissful state of entertainment and relaxation. Biking amid the vines is another great way to play, but on a blazing hot day in the valley, the glistening waters of the Napa River just cry out for a dip of paddle or toes.
To be sure, a decade ago, the river was often considered too grungy for kayak trips. Now, though, it’s simply lovely — with or without baby duckling sightings. A guided river trek — we went with Randy Johnson, who runs Getaway Adventures — will make you feel like you know the river pretty well after this leisurely tour.
A font of local lore, the guide can regale you with the town’s history — before the wine boom, tanning was the core trade — and help you find the best spots for spotting egrets and blue herons. Since there’s a blend of sea water and fresh water in the river, the ecosystem can support a vast array of wildlife, including 500 species of fish from salmon to steel head. As you glide along, you’ll spy many families whiling away the hours casting their lines into the river.
After 20 years of leading treks through wine country, Johnson also knows nifty places to get out and taste various adult beverages (vino or microbrew), and the best beaches for a rest, a snack or a posh tour picnic of charcuterie and pasta kicked up with lemon and capers. Swimming isn’t recommended here, although we saw several dogs happily defying that rule, chasing balls for hours on the mossy banks.
Best of all, Johnson also knows how to keep pint-sized kayakers from getting cranky in the face of strong headwinds and high temperatures, which is a priceless gift for any parent. Making sure the kiddos are tickled is the key to a whine-less wine-country getaway.
For the record, Daphne’s favorite part of the kayak trip was, of course, the little baby ducks we met along the way. That and pulling out near the famed Oxbow Public Market for a scoop of delectable Three Twins ice cream. It was her motivation to keep on chugging.
Of course, if you really want to rack up the parenting points — and parent-happiness factor — choose a family-friendly hotel as your home base. The welcoming Meritage Resort and Spa, whose perks include a family pool, a bowling alley and a vineyard guests can traipse through, makes a perfect launch pad for other classic kid-friendly activities. Be sure to check out the vintage amusement park at Sonoma’s Train Town and Calistoga’s ever-reliable Old Faithful Geyser. And make time to explore Castello di Amorosa, a medieval Tuscan-inspired castle winery, where little ones can poke around the dungeon while their parents squeeze in some sips.
IF YOU GO
Getaway Adventure: This tour company offers a variety of pedal and paddle activities, such as a five-hour Pedal ‘n Paddle option that includes winery visits, a picnic lunch, bicycling, kayaking, equipment and a guide. That particular package is $175 for adults, $87.50 for youths ages eight to 16, free for children seven and younger; getawayadventures.com. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water.
Train Town: Admission to this Sonoma attraction is free. Train ride tickets are $7.50; amusement park ride tickets are $3.75 (or $14.75 for five). Open weekends from fall through spring, and daily during the summer months at 20264 Broadway, Sonoma; www.traintown.com.
Old Faithful Geyser: In addition to the geyser, this park also includes a geology museum and an animal farm with sheep, llamas and fainting (yes, really!) goats. Admission is $9-$15. Open daily at 1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga; www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com.
Castello di Amorosa: Admission and wine-tasting is $30 for adults, $20 (with grape juice) for kids. Open daily at 4045 Highway 29, Calistoga, www.castellodiamorosa.com.
- Napa Valley hotel prototypes eco-friendly tourism
- How to Survive Being Stuck in Traffic with Small Kids This Holiday Weekend
- The Best Video Games To Play With Kids
- The best free games for kids: 20 great titles for girls and boys
- Flashback Film Friends: Rewatching the Emo Classic
- Tanoshi launches Kickstarter campaign for Android 2-in-1 laptop for kids
- Parents prefer phones to kids?
- Top 10 crowd-funded PCs: How Silicon Valley's heirs are building the next great computer
- Secrets of Silicon Valley: Book review
- Silicon Valley has Facebook's back in Yahoo knife fight
- Silicon Valley's new show: A reality check
- I Need Something Unique And Fast That My Kid Will Think Is Awesome! What Car Should I Buy?
- Monument Valley: on sacred geometry and a game for everyone
- Interview: LeVar Burton on gaming, Star Trek and why Silicon Valley will need to catch up with him
- Inspired by Lego, fuelled by creativity: Linux-based Kano kit wants to get kids hacking again
- Free Monument Valley, GTAV, Black Friday TV Deals, Tarantino XX
- A Black Women's Book Club Was Kicked Off a Wine Train for Laughing
- A Guide to Reese Witherspoon's Goop-y New Lifestyle Company
- The 2015 Chevy Suburban And GMC Yukon Will Protect You From The World
- What Hyundai Plans To Do To Make Genesis The Next Lexus
A kid-friendly Napa Valley getaway, kayak and all have 1227 words, post on www.mercurynews.com at September 23, 2018. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.