Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Family Holiday Fun

December 4, 2014

Napa Valley Wine Train Santa TrainOne of the benefits of living in the North Bay is having the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa right in our own backyard. It's a short trip from Marin but a world away, especially during the holidays, when the area does itself up in true style.

Here are some selected family-friendly events and happenings, as well as a few of our favorite places to visit in the Wine Country. There's nothing quite like taking in the Wine Country scenery (and maybe a glass of Pinot Noir) on a crisp and clear December day! Some of these events require tickets or advance reservations, so make sure you check for availability before you go.

Sonoma Valley & Sonoma County

Sonoma Holiday Tree Lighting
Friday, December 5, 5–6 pm

Kick off the holidays at Sonoma's historic Plaza with Santa's arrival, a tree lighting, and more. It all takes place on Friday, December 5 at 5 pm. More information at (707) 996-1033.

Holiday Crafts at Francis Coppola Winery
Saturdays & Sundays, December 6–28
Francis Coppola Winery on Geyserville offers festive holiday crafts for the family from December 6–28 from noon–3 pm. Make ornaments, create snow globes, experiment with hot chocolate blendings, and more. $5 per child; adult must accompany. Location: 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville. More information

Cornerstone Sonoma Lighting of the Snowmen
Sunday, December 7, 4–8 pm
Cornerstone Sonoma presents its 10th annual Lighting of the Snowmen on Sunday, December 7. The festivities begin at 4 pm. This traditional holiday kick-off event is free and open to the public. Parking is $10 (overflow parking and shuttle from nearby Jacuzzi Winery). Enjoy live music, photos with Santa in the Big Blue Chair, a dance performance, classic holiday films, gourmet food trucks, and treats and activities for everyone. Cornerstone Sonoma is located at 23667 Highway 121 in Sonoma. More information

Photos with Santa at Larson Family Winery
Saturday & Sunday, December 6 & 7, noon–4 pm
Larson Family Winery near Sonoma, is a great family-friendly winery. Kids can get their photo taken with Santa at the winery on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, from noon to 4 pm. Photos are free but donations accepted. Larson Family Winery is located at 23355 Millerick Road in Sonoma. More infomation

Other Places to Visit for Family Fun

While you're in Sonoma Valley, check out some of our favorite family destinations, including Cline Cellars (where you can feed the fish) and the Missions Museum, Larson Family Winery, which offers outdoor games and even ride-on toys for kids, Sonoma Train Town (open Friday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm), Jack London State Historic Park, and the Sonoma Plaza with its historic sites.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Wine Train Santa Trains
Mondays–Thursdays through December 18

Napa Valley Wine Trains' Santa Express Trains are a magical experience for the whole family. Trains run Monday–Thursday through December 18 from 9–11:30 am and 3–5:30 pm. Santa and some special friends will be on board, of course. Tickets do sell out very early, so check for availablity at (800) 427-4124. Tickets range from $25–$45 per person. Refreshments available for purchase on board. More information

Pioneer Christmas at Bale Grist Mill
December 6, 10 am–5 pm

Every Christmas season, Bale Grist Mill hosts a 19th-century Christmas celebration, pioneer style. Make a clove pomander or wreath of rosemary for your home, or string popcorn and cranberries for the tree. Write a letter to Santa in calligraphy and seal with red wax. Children especially enjoy decorating gingerbread cookies, cutting paper snowflakes and making “leavings dolls” out of scraps of fabric. There are demonstrations throughout the day: lace making, wool spinning, waxed egg decorating and milling demonstrations. Cookies and cider too! Admission is $5; kids under 6 free. Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park is located between St. Helena and Calistoga along Highway 29/128. More information

4th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Celebration at Robert Mondavi Winery
Saturday, December 6, 3–5 pm
Welcome the holiday season at Robert Mondavi Winery's annual holiday party on Saturday, December 6 from 3–5 pm, which includes a tree lighting, horse-and-buggy rides through the vineyards, wine tasting, hot cider, carolers, Italian cookies, and food. Admission is $25 per person; free for children under 12, Wine Club Members, and those who bring a food donation for Napa Valley Food Bank. 7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville. More information

Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade and Holiday Village
Saturday, December 6, 11 am–8 pm
This small town holiday celebration, now in its 18th year, features vintage and modern tractors and other vehicles decked out in dazzling lights on Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga's charming main street. The parade takes place on Saturday, December 6, from 7–8 pm. Santa will make a special appearance, of course. Earlier in the day, from 11 am–5 pm, kids can make holiday crafts at the Calistoga Art Center (Santa will be there from 11 am to 2 pm). Admission is free. More information