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Northern California with kids

Cape Cod
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Northern California with kids

We are spending Thanksgiving near Oakland and want to travel north for 4 days with our 6 yr-old and 18 month-old. We've been to Point Reyes already. Should we toodle along the coast? Calistoga seems interesting but focused on couples. I'm looking for itinerary suggestions and economical places to stay. Thanks so much!

Jenny from Cape Cod

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1. Re: Northern California with kids

If you want to drive north you may want to consider the Redwoods. From Bay Area go to Healdsburg then stay closer to Redwood National Park. Post on the Healdsburg site for places to stay.

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2. Re: Northern California with kids

Calistoga is isn't entirel focused on couples, there is a Best Western Stevenson Manor there, we had a nice stay there and it is very family-frienldy. Calistoga is a very laid back area of the wine country, your kids might enjoy the Petrified Forest and the Old Faithful Geyser in this area. There is also Sterling Vineyards where you can take a fun tram up to the top of the tasting room. Have fun in the wine country with your family! :)

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3. Re: Northern California with kids

Have you considered Sacramento. The train museum is wonderful. You can also stop at the Jelly Belly Factory on the way there.

Santa Cruz...
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4. Re: Northern California with kids

MKCal is referring to Armstrong Grove Redwoods National Preserve, which is in Guerneville, which is on the Russian River, and not far from Healdsburg.

Since you have been to Point Reyes you might like to do the coast from Bodega Bay to the Russian River. To do this, from Hwy 101 in Petaluma take the East Washington Street exit. Go through town, stay on course, and this becomes the Bodega Highway, ending up in Bodega Bay, a small fishing village where Alfred Hitchcock filmed parts of his film, "The Birds".

It is 10 miles from here to the Russian River. Along the way you will pass several State beaches with easy access. With the 6-year old, you might like to make a stop at Salmon Creek. If the tides are right, Salmon Creek forms a shallow lagoon and the water is warm for wading. This is, I think, the first State Park after Bodega Bay.

After you cross the Russian River, it is not a long drive to Guerneville where Armstrong Grove is located. (ask for directions in town. This is one of the best redwood preserves in the state (without having to drive almost all the way to Oregon.) And, unlike Muir Woods near San Francisco you will not find hordes of people nor scads of tour buses. You may very well have all of those acres to yourselves.

As to where to stay, you can stay in Healdsburg, which is a cute town with a park in the middle and tasting rooms around it, or you can follow River Road from Guerneville, cross Hwy 101 and take Mark West Springs Road to Calistoga.

I don't have a personal recommendation for lodgings in Calistoga because it has been years since we stayed there, but I do know that they have cottage-type facilities which would be nice with the children. Some creative googling should help you find them.

For example, look at the one bedroom suite and studio suite at Carlin Cottages. Quite reasonable.


Calistoga advertises itself as romantic because of the hot springs, but it is not just a "couples" place, really, but a nice small town.

And you will be in the Napa Valley where you can explore the other towns along Highway 29, St. Helena, Rutherford, Yountville (there is fun shopping here).

I think you would enjoy this trip.

Cape Cod
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5. Re: Northern California with kids

Thank you so much, Puter, and everyone else who has responded thus far. I had been thinking of the Russian River area, so this is great to have more information.


6. Re: Northern California with kids

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