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Aug 10, 2009 10:51 AM

Non-wine in Napa area: olive oil or cheese farms? other picnic places?

We are spending a couple of days with parents and my 3 small kids in Napa. we have lunch at Redd and dinner at Ad hoc and will probably do one meal at Oxbow (my son with Celiac disease loves PicaPica). My parents appreciate good food, but don't have a lot of money right now, so that is probably all the restaurants we will do. They just want to let the kids play, so I thought we could take picnics to parks or somewhere nice. We don't drink so wineries, especially if they require us to purchase a bottle to picnic there, are out.

Any cheese farms or olive oil farms worth going to? If Marshall Farm open to the public (saw it suggested in my attempts to search the board)? Other places, parks, picnic areas work having a nice low-key meal?

Any recommendations for good cheap not to greasy takeout (I love taco trucks, but my mom finds them a bit to spicey and greasy). Places that only do sandwiches or pizza/pasta are out, unless they have other items for take out since we have too Celiac's in the group. Aware of Sunshine market, but don't know that we will get up that far.

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  1. V. Sattui up in St. Helena is a winery, but also has a full deli (with amazing sandwiches) and is a gorgeous spot for a picnic.

    If you decide to go to Sonoma:

    Jacuzzi in Sonoma has a free olive oil tasting, as does somewhere in Calistoga, the place escapes me.

    Sonoma Cheese Factory has tons of free cheese samples (and good sandwiches and chocolate) - the kids will probably like this one.

    Perpendicular to the cheese factory is a place with a chocolate and cheese tasting, can't remember the name, but right in the town center.

    1 Reply
    1. If you are at Oxbow in the Morning, Model Bakery has half price sandwiches, salads and baked goods from the day before. Shop with your eyes. If they look tasty, they will be tasty.

      Marshall's Honey Farm? If that is it, yes they are open and have farm tours (call to find when). It is in American Canyon though across from Walmart. Note that there are LOTS of bees there.

      There is a park in Yountville with swings and a picnic table but on the downside it is right across from an old cemetary. I'm sure others will come up with better suggestions.

      There is the Bale Grist Mill in St Helena. Check reports linked to this Place record for more info

      There is also Round Pound Olive Mill in Rutherford

      There are two Italian Delis located in liquor stores in Napa that sell a local dish called malfatti. I prefer the version sold at Lawler's which also sells incredibly inexpensive sandwiches. You could walk across the street and get some baked goods from Butter Cream bakery.

      4 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        I was going to suggest the Bale Grist Mill, as well. It's a state park, and should be fun for the family.

        1. re: cyberroo

          If the OP isn't going as far north as Sunshine Market, the Grist Mill is probably out. But for future reference it is well worth a visit. In a gorgeous wooded spot, has the great history, and you can buy polenta, flour, etc. Probably only open on weekends. Be sure to call ahead to find out if/when they are open and what time they are milling. There is an ice-cold spring-fed swimming pool at Bothe State Park, just north of Bale Grist Mill. You pay a fee to drive in and swim and picnic. Pool closes after Labor Day though.

          Agree that Round Pond has a nice tour and tasting. Not sure if really young kids would be into it.

          In the city of Napa, I'd suggest getting lunch at La Playita (eat in or take out) on Old Sonoma Road, then heading west over the bridge to Playground Fantastico (also on Old Sonoma, on the left immediately after the bridge). If it is hot, Fuller Park (on Oak and Jefferson) is a shady place for a picnic and has a big playground. Downtown, the Fire Museum on Main at Pearl is a hit with kids.

          If you want to venture 20 minutes over to Sonoma, stop in at Vella Cheese, and go to Traintown. Traintown is old-school kitschy and fun Casual, no gluten, lunch could be Taste of the Himalayas, or a picnic in the square (there is a playground).

          Vella Cheese Company
          315 2nd St E, Sonoma, CA 95476

          Tacos La Playita
          1851 Old Sonoma Rd, Napa, CA 94559

          Taste of the Himalayas
          464 1st St E, Sonoma, CA 95476

          1. re: Junie D

            If going over Sonoma way, there are a few farms and stands to pick up fruit for a picnic and tomatoes for sandwiches or salads. Hardin Gardins is open Wed, Sat, Sun and has some really great fruit and lots of tomatoes. One of the farm cats is usually hanging out. Sonoma Market is good for picnic supplies. On the road from Napa to Sonoma, Stanly Lane has a great little produce stand and they will probably have their pumpkin patch soon. Fremont Diner is a great hamburger stand on that same road. Lots of outdoor picnic tables looking over a vineyard. There are two old gentle dogs, Angus and Rubie, that greet everyone if they are not taking naps in the shade. Terrific milkshakes here, especially the strawberry.

        2. re: rworange

          Love Buttercream. While I think Sweetie Pies has "nicer stuff", you can't beat Buttercream for good old school sweets including those crazy cakes with the sugary frosting.

        3. You could also hit Ranch Market Too in Yountville to pick up sandwiches in their deli and if there are other groceries which could address the Celiac issue. It's relatively inexpensive and since Yountville is such a great walking town it's a fun family spot. There are also numerous parks in town with great playground equipment. I frankly walk the dog around town and have to laugh at the number of well manicured playgrounds with amazing play equipment and yet there never seem to be any kids in town playing on them (how many kids can a town of 3,000 people have, especially when half the population is the veteran's homes).