San Jose to Napa Road Trip Guide


This one-day road trip from San Jose to Napa is going to focus on the kids. We are going to forgo the delights of San Francisco and instead, travel a little further inland on a voyage of discovery that will have something to delight every member of the family. It's a great way to see another side of California and experience what the Golden State has to offer.

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Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: van
audience: family

Point of Interest

Walnut Creek

Leaving behind the Spanish colonial-style architecture of San Jose, take the one hour trip through to Walnut Creek. If you take Highway 880 you won’t take much longer but you get to enjoy views of San Francisco Bay for much of the drive. After the early start, you will probably be ready for a bite to eat and grabbing brunch at Main Street Kitchen will set you up for the rest of your adventure.

This family-owned restaurant likes to put sustainability ahead of mass production so expect fresh, locally sourced produce. You might like to try the chicken chorizo omelet or their house-made fennel sausages.

If you are quick, you still have time to walk through the Ruth Bancroft Garden . This stunning three and half-acre garden is renowned for its displays of succulents and drought-tolerant plants laid out in stunning fashion. The founder was one of the early pioneers of waterless gardening that is becoming so much more important of late. She passed away at the age of 109.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Just ten minutes up the road from Walnut Creek brings you to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Six Flags has several water parks but this one has fewer queues and gives you more time to enjoy the rides. There is something for all ages in that regard. There are laid back family rides, sedate kids rides and then there are the thrill rides. Breakpoint Plunge starts at six stories in height. From there the views are awesome, though you may have difficulty focusing on them when you see where you are about to plunge to. You will be in an enclosed capsule so don’t fear for your safety.

The Funnel also takes you up six stories before dropping you down and then sucking you up 75 feet at a time. This is the only ride of its kind in California so enjoy it and try not to scream too much.

Now that you have driven your adrenalin to a dangerously high level, you might be ready for something that involves a little less courage. The park offers a wide diversity of food ranging from American fare to all-round healthy options so you won’t need to go looking too far for something to temp your taste buds.


The road trip will have been a treat for your kids and one they are bound to want to repeat. With less than an hour to go to Napa, there might still be time to swing past one of the many wine estates and do a quick tasting to help calm your nerves. There are plenty of estates that cater to the kids as well, so you don’t need to feel too guilty about taking a bit of grown-up time.

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