My family recently spent the day in wine country and the highlight of the trip was a visit to di Rosa Center for Contemporary Arts. Wine country, art museum—these things may not initially strike you as family-friendly, but they totally are. Trust me on this one!
What to expect at di Rosa
di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is located in Napa, nestled in the rolling hills of the Carneros Valley. It has two indoor galleries, an outdoor sculpture area, and a lake on over 200 acres. With the pandemic, I was drawn to the museum’s outdoor space and lovely grounds.
My kids seemed to enjoy the art in Gallery 2 and Sculpture Meadow the best. Their favorite pieces included a rhino-head car, a bubbling sculpture, a flying angel sculpture, and a peace sign sculpture.
One of the things I love most about taking my kids to an art museum is listening to them answer the question: “What do you like about this artwork?” This trip was no different. They noticed the vivid colors and unique shapes in the art, and gave adorable answers that could only come from a child’s mind.
Things to keep in mind
Some pieces in the indoor collection are not appropriate for young children. Thankfully, there are many bright colors and interesting mediums to distract your kids and help you direct your child’s attention to a piece that’s more age-appropriate.
Like many art museums, security guards may give your family a little more attention or follow you as you walk through the gallery to make sure the kids don’t touch the art. The guard on duty during our visit acted as our personal tour guide and help show my kids the bubbling sculpture—something my oldest still talks about. Remind your children that art shouldn’t be touched or climbed.
There’s a fair amount of distance to cover. The path between Gallery 1 and Gallery 2 is about a half-mile long, and the Sculpture Meadow trail is a third-mile long. A shuttle is available between the two galleries. The paths aren’t very stroller-friendly. If you choose to walk, I recommend grabbing a few scavenger hunt-style activities for the kids from the front desk. One was related to the birds we could see while walking through the grounds, and the others were based on the art collection. These really motivated my 5-year-old to keep moving. I highly recommend taking the shuttle back to the parking lot.
Pack snacks or lunch and water. There are picnic tables in the Olive Grove near Gallery 2. No food is sold on-site. Water fountains were hard to find in the buildings.
The Bottom Line on di Rosa
I have a special place in my heart for art museums, especially with kids in tow. My oldest visited a fine art museum at two-weeks old. Yes, I’ll admit it is not always an easy place to be, especially now with my two children. However, art is something that all ages can appreciate on some level. di Rosa exposed my kids to some new funky art in a beautiful setting that felt safe during these pandemic times. I’d love to take them back again to search for sculptures around the lake.
Plan your visit to di Rosa
Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is located in Napa, about 50 minutes north of Berkeley. On Highway 12. It’s about 15 minutes from downtown Napa or downtown Sonoma. Some nearby family-friendly places for wine tastings are Cornerstone Sonoma and Larson Family Winery.
Location: 5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559
Open Hours: 11 am – 4 pm Friday and Sunday; 11 am – 5 pm Saturday
Cost: $20; 17 and under free (A part of the Discover and Go program.)