Living in Northern California my family and I are within an hours drive to Napa Valley with some of the best wineries in the world. What you don’t often hear about is the amazing Campground right in the middle of Calistoga, Bothe State Park. Read on for recipes, campground tips and activities for traveling with kids to this amazing spot.
The drive-up is beautiful driving through some of the most beautiful vineyards and wineries. We are members at Clos Pegase so we were able to stop to drink some wine and pick up our shipment and head down the street to our campground.
We checked into site 21 which for the camper was a pretty un-level spot but with a few tricks from my husband he was able to get us level perfect. Despite the un-level spot for parking around campsite was beautiful opening up to a bright green field of Manzanita trees and oak trees perfect for the kids to play on.
We took a little walk around the campground and there wasn’t a bad spot we could find. Most of the campsites offer privacy in between with trees and brush and open up to a large space either on the creek side or the field side like we had.
We have spent the last year tent camping and rving with our kids and some tips that we have learned when traveling with toddlers.
-Have toys on the ready. We have a bin of outside toys that we set up with a baby gate and rubber rug and both kids will play in there discovering toys while we finish setting up.
-We also have toys inside like Legos, activity books, drawing so when the mornings are too cold or it starts to rain which it did on this trip we have fun stuff to do inside camper.
-We have two laptobs fully charged so we can get a movie in after dinner so they are have some downtown as well as time that my husband and I can relax and possibly have a fire.
-We try to not make plans set-in stone I try to be flexible as things can change quickly.
Saturday included blueberry and kumquat pancakes cooked with coconut oil (I stole this from my Mom) We did a little hike in the morning along with the creek under beautiful redwood an oak trees and it felt like we were in a coastal part of California like Marin not Napa Valley. When it started to rain we came inside for lunch and then naptime.
I planed to make tacos for lunch but when my husband saw the can of spam that we been keeping in the camper along with the macaroni and cheese box he insisted on making lunch. The chef in me looked down on this lunch not thinking I would like it, but we all enjoyed it, it was very humbling. It rained pretty heavily for the rest of the day so we were able to take a little night hike which was wonderful for the girls to explore and see the creek by the light of the stars. We had never taken a walk before at night and it was a good experience for my toddler to overcome a little fear of the darkness. My husband took this picture at night in almost pitch black. Using a 30 second exposure he “painted” in light on all of the details.
That night I made Asparagus peanut chicken satay with the coconut milk and ginger rice. The girls loved it and it was quick and easy to make. Find my recipe below as well as how to make a vegan version.
The next morning, after another round of blueberry and kumquat pancakes, we packed up the camper and drove to Old Faithful Geyser about five minutes north from the campground.
The grounds features a Geyser spouting every 5 to 10 minutes about 30 feet high into the sky of hot mineral water, it was so beautiful to see the steam pumping out from the ground. I envision us coming back on a beautiful warm day enjoying the Bocce Ball courts, the grass area and the cabana. They provide wine glasses and anything you would need to bring a picnic, unfortunately when we came it was pouring rain. We quickly got to pet and visit with the baby goats that were born just three weeks ago and made a note to come back and bring a picnic and a bottle of wine in the future on a sunny day.
After all the running in the rain we were getting hungry and about 2 miles south on the highway is Busters Barbecue that opens at 10 o’clock right on the side of the road you can smell the smoke meats a mile away. We enjoyed some of the best ribs I’ve ever had, a great vinegary barbecue sauce this is a must and a great casual spot featuring great food. I get the barbecue sauce on the side so I can taste the smoke on the meats.
I think the best time of year to come back to Bothe State Park in Calistoga is going to be fall on a cool-dry weekend. Fall is my absolute favorite time to see wine country when all the vines are golden and red and summer can get pretty hot in that area making it a little miserable for camping but if you can brave it Bothe does have a pool. Another activiy we want to check out for next time is the petrified forest another 4 miles north of Bothe.
On a separate girls trip two weekends ago to Calistoga we went to Indian Springs Spa and had Spa Services and got to enjoy the amazing Hot Mineral Pool always at 101* if we do this trip without the kids I would definitely add this glamping experience to my next Bothe Trip.
I love finding spots like this in the middle of wine country experiencing nature while spending the night on a budget of $35 a night, can’t beat that price when most hotels nearby are $400+ a night.
15 minute-Asparagus Chicken Satay with Coconut Milk and Ginger Jasmine Rice
2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly or firm tofu, sliced thinly
1 thumb size of ginger peel on, and 1 tablespoon of minced peeled ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of salt
1 can of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1 lb of asparagus, ends trimmed and thinly sliced into coin shape
1.5 cup of jasmine rice
*add 1 teaspoon of minced Jalapeno or Sambal Chili paste for heat
In a saute pan on medium heat add olive oil, chicken, garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. If spicy add the heat element at this moment.
In a sauce pot add thumb size of ginger, rice, 1 teaspoon of salt and open can of coconut milk. Push the creamy coconut milk to one side of the can with a spoon and let liqoud of coconut milk pour into a measuring cup. Should be around 1/2 cup, fill the measuring cup with water so coconut milk and water equals 3 cups. Reserve creamy butter like coconut milk for peanut sauce. Bring rice mixture to boil and reduce to simmer and cover on low for 15 minutes until rice is cooked.
Add creamy butter coconut milk to chicken with peanut butter, asparagus and soy sauce. Cover with 1/2 cup of water and let simmer on medium-low heat until chicken and asparagus is cooked through, cook until rice is done and serve.
*For vegan use firm tofu instead of chicken, I love the Siracha Firm Tofu sliced thinly and seared in EVOO. Remove from pan then start recipe adding tofu to sauce at the end.