houseboating in napa valley.

We started out our three week adventure down the coast of California with a bit of a *bump* but now we’re well on our way and having the time of our lives. Our first stop after Reno {which I’m not counting; we were there less than 8 hrs.} was Lake Berryessa in Napa Valley, California.

I had no idea there even was a lake in Napa before this vacation, but there is and it’s beautiful. Lake Berryessa has apparently been around since the ’50’s as a product of the Monticello Dam; it’s pretty huge too: over 160 miles of shoreline. The lake is absolutely stunning, all different shades of turquoise, green, and light blue; a total boating paradise, which is perfect because that’s what we were there to do.

We were guests of Forever Resorts at Lake Berryessa for two nights, on this houseboat. May I just say? maybe house boating is one of those things it’s best not to know about because you don’t know what you’re missing.

I was terrified to take C on a boat for two days because, well he’s C, and can find trouble where there is none, but it was honestly just fine. The kids both wore their life jackets the entire time on the boat, with the exception of showering and sleeping, but don’t think I didn’t try to mandate those rules as well. It worked out great though, when it was time to swim we swam, and when it was time to sleep we slept. No sleepwalking off the side of the boat for C {thank heaven!}. It might have helped a little that each parent slept with a kid so they couldn’t sneak out from under our noses, but I wasn’t stressed like I thought I would be. It was actually so relaxing I wanted to spend the whole time sleeping on the party deck {I did, and yes there was a party deck!}.

I’m not sure it’s possible to eloquently describe just how much fun it is to go houseboating. I mean, it’s like a little condo on water: 4 bedrooms with queen beds, a full kitchen {I could have baked cookies if I’d wanted to!}, 2 T.V.’s {with satelite T.V. & DVD/VCR’s}, two CD players {heaven forbid you can’t hear the CD player from the top deck, you have your own downstairs}, two bathrooms {one with a full shower}, a wet bar upstairs, a water slide, and a dining room table big enough to seat 8 adults. The only thing that could have even remotely sweetened the pot is a hot tub but don’t worry your pretty little heads, it’s available on the next size up.

The water at Berryessa this time of year is in the high ’60’s which is extremely warm, especially when it’s in the high ’90’s outside {which it was for us}. They say the water gets to be 75 degrees mid-summer, which is just flat out balmy no matter how you slice it, but my kids were completely happy with water in the upper ’60’s, and I have to say so was I. I grew up in Utah going to Deer Creek Resoirvoir occasionally with friends, and I’m telling you, that is a cold place to swim. Lake Berryessa? Totally nice in the water, even the last weekend in May.

The only downside to houseboating that I can think of is that we weren’t there long enough. Even with two nights and three full days, I still feel like I needed more time to just chill on the water. My kids
got up at the break of dawn each day to swim, only took breaks for lunch and dinner, and slept like babies all night long. Where do I sign
up for next year?

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. CanCan (Mom Most Traveled) :

    Wow, these photos are absolutely gorgeous! I will have to try a house boating adventure some time! Although the lakes down south here are murky and muddy…

  2. Emily :

    What a wonderful adventure! I love Napa Valley–hope you get to tour a winery while there. That's another fun experience, though I'd trade it for a houseboat and Lake Berryessa any day! Miss you!

  3. Naomi :

    I've wondered about houseboats. Now I'm totally sold! Could you review an RV for me, too?

  4. Petit Elefant :


    Absolutely, RV's are next on my list! ;)

  5. Sell...Party Of 4 :

    ooh, I am curious about the RV's myself…my hubbs is too afraid of water. I think that he would be too freaked out to even take his life vest off to sleep. ;)

  6. KJ :

    so fun! who needs wine when you've a houseboat! And beautiful kids! And sunshine! and warm water! I'm a cold-water wimp.

  7. Loukia :

    Gorgeous pictures!

  8. Kristen :

    Oh! I wish our houseboating experience was more like yours. Our houseboat is more like a tent on pontoons. But, it is always fun and ALWAYS memorable.
    Napa looks amazing! So happy that you are having such a great time and that I can live vicariously thru your photos!


  9. denverallens :

    gorgeous kids! looks like a great day! Have fun!

  10. Donna :

    Fun is all I can say!

  11. Beth :

    WHAT A FUN TRIP!!! Sounds exactly like something my boys would adore. I'm glad you had a great time and it's always so fun to see pictures of my family!