Serenity with Your ‘Sauce’
California’s Wine Country isn’t just for grown-ups. Things move at a languid pace in Wine Country, making it easy to soak up the striking natural beauty that is everywhere in this part of the world. With gorgeous scenery, abundant opportunities to explore nature, and some kid-centric fun, parents can have your wine and drink it too.
You CAN go wine-tasting with kids. You just need to pick the right winery and keep your visit short. The Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma County is a great choice for families with its Vineyard Tram Tour ($15 adults; $5 under 21) and on-site playground. (No entrance fee)
The kids will be amazed by the awesome size of the trees on a hike through Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. At 12-16 feet in diameter and 200-250 feet tall, ancient Redwoods are the tallest living things on the planet! The easy (and free) 1.5-mile Pioneer Nature Trail is mostly flat and easy for even young ones to navigate.
Another spot for a family hike is the Petrified Forest, where you can walk trails filled with Redwoods that turned to stone over a million years ago by a volcanic eruption. ($9 age 12, $5 age 6-11, free 5 and younger)
It may not be as impressive as the one in Yellowstone, but Calistoga’s Old Faithful Geyser is fun to watch as it erupts boiling water and steam every 40 minutes. While waiting next natural fountain show, visit the Tennessee Fainting Goats, Jacob’s Four Horn Sheep, and Guard Llamas at the on-site petting farm. ($10 adults, $3 age 6-12, free 5 and younger)
CornerStone, situated between Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley, showcases garden designs from some of the world’s best landscape architects. Each designer was given a 1,800-square-foot parcel of land on which to create their masterpieces. From traditional plant-filled spaces to fields of plastic sunflower pinwheels, every member of the family will find a favorite garden here.
Located in Sonoma, TrainTown is a must-see for families with little ones. This attraction offers a quarter scale train on four miles of tracks through tunnels and over bridges, with a stop at a miniature town and petting zoo. Children can take a spin on six amusement park rides too. ($4.75 train rides, $2.75 other rides)
Everyone loves a picnic, especially one with delicious gourmet goodies from the Sonoma Cheese Factory. Even the pickiest kid will find something here to eat. Select from the store’s delightful array of fruits, veggies, breads, crackers, desserts, and, of course, cheeses to create a spread. Or choose your fixings and they’ll put together a sandwich for you. March across the street to dine al fresco at Sonoma Plaza Park. ($11 for a sandwich, deli salad, dessert, and beverage)
When we asked locals where to take the kids for dinner, we received recommendations for Mary’s Pizza Shack from three separate sources. It is noisy, affordable, tasty, and fun—perfect for families! With several locations throughout Wine Country, you’re sure to find one nearby. For something more upscale, have an early dinner at The Girl & The Fig in Glen Ellen. Kids can order a gourmet grilled cheese, hamburger or macaroni & cheese while parents dine on wild flounder meuniere or grilled flat iron steak. Start your meal off with a fig royale made with sparkling French wine and a house-made fig liqueur.
Instead of a bed & breakfast that scoffs at children, opt for a two-room suite with complimentary breakfast at Embassy Suites Napa. Kids will love splashing in both hotel pools—one inside and one outdoors.
Get your drink on with flights to Sonoma County today!
Photo: Travel Mamas