Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Have Toddler, Will Travel: Part 4 (Wine Country with a Toddler)

Byron Gibbs Park in Healdsburg, a great playground find
during a recent wedding weekend
One of Silicon Valley's big draws is its proximity to wine country, and thousands of visitors every year enjoy day trips up to the Napa or Sonoma valleys as part of their Bay Area vacations. But what about those of us lucky enough to live here? In our pre-toddler days, we enjoyed those trips as much as anyone -- heck, Mr. X and I got married in St. Helena -- but with a small kiddo in tow, it might seem like the local wine growing regions are basically off limits.

Fortunately, our brave readers aren't ready to give up days amongst the vine-covered hills just because a toddler has entered their lives. In fact, when one of our readers asked me for suggestions of toddler-friendly activities and adventures in wine country and I posted the question on my Facebook page, I got a bunch of responses, with people suggesting wineries, restaurants, parks and activities that are great for families with young kids. So sip on, parents!

I've cut and pasted the responses here for your use next time you want to plan a wine country getaway with your tot, and added website links wherever I could find them. Just remember to make safe decisions when it comes to driving -- cruising around like a wobbly toddler is just NOT cool -- and be considerate of your fellow tasters, some of whom may be specifically trying to get away from their kiddos for the weekend. But beyond that, happy toddling!

 Napa County
  • We always stop at V Sattui when we are with kids. Good place to run around and picnic. http://www.vsattui.com/
    • From reader Mary S.
  • For Napa I suggest Sterling, the gondola ride will get most toddlers excited! Also in Napa, the Calistoga Spa and Hot Springs is surprisingly affordable and family friendly hotel! http://www.calistogaspa.com
    • From reader Laura F.
  • We go to Napa with our toddler all the time! Bring your kid's bike, it is quite bike/kid friendly down the Main Street in Yountville. Eating at Oxbow Market is nice with a toddler. Lots of quality foodie options, but casual vibe.
    • From reader Deanna K.
  • Pine Ridge has a nice demonstration vineyard where the kids can run around among the vines and you won't get yelled at. A nice shaded garden area too. (http://www.pineridgevineyards.com)
    • From reader Angela L.
  • Crane Park in St. Helena has a wonderful play area. There's a great farmers market on Fridays at the park, too.
    • From reader Mitzi A.
  • Castello di Amorosa is very kid friendly if you keep the kids outside. There are ducks, pigs, sheep, chickens, etc. roaming around in roped off areas. (http://www.castellodiamorosa.com)
    • From reader Anna L.
  • I heard you could take the kids in wine tasting [at Castello di Amorosa], and they locked them in the "dungeon"....
    • From reader Sandra N.
  • I always like going to the organic Wineries, it's safer for kiddos to run around. Trefethen Winery is a great one. (www.trefethen.com) Calistoga is also a very kid-friendly town, and you can visit the geysers/hot springs (for the older toddler). Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is a great place for hiking and they have a summer swimming pool. Frog's Leap Winery has a big pond with fish. (www.frogsleap.com)
    • From reader Clara E.
  • Morimoto in downtown Napa was child friendly. They have high chairs and the staff were great with my then 2 year old who spilled water everywhere. They even gave her a tiny cupcake that must have been delicious because she woke up in the middle of the night asking for it.
    • From reader Ashley R.
  • We love St. Supery! (www.stsupery.com) Lovely old home with beautiful HUGE oak tree to sit under. Our daughter loves to run around, pick up leaves and sticks, and we lie down and look at the clouds. V. Sattui is great for family picnics. The tasting room is crazy and lots of breakables for little fingers. I wouldn't take a child to a place that requires a reservation (like Honig). People who want reservations for a wine tasting surely do not want a little munchkin running around and making noise.
    • From reader Megan M.
  • I just saw this article [Beginner's Guide to Wine Country with Kids] on Yahoo Travel: https://www.yahoo.com/.../beginners-guide-to-california...
    • From reader Barb T.
  • Oh, and there is Scientopia [Discovery Center] as well! (http://www.scientopiadiscoverycenter.com/content)

Sonoma County
  • Sonoma Train Town (www.traintown.com)
    • From readers Monica M., Annabelle B., and more
  • Cline Vineyards has a pond with fish to feed, small nature trail, open fields to play in and birds on display in large bird houses, there is also a farm and garden across the parking lot with some donkeys and horses the kiddos can look at. (http://clinecellars.com/) Sebastiani is also family friendly with a large picnic yard , stage to play on and fountain. (http://www.sebastiani.com/)
    • From reader Tamara H.
  • Santa Rosa: Charles Schultz Museum and the Warm Puppy Cafe to watch ice skating. Someone told me about a children's museum located nearby and open on weekends, but I haven't been there. Shultz museum will probably only keep a toddler occupied for an hour and a half max.... So go with low expectations and plan on going upstairs to the art room and out to the garden.
    • From reader Sandra N.
  • I wrote up my favorite wine country day trip, including TrainTown, Larson Family Winery, and Sonoma Town Square here: http://www.playinthesouthbay.com/.../2/25/day-trip-sonoma.
    • From reader Rita C.
  • The square in Sonoma is great for toddlers. There are two playgrounds in the center of the square and a pond with ducks. The Sonoma Cheese Factory is a good lunch stop. They have sandwiches, soups, yogurt, cheese, etc. Gather up some goodies and do a picnic in the square!
    • From reader Lisa T.
  • I just saw this article [Beginner's Guide to Wine Country with Kids] on Yahoo Travel: https://www.yahoo.com/.../beginners-guide-to-california...
    • From reader Barb T.
San Luis Obispo County
  • Paso Robles is very kid (and dog) friendly.
    • From reader Jade K.
Santa Clara County
  • In the Bay Area, Picchetti Winery in Cupertino is great for kids. There's a big grassy area for running, picnic tables for snacking, hiking trails, and roaming peacocks and chickens. Two friends and I took 6 kids ages 2-12 and brought Subway sandwiches. We spent the afternoon there. Best winery trip ever.
    • From reader Hillarie C.
Alameda County (Livermore)
  • We just went wine tasting in Livermore. Wente tasting room (https://www.wentevineyards.com/), BoaVentura (http://boaventuravineyard.com/), and Concannon (http://www.concannonvineyard.com/) were all very kid friendly. We'll be back again to try a few other places that have been suggested to use as well.
    • From reader Lisa C.
I actually have a few recommendations of my own in Paso Robles and Healdsburg, which I will add in as soon as I get the chance. In the meantime, if you have any other ideas to share, please do! There is always room for more toddler fun on the list!

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