You know that dream vacation you’re postponing until the kids are in high school? We’ve got a surprise for you! Here’s the lowdown on why you can—and should—go right now.
Pinot your way around
Where: California dreamin’ in wine country
Why you and the kids will love it: Stunning scenery and enough outdoor activities to keep restless children busy for months.
Drink up (sort of): As moms and dads seize the reins at wineries in both Napa and Sonoma counties, many of these destinations are becoming kid-friendly. In Rutherford’s Honig Winery (honigwine.com), owners Stephanie and Michael set up a special tasting area for parents, complete with toys, puzzles, and arts and crafts. Produce and purring are the unexpected perks at Preston of Dry Creek (prestonvineyards.com), outside Healdsburg, where vintners/farmers/friendly folk Lou and Susan tend to a year-round organic garden, as well as about a dozen family cats. Tasting the fresh fruits and veggies and romping with the child-loving felines will occupy the little ones long enough for you to savor a glass of their sauvignon blanc. Their fresh-pressed olive oil is worth taking home. New to the area, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery (franciscoppolawinery.com), in Geyserville, boasts a heated pool, four bocce courts, and changing rooms (dubbed “cabines”) to rent by the day.
Peddle and paddle: In Napa, paddle the Napa River with sit-on-top (beginner) kayaks from Napa Valley Adventure Tours (napavalleyadventuretours.com) and scan the riverbanks for otters and herons as you float by. Change of Greenery (changeofgreenery.com), also in Napa, rents electric bikes. Baby trailers and tagalongs are available.
Snooze: At the Safari West (safariwest.com) wildlife preserve in Santa Rosa, all 30 luxury tents offer private patios that overlook a spacious giraffe enclosure. In downtown Napa, the ultramodern AVIA Napa (aviahotels.com/hotels/napa) is within walking distance of the river, and has a second-floor roof deck with porch swings beneath a wooden pergola. For a low-key (and budget-conscious) good time, rent a camping “kabin” at the San Francisco North KOA campground in Petaluma; the property has a water slide and rock-climbing wall.