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Surprisingly Kid-Friendly Vacations

Lasvegaslover for Wikimedia

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 (, 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 (, 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 (, 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 ( and scan the riverbanks for otters and herons as you float by. Change of Greenery (, also in Napa, rents electric bikes. Baby trailers and tagalongs are available.

Snooze: At the Safari West ( 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 ( 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.