Planning a trip to the Bay Area, but think that wine country is off the list because the kids are coming with? Think again! As many locals know, wine tasting can be fun for the whole family. Here are some ways to taste some great wines in Sonoma and make sure the kids enjoy their time, too.
1. Train Town: A great stop to plan for the way into Sonoma, this attraction will start your trip to wine country with kids off right. Open every day during the summer and on weekends in fall, winter and spring, Train Town is a must for the 0 – 8 set. Take a quarter-scale train ride through the property over lakes via miniature bay area bridges and make a pit stop at a Wild West-model town and petting zoo.
2. Sonoma Town Square: Just up the road from train town, you’ll find Sonoma’s town square. This picturesque town center features a green space with a duck pond, flower gardens, and two playgrounds for your wee ones to let off steam. Boutique shops, wine tasting rooms, and ridiculously good food circle the park.
3. Readers’ Books: Stop at Readers’ Books and support Sonoma’s sweet indie bookstore while stocking up on reading material to occupy the kids while you wine taste.
4. The Girl and the Fig: Kids are welcome at this delicious eatery in Sonoma’s downtown. Family-style tables inside and a huge sun patio will make foodies out of the whole family. Dine on the patio and call for reservations – as this one is in high demand.
5. Benziger Family Winery: What kid doesn’t love a tractor? Thrill your little ones with a ride on one at Benziger Vineyard‘s wine tour, featuring a tractor tour of their biodynamic vineyards. Kids learn organic alternatives to pesticides like using bees to pollinate flowers that repel pests, while parents learn how yummy Benziger wines are.
6. Johnson’s Beach, Russian River: A short drive north of Sonoma will bring you to the hip, grungy town of Guerneville, California on the banks of the Russian River. Get to Johnson’s Beach early, reserve kayaks for the family and prepare to paddle through lush, lazy river. Or bring your own rafts and inner tubes and see where the river takes you.
7. Gloria Ferrar: Celebrate your visit to wine country with a flight of bubbly at Gloria Ferrar. Bring a deck of cards, order the kids some sparkling water and play rummy on the patio overlooking the sprawling vineyards.
8. Schoolhouse Canyon Campground: Stay at this private, family-owned, clean-as-a-whistle campground and all this gallivanting in California’s famed wine country won’t break the bank.
9. Imagery Winery: Get a glass of their award-winning White Burgundy to go and sip slowly in their kid-friendly courtyard. Bring lunch to eat on their picnic tables, play bocci, and let the kids meander through the rose garden. Then go back in for another glass of wine…
10. Cline Cellars : Cline makes wine fun. They won’t take you or your rambunctious kids seriously. They don’t offer wines by the glass at Cline Cellars, but are more than happy to spread out your tasting over a few hours, so feel free to take a taste and head out to explore the grounds. The kids will enjoy the donkeys (yes, donkeys), gawk at the copious bird displays, and run amok on the wide-open lawns.
11. Oakville Grocery: Picnicking is a must in Sonoma in general, but especially with kids. Pick up supplies at this Healdsburg pit stop. Cobble together a European-style meal or choose from their mouthwatering sandwich list.
12. The River’s End Restaurant: End this family tour of Sonoma right by following the Russian River west till it empties into the Pacific. Catch a sunset at the River’s End restaurant overloading tide pools on some of the most scenic stretches of the famed Rt. 1. Get a seat by the window, plug the kids into their iPads, and enjoy. You’ve earned it.
Got any other Sonoma tips? Leave them in the comments!