Top Wine Stories of 2007

Wine Country Travel Guide
Traveling with Children: Do's and Don'ts

by Courtney Cochran

Wine country beckons with the allure of epicurean delights, jaw-dropping vistas and world class wines whether you've got kids or not. If you’re in the "have" category, chances are you’re hankering for a visit, but don’t know how to pull it off with your tykes in tow. Good news is, we’re here with solutions, broken out conveniently into categories for those with toddlers and kids; and for those with adolescents. Because being a parent shouldn’t mean missing out on the good stuff.

First, some catchall tips that apply to everyone planning to bring youngsters into wine country.

Do's & Don'ts When Tykes Are In Tow

DO Your Research & Call Ahead: While the number of wineries offering kid-friendly amenities is on the rise, they’re still in the vast minority. And because traveling with kids has its own inherent challenges, you don’t want to wind up somewhere only to be turned away. Avoid this headache (and potential tantrum) by calling ahead to confirm kid-friendly locales; this tip applies to restaurants, too.

DON'T Be Offended If Spots Aren't Kid-Ready: Wine country is one of the most hospitable places on earth, but fewer than 10% of wine country visitors bring their kids. This means that many destinations aren’t prepared to accommodate kids – yet.

DO Patronize Places Advertising They're Kid-Friendly: While many wineries and wine country destinations accommodate pint-sized guests, those that go out of their way to tell you they do are likely to have the best kid-oriented customer service. At the basic level this can mean providing a kid’s table with coloring books, snacks and juice; over-achievers in this realm boast the likes of petting zoos, scavenger hunts and playgrounds.

DONT Forget To Pack Toys, Snacks and Drinks: While kid-savvy destinations offer all of these amenities (and some more), plenty of them don’t, or offer scaled-down versions. For best results, go prepared with your own assortment of kid-pleasing items in tow, which gives you the best bet of getting the most out of your day.

DO Choose Lodging Wisely: Generally speaking, larger hotels and resort-style properties offer the most for kids to do on-site (think swimming, perhaps an arcade to visit). Hotels well-situated in the central parts of walkable towns are also good bets, as teens can occupy themselves exploring nearby movie theaters, shops, parks and the like.

DON'T Expect the Same Experience You’d Have Without Kids: Managing expectations can go a long way towards ensuring you enjoy your time in wine country with kids. Fully two-thirds of wine country visitors are couples; recognizing that you’re in the “other” camp helps! Not better or worse: just different.

DO Put the Focus on the Kids: Choosing one or several intriguing kid-oriented activities (think hot air ballooning, river rafting, train taking) to pursue ensures kids they’re on a vacation for all of you as opposed to tagging along while you taste. Read on for tips and activities tailored to the age of your tykes.

Traveling With: Toddlers & Kids 5-10

Traveling With: Teenagers 11-17