Traveling With: Teenagers 11-17
As kids get older, they appreciate a degree of independence (especially teens) and activities that align with their own budding interests. What follows is a list of suggested activities you can tailor to your kids’ hobbies and inclinations, while fitting in your own vinous-inclined pursuits, too. You might also consider staying in a wine country town with a safe, centralized downtown where older kids can enjoy activities such as a movie on their own while mom and dad enjoy a “grown up” meal. And there’s no shortage of outdoor concerts, festivals and fairs in wine country where you and your entire brood can explore and share in the splendor of the region’s offerings.
If Your Teenager Is Interested In…
* Cooking: Wine country has long been synonymous with top-tier cuisine, making this fertile ground for your budding chef. You might visit a cooking school (e.g. the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena) to check out a demonstration or to take a class, then check in at one of wine country’s famous farmer’s markets to peruse the local bounty, and perhaps even go foraging for mushrooms. Tip: Opting for a condominium-style lodging arrangement (which comes equipped with a kitchen) affords valuable together time and sets the backdrop for you and your budding chef to prepare food using local fare you’ve procured together.
* Blogging: If you have a young scribe on your hands, encourage her to document your trip in a travelogue, journal or blog. Not only will this keep her interested in your various activities while in wine country, it may produce a memorable document you can all enjoy for years to come as you look back on your trip. Note: If she opts to create a blog that’s published as you go, it’s a handy way for her to stay in touch with friends back home – something critical for teens.
* Being Outdoors: Your outdoorsy adolescent is in for a treat, as wine country affords myriad options to keep her engaged. From biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, golfing, hot air ballooning/heli touring and even garden-going, wine country is a veritable oasis of outdoor fun. Consider alternating between outdoor activities and wine tasting to ensure both parents and children are enjoying themselves, or – even better – seek out outdoor activities that may incorporate wine tasting or vineyard visits. You might also consider dropping off truly independent teens at a safe, appropriate spot – think Six Flags’ Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo – for a day of fun while you partake of tasting.
* Photography: Wine country is easily one of the most beautiful places on earth, and its scores of sublime photo opportunities provide rich fodder for any photography enthusiast – young or young at heart. Seek out wineries incorporating photography or art exhibits to stoke the creative juices, then head out into vineyards and on country roads to document the splendor of your surroundings. The wonderful thing about your photographer’s enthusiasm is that it translates just about anywhere you go in wine country – from restaurants (hello food photography!) to wineries to museums, natural wonders, parks, festivals and beyond.
* Music: Music might as well be the unofficial second language of adolescents, and wine country’s frequent outdoor concerts (in warmer months), live shows at select venues including teen-appropriate coffee houses and fully orchestrated music festivals provide plenty of fodder to keep music-inclined kids interested. Planning a trip around a particular concert or festival should go far to keep your young ones pleased, and – given music’s appeal for listeners of all ages – should keep you all humming along nicely on your visit.
Traveling With: Traveling with Children: Do's and Don'ts