As parents, we sometimes choose not to do something we really want to do just because we have kids. Yes, as parents it is absolutely necessary to do that occasionally, but if you find yourself always putting YOU last, then it’s time to make a change.
A study in the U.K. found that 8% of fathers and 15% of mothers experience depression during their children’s formative years. When it comes to your mental health, scientists say it’s ok to put yourselves first sometimes.
So, your first tip for traveling with kids to wine country is to just do it! Don’t hold yourself back from experiencing your love of wine just because you have kids.
Here’s my top tips for how to travel in wine country with kids!
#1 Visit Small, Family Owned Wineries
Yes, there are wineries that won’t allow children, however, many winemaking businesses have children that they raised in the family business. In fact, they would be happy to have your children visit. Some of these child-friendly places include:
- Visiting the hills of Mendocino at the Esterlina Vineyards.
- The captivating organic vineyards in Sonoma of Francis
- The flowing falls of Niagara Valley Canada where you can visit Inniskillin.
Not only do kids get to see how wine is made, but many times they get to taste some of the delicious grapes that are used. (Before they’re turned into wine, of course!)
#2 Call for Educational Wine Tours
Wineries aren’t just for adults. In fact, there is a lot that goes into making wine. Both small and large wineries will typically be happy to host your children for an educational visit. Be sure to call ahead of time and inform them that you will be bringing children along.
You can even call wineries you would like to visit and ask them if they would allow children to come to a wine tasting with you. Many will be perfectly fine with it while others may be hesitant, or prevented from allowing them due to the local laws. So, always call ahead to be sure.
#3 Set Expectations with Your Kids
Let them know how you expect them to behave. Give them examples of acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors. And, although they may not be perfect, they will be much better behaved if you talk to them beforehand. Reward your kids with ice cream or a fun treat if they behave. You can also let them know that if they do this then you will do this with them. It gives kids something to work towards. Here are some major rules to incorporate:
- No running
- No touching
- No jumping
- No fighting with siblings
- No trying to shoot boogers through a straw at your sister…ok maybe that’s just my kids.
#4 Don’t Do too Many Tours
Although your kids may do well at one tour, booking too many wine tours is not going to be good for them. One tour per day is plenty for any child. You may even want to do one every other day to keep things fun, fair, and reasonable.
#5 Invite Friends with Kids
The more the merrier, right?! Invite some of your friends with kids to go along with you. This is a great way for you both to keep your kids occupied as they will have kids their own age to talk and play with. And, this is a great way to share your experiences with others.
#6 Be Prepared
Let’s face it; your kids are not going to sit perfectly quiet while watching you slowly sip your wine. This is especially true if you have younger children. Bring a bag for each child filled with snacks, activities, books, card games, and age-appropriate entertainment. If older kids want to listen in on the education, allow them to do that. But, never go to a wine tasting with children unprepared.
#7 Do Other Activities
Even though it is important for parents to do something for themselves, it is also important to do things as a family. If you are going to be taking your kids to wine country, you will want to visit other family-friendly areas, too.
Spend some time researching the area you will be visiting for other things to do with your kids and family. Here are just a few to consider:
- Enjoy the streams for fishing, wandering the square, playing in the park, or visiting Train Town amusement park in Sonoma.
- Take a ride on the aerial tram at Sterling Vineyards & Winery in Napa.
- Visit the quaint chapel or have some family time at aerospace museum with and indoor waterpark in Oregon.
- Roam the villages, explore the candy shops, and ride the carousels in France.
- Take time to splash and balance along all the fountains in Italy.
- Check out the goat tower at Fairview winery in Paarl, South Africa
#8 Use a Sitting Service
You can always take one day just for you or you and your significant other by using a sitting service. Many times, you can book a sitting service through concierge recommendations. Depending on which hotel you may be staying with, they may actually offer child care services at specific times.
Check Hotels for Sitting Services
Check with hotels before you book. Try to find a hotel with these accommodations. You may have to pay for them, but it will be worth it for a longer day tour, a romantic evening out, or even a romantic couples spa day.
Use Friends and Split Up Childcare Duties
Or, if you brought friends, you could each take a day to watch all the kids. This way you both get to go out without kids, but not one person is stuck with the kids all the time.
Bring a Nanny
Who wouldn’t want to go on a free vacation?! You can always consider bringing a nanny, a relative, or friend along just to watch your kids while you go to wine tours. When the wine tours are over, you can allow the nanny to get a little time to his or herself.
Are you ready for wine country with kids? Remember, you need time for yourself, too! So, use these tips and just do it!
What experiences have you had in wine country with kids? Share your mishaps, experiences, and details in the comments below!