WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Wine Country in the Spring — A Surprisingly Family-Friendly Getaway!

Addie Ladner recently shared a weekend getaway guide to her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.  We have since asked Addie to join our team of blog contributors here at Babyccino, and we’re thrilled to be able to share more from this inspiring mama of three. First up, she’s sharing a surprisingly family-friendly getaway to Napa Valley, below…

IMG_2265 (2)

We just finished off our last bottle of wine from a family trip to Napa Valley two years ago and it sent me down a rabbit hole of looking through photos of how young our kids (only two of them at the time) were, and how glad I was we brought them. People are always so surprised to hear our kids came with us to wine country! The decision was a no-brainer. A dear friend was getting married in San Francisco, we’ve always wanted a Napa Trip and with no family nearby, off we all went. I’d highly recommend it for anyone wanting a low key getaway that offers something for both the parents and the kids. As a little tip, the key to our trip’s success (i.e bringing the kids with us) was that we went in off season during February. Because it was off-season, folks were happily accommodating to us and our small kids. We had great service, no crowds etc. Basically, we had much of Napa all to ourselves! You don’t get the grapes or leaves on the vines but you get a beautiful blanket of yellow mustard flowers that coat most of the vineyards so you still have beautiful views.

If you’re not familiar with the area – Napa Valley is made up of a strip of small little wine country towns (including actual Napa) that are all connected in this gorgeous mountain terrain. Something I was happily surprised by was how non-commercialized and touristy wine country felt, but also how accessible the entire Napa Valley was. You can stay in any of the little towns that make up the valley and still be able to explore the rest of the area. It’s called wine country because you really are in the country! I loved how rural and relaxing it all felt. However, there were still loads to do. Each town was dripping with vineyards, wineries, restaurants, art galleries, shops, etc. Here are some highlights and recommendations for the curious.

STAY:

We set up shop at the delightful EuroSpa and Inn in the charming town of Calistoga for 5 nights. We were served a scrumptious breakfast in the courtyard every morning and warm cashew chocolate chip cookies every afternoon.  We had a two bedroom suite with a whirlpool tub that the kids especially enjoyed and a fireplace in the living area. From the Inn, we ventured all around Napa Valley doing something different each day. We opted for doing one little outing each morning, then spending the rest of the day relaxing at the Inn or wandering around Calistoga, so our trip really felt like a vacation and not as much of a chaotic adventure.

IMG_5509 (2)

DO:

  • Castello di Amorosa– We had heard mixed reviews about visiting this particular tourist stop and I am so glad we decided it was something we wanted to see. The kids enjoyed grape juice and breadsticks while we did a tasting and all of us loved exploring the castle, the olive groves, watching the roaming chickens and the moat around the entire thing.
  • The crew at the famous Chateau Montelena was so hospitable to us and their award winning and history making wine was amazing. You might recognize it from this  It was also here that I learned old wine corks are great entertaining tools for little ones!
  • HALL St. Helena has not just wine but a showcase of modern art and great outdoor space for walking around or just relaxing. It provided a beautiful backdrop for some family photos and all felt very classy.
  • Oxbow Market, an indoor food and gift market is a great place to mosey around during a rainy day, we found some tasty Mexican street food while we were there and they have a sweet little book shop inside.
  • The rain interfered with us exploring this, the Petrified Forest is something that definitely seems worth visiting!

 

EAT

  • Gott’s Roadside is an outdoor seating only burger and fries joint with a lovely grass lot of picnic tables and umbrellas. The ahi tuna burger was so fresh with a nice kick of wasabi and cilantro.
  • Bouchon Bakery-No way could we have eaten at Thomas Keller’s famous French Laundry with our little ones, but luckily right next door is his chic French bakery filled with a nice variety of macaroons, croissants and the like. Their interpretation of a Ho Ho (an Oh Oh) was oh so yum.
  • The Culinary Institute of America was probably the main highlight for me on this trip. We had an incredible 4-course meal at their Gatehouse Restaurant (miraculously the girls cooperated through the entire thing). What’s neat about the restaurant is that it is completely run by students at the culinary school. It’s a small intimate setting with no detail left out. Our dishes were meticulously plated with perfect serving sizes and accompaniments. Cured salmon, potato crepe, fennel tarragon purée, squab breast, and caramelized endive tart to name a few.

DRIVE

The last full day of our trip was spent taking a long scenic drive out of Napa Valley, along the Russian River, stopping at the Armstrong Redwoods Resere and then winding around the Sonoma Coastline. The views we saw that day were some I will never forget and it was the perfect way to wrap up our trip. Pictures don’t really do the Redwoods nor the coastline justice. These majestic trees make you feel as if you are in a fairy tale – huge, ancient and eerie. Because of their size, the entire park feels very cold and damp, and you can only see little bits of the sky peeking through the top. Several trees had hollows at the bottom more than 6 feet tall! What we loved about this coastline is on one side of the road are the rocky beaches and the other, mountains full of bright green pastures, meadows, and roaming farm animals. How neat would it be to live in the country and on the ocean at the same time? Sign me up!


SHARE

Leave a Comment