Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adventure Napa: Don’t Balk—Take Your Kids to Napa

Many of us have visited Napa for a romantic get-away, or, at least, have short-listed it as an enviable retreat. After dreaming about vacationing in the northern California countryside for, oh, about 20 years or so, my husband and I were lucky enough to finally visit. For our 18th anniversary, my in-laws volunteered to stay with our sons for a gloriously long weekend.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our time away. Napa, after all, is an adult’s playground—the best restaurants run by some of the world’s top chefs, rich wines and cheeses at every stop, and quaint and charming bed and breakfasts on each corner. For an entire weekend we were not limited to bedtimes, child-friendly fare, or frequent visits to the bathroom—an enormous gift for any weary-eyed parent. It was during this trip, however, that Napa not only exceeded our romantic expectations, but opened our eyes to just how much our sons would enjoy a trip to Napa, too.

Round Pond: Round Pond not only makes wine, but also grows olives. Lucky for us, the proprietors of Round Pond have built their very own olive oil stone and hammer mills. If you are premeditated in your planning, you can actually experience the harvesting and pressing of the olives that occurs some time in the fall. But, during any season, visitors can call ahead to tour the mill and taste Round Pond’s bounty.

Learn to recognize the difference between Italian, Spanish, Meyer Lemon, and Blood Orange olive oils. Some are smooth and buttery, others are hearty and full-bodied, but all are delicious when served with crusty breads, grassy or earthy cheeses, and fresh, organic produce—some directly picked from their very own vineyards. Details: 886 Rutherford Rd., Rutherford, California, www.roundpond.com.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park: This Napa State Park offers ten miles of hiking trails and is home to coyotes, bobcats, fox, deer, and over 100 types of birds. Grab a snack or lunch from Dean & Deluca or the Oakville Grocery, and spend the afternoon meandering the picturesque countryside. Details: 3801 St. Helena Highway, North Calistoga, California, www.napanet.net/~bothe; Dean & Deluca, 607 S. Highway 29, St. Helena, California, www.deandeluca.com; Oakville Grocery, 7856 Highway 29, Oakville, California, www.oakvillegrocery.com.

Quixote Winery: This winery organically farms from a small, family vineyard and, as a result, produces a limited quantity of red wine (really yummy Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon). But, what this winery does on a large-scale, is the design of their home-base. Friedensreich Hundertwasser, artist, philosopher, architect, and all-around eccentric, designed Quioxte Winery as his last project. If you’ve never been fortunate enough to tour a Hundertwasser wonder, stop by the Quioxte Winery or call ahead for a tour.

In Hundertwasser designs, there are no straight lines—even the floors are often sloped. Roofs are adorned with trees and grass, structures are supported with rich, multi-colored tiles, and winding pathways lead to colorful onion domes around every corner. Spending time in a Hundertwasser is like spending time in Oz. Details: 6126 Silverado Trail, Napa, California, www.quixotewinery.com.

Taylor’s Automatic: For lunch, you can almost get away with eating at any great Napa restaurant with kids. If you’re spending a couple of days in Napa, take advantage of these great culinary giants. However, if you’re only spending a day and need a good and relaxed place for dinner, stop by Taylor’s Automatic. With a reputation far and wide for some of the best all-natural California beef burgers topped with mouth-watering cheeses and fresh veggie accents, Taylor’s delivers. Grab some burgers, garlic fries, beers, and malts and belly-up to one of the picnic tables that sit in the shadow of this timeless drive-in-style beauty. Details: 933 Main St., St. Helena, California, www.taylorsrefresher.com.

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5 comments:

Anonymous November 7, 2008 at 2:35 PM  

Like you, I have always wanted to go to Napa. Your post really got me excited about actually taking the the trip! Thanks!

Anonymous November 7, 2008 at 2:37 PM  

I have tried a couple Cameron Hughes wines---You can also purchase them on occassion at Costco.

Anonymous November 7, 2008 at 6:29 PM  

I love Taylor's--no matter how many times I go, it's always AMAZING.

Anonymous November 10, 2008 at 1:38 PM  

How about the hotels/inns? Are they kid friendly at all?

Leah November 10, 2008 at 1:53 PM  

When we took our boys, we went up for the day; our homebase was in San Fran, less than an hour away. There are quite a few hotels and inns, however. Here's a brief list: http://www.travelforkids.com/Family-hotels/California/Napa-Sonoma/napa-family-hotels1.htm.

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After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.




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Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

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