Take the Kids to Wine Country – Family Friendly Wineries in California

So – you’re ready for vacation. You’ve decided to fulfill your dream of visiting the wineries of California. But wait – Grandma can’t watch the kids! No problem – there are kid friendly wineries!

Many of the tasting rooms in the wineries of California offer juice tastings, farm animal visits and more.

Photo via discovercaliforniawines.com

While most of us visit California wineries for much-needed “grown-up” time in one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions, many parents either prefer to travel and taste with their little ones in tow or have no other option. For some it’s either take the kids along or don’t go!

Photo via discovercaliforniawines.com

This has increasingly become the trend, according to the Wine Institute, inspiring many of the state’s wineries to offer special accommodations for kids, including grape juice tastings, play areas, visits with farm animals and outdoor games. These activities keep children happy and engaged while their parents sample the latest vintages.

Photo via discovercaliforniawines.com

The key to a successful and fun family outing in California’s wine country is to call ahead or check the producer’s website to see if kids are welcome.

For reasons of liability or preference, some wineries do not allow guests under age 21.  If the winery does allow minors, kids are permitted to join their parents in the winery and can often take part in winery tours.

Following is a list of family-friendly wineries throughout California: 

ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyards, Healdsburg, Sonoma County 

Legos, crayons and cornhole keep kids entertained while parents taste. Children may also explore the vineyards adjacent to the tasting room, join parents on a guided vineyard walk and taste grapes during harvest.

Photo via https://thepress.sfchronicle.com

 Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Kids can join in winery and cave tours with their parents, visit the vineyards and enjoy the winery’s picnic area.

Alpha Omega, St. Helena, Napa Valley

The winery offers the coloring book, “Exploring the Napa Valley with Traveler Teddies,” a kid-friendly guide to the Napa Valley, presented with a box of crayons. 

Austin Hope & Treana Tasting Cellar, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County

While parents enjoy a glass or a bottle outside overlooking the vineyards, children are invited to play cornhole or giant Jenga.     

Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen, Sonoma County

A 45-minute educational tram tour showcases the winery’s Biodynamic vineyards, caves and insect-friendly gardens.

Photo via Buena Vista Winery

 Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma, Sonoma County

Tours led by period actors include wine caves and the Historic Wine Museum, which features an entertaining multi-media show. There’s also a picnic area and hedge maze.

Buttonwood Winery, Solvang, Santa Barbara County

Explore the large fruit tree orchard and picnic areas or visit the estate farm animals.

Captain Vineyards, Moraga, Contra Costa County

Tour the first green, sustainable, dry farmed vineyard and winery in the Lamorinda AVA, which offers a 4-H program for middle and high schools through the University of California at Davis.

Photo via Wine Institute

Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, Napa Valley

Tour a massive replica of an Italian castle, complete with a dungeon, then meet the estate peacocks and farm animals. Kids can sample grape juice and enjoy their own play area.

Castoro Cellars, Templeton, San Luis Obispo County

Games for kids include cornhole, giant Jenga and disc golf.

Cline Cellars, Sonoma, Sonoma County

The park-like grounds feature expansive lawns, ponds stocked with fish and turtles, caged exotic birds, vintage train cars and the California Missions Museum.

DeLoach Vineyards, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County

The winery offers educational, family-friendly tours detailing DeLoach’s history, winemaking techniques and farming practices. Families can end their tour with a picnic in the winery grove. 

Photo via Sonoma.com

Domaine Artefact, Escondido, San Diego County

Pack a picnic and play cornhole and giant Jenga, or visit the ranch’s resident horses, chickens, dogs and pigs.

Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County

Cave tours and bocce courts keep the kids entertained.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, Sonoma County

Coppola welcomes families with a large swimming pool, bocce ball court, children’s library, board games and more.

Photo via Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Heritage Oak Winery, Acampo, Lodi/San Joaquin County

Outdoor family fun includes picnicking, hiking down to the river, kayaking and camping.

Honig Vineyard & Winery, Rutherford, Napa Valley

The winery offers eco-tours of the vineyard, plus kids’ toys and books. 

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate, Fulton, Sonoma County

Kids can taste grape juice and tour the extensive vegetable garden, which includes a chicken coop, bat boxes and a demonstration bee hive. 

Landmark Vineyards, Kenwood, Sonoma County

The free Horse Drawn Carriage Tour delves into farming practices and Sonoma wine history. There’s also a picnic area and expansive lawn.

Photo via Landmark Vineyard

Mauritson Wines, Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Grape juice tastings are offered during the harvest season.

Meyer Family Cellars, Yorkville, Mendocino County

The winery includes an outdoor children’s play area. 

Navarro Vineyards, Philo, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County

Kids can enjoy a grape juice tasting of Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.

Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County

The winery’s Farm Tour lets kids meet resident farm animals and sample grape juice.

Photo via https://thepress.sfchronicle.com

Raymond Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa Valley

The outdoor Theater of Nature showcases how all of nature’s “actors”—including chickens and goats—play a crucial part in crafting quality wine, from the soil to the vineyards.  

Retzlaff Vineyards, Livermore, Livermore Valley

The winery has a picnic area and a lawn with big toy tractors for kids to play on.

Six Sigma Ranch and Winery, Lower Lake, Lake County

Meet “Topper”, the winery’s pot belly pig who loves to have his ears rubbed. Select Saturdays, jump on the flat bed and help feed the livestock. Picnic or play a game of cornhole. 

Truett-Hurst Winery, Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Families are free to roam the working farm, which features goats, chickens and sheep. 

Zaca Mesa Winery, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County

Families are invited to picnic or play a game on the giant chess board.

Now that you know you can take a wine tour with the kids – what are you waiting for? Start planning!

For more information visit www.wineinstitute.org or the consumer website at www.discovercaliforniawines.com.




Unique Ways to Preserve Your Travel Memories

Traveling broadens the mind and opens you up to new cultures and experiences. These adventures are fondly remembered long after the journey has ended. However, it’s often fun to find ways to remember our travels. There are many ways to preserve travel memories. For the avid traveler, these are a few unique ways to remember each trip.

Use a travel pin map

A map is a great way to point out places that you’ve been. You can use a normal map or find a detailed on and post it on an open wall. Whenever you travel to a new country or city, use a pushpin to mark the spot. You can also attach small flags to the pins that state the dates of travel. This is a fun way to remember each trip.

Make travel videos

With today’s technology, you can easily make travel videos on your phone or computer. Pictures are a great way to remember a trip, but you can also take short clips throughout each adventure and then put them together. Make it a point to record some of your moments. You can usually just film short clips using a normal phone so you don’t have to invest in any special equipment or software. Edit the collection of videos at the end of the trip and make a short travel movie. This is great for yourself and also to share with family and friends.

Make your own coins

This option is a fun one that’s especially great if you like to collect one particular item. Custom coins can be personalized with details such as the dates of travel, destination, and then stored or displayed however you choose. You can also choose the shape of the coin so this type of collectible can be customized to fit your unique style.

Create a travel blog

Many people blog today and it’s a fun and rewarding hobby. You can create a travel blog that uses pictures, videos, and text to convey your travels. This can be private or public. It’s also a good way to share your adventures with friends. They may even want to use your experiences when traveling themselves. Consider this as a fun way to remember the trip and also keep a record of it handy.

Make a travel photo book

Scrapbooks are always fun, but they may not be great for you if you’re not a crafty person. The good news is that photo books are done digitally and can be personalized easily. You can use pre-made formats or design your own. They can also include text to keep track of places, dates, and personal comments you want to add. The possibilities of a photo book are endless so have fun making your own.

Finally, make sure that however you choose to remember your trip is fun and meaningful for you. These options give you some great ideas, but you can also come up with your own. If you are not sure how best to keep the memories of the trip alive, use these ideas to review some unique options.




How To Move Around Quickly on Your Solo Travels

When you’re traveling by yourself, you’re going to want to keep costs down to a bare minimum. Heading out with just a backpack.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Just because you’re out seeing the world doesn’t mean you should have to pay a high price for it all the time. This means buckling up and being tough, because you won’t be living a luxury life.

We all know we don’t travel for the fun of the lifestyle but for the wonderful route of exploration we lead.

You’ll be sleeping in places that aren’t anything like your bedroom back home, you’ll be eating food that is strange and you will need to value the basics in life like never before.

One of the things you’ll be doing is planning at least a week in advance. The last thing you want to do when you’re on your own is miss your schedule. If you stay in one place unnecessarily long, that can mean you’re spending money that should be being spent on your next location.

So here’s how you can move quickly from place to place.

 

A big ol’ meal

Starting off any travel day is going to warrant a big breakfast. But if all you have is your backpack and your sleeping bag, what do you do?

Well, chances are that you’ll be getting up bright and early, possibly 5 or 6am and getting ready to travel all day long to get to your next destination. So you need a simple but high calorie meal. You can do the things that are explained on Backpacking Wiki such as cooking or eating your own meals in the hostels you stay in.

For example, keep it simple with fats and sugars that you get from yogurts, bring some quick snacks such as string cheese, packets of oatmeal you can pour hot water in and, of course, buy and cook some local eggs which should be dirt cheap.

You can rack up close to 1,000 calories just with this kind of breakfast.

 

Use the nighttime

Something that holds us all back when we travel is our own hygiene standards. Don’t wait until the morning to wash your clothes and hang them out to dry. Yes the midday sun is going to help dry them off quickly but that means you’re stuck for at least half a day until you can go anywhere.

Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

Instead, before or after you have eaten dinner, you should wash your clothes. If a washing machine isn’t available at a hostel or bed and breakfast, then roll up your sleeves and wash your clothes by hand. You can learn how to do this online, as there are some easy techniques you can learn quickly. Then hang your clothes out to dry in the night. Some countries especially in Asia have hot muggy nights so your drying clothes can get a headstart. Who knows they might be ready for the morning.

Eating and preparing clothing for the next couple of days are the two biggest holdbacks of explorers and travellers.

However, if you split your eating into just two meals a day with large calorie intakes, this can greatly reduce the amount of time wasted preparing and cooking multiple meals.




Have You Been to the Festival Capital of Louisiana?

Festivals abound in Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) – they’re up to their ears in festivals! 

More than 75 festivals and fairs are held in SWLA each year and Spring time is when many festivals kick off!

Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana is a destination that caters to everybody! The fun ranges from gaming resorts to golf courses to hunting and fishing, adventures and FESTIVALS! You can indulge in world-famous Cajun and Creole cuisine and soak in live Cajun French, Zydeco and alternative music.

Experience the largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes year-round and celebrate Mardi Gras family-style in season.

Here’s just a smidgen of the fun you can have when you visit the Lake Charles area during the Spring and Summer:

Starks Mayhaw Festival – May 16 to May 18:

Celebrating 27 years, the festival features carnival rides, arts & crafts, live music, delicious Southern food and enough berries and jelly for the whole family. Get your fill of biscuits, jelly and home-churned butter and don’t miss the highlight of the festival, the Mayhaw Jelly Contest at 10 a.m. Admission is free.

Red, White, Blue & You – July 4

This Independence Day festival celebrates our forefathers and veterans who fought for our freedom and the current troops who now protect it. The Red, White, Blue & You festival features a parade through downtown Lake Charles, an apple pie baking contest, outdoor concert featuring the Lake Charles Community Band, and a fireworks extravaganza over Lake Charles.

Southwest Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival – July 19 to July 20:

The SWLA Hot Air Balloon Festival is a new festival coming to the Lake Charles area. Who doesn’t love live music, food, dancing, family-friendly entertainment, fireworks and hot air balloons!

Canjun French Music & Food Festival – July 19 to July 20:

Each year the festival aims to preserve the Cajun traditions and heritage through music, dancing and food. Along with delicious food and dancing, visitors can enjoy craft booths, games, rides and a Sunday morning Cajun French Catholic Mass with a Cajun choir. This festival is a true celebration of the Cajun heritage and culture.

Photo via visitlakecharles.org

Marshland Festival – July 26 to July 27

The Marshland Festival helps raise funds for 15 various schools, churches, and community organizations in the area and has been rated amongst the Top 20 events by the Southeastern Tourism Society. You can enjoy music from zydeco, oldies, Cajun, and country. Local and National artist play during the festival. 

Photo via visitlakecharles.org

Arts and Crabs Fest – August 17:

Arts & Crabs Fest is a homegrown event celebrating the ties between seafood and culture. Event-goers sample from an extensive crab and seafood dish tasting featuring local chefs preparing a unique dish representative of their cuisine’s styles. Louisiana craft beer samples from Crying Eagle Brewing are offered as complementary pairings.Participating chefs battle for guests’ votes in the annual “Best Crab Dish” award, determined by popular vote.

Photo via visitlakecharles.org

Lakes Charles’ downtown is becoming a growing hotspot for foodies, art and music lovers, as well as boutique shoppers. An all new local spot – Panorama Music House – will offer a full calendar of live entertainment.

The beauty, tradition and culture of Southwest Louisiana/Lake Charles is undeniable. If you are looking for a great family friendly vacation spot this Spring and Summer – consider visiting the friendly folks in SWLA!




Having a Blast: 11 Awesome Activities in Grand Cayman

As you will quickly discover, Grand Cayman has a lot going for it as a destination. It offers visitors stunning scenery, opportunities for adventure, and so many leisure activities you won’t know what to choose during your time there.

Photo via James3214 on Pixabay

You might decide to search condos for rent to use as your base when visiting this incredible Caribbean island, but whatever option you choose, it is likely that you will have so much fun you could even imagine yourself living here, as it’s that sort of amazing place.

Here are some of the activities and adventures that you might want to put on your must-do list.

Get a birds-eye view of the island

Grand Cayman offers pretty incredible scenery from the ground, but it takes on a whole new level of incredible when you see it from the air.

A good way of getting to know the island and seeing where all the awesome landmarks are located is to book a helicopter tour.

Photo via Carnival Cruise

Cayman Island helicopters will take you around the entire island. Some of the highlights are Stingray City and the Kittiwake Wreck, plus the memorable Cayman Trench, which is a renowned diving hotspot.

A new attraction on the island

It might have been there for thousands of years but the Crystal Caves have not long been open to the public. You should take the opportunity to see this spectacular underground cave system now that you can.

Photo via KeytoCayman.com

Head for the north side of the island and look out for the Crystal Caves signs.

You won’t regret the decision to visit and you will soon know your stalactites from your stalagmites, plus the underground lakes will take your breath away.

Photo via Wikimedia

There’s a reason Grand Cayman is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean

All you need to know is that there a couple of hundred restaurants operated by acclaimed chef’s and plenty of local treats too! You will never be short of somewhere exciting to eat on the island.

One idea for giving your taste buds a guided tour would be to look out for the flavor tour that takes you for a dish and a drink at a few of the top restaurants all in one night.

A natural pleasure to enjoy

You can’t fail to love the crystal clear waters that surround the island and there is also an added attraction if you head to Starfish beach on the north side of the island.

The clue is in the name. You can swim among the starfish that populate these shallow waters and you can even handle them if you are gentle and don’t take them out of the water.

Starfish Beach is well worth a visit.

The best in the Caribbean

It might be a bold claim, but justified, as the waters off Grand Cayman are renowned for offering the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the region.

The famous Cayman Trenches are a magnet for divers with deep and clear water, plus an abundance of marine life to feast your eyes on.

The best beach

Sometimes you just want to soak up the sun and spend a day on the beach and Grand Cayman offers you plenty of opportunities to do just that.

If you fancy a beach day the best venue is, arguably, the Seven Mile Beach.

A walk along this famous stretch of beach will prove relaxing and inspiring in equal measure.

Sail at sunset

You never want the day to end when you are in a tropical paradise but you might as well make the most of the inevitable ending that comes with the sun going down.

Sunsets are spectacular and a great way of enjoying the views would be to take a sunset sail, which involves a catamaran cruise with food and drink included in the price of your trip.

Check out the West Bay with a guide

Culture and natural beauty are a compelling combination and you can enjoy both if you take a tour of the West Bay area of the island.

Photo via Wikimedia

You will take in George Town on your trip, which is the capital of the island. One of your scheduled stops is a visit to the Tortuga Rum Cake factory which offers you the chance to sample the local rum and a world-famous cake recipe at the same time.

Included in this tour is a visit to Hell. But the good news is that Hell is a prehistoric rock formation which will leave a big impression on you in all the right ways.

Sunken shipwrecks and stingrays

Another great idea for your itinerary is to consider booking the Atlantis submarine day dive.

This sightseeing craft is designed to give you a great view of some spectacular shipwrecks and the coral reefs are a sight to behold, along with the chance to watch a majestic stingray saunter past your vessel.

Another way to see what’s under the water

If you don’t fancy diving deep under the water in a submarine you could take a glass-bottom boat tour instead.

This is a great way to discover the abundant sea life from the comfort of a boat that has been made to reveal the Cayman’s sea residents in all their natural glory.

A rare opportunity that shouldn’t be missed

There are very few places in the world where you can enjoy a bioluminescence tour and Grand Cayman is one of them.

Book a boat to the bioluminescent bay and you will soon appreciate why this night time activity is considered by many as a once in a lifetime chance to see such a rare and natural sight in the waters of this amazing island.

There are so many things to see and do when you pay a visit to Grand Cayman and it will be a surprise if you don’t feel like you have been somewhere truly special on the planet once your trip has come to an end.