California Wine Country for All Ages

Napa and Sonoma Area Restaurants and Lodging
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Oxbow Public Market, Napa, California
Napa's Oxbow Public Market is the perfect place to enjoy local eats and wine. (courtesy, Oxbow Public Market)

Come 5:30, nearly every wine country restaurant bustles with children. I have taken my toddler to most restaurants in both Napa and Sonoma counties, and (with the exception of one exclusive restaurant) we have been welcomed enthusiastically. Below is a sample of eateries that appeal to both gastronaut parents and picky children.

Maya Restaurant's (Sonoma, CA) colorful walls contain the collection of boisterous families, while a healthy kids menu and the best mole and margaritas in the wine region round out the experience.

Up in Healdsburg, locals whisper about the existence of Ravenous Café (707-431-1302). Sit in the jasmine-scented garden, with the kids and dogs, and dine on vegetarian chili and hearty burgers.

Bistro Don Giovanni (Napa, CA) serves pan-fried chicken or cheese pizza with French fries on top (and no green stuff!) to families, who linger in the garden long after dinner ends.

A new addition to Napa, The Little Gourmet (Napa, CA) calls itself a "kid restaurant that's grown-up friendly." Besides serving a peanut butter and jelly pizza, the eatery has a slew of toys, outdoor seating, and healthy salads for mom and dad.

For finicky eaters, Oxbow Public Market (Napa, CA) artisan marketplace showcases arepas at Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, croissant sandwiches at Model Bakery, ice cream from Three Twins Organic Ice Cream, hot dogs and burgers at Taylor's Refresher, and barbequed oysters at Hog Island Oysters.

If you are in Sonoma County for a week or more, consider renting a house at Healdsburg-Home Away or checking into Landmark Winery's Cottages (Kenwood, CA).

Budget-conscious travelers appreciate Sonoma Creek Inn (Sonoma, CA) for its simple queen beds and no-frills attitude. For a dash more, the full-service El Dorado Hotel (Sonoma, CA) offers centrally located poolside bungalows with contemporary decor.

If you want that once-in-a-lifetime experience, reserve a tent cabin at Safari West (Santa Rosa, CA). Or, spring for a weekend at Hotel Healdsburg (Healdsburg, CA), where the luxurious rooms are straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest.

Napa Valley's Calistoga Spa Hot Springs Resort (Calistoga, CA) caters to families on the hunt for an affordable (albeit modest) room, with unlimited access to their mineral pools.

For families looking to splurge without breaking the bank, the Villagio Inn and Spa (Yountville, CA) sings of Tuscan inspiration. The pool, bikes, tennis courts, and regal champagne breakfast appeal to the whole clan.

The ultimate family splurge in wine country is a trip to Meadowood Napa Valley (St. Helena, CA). Two hundred and fifty acres of woods surround the private cottages, with private balconies that are ideal for sipping wine on after the kiddos conk out. Add to that a children's program, babysitting, a family pool, two restaurants, a golf course, and hiking trails.

Published: 3 Aug 2009 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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