When you’re a parent who loves to travel, one of life’s challenges is to come up with a trip that is sophisticated enough for you yet kid-friendly enough for your offspring. On The Today Show this morning I spoke with Hoda and Jenna Bush Hager about four off-the-beaten-path wine destinations that have a great family attraction nearby and a hotel that won’t break the bank. In case you missed the show, here are some wine weekend ideas for you:
Long Island’s east end
Two hours from New York City you’ll find the unspoiled beaches, seaside villages, and sprawling vineyards of Long Island’s North Fork, plus an artisanal winemaker whose winery tour was rated #3 in the U.S. last year.
Drink: Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard offers not only the award-winning tour but also a tasting room in an historic barn and a Vine to Wine Program where you can produce your own custom barrel of wine.
Play: After the winery, reward your kids with a trip to the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center, which has a 20,000-gallon coral reef display tank, or a trip to Cooper’s Beach, a lifeguard-protected 500-foot stretch of sand with views of Southampton mansions.
Stay: At the 16-room seaside Ocean View Terrace Motel, rooms have small porches and balconies with views of Shinnecock Bay ($120/night).
Northern Virginia Wine Country
Just thirty minutes from Washington, D.C., Loudoun County, Virginia, is home to historic sites from Civil War battlefields to presidential estates, rolling hills of farms and horse pastures, and 40 award-winning wineries.
Drink: 8 Chains North is a family-owned and -operated farm winery in Waterford where guests can enjoy wines paired with handcrafted chocolate truffles.
Play: Nearby in Leesburg sits Morven Park, a 1,000-acre park dotted with 18th-century mansions and gardens, sports fields, thee museums, Civil War history, and hiking trails, plus the occasional festival or equestrian competition.
Stay: Thirty minutes from Waterford is the Residence Inn Dulles Airport, where suites come with kitchens, complimentary breakfast, and free Wi-Fi, plus there’s a swimming pool ($110/night).
Lake Wisconsin Viticulture Area
Forty-five minutes from Madison sits Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, home to a picturesque 27-acre hillside vineyard and estate that has been growing winter-hardy grapes for 150 years.
Play: Thirty minutes away is Wisconsin Dells, land of amusement parks, water parks, mini-golf, and everything else that is a child’s Nirvana.
Stay: Cedarberry Inn, five minutes from the winery, has suites for families, a heated swimming pool, and complimentary breakfast ($90/night).
Colorado’s Western Slope
In the heart of Colorado’s sunlight-drenched wine country, two hours from Aspen on the Western Slope of the Rockies, sits Palisade. The area is known for its peach orchards and other fine fruit (it’s home to the Palisade Peach Festival each August), as well as award-winning vineyards.
Drink: At Hermosa Vineyards you’ll find 11 acresof grapes in 17 varieties, plus 15 varieties of cherries.
Play: Western Colorado is dinosaur country too. The Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita tells the paleontological history of the area and features life-size gnashing robotic dinosaurs and an earthquake simulator.
Stay: Within walking distance of Palisade’s restaurants, shops, breweries, and wineries you’ll find A DiVine Thyme Bed and Breakfast, a Victorian-style B&B with only three rooms and an outdoor Jacuzzi ($99-$149/night).
California Gold Country
In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 45 minutes from Sacramento, sits the town of Plymouth, which was settled during the California Gold Rush and is a gateway to the Shenandoah Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area). The Valley has two dozen wineries, some of them 125 years old and all of them open for tastings without an appointment.
Drink: Andis Winery is a state-of-the-art, 17,000-square-foot, eco-friendly winery that opened only four years ago and grows mainly Zinfandel grapes.
Play: The Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary is not your typical zoo. It’s a sanctuary for animals that have been injured or orphaned in the wild, and it promotes responsible and appropriate behavior toward wild animals.
Stay: Built in 1852, the National Hotel is a Victorian-style landmark going back to California’s Gold Rush days. It’s actually the longest continuously running hotel in California—and has a wine-cellar tasting room, of course ($100/night).
Anyone else have suggestions for an off-the-beaten-path, affordable wine getaway that both grownups and kids can love?