Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Traveling with Kids: Wine Country, Part 2

We decided to rent a house for our trip to Napa. I found ours on VRBO.com (which has listings all over the world!). Traveling with kids changes your priorities about what you need when you travel. I knew I wanted a house because:
  1. I wanted the kids to sleep in a separate room from me. They sleep better that way, so everyone sleeps better that way.
  2. I wanted the extra space to spread out.
  3. A backyard would be a great place for the kids to play.
  4. A kitchen makes it so much easier not only for meals, but also for snacks. : )
  5. It's more private/you don't have to worry that your crying baby is keeping up the neighbors.

Our little house was a 2 bedroom/1 bath but it had a little sitting room with a daybed, so it kind of worked out to be 3 bedrooms for us. One of the twins slept on the daybed, the other in her own queen bed, and the baby was in a pack and play in our room.

Some vacation rentals offer extra perks, like stocking your fridge with light breakfast food. Ours didn't do that, but we did have bikes in the garage that we could take out and we also had bathrobes in the closets.

Another bonus about vacation rentals is that the owners usually love the area and know almost everything there is to know. Our owners had several binders with different subjects: where to eat, what to do, etc. Our kitchen had cookbooks, many with local flavors and recipes.

If we do decide to stay in a hotel next time, I might check out the Embassy Suites on California Ave. I drove past it on my way to the grocery store, and it looked pretty nice.

If you are going to Wine Country without kids, I must recommend staying at The Cottage in the Vines. It is a one bedroom guest house in Sonoma. The owners are so friendly and take such good care of you. They delivered breakfast outside our door each morning, which we ate out on the deck overlooking their vineyard. I was unable to find their website, so maybe they are not renting at this time, but you can email them at info@cottageinthevines.com or call 925-216-5881 for more information.

We did not eat out with the kiddos. We decided that we didn't want the headache of it, so I cannot recommend a good place to take little kids. However, I did take the kids to a place for a light lunch. It's called The Little Gourmet (A Kid's Restaurant that's Grown-up Friendly). We got to eat outside. I ordered the girls each a smoothie and we shared a Monte Cristo sandwich. (I am very particular about my Monte Cristo sandwiches. This one was okay, but not what I like in a Monte Cristo. By the way, if you've never had a Monte Cristo, my favorite place to get them is at Bennigan's.)

The first night we ordered pizza from a local place called Papa Joe's. Really good pizza and good value. We ordered a large and had lots of leftovers.

Another night I got a marinated steak from Browns Valley Market in Napa. I also got an eggplant that we grilled with the steak and some stuff to make a salad. This is a nice, locally owned store and it was nice to shop in there. They also have pre-made stuff in their deli that looked yummy and plenty of goodies to make a sandwich. I walked right past the dessert display because I knew I would blow my budget there!

There were some main stream stores not far from our house: Safeway, Target, CVS. We got most of our provisions at Safeway, which kept our costs low. There was also a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods nearby.

One place you don't need to go is Oakville Grocery. It's supposed to be this quaint little grocery with delicious sandwiches and other lunch fare. We stopped there on our way to Sonoma Train Town (which really isn't on the way to Sonoma). I went in, just the twins and me. Just inside the door, I froze: the walls were lined with glass jars filled with delectable (and expensive) vittles for your picnic basket. What was I doing in there with 2 little kids?

I quickly grabbed a sandwich in their pre-made case and an Odwalla smoothie for the girls to share. I picked up licorice from their candy section (although I didn't have any, the girls ended up not eating it and Husband threw the bag away after eating one piece) and then waited for 10 minutes to spend $15 on three big cookies. My total for this lunch? $35. Yes: thirty-five dollars. I was so frazzled with the kids in there that I didn't even blink when she handed me my receipt. I just wanted to get out of there without further incident.

So, skip Oakville Grocery and pick up a lunch for 1/3 of the price at Trader Joe's. It will be just as delicious!

Have you found any great spots to take kids out to eat in Wine Country?

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