Thursday, January 01, 2009

Toddlin' Around Napa

If you're lucky enough to live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, then you may want to make your way up Highway 29 to the Napa Valley for some amazing scenery. This time of year, the way the fog mingles with the trees and hills is pretty amazing. I hear they have nice wine up there, too.

Wine, schmine. I like to work up a nice buzz as much as the next gal, but your 2005 Pinot Noir's got nothing on the medium rare steak I inhaled at Tuscany the other night--with a honey fig glaze. Now that's Napa style. And don't get me started on the French onion soup at Angele or the Jean Gorge triple cream brie from the Oxbow Public Market. Sigh.

If you care to bring your 14 month old connoisseur along for the trip, there are lots of fun toddler-friendly ways to enjoy the Napa Valley. Behold, a list:

Sterling Vineyards: Everyone loves a gondola ride, and this one comes with a self-guided winery tour. The ladies who pour the wine and explain why what your drinking is so special (I'm sure there's a fancy descriptive word that I'm missing here) are great with kids, and gave Samson a nice wine soaked cork to suck on when he started to get really cranky. For reals. How awesome is that? Also, they have a terrificly clean and large changing table in the ladies room. Well worth the $20 entrance fee.

Domaine Chandon
: We skipped the tour and tasting in favor of a Samson-led tour of the grounds and a special dirt tasting. the dirt was delicious, and was especially well paired with Cheerios and a nap.

The Petrified Forest: A healthy break from all of the binging, er, tasting, these petrified redwoods are historical or something, and I think are also geologically important. For some reason. I'm not sure. But they did provide Samson with four tenths of a mile of mud to walk, trod, crawl, play and run through. Awesome. Extra super fantastic bonus points: squashed penny machine at trail head. Score!

Sonoma Train Town: Did you know that every little boy is genetically hard wired to dig the hell out of trains? Bulldozers and garbage trucks, too. Weird, isn't it? It kind of explains things like this. I suppose it's akin to every little girl loving everything princess. Thanks heavens for Train Town. We all piled into what is apparently "the most well-developed scale railroad in the Americas." While Samson found the train whistle to be awfully distressing, the petting zoo at the end of the line was totally worth it.

Taylor's Automatic Refresher: This place was right next to our hotel, and the shiny exterior beckoned us in eventually. We try to keep Samson away from junk food for the most part, but the kid just loves ketchup and we eventually caved in the form of corn dog nuggets. Probably the most kid-friendly restaurant in Napa.

It probably isn't advisable to take your loud, cranky toddler to some of downtown Napa's fancier establishments, but if you do, just cross your fingers and hope that you get one of the kind and compassionate servers that we got at both Tuscany and Angele. You may just luck out and get your own private dining room a safe distance away from the lovey dovey couples and other adult types who may not appreciate the sounds of a young man who no longer wishes to sit in his high chair or is suddenly repulsed by the idea of eating cheddar cubes or blueberries. Believe or not, some people don't find the sight of your kid, red-faced, with tears streaming down his face, melting into the carpet as adorable as you do. Go figure.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, I know just what to get a young Mr. Stanbery from his favorite Auntie LaLa...a lovely dumptruck DVD that his mommy & daddy will just adore! Hooray! :)

Deborah said...

Dumpa dumpa!