We’ve been to wine country twice before – both times were before #KidGoodwin came along.
After canceling plans in the summer of 2020 due to Covid, we were eager to start traveling again. We did a few local-ish road trips to hold us over, and then we had a great time in Copenhagen and in Paris in July 2021.
But naturally, we wanted to squeeze in one last trip before we got too settled into the school year, so we started looking for possible US home exchanges, settling on a lovely Victorian farmhouse in Santa Rosa, California.
We were excited because of the proximity to so many wineries and restaurants. The kid was excited about the pool!
Friends of ours were supposed to travel to Europe over the summer, but their plans got canceled. They were kicking around ideas of what to do so they could get a trip in somewhere and we suggested they fly out to California and join us. The more, the merrier, right?
We couldn’t wait to show them some of our favorite spots and explore some new ones together, adventuring through San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Napa, and Sonoma!
Home Exchange Details
Not only did we swap homes, we also swapped cars with our exchange partners. Before we left, Tommy met up with them in DC to switch car keys. When we landed at SFO, we followed their directions to their parking spot – no rental car needed!
The Ferry Building
We left the airport and stopped at The Ferry Building for lunch. We all kind of picked and chose and ate what we wanted, sitting outside in the sun to eat. We took a walk to check out the shops and farmer’s market stalls and then eventually ended up sitting down to have one more snack before heading from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.
On the way to Santa Rosa, we stopped at Viansa, a Sonoma winery with amazing hillside views. (Tommy and I have stopped there on both of our previous trips!) Because of Covid restrictions, they weren’t doing indoor tastings, but we are big fans of their sangiovese, so we bought a bottle to split and found a table outside to toast to our friendship.
We absolutely had to take our friends to Ad Hoc for dinner. We had a scrumptious steak dinner and of course ordered the fried chicken, too. (If you know, you know.) We even went back a SECOND night for dinner because that fried chicken is too good to pass up.
Our home exchange partners left us all kinds of information on their favorite wineries, but we didn’t want the whole trip to be about wine – it’s kind of hard with a kid tagging along. However, all of the places that we went to were kid-friendly and didn’t mind that we had a youngin’ with us. (It’s important to check the winery website or ask ahead of time when you are making your reservation.)
We rented an outdoor cabana at BR Cohn in Glen Ellen and enjoyed a private wine tasting in the shade along with some snacks. There was some space for the kid to run around and we got to watch the staff setting up for a fancy wedding. We also got to see some grapes being picked because we were there during harvest!
We were in California over my birthday so we decided to do a tasting at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga. We really enjoyed our tasting – wine and chocolates! Jacob did a kid’s tasting, too – grape juice! It was SUPER sweet! We also got lots of great pictures around the castle and in the vines.
Even though we were on vacation, Tommy still had some work calls that he had to take. And with the west coast time difference, there were some mornings that he was up pretty early. One morning, I found myself unable to go back to sleep after he had gotten up. I was in bed just scrolling through my phone when I felt the walls start rumbling – it kind of felt like a bunch of large trucks were driving by and shaking the frame of the old house. I hurried up and Googled it and sure enough, it was an earthquake!
This was the third time we’ve been on vacation and felt an earthquake!
Seismic Brewing at the Barlow
Not exactly sure how we found out about it, but when we heard that there was going to be a Harvest Party at Seismic Brewing woods (with a free souvenir beer stein!), we had to go check it out. We were there shortly after they tapped a keg and we all got to sign it. The beer was great and so was the festival! They had some outdoor games like giant Jenga, beer pong, and cornhole set up. Plus, The Barlow Market was a really neat place with lots of restaurants and shops – something for everybody!
I have always wanted to visit Muir Woods and see the redwood trees up close. Again, this was kind of hard to do with a kid tagging along, (he’s way too big for a stroller, but not big enough yet to go hiking on a 4-mile trail) because I could have walked among the trees for hours if we didn’t have to worry about his little legs getting so tired! Still, we made a short(ish) hike out of it to admire the trees. They are absolutely breathtaking. Like I said, I could have walked for hours.
You can’t be in Santa Rosa and not make a stop at the Charles Schulz Museum. We got there just in time to catch a big-screen showing of The Great Pumpkin. We walked around for a little bit checking out all of the artwork. Jacob liked the peekaboo boxes stuck in the wall for you to look at. My favorite part was the Kite-Eating-Tree outside!
Golden Gate Cruise
We did a sunset cruise with Adventure Cat tours on our first trip to California and managed to schedule another one, earlier in the day. It was foggy, so we didn’t exactly have the best views of the bridge, but we had fun on the trip nevertheless! We even got to raise the sail!
It was a great trip, but like every trip, it was too short! I’m thinking the next time we go back, I’d like to do a spa trip in Calistoga…
…because I’m sure we’ll go back soon!