Napa, Kid-wise

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd go to Napa without wine tasting as the goal of my trip. But times have changed and kid-centered activities are now my life. The girls and I packed up the car a few weeks ago and headed up to visit my cousin, who just happens to live in one of the most beautiful parts of California, Napa.

With a three and five year old, wine tasting is off the menu (until my next adult-only Napa trip). It's forced me, and my cousin, to think of all the other things that her fair city has to offer other than wine, and there's a lot!

Our first inspiration for kid-friendly things to do came from the book Maggie and Maddy: Adventures in Napa Valley, by Kyle and Amy Goleno. I found it at the Oxbow Market a few years ago, while on a girls' trip. It's the cutest story about two little sisters who explore the Napa Valley. The sisters go through Downtown Napa, snack on pink donuts at the Buttercream Bakery, and more. Pink donuts from Buttercream have now become a tradition in our family, whenever we see my cousin we have to indulge in them!

This trip, we made it a point to not only get pink donuts, but to actually eat breakfast at the Buttercream Bakery, too. Delicious! It has your typical diner food, but the pastries and donuts are off the hook! It's no surprise I put healthy eating on hold for a few days.

Strolling around Downtown Napa is such a treat. There are fun art installations that the kids can interact with, watch the kayaks on the river, marvel at the Wine Train slowly driving by, and running around the Veterans Memorial Park, to start. During the summer, the city sponsors a concert series in the park, which we've gone to and love! Put out a blanket, bring a picnic, sip wine by the river and watch the kids dance to the music. Fabulous memories!

Since we've done the Oxbow Public Market almost every time we've been to Napa, we decided to change it up and check out the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, just next door. It's only been open a few months, and the great thing is, they have cooking classes for kids on Sundays! The age minimum is 4, so we had to skip it this time (M is only 3), but as soon as January rolls around, we're coming back!

They have an on-site restaurant, too, The Restaurant at CIA Copia. We weren't able to eat there (make a reservation ahead of time!), but the atmosphere is great and the staff was super friendly. The girls decided to blow out all the candles in the bar area and no one asked us to leave, they even laughed - amazing! Definitely on my short-list of restaurants to try in the future.

There's a grassy amphitheater behind the building, which the girls loved running around. The views of the Napa River through the olive trees were beyond relaxing. Miss G even got some good tree climbing in. 

I had grand plans to visit at least one restaurant in Yountville (I always love to stop at the Bouchon Bakery, line out the door and all), but after setting up a picnic in the Yountville Park, the girls decided they couldn't leave and had to play for over 2 hours. The sacrifices I make as a mom ;-) The play structures are on the newer side and there are separate structures for the tiny kids and bigger kids. A lot more than I was expecting from a wine-town. And apparently they even have evening movies in the park! We are so hitting that up on our next visit this summer.

I did have to drag the girls to one of the most quaint, and fancy, chocolate shoppes ever! Woodhouse Chocolate, in St. Helena, is a sight to be seen. The window display was phenomenal - the giant chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, ducks... It was a struggle to keep the girls from touching it all. I picked up some chocolate bunnies for the girls and salted chocolate caramels for my husband. All I can say is that they were worth every penny - delicious!

We even stopped by the Napa Welcome Center. The volunteers are so friendly and really know of what they speak - they've actually been to the wineries and give excellent recommendations. And you may even run into my cousin, she volunteers there! Make sure to say hi for me when you stop by.

Have I convinced you that Napa isn't only for adults? Taking the kids will open up a whole world of things that you most likely would have missed had you stuck to the Silverado Trail.

Enjoy your next weekend away in Napa!

Even more fun things to do with kids:

***I wasn't compensated by any of the promoted places in this post, they didn't even know I'd be writing about them!

Scottsdale Love

The family shipped off to Scottsdale, AZ, for our annual pilgrimage to warmer weather. It’s one of my favorite trips of the year, hands down. Not only did the girls get to see their grandparents and get their fill of swimming, but my husband and I got to try to relax. There’s nothing like some sun, heat and a pool to put your mind at ease.

I always forget that Phoenix is a big city and people live there year-round. There's so much to do, so many great restaurants, and the shopping is terrific! Whether you're 3 years old or 73, they've got you covered.

My ladies love the Children's Museum of Phoenix and the Phoenix Zoo. Then there's the Desert Botanical Garden, which seems like an oxymoron, but it's most definitely not! And shopping in Scottsdale and Phoenix is almost all outdoors, so you can enjoy the amazing weather and fun treats! My favorites are Kierland Commons, Biltmore Fashion Park, and Downtown Scottsdale, for a real Southwest feel. If you love golf, you can't throw a rock without hitting a course. My husband and his dad enjoyed a beautiful day at the Phoenician golf course. Ok, I convinced myself, we need to move there... 

Now that we're home and it's raining again, I want to get back to my happy place. Check out some of the views we had and a few fun shots of my ladies loving Arizona.

It's been hard to mentally get back into the swing of things. But, I'll be dreaming about our return next year...

It's September? What?!

When did September creep up on me? I thought I had a blog post or two left before the school year started, but August decided to disappear before I was ready.

Seeing as summer ended without me, I've got a quick round-up of what we were up to during the month of August, both personally and design-wise.

August was supposed to be our calm, stay-at-home month to catch up on things after a crazy beginning of summer. That didn't happen. We ended up not having a single weekend free all month! Between helping my oldest friend move, visiting family and having my mom visit, that was just the beginning!

We spent a weekend visiting my amazing cousin in Napa. A few years ago, on another trip up there, I found the best book for the girls, "Maggie and Maddy: Adventures in Napa Valley." Ever since, we try to do a few of the things the girls do in the story on each of our trips. So of course, we had to go to Butter Cream Bakery for their crazy good pink donuts, some music in Downtown by the river, lunch at Oxbow Market and a trip wouldn't be complete without a quick stop to Domaine Chandon and a walk through Yountville. Trips are decidedly different now that they're kid-centered, so we had to play at the park instead of jumping on the Wine Train. 

The following weekend I had my first trip away from the girls (don't say it, I know it's taken way too long for me to do this). My best friend from college got married in Andrews, North Carolina, at Hawkesdene. It was a beautiful, love-filled weekend, and ridiculously relaxing. It was the perfect way to disconnect and enjoy being with friends that I hadn't seen in way too long. A country wedding doesn't get any better than this.

That left the last weekend before school and I decided I needed to paint three of the walls in the girls' room. I think I'm turning into my mom, I just can't sit still anymore! So the Frozen In Time color from my Stripes, Stripes, Stripes (Part 2) post now covers the bottom third of each of the other three walls. I love it! Now the white crib and bed pop. Simple, but makes the room feel more cozy. And getting a 3 year old's stamp of approval is all I need!

Wish me luck getting my blog-act together for the month of September!