You see them everywhere, wine tasters hauling a carseat or stroller with a baby or toddler inside. For those less fortunate, the 3+ kids are in tow with sad faces and uncontrollable fits of “Can we go now?”. If you must tour wineries with children or simply would like to know how to entertain them while you are enjoying a nice bottle of wine while at the vineyard, here are a few ideas (most Dollar Store items) to keep it interesting for the kiddos.
1. Pokémon Go
Because the popularity of this game resonates with the drinking age crowd many wineries and tasting rooms have asked for, or have been assigned, PokéStops. If your child can be trusted to roam around the grounds or sit down areas, they can effectively catch Pokémon in wine country.
2. Outdoor lawn games
Many places have a bean bag toss, bocce balls and even hoola hoops on site to entertain the masses. Ask the staff if you don’t have the luxury of bringing your own games. Many taste room personnel will come out to serve you your next pour. Take advantage and even play with your children, if possible.
3. Bring your well tamed and behaved pet along.
Most of the wineries and vineyards we toured in California and Washington state allow guests to bring their pets along. If your kids can take care of Fido or any animal that can benefit from human contact and play space these locations are wondeful for socializing your companions. Make sure you bring a leash, treats and a receptacle for water just in case the place doesn’t have any.
4. Bring crayons and a coloring book.
If you have a self soothing and independent child, this old trick can give you a few minutes of solitude and peace, especially if the book is big and the crayons or markers don’t leave a trail behind. I would suggest that you take a few extras in case other bored kids at the tasting room need entertainment. Dollar store products are the best for this as the cost to fun ratio is high.
5. Set up a scavenger hunt.
Set up parameters to search for corks, foils, pictures, art work or particular key words in the locations you are going to visit. If you have the extra time you can print a list of items for the kids to locate. As an avid cork collector, I’d appreciate the extra help securing the precious commodity and in many cases people won’t say no to a sensible request from a child to be given a gift.
6. Winery Bingo
If you have time, create Bingo cards with different winery logos, wine varietals, labels or pictures of areas of particular wineries and let your kids take pictures or prove that they found one of the card’s items. This can work for the adults too, but instead of PG choices you can punch out the wines styles you have tasted. Make sure you have a designated driver though. 😉
7. Board Games, Travel Size
This one wil depend on the crowd but I would advice that you take old card games on the go, like Go Fish and Old Maid, which can last a long time to finish. The charm with the old school games is that it helps others get in the mood by remembering their childhood play time and may allow for a better environment for the kids. If you don’t mind them sitting on the floor and making noise, or sitting outside in the patio by themselves, it works out best.
8. Encourage your child to search for reading materials.
In many places there are sample books about dogs, maps or history that a child could use as reading material. There are pamphlets about services, local artists and photography. Depending on the reading level or content, you can find something suitable in most places. Bring your own reading materials if you can’t trust that this suggestion will work for your kid.
9. Pack a kite or equivalent
Depending on local drone and remote controlled flying vehicle policy you could get away with operating a small helicopter or drone in the vineyard or taste room grounds. For those like me who like low tech optioms a kite or manually operated gliders and foam planes are still a safer bet to entertain a crowd for a reasonable time. I carry a kite with me just in case I find a good spot to let it soar. A paper plane competion or rocket launcher could work too.
I almost broke out the bubbles at one of the wineries because they had the equipment to do it. (Their kit was right next to the hoola hoops and badminton net.) Because many of these places are huge and have big lush gardens that are unoccupied by guests, one can easily sneak in a decent bubble blowing and chasing session. This is another Dollar Store item that will provide lots of fun for a cheap price and you can give away extras to strangers without feeling it in your pocket.
Regardless of how you approach it an entertained child is less of a nuisance than a bored one. Help keep the tasting environment family friendly by providing enough materials to keep them occupied. People won’t mind opening their businesses to families and pets if we all do our part to keep the peace. Hope these suggestions help. You’ll never know until you try it. 🙂