Parents frequently come to us with concerns about the fussy eating habits of their picky children when traveling. We love arranging a food tour early in a trip so that kids have a chance to experience local cuisine in a non-pressured way. A bite or two here and there in fun markets or funky cafes is far less intimidating than a seven-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and it just may inspire kids to be braver about trying new things as the trip progresses. Or maybe a hands-on experience like a cooking class would be a more engaging way to get your children interested in the amazing flavors of a particular destination. We can help with that too.
Once you’ve decided on a food and wine trip for your next family vacation, the first question is where to go. It’s all about your travel style and what interests your family. Culinary experiences and activities can be arranged just about anywhere, from afternoon tea lessons in London to sushi rolling classes in Japan. That said, our favorite destinations where food and wine are focal points include:
Families love the spacious grounds at many of the wineries in places like Sonoma. Some have farm animals, bocce ball courts, picnic tables and sandboxes for kids to play. If you want to incorporate additional family activities, canoeing, kite flying and train rides are all popular with our clients. The delicious, kid-friendly restaurants in Napa and Sonoma are also a highlight.
It’s hard to beat Tuscany as an incredible food- and wine-centric yet kid-friendly destination. We can arrange experiences from cheesemaking to grape tasting for kids as parents sip wine in towns and regions like Montepulciano, San Gimignano and Chianti. And that’s not to mention all the family cooking classes, like pizza, pasta and gelato, that can be incorporated into an unforgettable Tuscan vacation.
If there’s a country that lives up to its reputation for some of the best food and wine in all the world, it’s France. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to experience both with kids in tow. Children enjoy learning to make macarons or eclairs in a private cooking class in Paris, or sampling sweets on a walking tour of the best chocolate shops in the city. In other regions, we can include stops for olive oil or freshly baked pastries on a tour of wineries through regions like Provence or Bordeaux.
Tasting the exotic food of southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia is incredibly appealing, but it is hard to know where to begin and easy to feel overwhelmed. Our clients enjoy having a private guide to steer them around the lively markets so they don’t have to figure it all out on their own. Or let us arrange an in-home cooking class with a local family for an authentic cultural immersion experience.
Spanish cuisine is popular for a reason. Tapas, paella, cheese, ham, churros … what’s not to like? Even picky kids agree! San Sebastian in the Basque region holds one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants per square mile in the world. Or head to Barcelona, where food tours are popular with families. We love booking clients on a day trip out of the city and into the countryside, combining a bike ride with a farm-to-table lunch that’s perfect for kids.
The wines in this South American country rival anything you might find in Europe. A region like Mendoza is perfect for both wine tasting and outdoor activities like horseback riding. Even better, Argentina works well during the North American summer season, when crowds are thinner and prices are lower.
Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, the Puglia region is sometimes called the breadbasket of Italy. So many ingredients common in Italian food are sourced here, from citrus fruits to olive oil. Families enjoy taking leisurely bike rides on quiet streets between olive harvesting farms. Or we can book you into a pasta or bread-baking class, where you’ll learn to create the varieties unique to this region.
It’s a long way to travel, but Australia and New Zealand are ideal destinations for fans of New World wines. Families don’t want to venture this far only to be disappointed, which is why our invaluable expertise in booking top-notch culinary experiences and winery visits enhances our most popular itineraries in this part of the world.
Emerging as a marquee destination for food and wine, Portugal is one of our favorite destinations for families. It’s one of the world’s top producers of cork, and it’s fun to go cork trekking as you taste wines from onsite vineyards, or let the kids sign the world’s largest cork in Porto. Nibble on the legendary pasteis de belem (egg custard tarts) as you sightsee around Lisbon; our advisors know where you can purchase those made using the original ancient recipe.
Wine lovers will likely have Stellenbosch on their radar. It’s the most well-established wine region in South Africa, but it also works with children. There’s plenty of room at most vineyards for picnicking, and some offer chocolate pairings. Plus, Stellenbosch is only a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, so it’s easy to add a day here as part of a larger exploration of this gorgeous African country.
Once you’ve decided where to go on your food and wine trip, let us sort out all the pesky logistics. We can advise on the best family-friendly lodging options, from converted barns onsite at vineyards to luxurious hotels with the finest restaurants in-house. Regardless of where your family stays, we can arrange transportation in advance to ensure your safety in traveling from vineyard to vineyard, leaving you with nothing to worry about but deciding how many cases to ship back home.
Breaking bread and raising a glass in celebration of time spent together is a universal experience, whether it is croissants in Paris, naan in India, Riesling in Germany or Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa. Fortunately, children are welcome at tables and vineyards around the world, making food and wine trips enjoyable for the whole family. Cheers to that!
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