Road tripping is a quintessential American experience that many 21st-century families have rediscovered during the past few years. Highly structured lives, the uncertainty of air travel, and the desire to spend time unstructured time as a family makes hitting the open road for a free-range time-out more appealing than ever. No matter where you live, there are plenty of things to see and do within driving distance of your home
But what if the road takes you to wineries and you’ve got kids and a dog in tow?
Here’s how to make it work.
An increasing number of wineries have family-friendly amenities such as outdoor play areas and picnic tables. Some offer sparkling grape juice and other nonalcoholic options for their under-21 guests, and many freely welcome well-behaved canine companions.
Related: Our Favorite Wineries of the Hudson Valley
Puppies typically finish their round of essential vaccinations by the time they’re five or six months old, Keeping them out of public spaces safeguards them from developing common canine diseases such as distemper and canine parvovirus. Also, this type of visit isn’t recommended for dogs that aren’t well-socialized. Nervous dogs may bolt in unfamiliar surroundings.
Free-range road tripping doesn’t mean that your canine companion should be allowed to roam freely on someone else’s property. Even if your dog is an exemplary canine citizen and is under complete voice control, keep it on a leash as a courtesy to the winery owners and other guests. Consider using a waist- lead to leave your hands free.
Unless explicitly invited to bring your dog into the tasting room, stick with the outdoor public areas. As with anywhere else, be sure to pick up after your dog.
Although it may seem that planning ahead may dampen the spirit of the free-ranging road trip, calling ahead and asking relevant questions streamlines the experience for everyone involved. You’ll be able to make a rough schedule based on who’s open, when they’re open, and whether they allow children and/or dogs.
You may also be able to find out this information online, particularly from larger wineries. Some even have restaurants where you and your family can enjoy a meal. Planning your winery visits around regular meal times e
Family road trips aren’t really the time for spending serious time in tasting rooms. Depending on state and local statutes, the children may not be allowed in these areas, and dogs seldom are because of health codes. Parents should take turns spending small amounts of time in tasting rooms so that children and dogs aren’t left alone. Some wineries may be glad to arrange outdoor tastings.
Many wineries provide outdoor areas for families and their pets to relax and even enjoy a picnic. Be sure to leave everything just as you found it.
Buying a bottle of wine or two for you and your partner to share at later dates after the kids have gone to bed is the best way to thank the wineries you’ve visited for their hospitality.
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