Family-friendly vineyard in paso robles, california

The rolling hills and staggering cliffs of California’s Pacific Coast Highway are breathtaking. If travelers venture slightly inland to the town of Paso Robles off the road, they’ll discover something hidden in these valleys suited for the perfectly relaxing Californian dream vacation.

You can skip right over Napa Valley and Sonoma—instead, drive south to Paso Robles for just as much wine without all the reputation. These lovely vineyards and estates have much more personality, are laid-back and often encourage your entire family to spend an afternoon on the property. Home-style meals, easy walking tours and even barnyard animals are all a part of the deal.

If you thought winery trips were just for drinking and adults, you’d be wrong, especially in Paso Robles. Bring the whole squad—they will coo at the pretty, colorful landscapes and love the warm, gentle atmosphere of this gorgeous, homey part of California. The best part is no one will give your family the stink eye if a glass is knocked over or a baby giggle escapes in the tasting room.

Halter Ranch welcomes you

There are hundreds of estates, wine processing complexes and vineyards to choose from in Paso Robles. We’ll make it easy for you—make a beeline for Halter Ranch.

The whole operation is family owned and run on acreage that once held a functioning farm and grape selling business. The farmhouse still stands today, just down the dirt road from a brand new processing and tasting facility that cut the rolling landscape with a beautiful, modernistic feel. Anyone can come visit by calling ahead and scheduling a tour or tasting. Diehards who fall in love with Halter can also join the wine club, choosing from their new blends and reserves.

For kids who are energetic or a little cranky, simply have a shorter tour or head straight for the large tasting area. It’s usually uncrowded (especially during the week). Having a tag team of travel companions handle your small children is best at this point if you would like to try the wine varieties. Groups can even split up, leaving baby to roam with dad while mom indulges in a tiny taste of the 2006 Primitivo Red—our favorite of the day.

Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, California

For a more in-depth experience, visit the processing plant with your guide, then head into the cooling caves with your baby for a break from the sun. These man-made underground system hold countless barrels of wine to ferment in large oak canisters.

To reward your little one for being on her best behavior, it’s time for a picnic right on the Halter Ranch property. Let them know ahead of time, but they welcome you to bring a blanket or scope out a picnic table by the man-made pond, often home to migrating birds and ducks. This can be the ultimate chance to teach your baby how to feed the fowl! Soak up the fresh air as well and all the grape vines around you, that look lush in spring and summer and turn crisp and red in the fall.

Moving beyond the vineyard

While in the area, top attractions are always only a few hours away. Stick around town to let your curious baby poke around the children’s museum near the firehouse, or have a stroll with the stroller by the cute downtown shops and restaurants. Explore further to the famous aquarium in Monterey in the north, or venture in Los Angeles south of Paso Robles for even more fun with your little one.

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Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Twitter @Crooked_Flight

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