Family-friendly wine tasting? Yep, it’s a thing! These kid-friendly wineries within the Petoskey Wine Region are so chill, all ages are encouraged to stop by and kick back.
Recently my family had plans to visit Petoskey to celebrate my dad’s 64th birthday. We rented a place just off the Downtown Greenway, and a Second City show at Bay View Association’s John M. Hall Auditorium was on our Saturday evening agenda. But the rest of the day was up in the air. What should we do? The thing we could all agree on was that we wanted to explore the area. And that sampling some daytime beverages would be a great bonding activity.
So in our sociable group of six, there was me (Courtney Jerome) and my husband (a couple of 30-somethings who left their young kiddos at grandma’s house for the weekend), my sister and brother-in-law (both teachers, whose house is not only divided between their two rival high schools, but also divided between drinking beer and wine) and my parents (a.k.a. The Birthday Boy and Mom—both of whom are retired).
Me loving life at Rudbeckia Farm.
My dad, the birthday boy.
Surely, a stop at Rudbeckia Farm was a must. You know how I mentioned my sister’s house is divided? My sis is the wine lover; my brother-in-law picks beer over wine almost every time. And since Rudbeckia serves both (plus cider) at their tasting room off Lake Grove Road in Petoskey, I knew we would have some happy campers. Bonus: It’s only a handful of miles from downtown.
Outside on the property, fire pits smoked. Trucks carrying hay bales traveled the road. Chris Stapelton tunes and pig grunts filled the air (Yes, really, I said pig grunts!). We could look out at views of Lake Michigan and Walloon Lake. Just add wildflowers and a silo as the backdrop. We definitely felt north of the 45th parallel. And we felt at home.
Four of us ordered flights of wine. (We all agree … Rudbeckia’s Rosé is a standout!) The guys ordered beer. Burnt Marshmallow Brewing is Rudbeckia Farm’s onsite brewery. What a great name, right? Names on the beer menu make me chuckle, too, including an amber ale titled “Daddy, Who’s Amber?”
It didn’t take long after setting our drinks down at an outdoor picnic table for the guys to find a bocce court. Before I knew it, they were off tossing bocce balls, beers in hand. My sister was over cooing at pet pigs named Posey and Coco Chanel on the other side of the fence. My parents were settled in the shade under an umbrella held down with giant Petoskey stones, chatting it up with Rudbeckia’s gracious owner. And I was checking out the kids’ roller coaster car slide, just picturing our young boys playing on it, making a mental note to bring them with us on our next visit.
And those weren’t the only games outside on the property. Giant beer pong buckets, table Jenga, and corn hole were scattered across the yard. If we didn’t have more stops on our itinerary, we could have stayed for hours playing games and snacking on pizzas and Ice Box Brand Ice Cream Bars.
Just how family-friendly Rudbeckia’s vibes are reminded me of the last time my husband and I traveled to Petoskey Wine Region with our young boys. During that visit we were on the north side of Little Traverse Bay, driving up through the Tunnel of Trees with our then-toddlers, for a memorable stop at Pond Hill Farm. It, too, offers both beer and wine. And an uber relaxed, family atmosphere.
Our youngest loved to play in the toy room right off the market store. I seriously think he and my husband spent an hour there as I explored the farm with our oldest. The Livestock Barn at Pond Hill was a HUGE hit for our fam, too. Goats? Yep! Sheep? Of course. Ducks? Sure thing! (And oh goodness did we get a great laugh watching one duck chase our boys through the barn!) Add a gnome-house scavenger hunt through the many trails, with letters hidden behind doors—there are activities for all ages there.
The best part, I think, is that you can carry your delicious drinks around with you everywhere you go at Pond Hill Farm. The kids can run. You can sip. And everyone is happy.
Now if your kids are old enough to fully recognize the phrase “Please, don’t touch anything!” and have a fascination with castles, another great stop on a Petoskey Wine Region tour would be at the 1918 Cellars Wine Tasting Room at Castle Farms.
Located inside the authentically restored historic castle in Charlevoix, the tasting room offers eight wines produced in Michigan. Plus, with gorgeous gardens on site, self-guided and official historic tours and Michigan’s largest outdoor model railroad … it all adds up to a fun-filled family experience. A little history lesson for the older kids. And wine tasting for the adults. This is what I call a win-win!
In fact, having a multi-generational day exploring Petoskey is easy and a TON of fun in the family- and kid-friendly Petoskey Wine Region. Kids are especially welcomed at other wineries like Crooked Vine Vineyard & Winery, Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery, Maple Moon Sugarbush & Winery, Petoskey Farms, Royal Farms Farm Market & Winery, Seasons of the North, Walloon Lake Winery and Resort Pike Cidery & Winery.
In the summer at Crooked Vine, kids often head outside while the adults taste, exploring the half-mile trail through the woods, their dogs tagging along, too. Dogs are also welcome at Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery in Petoskey and Alanson’s Seasons of the North Winery.
Specifically looking for outdoor games? You’ll find them at Walloon Lake Winery and Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery. Both have a variety of nonalcoholic drinks for the young ones to sip on as well.
Family-owned Royal Farms is an all-ages destination anytime, but in fall, kids can enjoy the cider mill, corn maze and hayrides—the adults can partake in wine and hard cider in the tasting room. The whole family will love taking home the famous cherry coffeecake for breakfast.
And if your animal-loving kids can’t get enough of the pigs at Rudbeckia, visit Resort Pike Cidery & Winery. They say their family-friendly property is “Carbonation Country.” With sparkling wine and cider, two miniature goats and a sheep that kids can feed, plus room for kiddos to roam? Umm … Yes, please!
Elements of family fun are all over the region’s kid-friendly wineries, inside and out. Plan your trip to discover Petoskey Wine Region’s incredible wines and genuinely welcoming vibes.
Courtney Jerome and her husband, Josh, have two young boys who love to splash in Lake Leelanau. A former award-winning TV producer at WCMU, senior web editor at MyNorth Media and station manager of UpNorthTV, Courtney has now started her own media company. courtneyjeromemedia.com