Ever feel like you just want to escape mid-week and head somewhere to immerse yourself into deep relaxation? I do. Why not take a trip on a Wednesday, beat the crowds, and unplug. Being in San Francisco, I find it so important to take little countryside escapes and wind down – don’t worry I know just the place!
Napa Valley, a quick hour drive from the city, holds the opportunity for those looking to travel and dive into a culinary experience. It’s one of my favorite location for three very important reasons: on-point food, relaxing resorts, and impeccable wine. Could you really ask for more?
Navigate Northern California Like a Local!
Unlock the best-kept secrets of Northern & Central California with my curated Google Map, showcasing 600+ accommodations, eateries, coffee shops, and unique experiences. Get the map here!
As you come into Napa, it’s like you can almost smell the wine being made. Passing into the countryside, it doesn’t take long to be captivated by the rows, and rows, and rows of vineyards that invite you into different adventures. From sparkling wines, to the iconic Napa Valley Cab, there is a winery for every palette.
This last month I took a “getaway” myself to Napa Valley during the week. Having been many times in the summer and the fall season, it was my first time during their “cabernet season”, the winter season. During this time of year, the vineyards are dormant, and it becomes time to open the cabernet sauvignon to partner with those rich winter dishes. Napa Valley focuses on food this time of year with some events like Flavor in November, or the truffle festival in January, and one of my personal favorites, Restaurant Month in February.
Upon arrival on my first day, I had a few wine tasting appointments at some of the wineries I’ve had my eyes on. The first winery was the dreamy Domaine Carneros, the French chateau perched atop a hill where the first part of the afternoon was spent sipping their sparkling wine. From there I made my way to Peju Winery, sat in the vineyards and enjoyed a tasting of their different reds, their cabernet is a perfect pairing for a hearty winter meal. After wine tastings it was more then time to go have a meal, so dinner was set out for Bottega, one of the few restaurants I had not tried in Yountville. Opting for their burrata as a starter and then the highly recommended ribs, it could not have been a better way to finish the first day.
The second day was an up and early rise after a good night’s sleep at the Meritage in Napa and made the way back into Yountville for my favorite bakery, Bouchon. With a warm croissant and cappuccino in hand, I took to strolling through the center of Yountville to the French Laundry’s gardens. After popping in and out of boutiques, lunch came around and I knew exactly where I was headed, Redd Wood. After a modern Italian meal, I took to a sparkling wine tasting at Mumm and then a hop over to Silverado Winery for a great view to help finish out the last day in Napa Valley.
I think what brings me back time and time again, food and wine aside, is the true passion in the craft everyone is doing. You can feel it when you bite into each food, sip each wine, and stroll through every winery. You are immediately sunk into someone’s love for a special experience, which makes your time more than exceptional. Spending time in Napa Valley was designed to show you what not to miss, where to get the winter dishes, and the wineries to do tastings at. So here it is, I urge you not to have an empty belly, and I forewarn you, you may find yourself putting in some vacation time in shortly..
Guide to Napa Valley
How to get there
Napa Valley can be easily reached by car and is recommended to have one to visit the area. The nearest airports are Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland – all of which are about an hour to an hour and half to get to.
Where to stay
- Meritage Resort & Spa: Napa Valley luxury resort with extensive suites, a winery, and spa on site.
- Bardessono: Modern luxury with a central location in the heart of Yountville.
- Auberge de Soleil: Fine luxury along Silverado Trails, creating an intimate experience.
Where to eat
- Bottega: Old-world Italian plates, with a twist on preparation and flavors. Perfect for a romantic dinner, be sure to order the burrata and their classic ribs!
- Redd Wood: Modern Italian, with a more casual, young atmosphere. Features classics from pizza to pasta.
- Bouchon Bakery: Your stop for coffee, pastries and everything French. The almond chocolate croissant is my personal favorite.
- Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch: a restaurant that has created a destination with local produce and meats – one of my favorite brunches.
- Morimoto: Modern, fine-dining sushi in the heart of Napa. Have a drink at the unique bar.
Where to wine taste
- Domaine Carneros: French chateau offering sparkling wine with a view over vineyards.
- Peju Winery: Where art meets wine, an unique experience on wine tastings.
- Mumm Napa: A classic in Napa Valley along Silverado Trails, their rose cuvee is a personal favorite.
- Silverado Winery: Atop a hill, this winery has some of the best scenic views in town, personally loved for finishing the day off here.
What to experience
- Hot air balloon ride: Wake up early, and go back to the first ways of flight. With views over the Napa Valley vineyards, this is an experience not to miss. Read my personal “experience” here.
- Spa treatment: If you have had your share of wine tastings, head to a spa for treatment. The Health Spa Napa Valley, Solage, or Auberge Calistoga are all great choices.
- Oxbow Market: Welcome to the market built just for the foodies. Taste everything from coffee, to oysters, to chocolate – a great way to eat through the afternoon!
Travel well, travel often.
Bon Travels, Xx
*Bon Traveler was a guest of Visit Napa Valley. As always all opinions are own. Thank you for the wonderful time!
PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!
These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.
1. Book Your Flights
Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.
2. Book Your Accommodations
Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
3. Book Your Tours & Experiences
4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access
Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.
6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.
My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: