One of the most beautiful weekend trips that you can possibly take in the U.S. is a trip to the Napa Valley wine country. We recently spent a weekend in Napa back in November and had the most wonderful time. I feel like we know Napa fairly well since we live only an hour away from the area yet every time we visit it feels like the very first time. It’s always so special! I haven’t written anything abut Napa on the blog yet so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share all the details about that visit… from where we stayed to everything we ate and drank throughout our weekend.
Where To Stay
There are so many incredible resorts and hotels in the Napa Valley area to stay in.. but there are just a few that we truly LOVE. The November weekend was one that I was really looking forward to because Jeff and I had been invited to Carneros Spa for the weekend. We decided to make it a family affair and invited Emma and her boyfriend Zach with us. Emma and Zach decided to stay down the road from us at a more affordable resort and loved it. It was perfect!
The Carneros Resort and Spa is HEAVEN. This resort is set in the Carneros area, which is absolutely gorgeous with it’s rolling hills and vineyards surrounding it. Carneros Resort is a huge property, with cottages scattered throughout – from a small cozy cottage to full villas, they have all. Our cottage came with it’s own kitchen, outdoor shower, bathtub and even a fountain and fire-pit. It was really amazing. I will go into more about our visit in my upcoming post. It was beautiful and so spoiling.
Photos via Vista Collina
Emma and her boyfriend stayed in a nearby newer resort – The Vista Collina! They loved their stay at one of the newest resorts in the Napa Area. The Vista Collina has the CUTEST community lawn with nine tasting rooms surrounding the lawn in an area called “The Village”, which they particularly enjoyed. The rooms were huge and beautifully decorated.. we highly recommend this new property which is across the street from The Meritage. (The Vista Collina is owned by the Meritage.. so if you stay at the Vista Collina you can use the Meritage amenities!)
More hotels we recommend in Napa Valley:
- The Silverado Resort and Spa – a beautiful luxury hotel set on gorgeous golf courses.
- The Bergson – a charming boutique hotel in downtown Calistoga which is close enough to walk downtown and near wineries.
- White House Inn – A gorgeous B&B in downtown Napa that is designed to the nines and provides incredible service. Includes all you can eat breakfast each morning.
Where To Eat
Napa Valley has some incredible restaurants – from casual to over the top. Here are a few of our favorites:
Bottega Napa Valley – Jeff and I ALWAYS eat at Bottega every time we come back to Napa.. it’s one of our all-time favorites. The restaurant is in Yountville which is a little north of Napa but it is still considered the valley. Bottega is an italian restaurant run by the amazing Chef Michael Chiarello. The whole vibe is romantic with fireplaces, comfy leather seating and low-lighting everywhere. The place is always full and you can’t help but appreciate the happy crowd. Definitely make time to eat here. The short ribs are Jeff’s favorite! TIP: Make reservations way in advance! This place books up and is very popular.
Boonfly Cafe – This ‘modern rustic’ cuisine restaurant is located at Carneros Resort and it’s SO good! Don’t let the fact that it’s called a casual spot fool you.. the food is beyond amazing and the menu is so varied! It’s a super popular spot for brunch but we grabbed dinner here one night because we craved comfort food. We loved every dish we had.. fried chicken, mac n cheese, warm spinach salad, etc. It’s a must if you’re in the area! TIP: Order the donuts with chocolate sauce for dipping! Need I say more?
Ad Hoc – Another delicious brunch spot you can’t miss! This restaurant is run by Chef Thomas Keller who also owns the insanely popular 3 Michelin star rated restaurant, The French Laundry.. Every day an entirely new 4 course menu is made full of American classic dishes.
Oxbow Public Market – A great spot to grab a quick bite for lunch or cocktail hour. Emma and Zach grabbed a delicious cheese board & wine and enjoyed all while overlooking the river one late afternoon. They loved it. There are 22 merchants currently at the market – something for everyone.
More restaurants we recommend:
- The French Laundry – $$$$ One of the most famous restaurants in the world. 3 Michelin stars, 9 courses and a daily changing Chef’s menu. You have to make reservations months in advance.
- Morimoto Napa – $$$ Incredible sushi and Japanese food in downtown Napa – right on the water.
- Angèle Restaurant – $$ Wonderful french country food set in the heart of Napa.
Where to Drink
Of course, one of the most popular reasons why people visit Napa is to visit all the popular wineries. We love wine – especially wine from Napa, so we have a few favorite wineries that we always make sure to visit.
Cakebread Cellars – One of our new favorite wineries.. We have always loved Cakebread wines but it wasn’t until they invited me to come for a special tour that I visited the winery. Suffice it to say, we were blown away.The hospitality was incredible and the tour we went on was amazingly detailed and personalized. You couldn’t help but appreciate the beautiful property, gardens and the family feel. Cakebread holds a special place in our hearts. We LOVE their wine. Make sure to try and take a tour or sign up early for one of their cooking classes.
Click here for their online schedule of events.
Frog’s Leap – Another one of our favorite wineries.. absolutely gorgeous grounds. Quaint yet beautiful. Try a seated tasting in the garden or on the porch. You need to make an appointment in order to visit, so make sure to do that ahead of time.
Silver Oak Winery – This is an extremely popular winery but we loved visiting back in November. The tasting was very personable and the grounds are gorgeous. Emma and I even ran out into the vineyards and took some photos (where I took the above shot). Definitely a must.. even driving off the main road to the winery was beautiful simply because of all the smaller vineyards along the roadside.
More wineries we recommend:
- Joseph Phelps Vineyards – Some of the best views while tasting. Wonderful and cozy atmosphere, great wine, Insta-worthy views and tasting area.. a must-visit! Needs an appointment so plan ahead.
- Stags’ Leap – Beautiful romantic grounds and a wonderful tasting.. do not get this winery confused with Stag’s Leap (STAGS’ LEAP is the correct winery!) as the two are very very different. Needs a reservation.
What we don’t recommend? V.Sattui winery. Emma and Zach visited and were extremely underwhelmed. It was very very crowded.. so much so they felt like they were in Disneyland.. They also didn’t like the sales push during the tasting. Emma mentioned that she felt it was similar to a timeshare presentation (push push push sales). They were not fans. They were enticed due to the fact that it’s known to be one of the most popular wineries with great tasting deals – so much so that Emma and Zach purchased a buy one get one tasting but found it wasn’t worth the deal in the end.
TIP: Hire a driver for the day. It’s not only safer but it makes life so much easier when hitting so many wineries. My friends do this all the time!
What To Do
Besides visiting the wineries, there are so many wonderful activities and things to do in the Napa Valley area. Here are some of our favorites:
Shop at Cornerstone Market & Visit Chateau Sonoma – Every time we visit Napa Valley we always make sure to stop by our favorite store.. Chateau Sonoma in Sonoma. Full of stunning antiques, french goods and more, the store is immaculately designed with some of the most beautiful pieces we’ve ever seen! Cornerstone Market has the best shops, wonderful tasting rooms, and stunning gardens – and it is worth a visit itself. Definitely a must-see! If you visit, make sure to say hi to my sister-in-law Terri who works there. :)
Ride in a Hot Air Balloon – Emma and Zach did this during our visit and they had a BLAST! Napa Valley is known for their beautiful hot air balloon rides over the wine country and it’s something to mark off your bucket list. They signed up with Balloons Above the Valley in case you want to give it a try. There was no way I was going up but Emma is known to be a bit of a dare-devil. (She’s been skydiving among other extreme sports) I have to admit that I was surprised to hear her say she wasn’t in love with the entire experience. She was very scared… ;)
Hop on the Wine Train – One of the most popular things to do in Napa is to take a ride on the wine train! There are a few different tours you can take from 1/2 day tours through dinner to full day tours where you stop at many different wineries and have lunch on the train. I have yet to do it but many of my friends have absolutely loved it! Definitely plan to do this one day soon.
Take a Bike Tour – There are many different bike tours offered in Napa where you can visit a couple of wineries and see the beauty of the valley along the ride. One of the most popular: Napa Valley Bike Tours
I hope that our travel guide and suggestions have helped you plan for the best weekend in the wine country. We LOVE Napa and visit as often as possible. One nice thing about this region.. There are so many amazing towns within short driving distances. Make sure to hit as many as you can if you have the time. The drives are beautiful and you’ll pass many antique stores and wineries along the way. I love Sonoma, Healdsburg, Yountville and St. Helena. Calistoga is another. The Napa Valley is huge and will always hold a piece of our heart. If you have any other questions about Napa and what to do there – leave them in the comments below. :)
Click here to see more travel posts.