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Travel Guide: Napa, CA

Recently Updated On: December 17, 2018

Napa Valley, CA

Visiting Napa has been on my bucket list for quite a while and I finally had the chance just a couple weeks ago. It’s still surreal to think that I was just in Napa eating and drinking my way through and having one of the most amazing vacations of my lifetime.

It was truly a magical trip and something that I was able to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday. I have to say that I am incredibly grateful to have been able to do something like that for her because she definitely deserves it.

I wrote a little bit more about our trip here and here… but let’s get to this fabulous guide and everything that we did while were there!

Note: I am now planning another trip back to take my hubby for his 40th birthday so when that happens I’ll definitely update the guide with everything we did together. 

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To start the trip we flew into San Francisco and rented our own car… that way we were in control of how and when we got to Napa. Since we arrived so early but also had a super long flight (5 hours) we were starving and made a lunch reservation on the  bay in San Fran then used a few minutes to grab some great shots in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Where to Stay

Really anywhere you stay in Napa is going to be amazing. Just choose one in your price point and for the number of guests that you will have. 

Silverado Resort and Spa

1600 Atlas Peak Rd

I did a ton of research on where to stay before we left and finally settled on this resort. Since we had 4 people going and my best friend driving from San Diego to meet us, we needed a big room to hold everyone. I didn’t want to book 2 separate rooms and really wanted us to all be together.

This resort has amazing rooms and suites that hold up to 8 people! We booked a 2 room suite that had 2 bedrooms with a king bed and 2 twin beds. It also had 2 full bathrooms, a full kitchen, living area with pull-out couch, and a fireplace to relax at the end of the night!

It was the perfect place to stay for our large group.

What to Eat

The hubby is also a big foodie (like me) so the list of places to eat will definitely be bigger next time. We didn’t go to too many restaurants this recent time due to time constraints and my sisters/mom not being as big of foodies as I am.

Carpe Diem Wine Bar

1001 2nd St, Napa

By the time we got to Napa, checked into our hotel, and changed our clothes it was pretty late. We spent more time that I anticipated checking out San Francisco and taking pictures in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. We did have an early morning flight and I had planned on us doing a little shopping that afternoon in downtown Napa but since it was so late we just went for a quick bite to eat instead.

Carpe Diem was a great place that had a bunch of seasonal selections with a great atmosphere. We all got a few appetizers to share and had a few drinks.

Goose & Gander

1245 Spring St, St Helena

Our second day stop for brunch/lunch. I originally thought they had brunch but didn’t even think that it was a Friday and they might only have brunch on the weekends… silly me.

It was still a great place to stop and have lunch. They have a huge patio that we sat out on and enjoyed the beautiful day while enjoying craft cocktails and delicious dishes.

Fieldwork Brewing

610 1st St, Napa

Not really a place to grab a bit to eat but you can for sure grab a beer to drink while walking around the Oxbow Public Market. They have a huge selection of rotating craft beers and I seriously could have spent an entire day here.

Hog Island Oyster Co

610 1st St #22, Napa

This is located right inside the Oxbow Public Market and is a great place for some fresh seafood and oysters (duh!). We stopped here for a quick dozen raw oysters while out shopping mainly because my sister and I were craving them.

Mercantile Social

1450 1st St, Napa

We came here our second night in Napa after a full day of wine tasting and enjoying ourselves on the Napa Valley Wine Train. My best friend met us at the hotel and we came here for a lighter dinner (even though they do have a full menu) that night.

It’s located on a top floor of the Andaz Hotel right in Downtown Napa. It’s an outside venue that has fire pits, rocking chairs to lounge, and a few tables to sit at if you prefer. We sat in front of one of the fire pits because it was chilly outside and were so warm. We ordered a bunch of small plates to share and drank more wine.

Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar

1260 1st St, Napa

I originally made reservations here thinking that this would be our dinner because they advertised a full menu on their website at the time. When we got here I was super disappointed to find out they only had appetizers and was more of a cocktail bar on the roof of the hotel.

Despite that, the view and atmosphere was amazing and we ordered some apps here for a quick bite while walking around downtown and doing some shopping. I would definitely head back here again for the atmosphere and view but know now that it’s just for appetizers, cocktails, or a snack not a full meal.

Auberge du Soleil
Boon Fly Cafe
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Fremont Diner
The French Laundry

Gott’s Roadside
The Grill at Meadowood
Heritage Eats
Rutherford Grill

Things to Do

Napa Valley Wine Train

I would really categorize the Napa Valley Wine Train as a place to eat and something to do because the food was amazing and so was the train ride.

This might just have been the highlight of the trip and the best money I’ve spent in a while. We booked the 3 Winery, Full Day tour and it was amazing.

On the bridge to board the train there is a love lock gate where you can put a lock just like they have in Paris. I did not know this before the trip or I would have come prepared. Oh well.. next time.

The train is absolutely beautiful and full of historic charm. On the inside it really looks like a train from back in the 50s-60s. For our particular ride, we were greeted with a glass of bubbly champagne and took our seats for the meal to begin. It was a 4 course meal and if you scroll through the pictures above you can see everything that we ate. It was all so fresh and delicious.

Between each course the train stopped at three different wineries. I think there are 4 different tours to choose from but we chose the one that stopped at Domaine Chandon because that was top on my list of places to visit. At each of the winery stops we had a private tour with tastings to go with. They were all so beautiful and I highlighted each one below in the “Winery” section.

Oxbow Public Market

610 1st St, Napa

Located right in Downtown Napa this is a fun little spot to stop and walk around to check out all the artisan markets inside. There’s also a couple coffee places, restaurants, and breweries inside to grab some quick bites or drinks.

Shopping in Downtown Napa

1st St, Napa

Downtown Napa is a cute little town with a bunch of cute little boutique stores to check out. We spent a few hours walking around and walking in all the stores.

Wineries to Visit

There are literally hundreds of different wineries to visit in Napa Valley and you cannot go wrong with any of them. These are the places that we actually visited and then a list of the places on my list for when I go back with the hubby.

Beringer Vineyards

2000 Main St, St Helena

This was our second stop on our second day and let me tell you this place is gorgeous. We didn’t get a chance to check out the amazing house where they do the wine tastings because we booked a cave tour and that’s done at a different part of the property. The cave tour was amazing and we tasted some of the most delicious wines.

Castello di Armorosa

4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga

Our first stop on our second day and I’m so glad it was our first stop. By the time we left this place was getting more full by the minute. I had heard it gets busy but I didn’t think that much!

We opted to just do our own tasting and walk around the castle grounds to check things out. They do have a guided tour but we just wanted to do our own thing. It was a gorgeous castle to roam around.

Domaine Chandon

1 California Dr, Yountville

The first stop on our Wine Train tour and let me tell you that this place was absolutely stunning! The winery itself is built into the rolling hills and resembles barrels rolling down the hills.

Because we were part of the wine train, we had a small private tour and tasting of some of their finest sparkling wines.

Fun Fact: real champagne is only from Champagne, France and all other “champagne” is considered sparkling wine. 

Anyway, Chandon is one of my favorite wines and so I just knew that we had to visit. It did not disappoint and I plan on joining their wine club once we move to Dallas. I’m also planning on visiting again with the hubby because it was that good.

Hall Wines

401 St Helena Hwy, St Helena

This was the second stop on our Wine Train tour and it was absolutely gorgeous. Some of my favorite pictures from the trip were from here because the grounds were just beautiful. I even took some outfit photos out on their life-sized chess board.

This winery has some beautiful artwork all over the property and inside the main building. Of course, they have some really great red wines.

Inglenook

1991 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford

The last stop on our Wine Train tour and it was beautiful… haha… I feel like I’ve said that about all the wineries, but they all really are absolutely gorgeous. We tasted some amazing red wines here and had a nice little tour of the main house on the property.

Domaine Carneros
Duckhorn Winery
Monticello Vineyards
Mumm Napa
Paraduxx

Raymond Vineyards
Starmont Vineyards
Sterling Vineyards
Turnbull Cellars

There you have my giant guide of things to do! Hoping this blog post helps some of you easily plan a future visit to Napa because it’s a MUST.

No matter where you go in Napa, you won’t be disappointed. Now don’t you want to go plan your Napa getaway?! Or do you have any recommendations for me next time we go?

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