Sit back, relax, and pour yourself a glass of wine because this Napa post is a good one! It’s been a few month in the making, because you know how life gets in the way, but I finally rounded up everything from our recent trip to Napa Valley, CA.
I definitely need to preface this Napa travel guide by explaining our journey there a little bit. My younger sister goes to school in LA for acting (USC) and had her senior year show right before Thanksgiving. Since LA is such a haul from the East Coast we decided to make a Thanksgiving trip out of it and travel up to Napa, ultimately ending up in San Francisco.
The drive is about 6.5 hours to go directly from LA to Napa, but we split it up over a few days to sightsee on the way and break up the car time. We stopped in Pismo Beach for our first night. The drive was an adventure in itself… think dark, winding roads, loud wind, and a casual wildfire up the mountain next to us. Needless to say my sister and I were losing it in the back seat! We finally got to the adorable Vespera on Ocean hotel and settled in (with several drinks) at their restaurant, Somerset Grill.
After a relaxing morning in the cutest beach down, we hit the road again and stopped at Hearst Castle. This was so cool to see and would definitely recommend visiting! Next, we got back in the car again to head to Big Sur. It was getting chillier and more cloudy as we drove through the mountains, but the view at Nepenthe was breathtaking.
Finally, TWO MORE hours in the car until we hit our final destination for the day, Carmel (any Big Little Lies fans?). We were so tired that we ordered in pizza and hung around our hotel fireplace #goals. The next morning it was finally time to reach wine country.. after a few more hours in the car.
Napa Valley Travel Guide
I’ve been dying to visit Wine Country since I’m such a wine-lover, and I’m so thankful that I was able to see Napa with my family! My parents had been to Wine Country a few times, so they were amazing at planning out all of the logistics. Wine Country is the whole region in Northern CA that’s actually divided into several different counties. This article helps to explain all of the areas, but Napa and Sonoma are two of the biggest and most popular. We stayed in Napa and did most of our tastings there, but I’ll include options below for both areas!
Where to Stay:
In Napa, we stayed right in the heart of downtown at the Archer Hotel. A lot of the vineyards are 15-20 minutes from each other, so downtown was a great central location and it also had a ton of restaurants and shops to explore. I would definitely recommend the Archer Hotel for your stay and it’s also more family-friendly than some of the more romantic and secluded options. Some other gorgeous hotels at different price ranges are:
- Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford (from 800/night)
- Bardessono, Yountville (from $650/night)
- Carneros Resort and Spa, Napa (from $700/night)
- Farmhouse Inn, Forestville (from $545/night)
- Gaige House + Ryokan, Glen Allen (from $279/night)
- Hotel Healdsburg, Healdsburg (from $399/night)
- Los Alcobas, St. Helena (from $625/night)
- Meadowood Napa Valley (from $750/night)
- Solage, Calistoga (from $425/night)
- Vista Collina Resort (from $250/night)
- White House Inn, Napa (from $350/night)
Where to Eat:
Napa, and Wine Country in general is known as a foodie destination. When you’re not inhaling cheese + charcuterie boards while wine tasting, there are tons of tasty restaurants to try. Here are some of our faves and others that I’ll be trying next time I get out there.
- Acacia House, farm-to-table Californian cuisine, St. Helena
- Ad Hoc, elevated comfort food, Yountville
- Boon Fly Café, comforting wine-country flare, Napa
- Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, food, wine, and outdoor seating, St. Helena
- Gott’s Roadside, casual eatery best for lunch, St. Helena and Napa
- Gran Eléctrica, contemporary Mexican, Downtown Napa
- The Model Bakery, world famous english muffins.. need I say more?, St. Helena (a few locations)
- Redd Wood, Italian twist + amazing wood-fired pizzas, Yountville
- Sam’s Social Club, rustic American cuisine, Calistoga
- Solbar at Solage Calistoga, Michelin-starred California fare, St. Helena
What to Do:
Drink wine.. duh!! This part will be all about the best vineyards to visit. We did 5 while we were there, but there are still so many more to see. I’ll definitely need to make another trip.
The vineyards we went to were:
- Castello di Armorosa Winery– in an actual castle! Do the tour here to see the underground caves and how they make the wines.
- Domaine Carneros– known for their sparkling wines, but the reds were great too!
- Far Niente Winery– these grounds were beautiful! Lowkey want to get married here… tbd.
- Round Pond Estate– such a gorgeous space. Definitely recommend the tasting on the patio that overlooks the vineyards.
- V. Sattui– more of a casual tasting experience with a huge market to grab picnic-style food
Vineyards on my list for the next Napa trip:
- Chappellet– oldest vineyard on Pritchard hill with gorgeous views
- Domaine Chandon– Chandon sparkling wines, a familiar name
- Long Meadow Ranch– wine + olive oil tastings, yum
- Newton Vineyard– up on a mountain with beautiful grounds
- Opus One– luxurious wine experience, by appointment only
- Shafer– taste the reds and buy this hard-to-find wine in person
- Spring Mountain Vineyard– picturesque with rose gardens + a Victorian flare
- Swanson– home of the “Sip Shoppe” a grownup candy shop
So there you have it, everything to know about Napa in one place. I feel like I could go on forever and keep finding new spots as I write this. If you’ve ever been, I’d love to hear your favorite spots as well! Also, if you’re looking for another fun trip, check out my Upstate NY article.
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2 thoughts on “Napa Valley, CA Travel Guide”
Amazing article! Love Napa!!