Napa Valley was the best birthday weekend getaway I could have imagined! There’s more to do then just wine, not that wine needs anything else.
But I have to admit, I was a bit confused when trying to research and plan for the weekend. I didn’t really realize how close our hotel was to the center and to a beautiful indoor market. I also didn’t realize how drunk you can get from one flight!
So I decided to share my favorite experiences from Napa Valley and also the things I wish I knew before traveling there.
The perfect Napa Valley guide includes:
- Where to stay
- What to do
- Where to eat
- Special occasions
- Favorite wineries
- Extra handy Information
Where to stay In Napa Valley
We stayed at the River terrace Inn and absolutely loved it.
This gorgeous boutique hotel is all we needed for our getaway weekend. It’s a beautiful hotel that is located perfectly by the river in Yountville. It’s a small hotel which was perfect for us, and I think is perfect for couples going to Napa.
The rooms are big, feature a full bath, comfy bed, free wi-fi, free parking and much more. The hotel has its own restaurant and bar which can come in handy (just in case you’re hungover at 4pm and need to eat lol). We only had happy hour there, but their breakfast looks great as well.
The River Terrace Inn can get pretty expensive but we googled the dates we wanted to go and found a great deal through secret escapes.
where to eat in Napa valley
Auberge du Soleil
If there’s anything you’re celebrating – it will be the perfect excuse to go for brunch at this beautiful, Michelin-star restaurant. The views at Auberge Du Soleil are unbeatable, service is impeccable and the food… Well the food is AMAZING. We went for my birthday and I loved the experience. It’s not cheap by any means, 75$ a person for a fixed price menu. But I think you easily get your money’s worth for 4 courses and a cocktail. By the time dessert has arrived I couldn’t even eat anymore.
This famous Napa Valley restaurant is not in the fancy category but it’s just as good. During rush hour they have a line all the way out of the restaurant but we went late and got our food fairly quick. I think it’s worth a wait.
what to do in Napa Valley
Just upon arrival to Napa Valley, we asked a friend for recommendations. He quickly let us know about the wonderful indoor market and we were thrilled. We love markets and this one did not disappoint. The Oxbow market has so many cool food spots, a wine and cheese bar, specialty stores and a market full of beautiful produce and specialty items (Like alfajores dipped in chocolate! Yumm!).
This market ended up being our favorite place in Napa! It had the best food and atmosphere. We sat there so much it was kind of funny.
Our favorite places at the market were C Casa for tacos and nachos, Five Dot Ranch and Cookhouse for steaks, Ritual Coffee Roasters for coffee (Duh), and the Cheese & Wine Selection Merchant. We are not dessert people, but their bakery and ice-cream shop looked incredible!
you can have a relaxed day around Yountville, checking the local business and maybe go for bar-hopping.
We were actually surprised to see that there are many cyclists all over Napa which made sense when we though about it. Napa is gorgeous and riding a bicycle is a wonderful way to explore the town, the wine routes and the views. But be careful, don’t drink and cycle!
You can choose a winery and book a tour at their location. A standard tour goes through their wine production, cellars, and explanations on their grapes, etc. I recently had a tour like that in Jerusalem, Israel, so I skipped this activity, but I highly recommend getting a tour!
The Wine Train is a famous Napa Valley activity that people rave about. It can be a bit pricy but for such a one-of-a-kind experience it might be worth it. I chose to skip this activity since the thought of motion sickness with drinking wine already made me nauseas lol. But if you’re up for it, it seems like an amazing ride! (pun intended).
Wineries & Flights.
Artesa Winery is defiantly a place of art. With its breath-taking scenery of nature and unique architecture, you’re guaranteed to have a one-of-a-kind experience.
Visiting Artesa is worth your while for the views alone, but the wine does not fall short. At this point we were pretty hungover all the time, so we decided to share a flight. Our server was kind and built us a flight for our liking. We didn’t know that’s a possibility, but he had a list we could choose from, which was very nice.
We didn’t make a reservation on time, so we arrived early Sunday and they were kind enough to have us at their bar. Reservations are needed to be placed before the weekend.
Domaine Carneros Chateau
Domaine Carneros Chateau is one of the most well-known and popular wineries in Napa Valley, naturally we had to check it out. The chateau is beautiful and the patio is welcoming and relaxing.
We ordered a flight each and some food. They poured beyond a flight quantity, and since it was our first winery, we were very excited. They have a nice selection of flights that comes with cute explanations for each wine! Their wine was wonderful, the food was tasty and this was a great start for our Napa Valley Weekend!
All and all, Domaine Carneros Chateau did not disappoint us, it can get busy but service and quality are still high.
V. Sattui is known for its deli and picnic area, which are full of goodness. We could barely resist ourselves from buying the entire deli. We got cheese, fig jam, sardines, crackers, olives and more snacks. Everything was wonderful.
The picnic area can get a little crowded and it took us a few minutes to score a place on an actual picnic table. You can defiantly get your own blanket and sit on the grass. The place is so beautiful and calm. We didn’t get a flight there but prices are low and you can easily get a bottle for your picnic.
Things I Wish I Knew before traveling to Napa valley
- If you stay at Yountville, you’re walking distance from a lot of places. I didn’t realize how small the town is. It’s basically a few streets with shops, restaurants and bars. It’s great to just walk and enjoy your day.
- Vineyards require reservations before the weekend. I knew vineyards require reservation, but I tried to make a reservation on Friday for Sunday, but it wasn’t an option. Some wineries will let you make a reservation on the same day, but to stay on the safe side, I recommend making the reservation at least few days before.
- You CAN get drunk from a wine flight. I did not realize how drunk I can get from just tasting wine. On our first day we drank too much and regretted it. We weren’t feeling great so we took a nap and woke up for a very late dinner at around 10pm lol. Consider sharing a flight. For more wine tasting tips click here.
- There’s endless things to see. I love doing my research before I travel, so I found in advance all the places I wanted to visit. But while driving the wine road, we realized how many beautiful wineries there are. We stopped at a few just to look at their views but it was endless. We would have incorporated more wineries if I would have known how many there are to see.
- It gets really cold after the sun goes down. I brought a cardigan but even for late May it was cooler than I expected. Bring some warm clothes. Click here for my summer capsule wardrobe that will be perfect for Napa Valley.
Are you going to Napa Valley soon? Was this helpful? I would love to hear, share your thoughts down in the comment section! 🙂
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