Nov 16

Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Napa Valley

napa valley travel guide

When it comes to wine tasting, there are a growing number of options no matter where you are, but the American original will forever remain in the heart of Napa Valley. The beauty of California wineries is something straight from a movie, and every expectation you could dream up will certainly come true if you carefully curate your trip ahead of time.

Because the area is so spread out, and there are so many wineries and places to stay, it’s important that you do your proper research to find the best wine country has to offer. To help you pull your itinerary together with ease, I’ve created what I hope you’ll find to be a  delightfully diverse list of all the must-see, stay, drink, and eat spots in Napa. Cheers!

Where to Stay

napa valley travel guide
At Auberge du Soleil, carrying one of their plein air art kits.

Meadowood

Meadowood is my favorite large hotel property in Napa. The 250-acre estate is one of the most peaceful destinations I’ve ever stayed. Amenities vary based on the room you book, but access to play croquet, tennis court and equipment time, yoga classes, and bike rentals are complimentary for every guest. You can also request a car service to downtown St. Helena and Yountville where you can dine at Michelin-star restaurants, indulge in award-winning tasting rooms, and get a feel for the small-town culture. We stayed at Meadowood when we were in town for Auction Napa Valley, and I am already counting down the minutes until we have the chance to stay again. Also, my lovely friend Ashley Kane had her wedding at Meadowood and the photos are a dream.

Auberge du Soleil

This is another one of my favorite places to stay while I’m in Napa Valley – perfect if you’re looking for a smaller property experience with absolutely magnificent views. With just 50 guestrooms and suites, a stay on the property feels intimate and special. The resort has some of the best views of wine country, accompanied by stunning sunsets set against the hillside. The French-inspired architecture and decor will make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to a farther-flung retreat. Aside from being a great place to post up, Auberge du Soleil is also one of my go-to places to eat while in Napa (more on that below).

Carneros Resort & Spa

If big hotels aren’t so much your thing, you’ll love staying in one of the Carneros Resort and Spa cottages. Choose from seven different tastefully designed suites, which each offer their own charm. The most desired from the list? The Vineyard View Cottage, which flaunts the scenic rolling countryside from its private outdoor patio and garden. Relax by the pool or get competitive with bocce ball while taking in the vineyard views. I’ve attended an event here and it’s on my list of places to stay during my next trip to Napa.

napa valley travel guide

SingleThread

Just seven miles away from the inn, SingleThread Farm resides between the Russian River and historic San Lorenzo Ranch. The property features a greenhouse, chicken coop, fruit orchard, olive trees, beehives, vineyards, and more. The farm supplies fresh ingredients—like vegetables, fruit, honey, and herbs—to the hotel’s restaurant. As far as rooms go, for a special occasion, I recommend reserving the master suite. The rustic 700 square foot suite is complete with a living room, bedroom, kitchenette, and private balcony that overlooks downtown Healdsburg. High ceilings, exposed brick, and a fireplace will make you feel at home. Plus, a full-service breakfast is included with your stay. Bon appétit!

Wineries to Visit

Heitz

I loved stopping by Heitz Cellar with my sister on a recent trip for their tasting experience. The atmosphere is unparalleled and I found the wine curators to be exceptionably knowledgeable. My visit was a good mix of history and hospitality and I’m eager to go back.

napa valley travel guide

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is perhaps best known for their 1973 cabernet sauvignon, which was the winning red wine at the 1976 Judgment of Paris. With four different tours and tastings, there’s something special for every type of group that’s visiting. For the most well-rounded experience, book the Cellarius Kitchen Experience. Chef Travis Westrope and his culinary team will walk you through each plate served while carefully explaining why it works well with each wine.

Quintessa

One of the most intimate and unique tasting experiences, Quintessa’s history is deeply rooted in family and biodynamic winemaking techniques.

napa valley travel guide

Benovia

Owned by Mike Sullivan, who grew up tending his family’s vines on Sonoma Mountain, you’ll love the close-knit community that works on this vineyard. Tucked back along the Russian River, you’ll feel at ease as you sip a glass of chardonnay from the property’s ranch house porch. Wine tastings are available daily between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm.

napa valley travel guide

Artesa

The combination of wine and design makes Artesa unique. Renowned Barcelona architect, Domingo Triay, designed the gorgeous winery in 1991 while strategically highlighting the surrounding landscape of Napa. Set into a hill with a lush covering of native grasses, the winery achieves the perfect balance of nature, art, and architecture.

Promontory

This winery has deep roots in history. H. William Harlan discovered the property in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until his extended family became aware of it in 2008 that Promontory became the success it is today. Sitting along the western hills of Oakville, the exquisite estate overlooks all of the beauty Napa has to offer. Its mix of minimalist lines, Japanese influences, and maximal Californian size and scale make it a must-see.

Whetstone Wine Cellars

This small, family owned winery prides itself for providing visitors with quality hospitality. Although it was founded in 2002 by Jamey Whetstone, the real magic was brought to the property when his wife Michelle added the finishing touches to the overall guest experience. The couple values good music, fresh food, heartfelt conversations, and of course—superb wine. Best known for their Viognier, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, enjoy a tasting in the quaint garden as you snack on an assortment of cheese and salami. Another reason to check out this spot? The team is heavily female-led and an adorable Labrador Retriever named Ace roams the grounds.

Where to Eat

The Charter Oak

You must dine at The Charter Oak while visiting Napa. Each menu item is prepared with locally grown ingredients, like fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The weekend brunch is exquisite (be sure to try the apple pancakes) but all meals held at The Charter Oak are to die for. It’s a great place to go for appetizers and a glass of wine or their fantastic cocktails. Just take a look at this crudite! The dip is unforgettable…and you can tell alot about a place by their dip (or butter, for that matter!).

napa valley travel guide

Auberge du Soleil

Set on a breathtaking 33-acre olive grove, the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant offers private dining experiences for groups of 10 to 120 people. For more informal occasions, head to the Bistro & Bar for an afternoon cocktail, glass of champagne, or oysters and caviar.

Archetype

Located in St. Helena, Archetype is the perfect spot for those looking for a relaxed meal at any time of the day. Sit outside on the patio or opt for a seat next to the pizza oven while you enjoy deviled duck eggs, a variety of cheese and honey, or fish tacos.

Redd Wood

Diners rave about the sophisticated atmosphere and delectable treats offered at Redd Wood. Whether you choose pizza, pasta, salad, or a combo of all three, you’ll leave feeling satisfied and ready for more tastings. Menu favorites include in-house charcuterie, roasted quail, and ribeye.

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