The Vacation Gals were asked a good question following the article Napa Valley, the Perfect Romantic Getaway Spot in California. Ed wrote, “Hi! I am thinking about a long weekend in late September with my girlfriend. I have been to the Napa/Sonoma area a number of times, but she has never been. I have stayed at Meadowood and the Sonoma Mission Inn, most recently about 3 years ago. Would love your thoughts on other perhaps more quaint places to stay and other specific restaurant and vineyard recommendations. Thanks – Ed”
After sending this reader a response, I thought it may also be helpful to other readers seeking a romantic vacation and culinary experience. Please find, below, the tips and ideas I offer for a great long weekend in Napa Valley, California.
Hi there, Ed,
First off, I think it’s a great idea to treat your girlfriend to a long, romantic weekend in Napa Valley.
Since you’ve stayed at the Meadowood Resort, I’m guessing you like classy yet comfortable lodgings, rather than big monolith hotels. It’s also a luxury-class hotel, so I think you’re willing to spring for a high-end weekend. Try the Carneros Inn – it’s at the foothills of Napa Valley, in Carneros (most of the Napa Cabernet is made there because it’s hotter during the Spring and Summer). The Carneros Inn is no Auberge – but it’s a more private, and romantic resort hotel too. The breakfast at one of its restaurants is considered one of the best breakfasts in all of Napa Valley. The restaurant is the Boon Fly Cafe.
You’ve heard of the French Laundry, of course, I didn’t eat there, but it’s supposed to be either the best, or the second best restaurant in the world. Yes, the world! I couldn’t get in; you need to call 2 months in advance for a reservation, unless you get very, very lucky. Also, it’s massively expensive. Bouchon is a wonderful alternate restaurant, and just down the road in the Yountville town of Napa Valley (the best restaurants in Napa Valley tend to be in Yountville). There are a couple other restaurants in Yountville that are fantastic; Redd and Ad Hoc. With Ad Hoc, however, you get what you get. Check out the menu before you go in: There’s only one entree each day, so if you don’t like salmon (or whatever), you’re out of luck. It is very, very good, though. Bouchon also has a bakery for breakfast. This is next to the Bouchon restaurant; It is popular, and you’ll usually have to wait in line to get your morning croissant or muffin. Mustard’s Grill is another really good restaurant; it’s fun and mellow.
For lunch, my favorite restaurant is called Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. This is in St. Helena – rather than Yountville – which has the cutest stores of all the Napa Valley towns.
Let’s see, what else…Well, please don’t miss the Joseph Phelps Winery and Vineyards for a wine tasting (make an appointment). It’s really beautiful, with remarkable views of rolling hills and the vineyard. Relax in the shade and you’ll think you’re in Umbria or Tuscany. The absolute oldest of Napa Valley’s wineries is Beringer. You need an appointment, but it’s very nice. Casa Nuestra is nice too. But my favorite? I most liked Francis Ford Coppola’s Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery; the main building features a small film museum with a couple of zoetropes, movie memorabilia, and other items of interest for film history buffs. This is the old Inglenook winery, so there’s a lot of history and heft to the place. It’s simply gorgeous – spring for a wine tasting/wine pairing tour if you can. I found the tour to be simultaneously fun, relaxed, and educational. I learned a lot about how to appreciate wine there.
Napa Valley is one of the most romantic US getaway vacation destinations for wine aficionados and fans of culinary travel. Hopefully, these tips and ideas for what to do there will be helpful for travel plans.