Filed In: Lifestyle

Napa Vacation + Guide

Hi friends! I finally kicked my hiney in gear to recap our latest vacation to Napa, California. I’ve also rounded up our favorite wineries and restaurants in the valley.

3 summers ago, Nick and I got married in Yountville – my ultimate happy place. My brother lives there, and our family has adopted Yountville as our second home (specifically, my parents). Every summer we take a family trip to visit my brother #griswaldfamilyvacation. The last week of July has become our favorite time of year because of the Napa Front Porch Fest!

This year was particularly special, because we brought Jack along for the festivities. I know taking a baby to wine country seems counter-productive, but it was such a blast to have him with us – he was SUCH a champ. It was so fun to show him our favorite spots and introduce him to another community who have been praying for him since day 1.

Scroll to the bottom for recommendations. 
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First of all – Wine Spectator’s Guide to Napa Valley  is a great resource for wineries, hotels, restaurants, and other attractions. A helpful hint: book your reservations 2 months out! They fill up fast.

Wineries

Our days in Napa usually consist of  2-3 (or ok, 4) wineries a day + one big lunch. Here is a list of some great wineries to visit with a medium sized group!

Restaurants and Bars

So many fabulous restaurants in the valley! This is certainly the time to over-indulge. Below are some of our absolute favorites..

Domaine Carneros: This winery is located just south of Napa and is a great place to stop on the way from San Francisco airport (or vice versa). We usually make a stop here (if we have time) to get a glass of sparkling wine and sit on the patio. Table service available 10:00am to 5:45pm daily and tours are available at 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm ($30/person).

Bouchon Bakery: This is always our morning pitstop. Our group usually ends up renting a house outside of Yountville, so walking to Bouchon is the perfect motivation to get a little exercise for that chocolate almond croissant. It’s also the perfect place to sit and watch the hot air balloons in the mornings!

Pacific Blues: So simple and so delicious. Unique omelets and amazing pancakes, this place has all the traditional breakfast staples. Located right in the middle of Yountville, you could walk in wearing pajamas if you really wanted to.

Gotts Roadside: Two words here…garlic fries. This is a great casual lunch stop with counter service and plenty of outdoor seating. Our favorites here are the burgers, fish or ahi tuna tacos, and their garlic or sweet potato fries. Their St. Helena and Downtown Napa locations are about equal distance from Yountville (but we suggest the St. Helena location). 

Bounty Hunter: Another Downtown Napa favorite, this is the place to go if you’re craving BBQ of any kind. Not your typical BBQ hole-in-the-wall…this is more of a Napa meets BBQ kind of place with an extensive wine menu. Fun atmosphere. Amazing food. Easy.

MustardsAnother Napa staple for us…in fact we have yet to visit the valley and not make a stop here. Ideal lunch or dinner spot with a “Way Too Many Wine” selection. The daily specials are always spot on. Be sure to order to shoe-string onion rings with homemade apple-ketchup. Can you tell we like food?

Oxbow Market: A great indoor marketplace in Downtown Napa that has everything from an oyster bar to fresh crepes to local cheeses. The market has a wide variety of gourmet specialty shops and dining areas It also has a super fresh juice bar for all you overindulgers. 

Ad Hoc: All unique, farm-to-table dishes and served family style; $45-50/person will you get you an amazing four course meal that changes daily. Menus are posted day-of on their website. Great bar here too.

Goose and Gander: Located in St. Helena; this is a great place for dinner. Dark and cozy with big leather booths upstairs and a speakeasy-esque bar downstairs makes this a one-stop outing. Everything on this menu is delicious from the cous-cous and scallop appetizer to the burger with duck-fat fries.

Bistro Jeanty: A cozy french bistro in the heart of Yountville – this place has the most incredible tomato soup we’ve ever had….you must order it. 

Archetype: This was a new one for us this trip, and y’all I’m in love. The decor is perfection and even better, the food. I suggest ordering the tater tots to start. YUM

Hot Air Balloons

A hot air balloon ride is a fun way to see Napa Valley. Below are a few of the companies that offer rides in the area and all cost ~$200/person for a 1 hr ride

Napa Valley Aloft: Balloons take off right from the Vintage Estates so very convenient for those staying in Yountville (www.nvaloft.com)

Napa Valley Balloons: Includes a post-flight breakfast and sparkling wine at Domaine Chandon (www.napavalleyballoons.com)

Balloons Above the Valley: Napa Valley Marriott is the meeting location so very convenient for those staying there (www.balloonrides.com)

End of Summer Favorites

IMG_4357Top: Tibi, Jeans: DL1961, Shoes: Steve Madden, Sunglasses: Illesteva

Have sale fatigue yet? I sure do. My bank account is still reeling from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, but I still couldn’t help myself to see if some of my favorite spots had any end of season steals.

Why? Because this is the BEST time of year to stock up on end of season pieces. Prices are rock bottom and you still have a few weeks of wear before packing it all up for next summer. I have a problem with instant gratification, so this one is a little hard for me. That’s why I have a love-hate relationship with August.

Love? My birthday, Nick’s birthday, summer sales. Hate? The 500 degree heat, my once new sandals now demolished from repetitive summer wear, and summer sales.

Alllllll that being said (I know – shut up, Alison), here are my favorite finds from the Shopbop sale. Do you like taking advantage of end of season sales?

Baby Gifts + Gear from the Nordstrom Sale

For all my moms-to-be or new mommas:  the Nordstrom sale is the best hidden jackpot for buying baby gifts or needed registry items. While some think the sale only pertains to new fall clothes and shoes, many forget the awesome deals you can catch in the baby department. This is the perfect time to load up on baby shower gifts!

It’s also a great time to fill in the gaps from your registry, or cross off those items you’ve noticed you need. Example? Jack has grown out of his infant carseat, so now we’re looking into the ‘big boy’ carseat. Right now, he’s in the Nuna Pipa and we love it. I’m actually really sad to have to see it go. It’s the lightest on the market (which makes a big difference as they get bigger), and Jack actually loves sitting in it. For our replacement, Nordstrom is offering this Maxi-Cosi style for under $300! Also, if you’re in the market for a stroller, the Nuna has a great all-purpose system or you can invest in a jogger like this one.

Other Gear: 

We love putting Jack in our carrier when we’re walking to the park, or trekking through airports. He loves facing out! Also, if you’re considering a pack and play – this one is amazing. We use it everywhere – grandparents house, trips, as a playpen around the house. They’re super handy and it’s important to find one that’s easy to assemble and carry.

When it comes to bottles and baby dishes, I never thought I’d be so enthusiastic about this drying rack (fondly referred to as ‘the lawn’) and baby food maker. Since Jack is full on solids now, anything that can make meal prep easier I’m into!

Great Gifts: 

I cant speak highly enough about these Little Giraffe blankets. We have two, and they’re Jack’s all time favorite blankets – one is always in his hand.  These swaddle blankets are also everywhere around our house. Perfect multi-purpose, and you can never have too many.  Last on the blanket front: these adorable personalized blankets. How fun are these for a gift!? As a new mom, I can’t get enough of Jack’s monogram.

Bathtime favorites: we’re full on Honest Company users in our household. The diapers are amazing, and we love their bath and safe household products. This gift set is a perfect sampling of all the great products they have to offer! Also, my love for the Little Giraffe brand extends to bath time – they have the coziest towels that we love to use!

Clothing favorites: onesies are always a hit for gifting. This one is perfect for those chilly morning walks. I also have an obsession with baby moccasins – how fun are these!? If you know the gender of a friends baby, it’s always fun to stock their closet with fun little outfits like this one or this one.  I also couldn’t resist buying my little fox a few sweaters for fall 🙂