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.
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.
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!
- Patz & Hall
- Phifer Pavitt
- Round Pond
- Alpha Omega
- Hall (Rutherford)
- Kelly Fleming
- Chateau Montelena
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.
Mustards: Another 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)