Napa Valley, where to stay, where to eat, where to Wine.
If you know me personally or have been following me a while you know, Napa Valley is Brandon & I’s happy place, our most favorite place to travel to in the US, where we got married, and when we’re really dreaming big, we dream of starting up a boutique winery there someday…. (we dream big around this house). We’ve visited Napa Valley on the upwards of 20+ times and have never had a bad trip, truthfully they’ve been our most treasured memories and we just can’t ever get enough of it! After hundreds of DM’s asking my Napa recs I feel like this post is V. over due! So let’s get started, my personal Napa Valley, where to stay, where to eat, where to w i n e list.
real talk:: before I get started none of this post is sponsored, we’ve paid for everything every time we go to Napa, & have personally stayed at/ been to/ ate at ALL of these on my list unless I’ve noted otherwise 🙂 with the internet there’s A LOT of overwhelming information on “travel guides” this guide is simply my personal favorites based on my love for bold Cabernets, small quaint stylish spots, and down to earth yet extremely thought out experiences. We’ve been to MANY more that just didn’t quite make my list, so streamlined and refined, if you were to text me and ask, this is what you’d get.
:: where to stay ::
My two personal go-to’s we’ve stayed at both of these places a handful of times!
in Yountville which is pretty centrally located to all the Napa Valley Wineries, and in the cutest little town Yountville. (Yountville has made MANY travel list including expedia’s top 30 most beautiful towns in America coming in at #5) Hotel Yountville is a great mix of Napa Valley meets Tuscany (yes I’ve been to Tuscany 😉 ) fireplaces in all the rooms, so much detail and hospitality at this place. A stunning pool that can be enjoyed year around with cozy beautiful fire pits, so much attention to design here. If you want to go to Napa Valley to truly relax, be taken care of, feel like you’re staying in a spa I’d recommend this place:)
Silverado Resort & Spa
We’ve probably stayed here the most just because it really does have it all & is the best bang for your buck in Napa Valley in my opinion, if you’ve researched Napa Valley, it sure is a pricey little valley. We rented their big Cabernet House here for our wedding & hosted our rehearsal dinner there, and have continued to go back every year. The great thing about this property is, it’s massive, and you feel like you’re staying in your own little condo rather than a hotel. Along with regular sized rooms, they also have 2, 3 bedroom suites, full size kitchens, which we love, when we take Ellery or if we’re there for a week, we feel like we have all the convinces of home yet the nice feeling of staying at a hotel with room service and daily house cleaning, great for a couple’s or group getaway! Also, if you’re a golfer, unless you’re a country club member (membership initiation is $60k, say what) , the only other way you can golf here is if you stay here, they host a PGA tourney every end of September so if you or your man wants to putt around on the same grounds as Phil Mickelson & Tiger Woods you’ll want to stay here! Brandon loves both of these courses (they have 2). They also have the cutest market at the front of their property with fire pits, lawn games, Starbucks coffee, daily baked Bouchon Bakery treats, sandwiches, salads, a great stop for a quick bite or cozy morning hang!
Rancho Caymus Inn
This was actually the first hotel Brandon & I ever stayed at (6ish years ago) and it still Is one of our favorites, mainly for it’s location, it’s right in the middle of Rutherford (middle of Napa Valley), it’s old California Spanish charm, nice sized rooms, & real wood burning fireplace in your room! Rutherford Grill is walking distance, so is Elizabeth Spencer Winery two spots we also really love but in my efforts to keep this list short I left them off, but if you’re staying here I’d definitely recommend those two spots to wine & dine!
IF you want to stay in Napa town, I personally like the country side vibe of the Valley but if town is more your thing, the Andaz is my favorite! Andaz hotels are a part of the Hyatt line of hotels (we’ve stayed at the Andaz in Maui and Scottsdale and they’re two of our favs) not like a typical Hyatt, these hotels are all one of a kind, super stylish and unique with great hospitality & charm. Great thing about staying downtown, if it’s your vibe, you can walk to some really great restaurants, tasting rooms, & great shops! But keep in mind, you’re about a 30+ minute drive to Napa Valley where all the wineries are.
:: splurge hotels $$$$ ::
we’ve been to, dined at, and hung out at but haven’t stayed there yet! But I can promise you, if they’re in your budget they are SO GOOD, retreat like, with 5 star hospitality!
in St. Helena
Auberge du Soleil
:: where to eat ::
We’ve eaten at SO many amazing restaurants in the Valley, this list was really hard for me to narrow it down, so I kept it to our personal favs we continue to book every single time we go back to Napa. Napa Valley food & hospitality at their restaurants is the reason I love Napa like I do! (in no particular order)
a local’s favorite, quaint, always packed roadhouse that makes crowd pleasing California comfort food, with beautiful presentation, we always start our trip here for lunch! Also, really great for dinner.
American Farmhouse with fresh ingredients from their farm, ranch, & vineyards. You will not have a bad meal here! Lunch or dinner!
Bistro Don Giovanni
The best Italian food in Napa Valley, they make their own pasta daily, literally mouthwatering. (Dinner)
Yountville’s newest prettiest boujee eatery! & the food is really really good!! (brunch/lunch/dinner)
The Charter Oak
Family style, their menu reflects the products of the Napa Valley through an elemental cooking style, yummy food & a really cool atmosphere inside & out. They grow their food in their own garden. (They make play-dough for your kids if you bring your kids along) we love this place for dinner.
Auberge du Soleil Restaurant
15 consecutive Michelin Star awards with a Mediterranean inspired menu, make reservations for lunch on the patio, best view for lunch in Napa Valley!!! a must!!
In Yountville, another great Italian spot bringing together Italy & California, where food is a work of art. (dinner recommended) very date night vibe!
Goose & Gander
Very cool London style pub. Great designer cocktails if you’re wanting to pass on wine. We love this spot for lunch!
Delicious roadside walk up for a quick lunch with a great full menu & tons of picnic tables on grass in the back. In St. Helena, they also have a new location in Napa town.
They BBQ here on the weekends and have a huge deli inside their market, you can grab lunch and have a romantic picnic on their beautiful grounds. (this place gets BUSY)
FARM at @carnerosresort
Gourmet wine country dining, farm to table, fun yard games on the lawn outside if you get there early. (in Napa town not the Valley)
The Restaurant at @meadowoodnapavalley
Quite the dinner experience and will be one of your top meals ever. (1 of only 10 restaurants in America to earn 3 Michelin Stars) this one is a splurge.
& if you’re really boujee & full of connections, which I am not, never eaten here, although we’ve tried 6 months in advance to get a reservation, more than once, and have yet to, the world famous
The French Laundry
If you know, you know.
:: where to wine ::
ok finally, the reason you came to Napa Valley!! Again, my list is based on my love for bold full body Cabs. if your more into whites, or grand commercial style spots, this list isn’t for you. Also with wine, there’s no right answer, everyone has different pallets, we all taste different things, and we all like different things, have fun with it!
If you’re doing Napa for the first time, or even if you aren’t but want a full experience trip I would HIGHLY recommend you book one tour! A tour is when you get the full experience of the winery, tour of their production facilities, extra special tastings, just a really good behind the scenes of world renown Napa Valley wine production. They’re more of a splurge but so worth it, if you really want to experience wine tasting! These will need to be booked ahead of time.
We’ve done a ton of tours, the below are my favorite and what I would recommend to you, if you don’t book a tour, book a regular tasting!!
For the real deal Napa experience I recommend the Quintessential Experience option, it’s pricey but oh my it’s worth it!! This winery experience is truly one of a kind. They’ll take you through a tour of their production, their wine caves, then out on your own gator to your own private glass pavilion where you will have the most unique wine tasting experience with a perfectly paired charcuterie board. By far my most memorial Napa experience.
If you’ve seen the big Rabbit from HWY 29 this is the place! A really great group tasting experience that specializes in modern technology, modern art, with traditional techniques. A really great, approachable wine tour experience, ending in beautiful private rooms. They produce really great affordable Cabs that are at the top of our fav. list!
If you go the beginning of Nov. this is the place with the golden dipped driveway. (their mile long driveway of golden tree leaves have all turned gold and just started to drop, our anniversary is this time so we always happen to catch it, and it’s really something magical) This was the very first tour we ever did and it blew us away! They’re known for their Cabernet & Chardonnay. A beautiful group tour experience through their facilities, their personal property car collection, ending in a beautiful room overlooking miles of Napa Valley vineyards with a great cheese and meats pairing board.
Not my favorite wine, but a really really awesome cave tour that’s paired with delicious cheese & meets pairing board. If you’re wanting to do a cave tour I highly recommend this one!
*we’ve never had a bad tour anywhere, or even a bad tasting experience for that matter, the people that work in Napa are like the people that work at Disneyland, they just LOVE their job, they have so much pride in the family they work for, and it shows. Probably a big reason we love Napa so much, all the feels!!!
OK, moving on to our favorite winery’s based on the wine, the vibe of the tasting room, basically what fills up Brandon’s walk in wine cellar he took half of our pantry out to create, ya true story.
Again I recommend to book appointments but some of these you can also do walk ins! I highly recommend Quintessa, Far Niente, & HALL if you decided to pass on a tour, they’re great just to go in and taste as well!
King of Cabs. (in our house at least) This Cab just can’t be beat in our house with our pallet. They have 2 locations, we’ve been to both! Oakville & Healdsburg. Healdsburg is their newest location but quite a drive if you’re exploring in Napa Valley. Both locations are easy to do a walk in if you have time in your schedule open up.
Another one of our favorite Cabs and another “cult favorite” for Napa valley lovers. Beautiful grounds and always knowledgable & kind staff.
Their Merlot is our favorite! They had a beautiful wrap around porch where they host their tastings, make a reservation here.
What a view!! This one is right across from Silverado Resort so if you’re staying there it’s a must! You can book a tasting in their beautiful lounge chairs overlooking the most beautiful view. They pair all their tastings with a little cheese and jam tray that just makes the experience just much greater! and we love their Cab!
One of Napa’s newer winery’s, & also the only one that’ll make you valet your car, Cal Poly baseball alumni & wife Michelle really created something special here! By appointment only, you won’t be disappointed!
Rated Best Winery in Napa Valley for the past few years, and it happens to be where Brandon and I got married 🙂 Being one of only 3 wineries in the Valley with license to host weddings. We fell in love with it because of its small cozy charm, all their weddings are at night, under the stars, truly magical. Ok back to the winery, this is also the most BUSY winery in NV. They have a huge deli and delicious BBQ on the weekends where you can go get lunch and eat at one of their picnic tables in their lush garden, aside from all the people this place is truly magical! Not stuffy, easy place to just stop by, no appointment necessary for a regular tasting, and their wine catalog is the biggest I’ve ever seen in Napa! You basically have to stop here at least once!
whew. what a list!!
And there was SOOO many more I wanted to share but I was afraid the more I shared the more you might look past one that I really really think you should go to! When is the best time to go to Napa you ask? We’ll we’ve been multiple times thought out the year our favorite is Fall, maybe because that’s when we got married so Napa just feels like Fall to us, & also we enjoy wine more in the colder months, but really there’s no bad time to go, in the Summer I’d say it’s busier but still in the Fall if you wait too long to book your reservations you won’t be able to get in, so make sure you schedule everything out ahead of time 🙂
Hope this helps plan your Napa Valley trip & I hope you have the best time ever!! I know you will, Napa just has all the feels in it’s air!
Comment below if you have any questions or any others I didn’t mention that are MUSTS!