Best places to stay in Napa Valley
If are touring Napa Valley with children, Calistoga is a more family orientated place to stay as it doesn’t have the snooty feel that some of the other towns have. The town itself is small and easy to get around with galleries, shops and an Art Walk. The Sharpsteen Museum tells you the history of the town and examples of local art and architecture can be seen in the grounds of Villa Ca’Toga.
Children will love the hiking trails of the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and taking a family bike ride through the natural wonders of the petrified forest and to see the geyser. After all that physical activity a visit to the Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort will have you feeling rejuvenated and a mud bath will leave you with the softest skin imaginable.
Some of the most popular wineries in Calistoga are Castello de Amorosa which is set in a reconstructed Italian castle and Chateau Montelana. Sterling Vineyards is situated at the top of a hill and a novel way to get there is to take the vineyards own aerial tram which will whisk you to the top in five minutes.
Accommodation in Calistoga can be found in intimate small inns, on a ranch or in any number of B&B’s, hotels and resorts many of them offering family friendly rooms.
There is much more to do in St. Helena than just taste the wines. Main Street is home to many independent shops where you can indulge in chocolate heaven or experience an olive oil tasting. Rent bikes and cycle off for the day to the old Bale Grist Mill or the shores of Lake Hennessey. The small Cameo Cinema in the town might be over one hundred years old but the films are all the latest releases.
For anyone looking to learn about food and wine the Culinary Institute of America has an acclaimed restaurant in St. Helena and offers classes in culinary education. Other eateries include classic burger joints and places serving local Californian cuisine as well as independent retailers offering gourmet delights that are just waiting to be tasted.
In St. Helena you can take a tour of the Beringer estate, which is the longest continuously operating winery in the Valley. Charles Krug is another very famous name to be found in St. Helena and in the award-winning Redwood Cellar Tasting Room you can sample some of their most exclusive wines.
You can sleep in peace in renovated mid-century motels, in hotels with stunning vineyard views or in cosy B&B’s. No matter where you choose to stay in St. Helena you will receive a casually elegant hospitality and rest peacefully full of good food and wines.
This is a good central Napa Valley location and most of the wineries are in easy driving distance. There are several excellent restaurants in the town and more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in North America. Intimate restaurants are led by renowned chefs who create culinary masterpieces with the local fresh produce and serve them accompanied by the Valley’s best wines.
The town is small and can be wandered around on foot quite easily. There is a restored winery complex called Ma(i)sonry that now houses galleries, boutiques and stores inspired by gastronomy and wine. The Napa Valley Museum is great for some culture and afterwards you can enjoy a cocktail or two by the rooftop pool of one of the local bars.
Wineries in Yountville include Cliff Lede Vineyards, Domanine Chandon, the Chiarello Family Vineyards and Cosentino Winery.
There is a superb five star hotel in Yountville as well as a selection of motels and B&B’s. Some places offer spa treatments for the ultimate in relaxation or you can immerse yourself in French charm at one of the most romantic inns in the town.
Napa has to be the ultimate culinary destination in Napa Valley with some 70 restaurants all within walking distance. There are some very good restaurants with price tags to match but equally so there are some inexpensive ones as well. For shopaholics the town is filled with delightful retail outlets offering something for everyone. There are antique emporiums, clothing shops, home furnishings and gift shops and many food and drink shops. Wineries to visit in Napa are the Dahl Vineyards, Bouchaine Vineyards, Sequoia Grove Winery and Silenus Vintners.
For entertainment The Napa Opera House puts on very good live shows several times a month and serves excellent food in an intimate setting. The Napa Valley Wine Train departs from Napa on its fifty kilometre or so round trip through the Valley to St. Helena. With two engines and a random collection of 20th century rail cars guests can enjoy various regional foods and wines on board while the antique train chugs through the countryside.
There are several excellent B&B’s in Napa to choose from as well as brand name luxury hotels and in a riverside setting an independent hotel owned and operated by locals. Cosy and individual self-catering cottages can also be rented complete with fire places and jacuzzi tubs.
The Rutherford area produces a unique wine that has an almost spicy element and this comes from the famous “Rutherford dust”. Once a dry riverbed the soil gives the fruit and herbs in the famed Cabernets a distinctive character and they have a passionate worldwide following. The wineries in Rutherford include Caymus, Beaulieu Vineyard and Elizabeth Spencer.
The restaurants in Rutherford are naturally experts when it comes to pairing foods with the Rutherford dust wines. There are Italian restaurants where rustic food is served in hearty portions, a superb grill restaurant for the best in burgers and ribs or go a short distance out of the town for Michelin-starred food served with amazing views.
The Inglenook wine estate in Rutherford is home to the Niebaum-Coppola winery and museum owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola and gives a fascinating insight into the birth of cinema. The grand old estate is perfect for a stroll round and the magic lanterns and antique zoetropes on display are fun and fascinating.
To end your day of wine country hospitality you can choose to stay in posh hotels that offer yoga and fitness classes along with luxury spa treatments, small intimate B&B’s or stay in the ranch in the centre of town where you can relax by your in-room fireplace!
The lake is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in California and great place to burn off some wine-induced calories. There are plenty of fast-paced watersports such as boating, water-skiing, wake-boarding and tubing for thrill seekers. If you prefer something quieter on the water fishing is a great way to relax or rent a kayak and drift dreamily across the lake.
There is some amazing hiking and biking opportunities around the lake area which is bordered by the Putah State Wildlife Area and the Cedar Rough Wilderness. There are picnic spots and marinas as well as prime spots for wildlife watching and bird spotting. Don’t miss the spectacular sight of the 100 metre tall Monticello Dam especially when the water is full and spilling into the Glory Hole.
There are several wineries near Lake Berryessa including Rustridge Ranch, Moss Creek and Fog Canyon. Take a wine tour and grab a couple of your favourite bottles and dine al fresco at one of the free entry picnic sites like Oak Shores Park or Smittle Creek Park. There are toilet facilities at the parks so you don’t have to worry about drinking too much!
Lake Berryessa has some great places to stay and what could be better than renting a houseboat and being rocked gently to sleep. There are also camping sites with scenic accommodation for tents and RV’s.