Back at it again with my second Napa Valley Travel Guide and today is all about my favorite top restaurant picks, fun things to do and some must-try transportation options. Check it out below and make sure you tune in tomorrow for the last installment!
Things to do
When planning out our itinerary, we decided to start out toward the more northern part of Napa and work our way down. After landing in San Fran, we took a Lyft up to Calistoga for the first leg of our trip. We dropped off our bags at the hotel and explored the charming little town for a few hours before our first winery and spa appointments. We walked Main Street, grabbed a quick lunch + smoothie at Calistoga Roastery, took a detour to the Sugar Train (obviously) and picked up some picnic supplies at the local market. I loved how walkable the town was and there was so much to do, not to mention the people were super friendly and the scenery surrounding the downtown area was just breathtaking.
Where do I even begin. Hot air balloon rides have always been on my wish list so when B and I were invited to join the NVAloft crew for a sunrise ride, I could barely contain my excitement. As a matter of fact, I didn’t. I’m pretty sure I ran around telling everyone at work/calling my parents/posting all over Snapchat that my dreams were coming true in Napa. Seriously, I could not wait for all of the magic that was coming our way.
We arrived at the V Marketplace in Yountville at 6am (#allthecoffee) and were greeted with a pastry breakfast with the crew. Once everyone was checked in, we were paired with two other adorable couples and then took off. Honestly guys, the entire experience was amazing. Everything from walking out to see the balloons filling with air, to boarding the basket to taking off…we couldn’t believe we were about to soar above Napa Valley. And soar we did. The views – breathtaking. The ride – smooth. The pilot – hilarious. Everything was so perfect and so beautiful and so romantic. Everything I could have ever hoped for. This is an absolute must-do when visiting Napa. A. must. do.
Cutest. Town. Ever. Seriously – I told Brandon I wanted to move to Yountville. The colors, the flowers, the eateries, the tasting rooms…there was just so much to do and so much to explore. We got to walk around a little in between the hot air balloon ride and our wine tasting appointments. We picked up coffee + macaroons at Bouchon, had a mini photo shoot, explored V Marketplace and checked out French Laundry’s produce garden. I would love to stay in Yountville next time we go to Napa even if just for a night. The hotels were so charming and right in the middle of everything the little town had to offer.
Places to Eat
If you follow me on Snapchat or Insta, you’ve probably noticed that I have a slight obsession with Italian food…mainly pasta. Seriously, I love Italian and i love pasta and I could honestly eat for every meal every day. We actually eat Italian once a week when I get my way so I was pretty surprised that Brandon let me convince him to go for pasta on our first night (score!). D’Amici is nestled at the bottom of Hotel D’Amici and is just the cutest little Italian place. The service was fantastic and the food was heavenly. We brought one of our vinos from Sterling Vineyards that we picked up earlier that day and had the perfect date night. Such a great way to kick off the trip!
We stumbled across Evangeline while walking around Calistoga and couldn’t wait to try their brunch before a day full of wine tastings. This was by far the cutest little eatery – the striped decor was to die for and the greenery and patio seating created the perfect early morning dining experience. In typical Lauren fashion, I had the waffles and a bellini and B had some sort of salmon egg thing (I’m not an egg or seafood person) but he loved it!
After a morning of wine tastings + exploring some of our favorite vineyards, we stopped for lunch at the infamous Auberge du Soleil. We opted for the Bistro & Bar which is the hotel’s more casual dining option. (the brunch is supposed to be amazing by the way!). The views were epic and the rose was epic times two. I’ve actually daydreamed about the pasta twice since we got back to Atlanta. Definitely make sure this one is on your list!
We were super lucky to get a tour of the Bardessono Hotel in Yountville on our last night in Napa. You guys, this hotel was absolutely breathtaking. It was so zen and modern and peaceful. Complete with a a fresh produce garden, a gorgeous rooftop pool, beautiful courtyards, cute bikes and more…I honestly wanted to check it that night. B and I have already decided that next time we visit Napa, we have to stay at the Bardessono. After getting a private tour of the property, we sat down to a delicious dinner at the Lucy Restaurant & Bar. We brought one of our Cab Savs from Sunday’s vineyard marathon and enjoyed a fantastic meal c/o Chef Nate (so young and talented!). The food was fresh and the courses were perfect. I had the asparagus salad and pesto gnocchi and B tried the potato soup and lobster risotto. We topped it off with a few of the smaller desserts (the ice cream sandwiches were bomb dot com). After dinner, we had a few cocktails on the terrace outside of the restaurant. I kid you not, I was so stuffed I fell asleep in front of the fire pit…and luckily B caught it all on snapchat. If you guys have a chance to visit Yountville or just Napa in general, please try to make Lucy and the Bardessono a priority!
How to Get Around
One of the things I stressed about most when planning our trip was transportation. I knew it was pretty likely we would indulge in lots of wine (naturally) and was super nervous about one of us having to drive if we rented a car. Perata Luxury to the rescue! Not only did we have the coolest driver ever (hey Todd!!!) but it was so great to have someone that could take us round to each of our scheduled stops for the day. I already mapped out my itinerary beforehand so the process was super simple. I shared our schedule with the Perata team and we were set for the day. He hung out with us between our stops and was such a great resource for learning about Napa and some of the history. He even went over & beyond and played photographer for a mini photo shoot at Round Pond! Seriously guys, if you’re looking for a car service in Napa please check them out. You will love it.
I mentioned this before (and you probably saw on Snapchat) but we used Lyft a ton on our trip. We took a lyft to Napa once we landed in San Fran and used the service to get around Napa between tastings, meals, etc. Again, we didn’t want to rent a car because we didn’t want to worry about drinking and driving or parking or any of that extra hassle and Lyft was such the perfect solution. It was also pretty cool to ride around with folks who were local to Napa and get some of their recommendations.
New to Lyft? Use code RIDEFASHIONABLY for $20 off your first ride!
We used Blacklane’s car service to get back to San Fran on our last night after an epic tour de Napa. They picked us up in a luxury town car and made the trek back to SFO. Not only was booking the car service really easy but our driver also stopped at In & Out for us on the way…um, best guy ever. Blacklane offers professional car services throughout the country so make sure you check them out!