A plan brewing to visit Napa Valley? Well, it is apparent what is on your mind - wine, of course! Napa Valley is misleading and big, with more than 400 wineries, each having their own tasting rooms, and exquisite tasting wines. There is no dearth of other activities to do at Napa, it is just that the wine is so potent and fine. While you are planning a day-long excursion in this valley, let's look at a few approaches to break down your day efficiently, explore and enjoy.
Start out early in the morning.
Look into deals relating to hot air ballooning early in the morning. If you have never explored this, take a leap of faith the next time. This is a great way to start off your day in Napa. The view as the valley wakes up is unimaginable, with its rolling hills, acres and acres of vineyards, dogs running and cattle grazing, and the fall colors ( the perfect time to visit is in fall) create such a magical effect, the experience is indescribable.
Break your fast at Brix Restaurant and Gardens. The food variety is healthy, wholesome and tasty. It is a great time to start wine tasting with a fresh palate. The wineries are not crowded as well this time of the day. If this is your first time in the wine country, you might want to visit one of the top and exquisite wineries. It is a good idea to buy a tour to one of these places, there's interesting history and also beautiful gardens and architecture to enjoy. A recommendation is visiting Castello Di Amorosa, an exquisite castle built with imported materials from Europe. You could also enjoy a self guided tour and then wind down with wine tasting for yourself, and some grape juice for the kids. Chateau Montelena is another winery that you should not miss, it is famous for its fine white wine, and is amongst the top wines in the world.
It's mid-day, and time for lunch.
Another unique place to visit is Brasswood. It is a winery, sure; but it is more of a village with caves and cave tours, wine tasting rooms, a fine shop with artisan works on display, a restaurant with Brasswood Bar and Kitchen, and a Brasswood cafe or bakery, with some really cozy couches thrown around for a casual atmosphere. A great place to get some light and fresh lunch with kids.
There are some fantastic Michelin star restaurants in the Napa Valley, so if you have a light agenda for the day, or you are staying for more than a day, it is absolutely worth a visit. La Toque, and The Restaurant at Auberge are particularly recommended. These resorts are beautiful to walk around, and explore the architecture, and their beautiful gardens.
Oxbow Public Market is an awesome shopping and market area, you can buy souvenirs and gifts at Olive Press and Anette's Chocolates, go cheese tasting, buy a variety of cheeses and breads. Kara's Cupcakes are a treat as well. It is an excellent idea to take out some time to just walk around the market downtown. There is the Napa Art Walk, which is basically a collection of outdoor sculptures made by local artists, and new pieces of art get added all the time. There is also a nice walk along the Napa Riverfront, it is a nice treat especially with kids.
It's time to close the day with dinner.
Grace's Table is a nice choice, the food is a fantastic blend of French, Italian and American, and the atmosphere is warm and casual. Many restaurants in downtown Napa also offer wine tasting if you are up for it at dinnertime. Vintners Collective and John Anthony Cabernets are just perfect. In case you have kids along, there is Happy Hour, Monday to Friday, 3-6pm, where you can order small plates and drinks for their dinners.
If you are driving back home the same night, you can always grab a coffee or a hot chocolate for the way. In case you decide to stay back for the night, there are some good lodging locations to try out. The Meritage Resort and Spa and the Napa River Inn are good options, and if you prefer a B&B experience, you can try out The Beazley House, which is walking distance from downtown, or just look up an AirBnB.
A few other recommendations would be to look up Boon Fly Cafe, Goose and Gander and Ciccio. Another few wineries to visit are Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Opus One and Domaine Carneros. Other activities to do are hiking and mountain biking if you plan to make a stay out of Napa Valley. There are festivals that happen pretty much all the time of the year. Yountville Live in March, Bottlerock in May and Festival Napa Valley in July are a few to consider.
There is a lot to do in Napa Valley, but a simple stroll along the river with a wine glass in hand is a perfect picture.
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