Romantic travel through Napa.
September 1, 2004 2:11 PM   Subscribe

After the success of my night in San Francisco (details inside for the curious), I'm once again seeking romantic travel guidance. This time: Napa. [step on the grapes, the juice is inside]

Quick SF recap if anyone's curious: ended up staying at the hotel drisco in pacific heights; it was lovely, although our room didn't really have a good view. Friday we did union square, drove through chinatown, coit tower, lombard street, then picnic in the arboretum at GG park. After lunch did ghirardelli square, fisherman's wharf, and pier 39. checked into the hotel, dinner at Florio, then Beach Blanket Babylon, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Woke up early saturday morning and rode the cable cars from fisherman's wharf to union square and back (at 7 AM there is no line whatsoever, fyi), then drove over the golden gate bridge just for fun. All in all it was wonderful, thanks to all for the suggestions!

Now, onto the next challenge: My girlfriend will once again be visiting from Friday, October 22nd to Tuesday the 26th. Preliminary hotel scouting has shown that several nice places are already filling up for the friday and saturday nights. I was thinking of doing sunday night to avoid the crowds a bit. First question: is one night going to be enough? We're driving from San Jose, so we can probably spend pretty much all day sunday and monday in the area. Next key issue: I've never been to Napa at all, so I need recommendations for all activities, not just hotels and stuff. Final issue, budget: hoping to keep it in about the $600-700 range, including everything we do. Was thinking like 300 for hotel, 150 for dinner, plus a couple hundred dollars for daytime activities (wine tastings, lunches, whatever else we do). Does that sound reasonable, or are daytime activities more expensive? how much does it cost to tour a vineyard or do a winetasting or something? I'm totally clueless about that stuff. If I have to pick one place to splurge, it would definitely be the hotel room, as I want that to be as romantic as possible. I saw a quick recommendation of the Carneros Inn in some magazine, so I started there. I can get a Garden Cottage there for 325 on sunday night, so right now that's sounding like a good choice. Anybody been there? Other recommendations? Daytime activities? Restaurants? Help!
posted by rorycberger to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (7 answers total)
Wine Train

Ask the hotel about hot air ballooning. Usually they can get you a package deal and soft lift off right from the hotel. Warning for late-risers: lift-off is at like 6am.

Don't just limit yourself to Napa. Surrounding towns like Sonoma, Calistoga, and Petaluma also have plenty of charm and the drive is scenic (winding country road through the hills, taking you past farms, ranches, and of course vineyards).
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:11 PM on September 1, 2004


s/soft lift off/some offer lift off
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:54 PM on September 1, 2004

I've been on several winery tours - dragged along by my mother. I definitely recommend doing one if you like wine and are interested in learning how it's made. I don't actually remember them costing much if anything, but it was years ago. As I recall, Beringer has some caves dug into a hillside where they age their wine in casks, which makes the tour interesting. (Though sadly I think their tour does not include going inside the gorgeous Victorian house which is on their label.) Domain Chandon is an interesting tour because they make champagne, so you can learn about that.

The only restaurant I know by name in that area is Auberge du Soleil. It's very high class pricey stuff, though I'm told lunch is just as good but cheaper. But another idea you might try if the weather's nice, is have a little picnic. Go to a market and buy some wine, cheese, French bread, and fruit or salads and then find some scenic little park and just enjoy the scenery. The Wine Country is just a beautiful area to be, and it's free to just be there and look, y'know?
posted by dnash at 7:36 PM on September 1, 2004

dnash's picnic suggestion is a good one. If you and the girlfriend wouldn't mind a mild hike taking you past vineyards and through forest land, you could have that lunch by the lake at Jack London State Park just north of Sonoma.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:00 PM on September 1, 2004

My girlfriend and I ate at Roux when we visited, and absolutely loved it. It's like haute cuisine without the price.
posted by falconred at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2004

How about a romantic Gondola ride down the river?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:20 PM on September 1, 2004

A few wineries in Napa have free tastings, and the rest charge from a few dollars to upwards of $20. Tasting of "reserve" wines and tasting at the more prestigious or cult wineries generally costs more. Some wineries package a tour of the winery with a tasting, for $5-10, but most often the tours are free. There are way too many wineries in Napa to see even in a week-long visit, btw.

I also liked the Wine Train. There are also plenty of great restaurants in the area, and you can find most of these on The French Laundry has been covered on the blue before.
posted by shoos at 2:24 AM on September 2, 2004

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