The Napa Valley Day Trip: A Traveler’s Guide

  • Guides
  • by WC STAFF
  • on JUNE 5, 2015
  • 26030
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If you’re looking for an exciting day trip a mere two hours or less drive from San Francisco or Sacramento, then look no further than Napa Valley. No need to become overwhelmed when planning your day trip to Napa because this is your guide to an unforgettable day that samples everything Napa does best.

Get prepped with a big breakfast.

boon-fly-cafe Image Source: Boon Fly Cafe

You’ll need energy for the exciting day ahead so the first stop on your Napa Valley day trip should be a hearty spread at one of Napa’s well known breakfast spots.

The Boon Fly Cafe at The Carneros Inn, located at 4048 Sonoma Highway in Napa, serves the best chicken and waffles in town for their perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and savory (you can even re-create at them at home).

If you find yourself in the mood for a breakfast burrito try Jefferson Street Cafe, located at 3070 Jefferson Street in Napa, it’s said to be legendary. Locals also rave about the huevos rancheros at Soscol Cafe, located at 632 Soscol Ave in Napa. Early birds are in luck because Soscol Cafe opens at 6 a.m.

Tour the di Rosa.

dirosa Image Source: Everywhere Once

217 acres are home to the di Rosa, an indoor/outdoor art space, located at 5200 Sonoma (Carneros) Highway in Napa. The grounds and the associated galleries, historic residence, courtyard, lawns, and 35-acre lake, are an artist’s haven designed to provoke the creativity and imagination in every guest who enters.

Guided tours are the best way to get the most information about the gallery and its associated artists. Prices range from $12 – $15 for 1.5 – 2-hour tours. Be sure to check out the sculpture meadow, a 1/3-mile trail will guide you past eye popping large-scale sculptures by artists like Ray Beldner, Mark di Suvero, Alan Shepp, and Samuel Yates.

The gallery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and reservations are recommended.

Shop for souvenirs in downtown Napa.

cake-plate Image Source: Cake Plate

If you’re looking for the perfect memento from your Napa Valley Day trip, stroll along the historic riverfront in downtown Napa as you admire the storefronts filled with unique finds. Browse the vintage and shabby chic items at Napa Vintage Market at Alice’s, where visitors have found old school treasures like vintage kitchen decor, pin-up inspired jewelry, and antique holiday ornaments.

If you’re looking for unique pieces from a more contemporary era, pick up a new ensemble for your afternoon wine tasting at Cake Plate boutique. Run by sister Lindsay Kroll and Paige Smith, their store features whimsical pieces perfect for high tea or a backyard barbecue.

Eat everything (or as much as possible) at Oxbow Market.

Napa-Valley-Day-Trip-oxbow-public-market2 Image Source: Oxbow Public Market

Your tongue will not be disappointed during your stop at Oxbow Public Market to try the artisanal and locally grown foods that represent the best that the Valley has to offer. This 40,000 square foot marketplace features an astonishing array of offerings including Italian pastries, ice cream, oysters, and food & wine pairings. The market houses two butcher shops, a fish market, a local organic produce store, a chocolate company, multiple bakeries, and and a distillery. If you have a craving for it, you can likely find it at one of the market’s 24 separate vendors.

Try the rotisserie duck tacos at C. Casa, called the “Best Tacos Ever” according to Food & Drink Magazine. Oxbow Market is located at 610 and 644 First Street in downtown Napa, right along the Napa River and Napa River Trail.

Get a taste of Napa in the afternoon.

hall-wines Image source: HALL Wines

No day trip to Napa is complete without a sampling of region’s famous wines. However, in addition to the wines themselves, it’s the experience that makes some of Napa Valley’s wineries so impressive.

Catch the last rays of sunshine while enjoying the majestic view of Napa Valley during the HALL Rutherford Appellation Exploration. Located at 56 Auberge Road in Rutherford, the $125 per person tasting fee is well worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The winery is perched atop a mountain (near Auberge du Soleil Resort) where you’ll take in a panoramic view of the Napa Valley vineyard floor.

During your 90-minute tasting tour, you (and your glass of HALL wine) will be led through the contemporary art-filled patio, across the sprawling 100 – point Sacrashe vineyards, into the cavernous barrel room and finally into the majestic Chandelier room, adorned with the one-of-a-kind Swarovski encrusted tree chandelier that stretches down from the ceiling, which truly must be seen to be believed. Try HALL Rutherford’s excellent Cabernets while sampling your small bites platter of smoked meats and cheeses.

Napa-Valley-Day-Trip-Chappellet-Winery Image source: Chappellet Winery

Another impressive stop for your afternoon, should be the secluded Chappellet Winery at the top of Pritchard Hill. Survey the incredible views of Lake Hennessey and the surrounding valley as you wind your way up the single lane road to the winery’s location, 1581 Sage Canyon Road in St. Helena. This area is home of spectacular reds, including the critic-praised rich Cabernet Sauvignons that are the hallmark of the region.

The tour/tasting will lead you through the unique architecture and grounds that seemingly transport you back in time. The wines themselves are reasonably priced at $35 – $70, especially compared to other similar offerings from the region. The secret of this high-elevation landscape is starting to spread; reservations are required for your tasting tour ($35 – $75 per person).

A luxuriously simple dinner at Cook St. Helena.

cook-st-helena Image Source: Cook St. Helena

A small restaurant on Main Street in St. Helena, Cook St. Helena features an unassuming casual atmosphere but the real treat is in the excellent, well-executed Northern Italian dishes featured on their specialty menu.

The Cook St. Helena servers are always up for offering a recommendation for a unique twist on their dishes, especially their signature pasta. Ask for their famous gnocchi substituted with their sausage and arrabiata sauce. Pair with a Zinfandel and you’re set for the night. The restaurant’s corkage fee is waived if you buy a bottle of wine during your meal.

Plan your trip to Napa Valley today, and start checking these places off your list!