The 40th Annual Napa Valley Marathon is almost upon us, and perhaps brings the perfect opportunity for a balanced vacation, combining the rigorous activity of running 26.2 miles (or cheering loudly for your runner from the sidelines) and the ultimate indulgence of the best hotels and spas and restaurants in Wine Country. And since you can’t be at your peak performance without giving your body a little tender loving care, know that with everything that the world-renowned Napa Valley has to offer, you’ll be able to feast and rest your head in style.
For your visit, stay and dine along the marathon path, or choose a more peaceful pocket of the valley, away from the adrenaline and sustained athleticism. After all, with the number of places to fuel up here, it takes more than one kind of stamina to try them all.
Solbar is a contemporary gem of a restaurant located inside the luxe Solage resort in Calistoga, the north end of Napa Valley. Dine al fresco beneath a canopy of foliage and globe lights, enjoy a drink by the zen fireplace, or even play a game of bocce ball at this restaurant. Whether you’re preparing for the marathon, or just there for moral support (and therefore capable of indulging in restaurants in your spare time), there’s an item on Solbar’s balanced menu for everyone, with healthy, lighter food options for every hearty, indulgent dish available.
755 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 226-0850
Ready to indulge? In Rutherford, opt for a luxe dining experience at the award-winning Auberge du Soleil. Founded over 35 years ago, the restaurant was one of the first fine-dining establishments in the area, paving the way for elevated Napa Valley cuisine. The dishes are vibrant and beautifully plated, each an edible work of art competing with the natural beauty visible from the dining table, as diners enjoy the sweeping views of the valley from the terrace. Chef Robert Curry’s Mediterranean-inspired food showcases the rich seasonal produce of Napa Valley, and he has procured one of the most extensive wine cellars in the area. The six-course tasting menu will set you back a pretty penny, but you can also choose to dine a la carte at the restaurant for lunch or dinner, and delight your palate at a much lower cost.
180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (800) 348-5406
Bottega is located in a bustling part of Napa Valley, with Bouchon Bistro, Bouchon Bakery, Ad Hoc, and The French Laundry all within a half mile radius. Nab a seat on the outdoor patio, if you can, and enjoy the activity of Yountville’s busiest corner over your dish of Italian-Californian fare. Billed as ‘where Italy meets Napa Valley’, Chef Michael Chiarello brings together traditional Italian family recipes prepared with a California twist. The brodetto is personal favorite, with fresh seafood and a white wine tomato broth, fragrant with saffron, and perfect with a glass of wine. Grab one of Chef Michael Chiarello’s cookbooks, which they sell on site, to try your hand at these delicious dishes at home.
V Marketplace, 6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, (707) 945-1050
Addendum is the footnote to Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc family. It serves a limited menu of boxed lunches to go and is the perfect place to pick up his famous fried chicken (a long brine in a fragrant concoction of lemon, honey, garlic, and spices before its dipped into buttermilk and and friend to golden perfection). There are few things on this earth better than a perfect piece of fried chicken, and at under $20 a pop, it’s hard to beat. It’s take out only, so take it to go or have a little picnic in the nearby park with a bottle of wine or pop to share. The shop usually goes into hibernation during the winter, but opens up just in time for the spring.
6476 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, (707) 944-2487
Give in to your sweet tooth at Bouchon Bakery. You won’t have a problem with finding this Yountville favorite, especially since you’ll be able to see the line of people out the door and sometimes down half a block. Aside from their beautiful, photogenic macarons, which are a crowd favorite, their flaky croissants are ideal for a breakfast on the go. Pick up a chocolate almond one and an espresso and walk off last night’s indulgences. If you’re feeling guilty about leaving your canine baby at home while you’ve been indulging, Bouchon has snacks for your pup too — talk about a dog treat, you feel me?
6528 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, (707) 944-2253
Mustards Grill is the sleeper of the group, but always delivers. Located squarely between Oakville and Yountville, on a quiet stretch of Napa Valley’s Highway 29, the restaurant might look nondescript on the outside, it’s always packed. If you’re the type who likes to eschew such conventionality as reservation-making, fear not. There’s a small but serene patio around the back corner; order a drink at the bar and enjoy some rays. If you’re tired of wine and want something to jumpstart your palate, the mixologists at Mustards Grill makes a gloriously spicy Bloody Mary. Inside, the atmosphere is casual and friendly. Portions are large, so don’t be afraid to share if you see several menu items that sound interesting. If I could make just one suggestion, it would be for the Famous Mongolian Pork Chop.
7399 St Helena Hwy, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 944-2424
Whether you want to load up on the carbohydrates the night before the race, or to reward yourself with a carby meal after the fact, look no further than Napa’s Ristorante Allegria. The traditional Italian food at this restaurant is top notch, with every type of pasta you could think of. Located near the Napa Valley Marathon finish line, it’s an ideal place to lounge and fuel up after your 26.2 miles. The outdoor patio, which looks like it was plucked up straight from an Italian courtyard, doesn’t hurt either.
1026 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 254-8006
Once you’ve had your fill at the many restaurants, it’s always best to give in to your food coma in comfort. The UpValley Inn & Hot Springs is located right at the starting line of the marathon, in an area that locals affectionately call “UpValley”. This boutique hotel is perfect for those who need be ready to run at the crack of dawn, as well as those who have come to Napa to support their friends and family. Take a relaxing dip in the swimming pool and whirlpool, which are both 100% fed by natural mineral water. Or unwind with a soak in the Inn’s geothermal hot springs post-race and post-food, in the ‘healing waters’ of Calistoga for some indulgent spa time.
1865 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-9400
For even more intimate seclusion, look no further than a stay in the ultra luxe private estate of Meadowood Napa Valley. Revel in the sprawling green beauty from your room’s deck or terrace, or utilize the estate’s many croquet lawns, tennis courts, golf course, driving range, or swimming pools for a bit of activity before you partake in the daily wine reception. Treat yourself to a luxurious all-suite spa or a three Michelin-starred meal. Chef Christopher Kostow wows with his modern American tasting menu at The Restaurant at Meadowood. With all that Meadowood has to offer, you could conceivably spend all weekend ensconced within this expansive property and still experience an amazing Wine Country getaway.
900 Meadowood Lane, St Helena, CA 94574, (877) 963-3646
Nestled in the idyllic hamlet of Rutherford, Rancho Caymus Inn is a boutique hotel that was originated by renaissance woman Mary Tilden Morton, of Morton Salt family fame. The inn has a classic California style, designed to feel elegant yet welcoming. Rancho Caymus Inn is located minutes from some of the world’s most prestigious wineries. But if you’d like to stay on the grounds as long as possible, taking in the sun in the Spanish-hacienda courtyard, you can enjoy the wine tasting experiences right there on their terrace.
Book your restful reservation at Rancho Caymus Inn through WineCountry Perks and also receive a fueling, complimentary continental breakfast, their best room rates, an extra cozy, late checkout, and a welcoming bottle of wine when you arrive.
1140 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 200-9300
If you’re looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of the Napa Valley Marathon, SENZA is it. Modern and sophisticated, each suite feels deliciously like your own private getaway. With luxurious touches such as an in-suite fireplace, vineyard views, catered breakfast with Bouchon pastries, and a nightly wine hour, a weekend at SENZA is the modernist’s ideal for Wine Country.
If you need an additional reason to kick your feet up at SENZA, book your stay through WineCountry Perks and receive added amenities upon your arrival, like a bottle of wine, two tasting passes to HALL Wines, complimentary room upgrade, and if your four-legged friend is joining in on the fun, a waived pet fee.
4066 Howard Lane, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 253-0337
If, at the finish line, what you’re really craving is a little slice of home, Milliken Creek Inn & Spa might be just the place. At an intimate 12 rooms, the inn feels like a luxurious, well-kept secret, though it’s actually been around for centuries. Milliken Creek Inn was a stagecoach stop in the mid-1850s on what is now the famous Silverado trail. Soak in this piece of history as you lounge on a chaise near the serene Napa River, imagining what it must have been like as a resting place for weary travelers during California’s gold and silver rush years.
1815 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 255-1197
Cover image courtesy of the Napa Valley Marathon