Many people travel to the state of California for many different reasons. Families with young children often like to head down there to do Disney, some like to do the Hollywood scene, some will head down there and let their heart lead them, and others like to visit the beautiful wineries of Napa Valley, which is what I recently did. The perfect Napa Valley Girl's Getaway ended up being just what my friends and I needed to reconnect, blow off some steam and have fun together after not seeing each other all year.
Napa Valley isn't just about romance - while there are plenty of couples every where you go, there are also families and many girlfriends out just having fun. We even spotted a bachelorette party or two!
The Perfect Napa Valley Girl's Getaway
Pick a Central Location
Our base of operations was the Andaz Napa Valley, which had a great location right in the middle of downtown. Just a few blocks from the farmer's market, the famous Model Bakery, plenty of great bars, restaurants and tasting rooms (here's a list of top 12 wineries), we never had a problem grabbing an Uber when we wanted to go farther away for dinner. Yountville and St Helena were both about a 20-30 minute drive, so make sure that if you are staying in downtown Napa Valley, you have an Uber account set up and plenty of money to spend on fare. I didn't see a taxi cab the entire time I was in Napa Valley, but there were Uber drives all over the place.
The History Lesson is Complimentary
The orchards of the Napa Valley are breathtaking, there's no doubt. The wines created from the grapes that are grown in Napa Valley have an incredible history, and not only are the winery employees happy to tell you all about the history behind their wineries, but tour guides, Uber drives and just about everyone you come across are all excited to tell you about the history of Napa Valley in general, sharing tidbits of old-world gossip along the way. We learned about everything from how vineyards began, to the hippy communes supporting them, how vineyards changed hands over and over again, which winemaker left which winery to start their own, etc, etc. It was quite interesting!
Each winery has a different tale to tell as far as their history, but they all have one thing in common: agriculture. Each winery we visited was able to tell us which was their best year, how much rain fell in certain years, which fire lent a smokey flavor to which year of wine - it was all very fascinating!
The Views Are AMAZING
Napa Valley is a beautiful place to visit. Not only is the scenery gorgeous, but the wineries, hotels, boutiques and restaurants put a lot of effort into making everything sophisticated yet charming.
My favorite photos of Napa Valley were taken at Repris Winery, which is actually pretty close to Sonoma. This winery began in the 60s as a hippy commune and has turned into the one of the most unique wineries in the area.
Their wines are not sold to the public or to restaurants and stores - you have to be a wine club member or purchase from their winery directly during your visit. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND VISITING. While the wine is expensive (well, at least for me) at $55+ a bottle, the experience is worth it. Repris Winery only accepts a few appointments a day, and let's just say that the experience is worth it.
After spending an afternoon being led around the winery on a Jeep with one of the winery guides, I ended up buying four bottles of wine. I almost bought an advance but decided against it. How much wine can I possibly drink?!
It's a Dry Heat, Y'all
If you are coming from a humid climate like I was, you will want to bring along eye drops and nasal spray as well. It is very, very dry in Napa Valley, and while I am not complaining because that dry heat was a nice reprieve from our balmy Miami summer, the dryness got to be a little uncomfortable.
The Food is AMAZING
I had no idea what a foodie mecca the Napa Valley region was until I arrived and we began visiting the local eateries. There are so many famous chefs in the area, even Iron Chefs! My personal favorites were Bottega in Yountville, which is run by Chef Michael Chiarello and Cole's Chop House in Napa Valley. Neither are cheap, but the food is delicious and totally worth the splurge!
I also recommend grabbing a pastry or cookie - or a delicious slice of pizza - at Model Bakery, mojitos in the Merchanile Social Bar in the Andaz Napa Valley lobby, or even the brunch restaurant in the Andaz Napa Valley lobby. It was the best breakfast sandwich I've ever had!
I recommend downloading the OpenTable app for your smartphone so that you can arrange reservations for the local establishments. It is much easier than calling, waiting on hold, etc. Just don't forget to cancel a reservation if your plans change! OpenTable is available for pretty much every device, from iPhones to iPads to Windows Phones to Kindles!
Download UBER and Save $30 on Your First Ride!
Uber is a must for Napa Valley, as it is so easy to get a ride. You pull up the app on your smartphone (it is available for iOS, Windows Phones) and request a car to pick you up. It's similar to using a taxi cab, except that it's completely cashless - you just register your credit card on file and never have to worry about having cash on you. The tip is also included in the price! You can choose which type of car you want: a black car, SUV, etc, and price depends on where they are picking you up and where they are dropping you off. There are never any surprises when the ride is over. You can even split fares between your friends if they have the Uber app.
If you haven't used Uber before, I would love for you to register using my Uber invitation so that I can receive a credit when you use the service for the first time! You will get $30 off your first ride!! You could end up getting your first ride for free!
Have you ever been to Napa Valley? What was your favorite place?