There’s nothing like a trip to California wine country. Napa Valley is filled with Michelin-starred restaurants, charming towns, picturesque rolling hills and, of course, plenty of wine. While you can’t go wrong with the iconic mainstays (including spots like Meadowood and the French Laundry) there are also always new openings in the region, which offer another reason to book a second (and third, and fourth…) getaway to wine country.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a wine connoisseur or know next to nothing about vino—the gorgeous hotels, relaxing spas and mouthwatering eateries offer something for everyone. That said, it wouldn’t be a trip to Napa without checking out a few tasting rooms. For those that are looking for something non-vino related, simply stroll around one of the idyllic towns and peruse the boutiques, antique shops and cafes; St. Helena is petite yet lively, while the town of Napa is the largest of all. Yountville is ideal for the gourmand; it’s home to more Michelin-rated restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States, and Calistoga is known for its mud baths and spas.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a Napa expert, here’s how to experience the best of wine country.
Where to Stay
1915 Main Street, St Helena, California, United States, 94574
For a flawless stay sans children in St. Helena, try Alila Napa Valley, which opened its doors as a part of Hyatt’s most luxurious hotel collection in 2021. This is an adults-only property (you have to be 18 years or older to stay here), which is ideal for those traveling without kids who prefer a quieter, less rowdy atmosphere—you won’t have to worry about any children running around at the pool or spa. The 64 rooms and suites are contemporary and crisp yet inviting, with wide-plank wood floors, low-slung beds and a neutral color palette, in addition to sliding glass doors. Most of the accommodations feature a private patio or terrace, complete with a personal fire pit. If possible, try for one of the rooms with a view of the neighboring Beringer Vineyards, so you can see the vines right outside your door. The main restaurant, Acacia House, is located in a restored Georgian farmhouse (it was once a private residence); the seasonal menu focuses on American cuisine, and while you should definitely make time for a meal here, you can also venture into St. Helena (it’s less than a 15-minute walk from the hotel) if you want to try other eateries.
100 Montage Way, Healdsburg, CA 95448
There have been a few new hotel openings in Napa and Sonoma over the past few years, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one as exciting as the Montage Healdsburg. While this hotel is technically in Sonoma (more specifically, in Healdsburg), it’s worth a spot on the must-visit wine country list. The 130-key property (finally!) opened its doors in early 2021, and it was well-worth the wait. This spot is sure to appeal to those who want more of a resort experience in wine country; it sits on over 258 pristine acres—you’ll feel like you stepped right into a Nancy Meyers set.
The freestanding rooms and suites are designed like private cottages, with a sleek, modern aesthetic, including wood floors and stone, wood and copper accents, in addition to floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with private fireplaces. There are two separate pools, and because this is a Montage, you can’t forget about the spa, which is a major highlight—it’s 11,500 square feet, and the treatments range from indulgent Valmont facials and ginger-infused body wraps to lymphatic drainage and classic massages.The primary restaurant is the farm-to-table Hazel Hill, while the lobby bar, Scout Field Bar, is perfect for a crisp glass of wine and a snack—ideally while sitting outside and taking in the rolling vineyard views. There’s also the casual Hudson Springs Bar, for a poolside bite.
4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, CA 94559
This eco-friendly, farmhouse-inspired hotel offers 100 freestanding cottages and residences, for a secluded, private getaway. Every single room at this property, which is a part of Beyond Green, has a personal porch or backyard with a sundeck, complete with chairs and a fire pit, while many have soaking tubs and outdoor showers. Definitely make time for a farm-to-table meal at the aptly-named Farm (ingredients are sourced straight from the hotel garden) or the Hilltop Dining Room.
Where to Eat
180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA 94573
Even if you’re not staying at Auberge du Soleil, you should absolutely make the effort to book a table at the chic hotel’s renowned restaurant during your stay in Napa. The Michelin-starred eatery has been around in one form or another since the 1980s, and was one of the first major dining destinations in the region. It remains a must-visit spot today, with a Mediterranean-influenced menu focused on local ingredients. Definitely try for a table out on the terrace, so you can really take in those sweeping Napa Valley views, but the interior dining room is perfectly nice, too. If you really want to splurge, go for the six-course tasting menu, complete with wine pairings from the 15,000-bottle cellar.
131 North St, Healdsburg, CA 95448
The acclaimed SingleThread has garnered an impressive three-Michelin-starred rating, a rarity even in Napa’s elevated food scene. Located in downtown Healdsburg, the Japanese-influenced menu is the result of the partnership between co-owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton. Much of the produce is sourced from the adjacent 24-acre farm, and the service and presentation is nothing short of exquisite.
Where to Drink
1151 Rutherford Rd, Napa, CA 94558
The family-run wine brand Mathew Bruno opened up their first-ever tasting room in June 2023, and it should be at the top of your winery list. It occupies a carefully renovated historic 19th-century Victorian home, and while the design is thoroughly modern, it still has the warm, inviting feel of a personal home, without any of the unnecessary stiffness of a luxurious wine tasting. There are both public and private tasting rooms, in addition to plush chairs dotted around the wraparound porch, where you can take in the bocce court and dreamy lavender garden. You won’t be able to resist buying a few bottles to bring home with you—especially the cabernet sauvignon.
1429 Tubbs Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515
For a truly regal, almost otherworldly wine tasting experience, look no further than the iconic Chateau Montelena. The winery, which dates back to 1882 and famously won the ‘Judgment of Paris’ in 1976 (their California chardonnay beat out the French burgundy chardonnays at a time when American wines weren’t considered to be even close to the level of French vinos) sits on on over 250 acres, and the setting is picturesque. There’s an elegant stone main building, in addition to a tranquil pond and storybook-worthy bridges and seating areas throughout. The tasting experiences here are definitely pricey, but it’s worth it to go all out on a fully customized option. Ask about booking a tasting up in the vineyard, overlooking the entire estate while perched under a pergola—you won’t regret it.