Last updated on March 23rd, 2016 at 10:10 pm
Here is everything you need to do if you’re headed out for a girls’ weekend in Napa Valley!
Our incredible trip was in partnership with Visit Napa Valley
and their wonderful restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
There are four key things that all girls’ weekends need: abundant food, good wine, a bit of pampering, and fun things to do.
Oh, and of course, your favorite girlfriends! Recently I went to Napa Valley with four of my blogging besties (April, Britni, Heidi, and Rebecca) and we basically did everything I could imagine doing in Napa, including several things that were on my personal Napa bucket list! Get ready — this is going to be an epic post!
The food in Napa can’t be beat. The more than 100 restaurants in the area have received more Michelin stars than any other wine region in the world. There is a LOT of good food to choose from. And my goodness, did we eat well! Here are my highlights.
Several friends recommended Farmstead to me, so it’s been on my restaurant radar for a while. We had dinner there on our first night in Napa, and it was a great way to start off our gastronomical adventures in the valley. We were greeted by our waiter Nick, and Sous Chef Michael Markoff. They talked with us about their farm-to-table philosophy, which is pretty incredible—most of their food comes directly from their own local farms.
Everything at Farmstead was on point — from the off-menu tomato soup and deviled eggs, to the rich sweet potato risotto I ordered, to the perfectly-cooked lamb that Rebecca shared with the table. I don’t think there was anything left on our plates, except for a few delicious beignets that we took home and ate for pre-breakfast the following morning.
The next day, we headed to the Grill at Meadowood, in picturesque St. Helena, for lunch. I truly wish it hadn’t been raining that day—the view of the hills was so beautiful and it would have been so nice to dine outside.
We’d heard good things about their lunch menu and, in particular, their cold-pressed juices. They even had an “elixir” which helped knock out April’s headache in a matter of minutes. Magic in a glass!
We ordered an array of things to eat — standouts for me were the elegant scallops and the mushroom flatbread, although everything we ordered was well-prepared and delicious. The service was absolutely impeccable, with our server going out of her way to make sure that everyone’s varied dietary needs were met.
I’ll talk more about the Napa Valley Wine Train later when I talk about the activities we did, but I did want to touch on our amazing meal we ate while on the rails.
I started with the lobster bisque, which was a little difficult to eat on a moving train, but was rich and flavorful nonetheless. I also ordered the beef tenderloin, which came with a side of root vegetables and bok choy. I’ll talk about this more a little later, but I was coming down with a bug, so even though it was perfectly cooked and absolutely divine, I wasn’t able to eat all that much. Such a bummer!
The evening after the Wine Train, we planned to have dinner at Gott’s Roadside Grill in Oxbow Market in Napa. I was so sick at this point, I opted to stay at our hotel and sleep. I can’t speak to the experience of dining at the restaurant itself (though my friends all enjoyed it), but their server, Zach, sent home a fresh burger and fries for me.
And considering I’d barely eaten anything that day, I wolfed it down, declaring it the best burger I’d ever had. I appreciated their thoughtfulness sending food for me!
The next morning, I was feeling a little better, so I decided to head to brunch with my friends at Auberge du Soleil. What a stunning restaurant! It’s perched up on a hillside, so you overlook Napa Valley. And the weather had cleared up (and warmed up!) so we were able to dine on the patio. It was one of the loveliest settings I’ve ever eaten in.
The food was incredible as well — a fixed price brunch menu with three courses and a breakfast cocktail. We all tried bits of each others meals — the bubbly mushroom gnocchi, flavorful duck confit, zesty lemon tart, and refreshing Kir Royal were my favorites, though everything was quite good. Our server, Salvador, was wonderful and paid close attention to the allergies and aversions in the group (we weren’t the easiest group to feed!).
Our final meal came at the quirky new restaurant Heritage Eats. We were greeted by owners Ben and Jason, who told us all about how Heritage Eats was started last year. We loved hearing how their history of international travel led to the creation of their wonderfully varied menu. I had the Thai Bao (on a homemade bao bun!) and it was so good. The Banh Me on Dutch Crunch was another favorite, and everyone liked their selection of housemade drinks.
They are planning to expand into other California markets soon, and I can’t wait for the day when they come to Sacramento! Heritage Eats is definitely a restaurant Ryan and I would love to visit on a regular basis.
Wine & Drinks
Was that enough food for you? It was for us, though just writing all of that has made me long to be eating at all of those delicious restaurants again!
Like I mentioned above, I wasn’t feeling well for part of the trip, which meant that I had far less wine in Napa than I expected. I had hoped to write a post dedicated to the wines that I drank, but I had more cold medicine than I did wine. But I did have a couple glasses that were excellent, so I thought I’d share them here.
2013 Pinot Noir Farmstead — I had a glass of this classic pinot noir with our dinner at Farmstead. I loved it. It was probably a combination of it being a good all-around wine plus the fact that I was kid-free for the first time in months and having adult conversation and eating incredible food. I liked it so much, I bought a bottle. I’ll try and remember to come back here and update when I drink it.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Jamieson Ranch — This robust cab was my choice on the Wine Train and perfectly paired with the beef tenderloin. I like my wines big, so I was a fan of this one. Wish I’d felt better so I could have enjoyed a second glass!
I had a glass of Tempranillo at Heritage Eats, but I didn’t catch the winemaker. It was bold and spicy and went well with my Bao.
I also had a simple but delicious peach bellini at Auberge, as well as a sip of April’s Kir Royal, which I will order off any menu I ever see it on in the future (so bright and yummy!).
See? Not nearly enough wine for being in Napa. Guess I’ll have to go back!
No girls’ weekend is complete without some pampering, and boy did the two hotels we stayed at deliver!
Our first two nights were spent at the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, a perfect little getaway for us girls.
The rooms were well-appointed and they left a thoughtful gift bag for each of us — a robe, rice pack, and eye mask. So nice! Since we hadn’t seen each other in so long, we spent a lot of time hanging out, eating and talking about our blogs.
The hotel is known for their mineral pools, which are naturally heated by the hot springs. Even with the rain, we spent a lot of time in the pools, relaxing our cares away in the hot water.
We also indulged in some pampering of our bodies at the resort. We all got incredible massages, and April and Britni braved the mud baths! Head over to their blogs to read more about their experience.
Our second two nights were spent at the luxurious Silverado Resort in one of their suites. My first experience with Silverado was arriving, dead tired and sick, and the concierge getting us into our suite, right away. I could have hugged him. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so thankful to crawl into a hotel bed in my life. And what a bed it was! It was one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. I slept like the dead. And as a mom of twin babies, trust me — sleeping in a giant comfy bed by yourself is pretty much the ultimate in pampering.
When I woke up, I realized the resort had left us sparkling wine, fruit, and chocolate. Woo! Watching Grease, Live! was a fun way to spend our final evening — all of us relaxing in the living room in front of the fire. We all have such busy lives back home, that sitting on the couch, just hanging out, was one of our favorite moments of the whole trip.
The beautiful suite was perfect for the five of us and we had a gorgeous golf course view. Drinking coffee on our last morning and watching the sunrise over the hills — I could have done that every single day.
Our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a few activities!
Hot Air Ballooning
Wine Train & Castle Tour
I’ve wanted to do the wine train and tour Castello de Amarosa, well, forever. It’s been on my personal bucket list and I was so excited to be able to finally do it on this trip. Of course, this is when my body decided to give out and succumb to the bug I was fighting. I was so disappointed!
After a tour of the train from our host, Kim, we were seated for our ride to the castle. This is when I really started feeling sick. Rebecca and I chatted with our tablemates (Justin and Beverly were so sweet!) and I tried to eat but I knew that I just needed to rest. When we reached the end of the line, we had a tour of the incredible Castello de Amarosa winery scheduled. Britni, Heidi, and Rebecca decided to go, and April said she’d accompany me back. You can check out the other girls’ blogs for their experience touring the winery.
The Wine Train staff was absolutely incredible. Even though we hadn’t booked a train ride back, they let us ride in one of the empty cars and brought us water and ginger ale and kept checking on us to make sure I was okay. I was so thankful for their hospitality when I was so miserable — they went above and beyond and I’ll always appreciate that.
Since we don’t live all that far from Napa, Heidi and I decided to go back someday and do it again so I could get the full experience.
Oh! And I loved seeing the lock that belongs to Amy and Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. It was on the bridge to the train. What a fun little treat.
What girls’ weekend is complete without shopping? We didn’t have a ton of free time in between everything, but we did manage to hit a few shops.
The general store at Long Meadow Ranch, where I bought some absolutely divine Meyer lemon jam and rye crisps, as well as the LMR pinot noir I mentioned above.
And basically all of Oxbow Market is amazing.
And of course, we got ice cream. Three Twins is my new favorite!
What an incredible trip it was! Thank you so much to all of the amazing places and people that hosted our group—we couldn’t have done such an amazing trip without you.
Have any questions about Napa and the things to do there? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them!