One of the perks of living in California is the incredible offering of weekend trips available in every direction. Just point and drive (or fly), and you’re sure to end up someplace amazing – from Palm Springs to the east, Laguna and San Diego to the south, and Big Sur, Napa and San Francisco to the north.
Napa is an incredibly beautiful place and the whole world knows it. That’s why a great time there requires a little planning: the whole world comes here to enjoy the wines and the rolling hills full of grapes. Here’s our short list of ways to enjoy a weekend in Napa with all those Chalkboardy values in mind: wellness, clean eats and great design…
Where to Stay
Auberge de Soleil is undoubtedly on our travel short list. The property continues to reign at the top of some of our favorite travel lists and it has quite a bit to do with this stunning view. From this vantage point, the Auberge glows with the kind of well-appointed details we crave on vacation. You could almost map out your winery visits from the view at dinner. The spa is world-class, the property as green and lush as you hope Napa to be, and the suites are hard to leave for those wine and cheese day trips.
Meadowood | Driving through the woods and emerging out onto the, yes, meadow surrounding Meadowood there’s an undeniable sense that one is arriving onto the set of Dirty Dancing. We fully expected to spy Baby delivering a watermelon at some point on our hikes to and from the property’s spa main lodge and can’t say it didn’t give us a thrill.
Cabins at Meadowood are rustic, charming and equipped with wood-burning fireplaces. Inside the more modern, high-design spa, every treatment room is a suite. Book a body wrap and massage to follow all those wine tastings, or if you’re lucky enough to book it, linger in their treehouse suite for two. Meadowood is one of few properties in the world with individual 5-star ratings for their resort, spa and restaurant.
What To Do
Clean wineries. Smart wines. | We come to Napa to ride bikes, see the rolling hills and get partially off the grid…but mostly to drink wine. When it comes to recommended wineries, Rombauer and Cade are favorites for their beautiful views and experiences, but in this case, that’s not what makes a top pick.
So many of us skip wine in our pursuit of a healthy life. Perhaps it’s because we assume it doesn’t matter — most of us aren’t expecting health benefits from our cocktails. The truth is that finding ‘natural’ wines is quite important. If not for yourself alone, then to support responsible agriculture just as you do with natural veggies or grass-fed meats. A sad truth that’s almost too much of a downer to include in our travel guide is that certain cancer statistics in Sonoma County and Napa County have caught the attention of wellness watchdogs who connect the healthcare trends with agricultural water issues.
Whether you’re ready to make the move to natural-only wines or not, there are some top-tier wineries who are either natural or on their way and deserve a visit. Our favorite naturals in Napa include Grgich Hills, Joseph Phelps, and Frog’s Leap. Back at home, Winc is a go-to — we didn’t know they had natural offerings at the start and were pleasantly surprised to find that not only do they offer natural wines, but their founder is nerd-level knowledgable about it.
Need more to do? Most of us focus on wine and food while in Napa – and rightly so. Where you stay in Napa is crucial to enjoying a quiet stay away from the crowds. Between all those cheese plates, be sure to explore the surrounding area’s plethora of cozy towns. Bikes can be rented almost everywhere and, to be honest, the winding drives are even better. See our note on spas above.
Where To Eat
The Restaurant At Meadowood | A special occasion dinner in Napa is almost always required. A three Michelin-starred modern American wonder, the Restaurant at Meadowood is the only restaurant in Napa so highly awarded but for the famous French Laundry. Chef Kostow’s tasting menu is presented in the inventive style we’ve all come to expect from young top chefs, but the delicious way he celebrates Napa’s local produce is not as common as you’d think in the valley. In many top spots, traditional French food still reigns. Whether you’re traveling to Napa with a lover, friends or family, you know how crucial it can be that your clean eating plans can also please a crowd. The menu here is something that foodies and wellness lovers alike can (deeply) appreciate.
The service at Meadowood is James Beard award-winning, the wine list is (of course) a treat, and we’re sure the grey-blue Howard Backen-designed dining room has inspired interior redesigns everywhere.
Archetype | A more casual spot that still provides a design thrill is Archetype in St. Helena. There’s a touch of ‘Nancy Meyer’s movie’ feeling to the dining room and the menu is based on hyper local and foraged ingredients. Try the cauliflower steak for yourself and rest assured there are plenty of more traditional options for whomever you may be dining with.
have a picnic | Just want to be outdoors enjoying the scenery? Pack a picnic. Many wineries allow you to bring a picnic to enjoy on their grounds and there are so many scenic spots to hole up in on Napa’s wineries that it seems they were designed with a picnic lunch in mind. Dean & Deluca is hard to miss in St. Helena and stocks everything you can imagine for the perfect basket lunch.
What about wellness? | A successful trip to Napa requires a little indulgence. How to stay well in between those charcuterie plates and big Napa cabs? Try our guide to feeling good while traveling here — we designed it with a trip to Napa in mind!