YOLO Journal & DELSEY PARIS: Napa Valley Secrets
DELSEY PARIS has partnered with the premium travel magazine YOLO JOURNAL to bring you monthly travel inspirations to the most beautiful places in the world. Yolanda Edwards, founder of Yolo Journal, will share with you her favorite places and secret addresses.
Napa Valley has been famous for its wine since the 1970s, and attracts so many visitors from all over the States who come for its warm days, cool nights, beautiful tasting rooms, and incredible landscape. I’ve been lucky to go there many times over the last several years, and have pulled together a great list that I’m happy to share with you. But first, let me explain the geography: Napa Valley runs “south to north” in northern California, and, coming from San Francisco, it is an hour and a half northeast. Once you decide where you are staying, plan your itinerary carefully because you want to spend time enjoying and not in a car, driving back and forth from “Up Valley” (Calistoga, Saint Helena), to Napa, Carneros, or Sonoma.
Where to Stay:
I quite like Calistoga, an old spa town that is at the most northern part of the Valley. There’s a real Main Street, with
plenty of options for dining, and for hiking as well. The Francis House is a beautiful small inn run by a creative couple who took over the historical landmark property–they make the best breakfasts! Indian Springs Resort, built in 1861, is a classic but recently renovated and has the longest continuously running geothermal pools. Solage offers luxury bungalows, a fantastic spa, and one of the best Mexican restaurants in the state. A relative newcomer is the Four Seasons, which has a holistic spa, and another spa oriented option is Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort and Mineral Springs, which specializes in mineral pools and volcanic ash mud baths.
Within the heart of the Valley, there are many options, and honestly, because the area is so popular, it’s better to have an extensive list, since everything gets booked up, and can be quite expensive. In Saint Helena, Wydown is a kinder price point than many of the other properties in the area, Alila is a lovely luxury resort, the Ink House is a historical property that has been thoughtfully restored, and Meadowood is a classic, with one of the best spas in the region.
On the southern end of the Valley, my favorite place is the new Stanly Ranch, which has an excellent restaurant, bar, and very cool gift shop. The town of Sonoma isn’t technically in the Napa Valley, but is just about 15 minutes from it, and is a great base
if you want to explore Napa and the Sonoma County towns like Healdsburg, Petaluma, or head to the coast–and MacArthur Place is the place to stay.
Obviously you’re here to enjoy the wine–and there is plenty to enjoy. Napa has definitely perfected the art of hospitality
in the tasting room experience, so get ready to be very impressed. Some of my favorites are Hudson Ranch in Carneros (they grow grapes for the best vintners in the valley, but also has their own small production), Robert Sinskey in Napa (incredible food pairings), Favia (by appointment only so it’s a very intimate setting), Promontory (an over-the-top tasting that begins with a glass of vintage Champagne and a view over the Valley), Quintessa (a bio-dynamic estate that produces thoughtful, elegant wines), and Faust (in Saint Helena–considered the “coolest” spot in the area.
The French Laundry is probably the most famous restaurant in the country, and is on most people’s bucket lists. Which means, it’s incredibly hard to get into. I’ve been several times over the years, and it is incredibly special, but if you can’t get in, you can still walk by it, and see their beautiful garden which is across the street. There’s also Bouchon down the street, an excellent bistro from the same owners. Some of my favorites in St Helena: The Charter Oak for great cocktails and steaks, and Station (in a real gas station) is where I love to grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and Gott’s Roadside for an old-school burger. In the town of Napa I quite like Angèle, a lovely French inspired place for dinner, and a classic for breakfast, the Model Bakery–which has an English muffin that everyone goes crazy for. Also in Napa is an incredible market, the Oxbow, which has some great options for breakfast and lunch–like the Loveski deli, Hog Island Oysters, and C Casa for excellent Mexican. But one of my absolute favorite places to eat in the entire area is Valley in the town of Sonoma–excellent local ingredients, prepared thoughtfully.
It’s likely you’ll only spend a couple of nights in Napa, and most of your hours will be filled with eating, drinking, spa-ing, and sleeping. But if you do find yourself wanting to get a great hike
in, my two favorite hikes are Skyline Park in the town of Napa, and Oak Mine Trail in Calistoga. My favorite place to pick up souvenirs, for myself or as gifts, is at Carter and Co in St Helena, where they have a well curated selection of locally made products, lovely California cookbooks, kitchen objects, and some clothing from my favorite line Dosa. At Hudson Greens and Goods in Oxbow Market they have the best selection of food gifts to bring back–lots of nuts, chocolates, and treats you’ve never seen–most from Northern California.
Yolanda Edwards is the founder of Yolo Journal, a weekly newsletter and seasonal print magazine devoted to the love of travel. Yolo gathers insider addresses and favorite destinations from its trust network of travelers in creative fields and shares them with a growing community of discerning global explorers.