Road Journals Blog—Main Street in St. Helena, Calif., packs in all of the required pleasures—winetasting, boutique lodging, delicious dining—as well as a few unexpected perks, such as affordable décor and brown sugar banana ice cream.
I recently enjoyed a media visit courtesy of the Wydown Hotel , 1424 Main St., a 12-room, locally owned inn with free parking and a side entrance to the Materra Tasting Room. An easy stroll propelled me to shops selling stylish gifts, inspiring art, and tempting culinary delights. Woodhouse Chocolate , 1367 Main St., combined all three of those themes into high-end chocolates sculpted as elephants, alligators, and tigers.
I didn’t expect to bring home a bargain, but the beautiful mirror that I found at La Boheme ,1428 Main St., also came with a beautiful price in support of a good cause—the resale boutique benefits Napa Valley Hospice and Adult Day Services.
Where was my fateful encounter with brown sugar banana ice cream? First, I had an arduous mission: Being treated to a prickly pear margarita while sampling lively salsas and other inventive Mexican food at La Condesa , 1320 Main St. The restaurant’s tantalizing salad of watermelon, tomatillos, jalapeno, mint, and grilled peach-guajillo puree complemented a satisfying chile relleno bursting with manchego and Oaxaca cheese and accented with garlic-tomato broth. The house-made ice creams demanded post-meal attention in bold flavors, including green tea–orange, honey rosemary, and the luscious brown sugar banana.
The next day called for a short jaunt beyond the compact delights of Main Street. Just a five-mile drive to the north, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park’s  Ritchey Creek skips alongside redwoods and Douglas firs. A peaceful hike proved a soulful topper for a sweet overnight getaway. It even beat the brown sugar banana ice cream.
Photography by Kristen Loken (chile relleno); Frankie Frankeny (Wydown Hotel room)
This blog was first published in October 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.