Heading to California's wine country? We'll tell you where to stay, what to do, and where to eat in six lush towns.
It may look newly populated in parts, with recently stuccoed mansions amid the young vines crawling over freshly plowed hillsides, but the Napa Valley was first planted with grapes in the 1860s. Look closely at the vines in spring, and under the profusion of yellow mustard you’ll note gnarled trunks that have been around for decades. Same goes in town, whether you’re in Napa, Calistoga, or St. Helena: You’ll spot sleek spas near aging hardware stores where tourists might be charmed into buying farm implements as decoration. Valley restaurants serve revelatory meals like fig and Gorgonzola dolce pizza, while on side streets dogs still run collar-free among one-story homes with dirt yards. Napa is the best of both rooted-in-the-land and nouveau California, infused with food, wine, and impressively photogenic weather.
Find place to visit in Napa Valley:
Calistoga: Old West meets Old Faithful
Napa: budget restaurants and a bustling new riverside
Oakville: take a deep dive into wine culture
Rutherford: acclaimed wineries and exceptional natural attractions
St. Helena: upscale yet folksy Main Street
Yountville: the Valley's fine-dining capital
This article was first published in April 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
AAA Travel can help you plan your next vacation.