While it’s easy to stick to one location when visiting Napa Valley, it’s definitely worth venturing out to visit nearby towns and beyond. There are too many great places to eat, things to see, and wineries to visit to limit your trip to just one area.
So the next time you’re visiting Napa Valley, there’s no reason you can’t make a day of exploring the region around you, including beautiful Sonoma County. Here’s two easy to explore itineraries from Napa to Sonoma. Time to grab the keys and hit the road for a leisurely road trip around Northern California’s Wine Country.
St. Helena is one of Napa Valley’s most popular towns and you could easily spend all your time there, but we think it’s also worth heading north to the quaint town of Calistoga. And why stop there? With Sonoma’s Santa Rosa just over the rolling hills and less than an hour away, get ready for picturesque scenery and a plethora of delicious stops along the way.
This 12-room boutique hotel in the heart of St. Helena offers modern amenities, spacious rooms, and the convenience of being within walking distance to the town’s restaurants and tasting rooms. Whether you spend a night here or a week, the hotel’s relaxing ambiance and stylish details make it easy to slow down and enjoy the moment.
1424 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-5100
PRESS Restaurant features local and seasonal foods to be paired with the area’s famous red and white wines. Enjoy prime dry-aged beef, locally-raised lamb, and fresh seafood with ingredients plucked straight from the restaurant’s gardens and local farms, served within their stately and chic ambiance. It’s a quintessential Napa Valley dining experience not to be missed.
587 St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-0550
Gott’s is an American classic (and Napa Valley favorite) for its drive-in diner feel. The menu includes everything from classic burgers to more inventive selections, as well as salads, garlic fries, and even fish tacos. Wash it all down with a milkshake or glass of local wine, and expect to leave this roadside eatery feeling happy and satisfied.
944 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-3486
Where to Taste
2800 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-2229
The 30-acre Sinegal Estate is one of Napa’s oldest and most coveted estates – one that once hailed the stop for Pony Express riders. The beautiful Victorian home is surrounded by nine acres of organically farmed vineyards, from which the winery produces wines like cabernet sauvignon, malbec, sauvignon blanc, and petit verdot.
2125 Inglewood Ave, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 244-1187
Founded in 1861, Charles Krug is home to California’s first tasting room. Known for its stunning design, storied heritage, and famed wines, Charles Krug Winery is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the legacy of Napa Valley winemaking. And don’t miss the onsite salumeria and pizza kitchen, Cucina di Rosa, serving up antipasti and Italian-style pizzas.
What to Do
Housed in a wing off the St. Helena Public Library, the Robert Louis Stevenson museum offers visitors a chance to learn about the life and times of this famous writer through a collection of memorabilia, artwork, and unique artifacts.
1490 Library Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-3757
Though this historic inn offers plenty of quaint charm, expect a more lively atmosphere at the inn’s restaurant and pub, where you’ll find live jazz music nightly on the beautiful garden patio under the glow of bistro lights. After dinner, grab a pint at the Napa Valley Brewing Company, which occupies the historic water tower on the patio of the Inn before heading back to the pub for more revelry.
1250 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4101
Where to Taste
Originally founded in 1895, the historic Larkmead estate is one of oldest family-owned establishments in Napa Valley. The bright tasting room feels like the chic, country home of a design-savvy friend and, surrounded by 110 acres of vineyards, makes for a peaceful place to sample the winery’s acclaimed sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon wines.
1250 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4101
Perched up 300 feet and accessible by aerial tram, Sterling Vineyards offers various tasting options and educational tours, whether you’re a party of two, a family, or a large group. While the aerial tram makes for a unique experience, the panoramic views from the hilltop winery will leave a lasting impression along with their diverse wines.
1111 Dunaweal Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515, (800) 726-6136
Hit The Pool at Solage Calistoga
The five-star Solage Calistoga exudes wine country sophistication, and the ambiance at the chic pool is no exception. During the summer, the resort’s Pool Party series is a great way to soak up the sun, with rotating themes, a DJ spinning beats, and food and drink specials.
755 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 266-7531
Natural Hot Springs and Baths at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
You don’t need to book a room to enjoy the calming effects of the outdoor mineral pool at Calistoga Hot Springs – though a stay here is a treat. Spa guests can enjoy the rejuvenating qualities of volcanic ash mud baths to massages and spend some time poolside (and bring a plus one for $25). The thermal water’s healing benefits will have you feeling at ease, whether you spend a whole day here or pop in for a quick dip.
1006 Washington St, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-6269
It’s easy to fall in love with the laid back pace and small-town charm of Calistoga, so if you feel like staying a while longer, we love the Calistoga Ranch, a luxury retreat tucked into a private canyon outside of Calistoga. Located on 157 acres surrounded by nature, it’s the ultimate place to hide away for a little R&R. And, use promo code WCCOM to enjoy WineCountry Perks, like a $200 resort credit for a two-night stay.
Ca’Bianca is an intimate restaurant located in a restored Victorian home, and the cuisine is a blend of different regional foods of Italy. You’ll find house-made pasta, creative antipasti, seafood, and steak, all of which can be enjoyed in the charming, romantic ambiance of this historic gem.
835 2nd Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, (707) 542-5800
Serving up what is arguably the best breakfast in town, Dierk’s is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Be sure to try Grandma Dierk’s Pull-A-Parts, which are fried dough balls dusted with cinnamon and sugar and oh-so-delicious, but you can’t go wrong with classics like buttermilk pancakes, savory benedicts, and hearty biscuits and gravy.
404 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, (707) 573-5955
Here are a couple other delicious Santa Rosa locations to dine and delight. John Ash & Co, located at the Vintners Inn, offers seasonally-driven Wine Country cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients in a romantic atmosphere and with an extensive wine list. Spinster Sisters feels right at home in Santa Rosa’s Arts District. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the menu features everything from house-made bagels with lox and wilted kale salad to Tortilla Española and red curry mussels, celebrating global flavors while highlighting the bounty of Sonoma County.
Owner and winemaker Kathleen Inman has made sustainability a driving force behind her winery, where energy efficient lighting, solar power, and recycled building materials line the winery inside and out. Arrange for a tasting in advance to enjoy the limited production wines, which include pinot gris, chardonnay, and pinot noir.
3900 Piner Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 293-9576
Thirsty for more? The boutique Donelan Family Vineyards specializes in cool-climate syrah, pinot noir, chardonnay, and Rhône wines – many from their estate vineyard. Or head to Deloach for a wide variety of organic and biodynamic estate and limited production wines sourced from throughout the Russian River Valley.
This 400-acre wildlife sanctuary is home to cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys, zebras, and more – nearly 90 different species to be exact – offering an unexpected, one-of-a-kind safari experience right in the heart of Wine Country.
3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, (707) 579-2551
Other fun activities in Santa Rosa include a visit to the community supported Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, where you’ll find world-class performances, family shows, and community events. For a more adventurous experience, visit the wineries of West Sonoma by bike with Getaway Adventures. Cycling and wine? Now that’s a fun way to get out and explore the area.
Want to extend your time in Santa Rosa? Check out the no-frills, yet authentic, The Sandman Hotel, a pet-friendly, throwback motor lodge with a poolside bar and lounge with WineCountry Perks. If you’re in the mood to stay somewhere on the indulgent side, we love the romance and charm of Vintners Inn, with its serene gardens, surrounding vineyards, and luxurious accomodations.
Why stay put in Napa when Sonoma is just 13 miles away, and there are a plethora of great places to experience along the way. No need to stop there either, as you’ll want to keep driving towards Petaluma for even more tasty and worthy sights. We’ve got you covered with all the spots you’ll want to hit during your time spent venturing through both counties.
Ideally situated right in the heart of downtown Napa, this 141 room boutique hotel offers a chic place to call home while in Wine Country, where you’ll enjoy relaxing on the outdoor terrace, savoring tasty bites at the farm-to-table restaurant, and resting your head on a plush bed in your loft-style room.
1450 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 687-1234
Angele has been a staple in the Napa dining scene for many years and for good reason. This riverfront restaurant offers refined French-country fare in a classic, romantic atmosphere. Enjoy dishes like fried deviled eggs, foie gras mousse, and steamed mussels in white wine sauce. Bon appetit!
540 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 252-8115
Cuvaison Estate in Carneros offers a stunning place to sample chardonnay and pinot noir produced from their certified sustainable vineyards. The bright and airy tasting room offers panoramic views of the vines, so you can admire where the grapes come from as you sip.
1221 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 942-2455
A wine bar, restaurant, and retail shop from two wine veterans (one being a Master Sommelier), this new downtown Napa spot offers a wide variety of interesting wines to sip on. And, since most bottles are priced between $10-$40, it’s easy to explore the world of wine regardless of your preferences.
1300 1st Street #312, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 492-8150
Foodies will rejoice upon stepping inside the sprawling Oxbow Public Market, a 40,000 square foot marketplace featuring a wide range of delicious offerings from almost two dozen vendors. From ice cream and pastries to oysters and tacos, a fish market, butcher shop, and even a distillery, there’s truly something for everyone. Just be sure to bring your appetite, because it may be too hard to choose just one.
610 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559
No visit to the area would be complete without a stop at this unassuming diner, where homestyle cooking meets high quality, seasonal ingredients for food that’s just plain delicious. The all-day breakfast includes items like french toast with homemade vanilla syrup and spicy fried chicken with waffles. We suggest finishing off your meal with a slice of pie.
2698 Fremont Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-7370
Located off the historic Sonoma Plaza, the girl & the fig has been dishing up French-inspired Wine Country cuisine since 1997 and has been a popular destination ever since. The menu changes often to reflect what’s in season, and the resulting food is both fresh and delicious.
110 W. Spain Street, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-3634
Other worthy dining options include El Dorado Kitchen inside El Dorado Hotel, where you’ll find an upscale ambiance, pleasant outdoor patio, and enticing California-Mediterranean fare. Down the street, Sunflower Caffé‘s health-minded menu features local and wholesome ingredients, accompanied by local wines and craft cocktails.
Designed after a French Chateau, Domaine Carneros is almost as popular for the photo opps as it is for the sparkling wine. Walk up the grand staircase to the sunny terrace, then enjoy your flight of bubbly while overlooking the surrounding vineyards below.
1240 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 257-0101
The Sonoma/Carneros area is home to plenty more destination-worthy wineries, like the hip, laid-back Scribe Winery, lively Ceja Vineyards, and the bustling Viansa Sonoma, where you can purchase a picnic lunch and linger a while overlooking their stunning hilltop views.
The historic Sonoma Plaza is a charming place for a leisurely afternoon spent shopping, snacking, and sipping. Stop into one of the many art galleries, sample local wine at a tasting room, or grab food at one of the restaurants lining the square. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself strolling around here for hours.
453 1st Street E, Sonoma, CA 95476
If you’re eager for more, check out the historic Mission San Francisco Solano – the last and northernmost of the 21 California Missions. Or if you’re up for a unique all-day tour of Wine Country, step inside the vintage, open-air Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley for a casual day of exploring and wine tasting.
With all there is to do in and around Sonoma, we wouldn’t blame you if you decided to spend a bit more time here. When you’re ready to call it a night, we suggest the over-the-top Sonoma Mission Inn, which boasts breathtaking grounds, luxury accommodations, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. And there’s an additional reason to stay with WineCountry Perks, like 25% off, two tasting passes, complimentary bottle of wine, and 20% off food and beverage.
Housed in a building circa 1918 in the heart of downtown Petaluma, Central Market offers rustic California-Mediterranean food with an emphasis on farm-to-table fare. In addition to their bread, which they bake from scratch daily, everything is made in-house or grown from their own organic farm nearby.
42 Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 778-9900
Located in the Petaluma Gap with Mt. Tam in the distance, Keller Estate specializes in cool climate, estate-grown chardonnay and pinot noir. Tastings range from classic flights enjoyed in the tasting room to private tours of the cave and winery, the latter of which offers an inside look into the production facility and winemaking process and ends with a visit into the vineyard.
5875 Lakeville Hwy, Petaluma, CA 94954, (707) 765-2117
Sonoma County isn’t short on places to taste wine, but when all you want is a cold beer, Lagunitas offers a welcome respite from the grape-based libation. Offering a large selection of beers on tap, tasty munchies, and live music, Lagunitas is a spirited place to kick back and enjoy a pint or three.
1113, 1280 N McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, CA 94954, (707) 778-8776
Looking for more? Don’t miss Adobe Road Winery in downtown Petaluma for small-lot, handcrafted wine.
Surrounded by cacti and cattle, the park’s main attraction is the historic adobe building constructed in the early 19th Century, which gives an interesting look into California’s early days.
3325 Adobe Road, Petaluma, CA 94954, (707) 762-4871
Here are a few more things to do while in Petaluma. Stop by McEvoy Ranch for a taste of their exceptional olive oil or to attend a seasonal workshop. Who says you can’t do a little shopping while in Wine Country? Be sure to leave extra space in your bags for a visit to Petaluma Village Premium Outlets to pick up anything from running shoes to home goods.
For a place to rest your head after an epic day of exploring, the Metro Hotel & Cafe is an eclectic boutique hotel offering French charm with funky, playful details in the heart of Petaluma.
Cover image courtesy of Facebook: Keller Estate