Honeymoon Discussions


Hi ladies,

FI and I have come close to settling on our budget for our HM.  We were originally planning on going to Europe, but he's starting to change his mind.  I was wondering if anybody has done the wine touring/tasting thing Sonoma/Napa and if so whether you could recommend some places to stay in each that are romantic, close to vineyards/wine tours (so we wouldn't have to drive necessarily) and preferably have spas attached.  Our budget is around $6,000 for 9-11 days (we think about $1250 or so will be used for flights/travel), but bonus points if your recs are less than that :)

Also any must-eat restaurant recs are welcome and vineyard recs are welcome.

Final question: is there enough to do there for 9 days?  I'm not convinced I wouldn't get bored after 3 or 4 days of touring vineyards, but nearly all of our relatives live in the Bay area, so we can't really go down to San Fran without obligatory relative visits, KWIM?  Wine country is already cutting it pretty close, but we think it'd ultimately be far enough away to not offend people when we didn't visit.
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Re: Sonoma/Napa

  • fallbride1109fallbride1109 member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited July 2012
    I just did a vacation to SF and we did a day trip to Sonoma, then drove to Napa, stayed there one night, toured Napa the next day and then drove back to SF.

    Since we only stayed in Napa for one night, we didn't pick some great resort.  BUT, I did research some and I think my favorite one was the Wine Country Inn in St. Helena.  If I ever go back with my husband, that is where I want to stay (although with your budget, you could probably find something even better).  Harvest Inn in St. Helena is another.  I saw quite a few that we could never afford!

    Now that I've done this trip, I want to go back and do a girls' trip with my sister and stay the majority of the time in Sonoma/Napa.  I am looking at maybe us staying at Indian Springs in Calistoga.  It gets great reviews on TA.  Personally, I think 9 days would be too much for me without breaking it up--even when I go back, I would want to do 3-4nights in Napa and then 1-2 nights in SF.  You can only drink so much wine!  But maybe others here will have more suggestions.

    And sheesh, you're on your HM--I would think relatives would understand you not dropping by!
  • We spent 4 of our 14 days on our California road trip last September in San Fran. I found an awful lot of information on www.tripadvisor.com, a site that has recommendations and ratings from guests/customers, and was never disappointed. I think they have a lot of reviews of B&B's, restaurants and spas in the Napa/Sonoma area.

    I would have a hard time doing just one thing for that long, but that's me (a bit of ADHD). While you would have to pass San Fran, I'd highly recommend the Carmel and Monterey area. It is lovely, and Monterey has a fabulous aquarium that we spent hours in. We stayed at the Carmel Mission Ranch, which is owned by Clint Eastwood and is a very idyllic peaceful spot with sheep grazing in a meadow outside our sliding door. Fabulous restaurant there as well.
  • I live in the Bay Area, so I'm not familiar with hotels, but I can tell you that Napa is a blast for day trips. 

    Frog's Leap is an organic winery that's fun because they have growing grounds and you can taste some of the fresh fruit/veggies straight off the vine while drinking wine. 

    There are some champagne and chocolate type places. 

    I love going to Yountville for Bouchon Bakery and other restaurants. It looks like there are some nice hotels there. I also like going to St Helena - the St Helena Olive Oil Co has some of the best olive oils and balsamic vinegars. 

    Love eating at Mustard's!

    Maybe you could rent a house for the trip? You could cook and buy wine and all that jazz if you're into that sort of thing. 

    Or if you had a rental car, you could spend a few nights in Napa and then drive down into Marin County or SF for a few more nights. Casa Madrona in Sausalito is very nice. 
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  • I love the Vintage Inn in Yountville.  Their sister property, Villagio, which is right down the street, is also great, and has a spa on the property.  Both hotels come with a great champagne buffet breakfast included.  The style of Vintage Inn is French country while Villagio is Tuscan.  Both have great pools and the weather is Napa Valley is beautiful in summer.  I second the Bouchon Bakery and Mustard's recommendations -- Mustard's is a must for lunch but make sure to make a reservation.  Both of these hotels are walking distance from several notable restaurants in Yountville - -Bouchon, Ad Hoc, Redd and Bottega.  There is a lot to do up there (visit wineries, eat at great restaurants, have drinks at Auberge, lie by the pool) but 9 days seems like a bit too long for me.  I prefer Napa Valley to Sonoma but if you go the Sonoma route, make sure to visit Healdsburg -- the H2 Hotel (sister property to Hotel Healdsburg) is pretty cool and there is a restaurant called Scopa which is amazing.  Good luck!

  • jenn&chadjenn&chad member
    edited July 2012
    We went to Sonoma and Napa for our HM for a week and honestly we got there on a Sunday and were ready to leave by Friday. I think 9 days would be too long. And we also went to Bodega Bay and drove the coast a bit, explored the beach (it's cold by the way - but beautiful!), went to San Francisco for a day and night and went to the Redwood Forest. We enjoyed ourselves because I enjoy myself anywhere with my love :) But after 5 wine tastings we were about done! The tastings I liked more were the ones accompanied by other activities. Just sitting at a bar tasting wine starts to feel a bit boring and the people pouring seem a bit pretentious after a while! One of our favs was when we went to the Sterling Vineyard; you take a little Gondola ride first and do a tour and learn about the wine-making process while you taste. Napa/Sonoma is great for foodies. If you're in Sonoma, we really enjoyed the El Dorado restaurant and the Girl and the Fig was good too. There is a farmers market in the square there once a week, we bought some cherries and cheese and crackers and made a picnic when we went to the beach. Driving along the coast is so pretty, there are the cliffs and beach on the left side of the road and the mountains on your right - very striking.

    You pretty much have to rent a car to get to the vineyards, which is kind of a bummer. We liked the vibe of Sonoma better than Napa, it's more laid back. We did a tasting at Sojourn Cellars (you need an appointment) that was really interesting, we learned a lot about the grapes and the process and the wine was wonderful. Napa is more uppity, but with that said the center of Napa is really nice. Lots of cute shops and restaurants. If you stay in Napa go to Morimoto for sushi, it's amazing and their drinks are delicious! We drove through Yountville and St Helena on the way to Sterling and they were both really quaint and pretty. But the traffic on the main drag there... I think it's 29, is terrible at any given time. Sorry, this post is so all over the place, I'm trying to remember everything we did! Hope this is helpful!
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  • I agree with the other posters. Nine days in Napa/Sonoma would also be a bit too much for me but you can instead explore other areas in Northern California. I like the idea of Carmel and Monterery. I have an entry in my travel blog here on a trip I took a few years ago to Napa/Sonoma.
  • hoffsehoffse member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 100 Love Its First Answer
    Thanks ladies, all this info is great!  We honestly aren't certain whether our relatives would care if we saw them or not... you'd think not, but people can get offended over strange things, and this is the ONE trip that we know we're going to be asked about a lot.

    I'll see how FI feels about a couple days in Monterey/Carmel, a few days in the san fran area and the remainder in sonoma/napa.  Will definitely check out yountville and helena - it would be nice to rent a place there since I'd bet they're a little less expensive being outside of napa proper.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_honeymoon_sonomanapa?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:11Discussion:a9aefe4a-53cf-4762-b388-4376f9a63c56Post:64910588-f1c1-45df-a279-95a41ab460ac">Re: Sonoma/Napa</a>:
    [QUOTE]Thanks ladies, all this info is great!  We honestly aren't certain whether our relatives would care if we saw them or not... you'd think not, but people can get offended over strange things, and this is the ONE trip that we know we're going to be asked about a lot<strong>. I'll see how FI feels about a couple days in Monterey/Carmel,</strong> a few days in the san fran area and the remainder in sonoma/napa.  Will definitely check out yountville and helena - it would be nice to rent a place there since I'd bet they're a little less expensive being outside of napa proper.
    Posted by hoffse[/QUOTE]

    Do it! We just got back from a week in California--4 days in San Fran with a day trip to Napa and three days in Carmel. Our stay in Carmel was our favorite part of the whole trip. We stayed at the LampLighter Inn which was absolutely adorable and so nice. We drove to Monterey one afternoon and spent another day in Big Sur (about 40 min from carmel) which was seriously the most beautiful place I've ever been. Carmel was so relaxing and beautiful. I would highly recommend splitting your trip and allowing some time down in that area.

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  • We did our honeymoon in Napa.

    We stayed at the Old World Inn in downtown Napa and loved it! It's a B+B. Napa is the largest "city" and not the prettiest in Napa County (Yountville, Calistoga, and St. Helena are more quiet and small with a tiny village feel), but Napa is walkable and there are tons of tasting rooms and restaurants you can easily get to without driving.

    I do think 9 days might be too long, especially with your budget. We did 1 fancy dinner (at Cyrus in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, because we couldn't get into French Laundry, surprise, surprise) and we got a private limo tour for one day, so those were large expenses. For 5 days we spent about $4500-$5000. We also didn't fly, we drove to Napa (we live in LA), so no airfare in that estimate.

    You can easily join group tours or drive yourselves, but in the latter case, you can probably only do 1-2 wineries a day.

    One day we decided to go wine-free and do a mini road trip to a bunch of beer breweries/tasting rooms. We went to Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, and then Bear Republic and Russian River in Sonoma County. Languinitas is also in Sonoma County (Petaluma, on the Marin County border). If you like beer, Russian River is AMAZING. And their food looked awesome. So a day or two in Santa Rosa could be fun and affordable.

    I also absolutely loved Mustard's Grill in Yountville. And SolBar at the Solage hotel and resort in Calistoga is sooo good. It has 1 Michelin star. We went for lunch and it was super affordable for the quality of the food we had. I mean, it wasn't fast food prices, but for what it was, we were very satisfied. We did not go to Morimoto, but heard from others how great it was.

    The wineries we toured and really enjoyed were Fleury (pricey and by appointment, I think, but really good), Castello di Amorosa, and Bouchaine.

    I would NOT recommend driving into Napa on a weekend. We got there on a weekday, but left on a Saturday and the line of cars coming to Napa from SF was INSANE.
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  • msmerymac, we stayed at the Old World Inn too! It was great, so charming! Loved the wine tastings in the evenings and breakfast was delicious.

    I forgot a recommendation in Sonoma... for a massage we went to Body Kharma and it was fantastic! And they give you bath salts when you leave, they even mixed me some lotion, which I was happy to pay for, but they said no. And the massages were amazing!

    We stayed at the Fairmont in Sonoma and that I do not recommend. It seems like a fancy place, but we were disappointed that they charge you for every little thing. Even swimming in the pool was a fee!
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  • We loved SolBar at the Solage as well! Our semi-private wine tour guide took us there and the food was great and the atmosphere super relaxing.

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  • We stayed at Hotel Yountville and I can not recommend it enough! There is a spa there too.

    The town itself looked like something out of a movie, and we were able to walk to lots of restaurants. Including the French Laundry, Redd, Bouchon, etc. Lots of the places have happy hours or you can sit in the bar and eat for less than you would expect.

    9 days would be too many. I think we spent 4 and that was plenty.
    Ditto the suggestions to go into San Francisco part of the time.
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