Pampering, drinking, and togetherness: these are the essential qualities of any successful girls’ weekend away. And in Napa Valley, you’re in for all that—plus, Michelin-starred eats, boutique shopping, hot air balloon rides, and cozy wine country digs. Here, our essential girls' weekend getaway guide to Napa Valley.
Auberge Du Soleil
No sooner will you arrive at this luxe Napa Valley stay than a crew of white cap-clad hotel attendants will whisk away your luggage and hand you a glass of California red. (Now that's a welcome!) From there, unpack in your room—a Provençal-inspired “maison” with wine and cheese-stocked fridges, wood-burning fireplaces, deep-soaking tubs, and French doors that open onto huge terraces. Then, join the girls for an energy-balancing massage or facial at the ultra-indulgent spa, or opt for a soak in the spectacular pool which overlooks the vineyard and olive groves. For dinner, you’re in for a seasonal feast at Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil where Executive Chef Robert Curry prepares dishes using the freshest local produce.
The French Laundry
For a fancy (read: splurge-worthy) night out, take the ladies to Thomas Keller’s legendary flagship restaurant, The French Laundry. With an astounding three Michelin stars (one of only 10 such rated restaurants in the United States), the Napa Valley institution is renowned for its unique nine-course tasting menus, which are created from scratch daily and never feature the same ingredient twice. Sample dishes might include beef tartare topped with Tokyo turnips, hen-of-the-woods mushroom, pickled garlic, frisée and a red wine reduction, or wild king salmon with radishes, English peas, hen egg mousse, and bronze fennel.
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At this historic mission-style hacienda, the vibe is approachable, folksy, and pretension-free. Hip 20-somethings sip pinot noir and chardonnay on picnic blankets and sun-drenched courtyards while the owners’ dogs wander from table to table and indie music plays softly in the background. If you opt for the 90-minute tasting, you’ll learn all about the unique concept over current-release wines and charcuterie boards.
Big city gals will want to bed down at the 114-room Andaz Napa, an urbanite’s answer to wine country with its central location and big-brand amenities (think: iPad check-in, free WiFi, lobby cocktail bar). Rooms are contemporary and spacious, and feature marble bathrooms stocked with Lydia Mondavi’s vino-inspired cosmetics line, and mini-fridges replete with bottles from Alameda’s St. George Spirits and Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Cheers to your girls' weekend on the second-floor terrace where you drink craft cocktails around fire pits, or commemorate the occasion with a hearty supper at Mercantile Social.
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch is your quintessential California eatery. It has a restaurant and winery, features casual, rustic-chic interiors (think: high barn ceilings, fireplaces, and an open kitchen), and prides itself on serving farm-to-table fare—all grown or raised at Long Meadow Ranch’s three Napa Valley properties. Go for dinner and start with lacinto kale and toasted parmesan salad, but save room for the pillowy potato gnocchi for your main. If one of your gal pals has a sweet tooth, the Scharffenberger Chocolate cream pie is sure to satisfy.
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Napa Valley Aloft
Contrary to popular opinion, the best way to explore Napa Valley isn’t by foot or by bike, but by hot air balloon. For a totally awe-inspiring ride over Napa’s rolling hills and vineyards, you'll want to turn to the professionals at Napa Valley Aloft who have been in the biz for more than 30 years. The caveat: you’ll need to rise early as the best flight conditions (and photo ops!) are just after sunrise.
The Fremont Diner Sonoma
Just southwest of Napa Valley, this roadside Sonoma diner looks like it’s straight out of the 1950s—all vintage pie cabinets, wooden Coca-Cola boxes, milk bottles, rusted memorabilia (including a rusty truck parked outside), and patio with picnic tables and umbrellas. Even the Southern-inflected menu feels like a throwback thanks to homey favorites like chicken and waffles, cheeseburgers, and shakes. Take the girls for a casual lunch and be sure to wear the stretchiest pair of pants you packed.
Napa Valley Vintage Home
No girls’ trip is complete without a little retail therapy, and at Napa Valley Vintage Home, you can browse an eclectic mix of homewares like imported linens, artisanal mouth-blown glassware, and Italian napkin rings. Owner Laura Rombauer is also a true interior design whiz should you have any questions about how to incorporate the pieces into your home.
Mt. Saint Helena
After eating and sipping your way through Napa Valley, you’ll probably be feeling a little sluggish. To banish the bloat, rally the troops and hike up Mt. Saint Helena. At 10.2-miles round trip (with a 2,000-foot elevation gain) it's no walk in the park, but it's certainly doable. If the workout isn't rewarding in and of itself, know that once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with views of Mt. Tamalpais, Mt. Diablo, and in the distance, the white peaks of the Sierra Crest.