Many of us have visited Napa for a romantic get-away, or, at least, have short-listed it as an enviable retreat. After dreaming about vacationing in the northern California countryside for, oh, about 20 years or so, my husband and I were lucky enough to finally visit. For our 18th anniversary, my in-laws volunteered to stay with our sons for a gloriously long weekend.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our time away. Napa, after all, is an adult’s playground—the best restaurants run by some of the world’s top chefs, rich wines and cheeses at every stop, and quaint and charming bed and breakfasts on each corner. For an entire weekend we were not limited to bedtimes, child-friendly fare, or frequent visits to the bathroom—an enormous gift for any weary-eyed parent. It was during this trip, however, that Napa not only exceeded our romantic expectations, but opened our eyes to just how much our sons would enjoy a trip to Napa, too.
Round Pond: Round Pond not only makes wine, but also grows olives. Lucky for us, the proprietors of Round Pond have built their very own olive oil stone and hammer mills. If you are premeditated in your planning, you can actually experience the harvesting and pressing of the olives that occurs some time in the fall. But, during any season, visitors can call ahead to tour the mill and taste Round Pond’s bounty.
Learn to recognize the difference between Italian, Spanish, Meyer Lemon, and Blood Orange olive oils. Some are smooth and buttery, others are hearty and full-bodied, but all are delicious when served with crusty breads, grassy or earthy cheeses, and fresh, organic produce—some directly picked from their very own vineyards. Details: 886 Rutherford Rd., Rutherford, California, www.roundpond.com
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park: This Napa State Park offers ten miles of hiking trails and is home to coyotes, bobcats, fox, deer, and over 100 types of birds. Grab a snack or lunch from Dean & Deluca or the Oakville Grocery, and spend the afternoon meandering the picturesque countryside. Details: 3801 St. Helena Highway, North Calistoga, California, www.napanet.net/~bothe; Dean & Deluca, 607 S. Highway 29, St. Helena, California, www.deandeluca.com; Oakville Grocery, 7856 Highway 29, Oakville, California, www.oakvillegrocery.com
Quixote Winery: This winery organically farms from a small, family vineyard and, as a result, produces a limited quantity of red wine (really yummy Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon). But, what this winery does on a large-scale, is the design of their home-base. Friedensreich Hundertwasser, artist, philosopher, architect, and all-around eccentric, designed Quioxte Winery as his last project. If you’ve never been fortunate enough to tour a Hundertwasser wonder, stop by the Quioxte Winery or call ahead for a tour.
In Hundertwasser designs, there are no straight lines—even the floors are often sloped. Roofs are adorned with trees and grass, structures are supported with rich, multi-colored tiles, and winding pathways lead to colorful onion domes around every corner. Spending time in a Hundertwasser is like spending time in Oz. Details: 6126 Silverado Trail, Napa, California, www.quixotewinery.com
Gott’s Roadside: For lunch, you can almost get away with eating at any great Napa restaurant with kids. If you’re spending a couple of days in Napa, take advantage of these great culinary giants. However, if you’re only spending a day and need a good and relaxed place for dinner, stop by Taylor’s Automatic. With a reputation far and wide for some of the best all-natural California beef burgers topped with mouth-watering cheeses and fresh veggie accents, Taylor’s delivers. Grab some burgers, garlic fries, beers, and malts and belly-up to one of the picnic tables that sit in the shadow of this timeless drive-in-style beauty. Details: 933 Main St., St. Helena, California, http://gotts.com