Exploring Culture in the Napa Valley

November 10th, 2014

While the Napa Valley is known for its fantastic wineries and vineyards, many don’t consider visiting – especially with families – because they think that’s all the area is about. It’s not! There are tons of incredible museums and attractions throughout the valley and there is truly something for everyone.

The Uptown Theatre

Those who appreciate a good show will enjoy a trip to the Uptown Theatre in the West End district of Napa. The theater originally opened in 1937 as a movie theater. After what feels like dozens of ownership changes and transformations, George Altamura and his partners took the theater over in 2000 and converted it into a live music venue. With only 98 rows, you’re guaranteed a great seat no matter where you end up!

Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss a stop at Bale Gist Mill State Historic Park in St. Helena. The water-powered mill was built in 1846 and once served as the center of the community. Today visitors can enjoy a tour of the mill before setting out to enjoy the nature trails. Various festivals and events are held on the park grounds each year, so be sure to check the schedule if you’re in the area.

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum

Also in St. Helena is the Robert Luis Stevenson Museum, where you can take a journey through the life of one of America’s popular authors. You’ll be able to view old manuscripts, learn about his writings, and check out an account of his life, view artifacts, and view old manuscripts. This is one museum no book lover should miss.

Riverbend Plaza

The Riverbend Plaza in Napa is a quaint cultural destination for those who enjoy shops, local cuisine, and tourist information. Visitors tend to enjoy the Napa General Store’s history, the romantic atmosphere, and the distinct landscaping. You won’t spend a full day here, but it’s definitely a nice, relaxing stop.

Elmshaven

The Victorian residence known as Elmshaven was built in 1885 by Robert H. Pratt, a railroad developer. It was then purchased by Ellen White, who is credited as one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was here that Ms. White wrote quite a few of the 60+ books she wrote throughout her entire life. The home is still furnished with some of her belongings and is open to anyone interested in antiques, architecture, the history of the church, or the culture of the early 1900’s. It’s a beautiful estate with a rich history you’re bound to enjoy exploring.

It doesn’t matter what Napa Valley hotel you end up staying at during your visit. You will find yourself just a short drive away from not only the vineyards, but dozens of cultural and historic landmarks. Not sure where to start? Ask one of our concierges for help when you check in!

Planning a Destination Wedding in Napa

November 5th, 2014

You’ve always dreamed of visiting wine country but haven’t had the opportunity. Why not make Napa the backdrop for a gorgeous destination wedding? You and your guests can enjoy luxurious accommodations while exploring the countryside and surrounding attractions before and after your big event.

Decide on a Rough Head Count

How many people will you be inviting to your wedding, and how many do you expect will be realistically able to travel and attend? Make sure you have a solid idea so that you can set a working budget. You’ll need to have an idea of the number of guests at your Napa wedding before you can choose a venue or hotel.

Location and Accommodations

Start by choosing your exact wedding location and hotel accommodations. You have quite a few gorgeous Napa Valley hotels to choose from and many will be able to handle your wedding, your reception, and your overnight stay. Combining everything in the same location can save you quite a bit of money. Be sure to let the hotel you choose know that you’re in town for your wedding, even if you decide to be married in a vineyard or at another location. Many hotels are thrilled to offer wedding packages and may even offer you a group rate for amenities for you and your guests.

The earlier you make these arrangements, the easier it will be for your guests to plan their travels to your event. Make sure you send out your save-the-date cards as far in advance as possible, even if you don’t have all of the details finalized. Your guests will appreciate the extra planning time.

Be Sensitive to Cost

Traveling to a destination wedding isn’t cheap. According to the experts at destinationweddings.com, the average couple spends anywhere from $700 to $1,000 to participate in a destination wedding. It’s not the bride and groom’s responsibility to pay for guests to travel, but you should do all you can to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable. Make sure they have clear directions to each event or hotel, consider inviting everyone to an extra dinner or show, and definitely consider skipping the wedding registry. It’s nice to favor presence over presents and your guests will appreciate being able to attend your wedding without having to worry about gifts.

Welcome Gifts

Many couples will leave welcome gifts in the rooms of their wedding guests. Considering your Napa valley destination, you may want to arrange for a bottle of local wine to be left in each couple’s room. They’ll appreciate the chance to relax and unwind after traveling.

Consider a Consultant

If you’re not from California, you may want to consider speaking to a wedding consultant from the Napa area. She can act as your local set of eyes and ears as you plan your arrival, wedding day, and after-party.

When you get married in the Napa Valley you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy spectacular wine tastings, vineyard tours, fantastic cuisine, and an atmosphere absolutely perfect for a romantic experience. Enjoy your special day!

Wine Trains and More for Thanksgiving in Napa Valley

November 2nd, 2014

Food is one of the common threads that bind us through special events during the Thanksgiving season. This year, you could slip away and travel back in time with a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast in a splendid atmosphere – on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The Thanksgiving tradition of celebrating food and family is alive and well on the Thanksgiving Napa Valley Wine Train tour where you can relax, eat, and chat with family and friends while watching the beautiful scenery go by.

The tour is three and a half hours long and there are two options: lunch and dinner. Each is a leisurely way to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday without all the fuss while being pampered to the hilt. This tour is so popular that many guests return every year and make it their own family tradition. Book early to ensure your seat for Thanksgiving on the wine train.

November is a time to return to traditional celebrations. Join us by making your reservation today at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites or call 707-226-1871.

Many exceptional dining establishments are open for dining out this Thanksgiving in Napa Valley. If laboring in the kitchen all day doesn’t sound like your idea of a great holiday, skip the work and schedule your holiday getaway with us instead.

  • Angele (540 Main Street) is just around the corner from us and serves traditional French, country-style food. Located in the historic boathouse next to the Napa River, this is the ideal bistro for a relaxed dining experience and superb food with a view.
  • FARM Restaurant (4048 Sonoma Highway) is delivering a traditional fine-dining family style Thanksgiving dinner from Chef de Cuisine Andrew Budnyj. The menu showcases elegant food made from abundantly available local Napa Valley ingredients. See the Thanksgiving menu and details.

Enjoy fabulous dining this Thanksgiving in Napa Valley. Make your reservations early.

Check our room availability at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Call us at 707-226-1871 to arrange your stay and enjoy a special Thanksgiving this year in Napa Valley.

Planning a Romantic Getaway in Napa

October 30th, 2014

Planning a romantic getaway is the perfect opportunity to strengthen your relationship and create new memories. Even if you live in the same home, it’s likely that you don’t get to spend quality alone time with your significant other. Arranging a getaway for the two of you will make your relationship a priority. Choosing Napa Valley for your romantic rendezvous may sound cliche, but this really is the ideal place for couples. With so many things to do, you can easily make your trip special and unique.

Here are some tips for planning a romantic getaway in Napa Valley.

Keep it Short

Relationship experts agree that short trips in the form of a long weekend are enough for most couples, especially those who are still early in their relationship. This gives you enough time together without getting bored. Napa is perfect for short trips. There isn’t an abundance of attractions to see, so you’re able to get the complete experience in a few short days.

Enjoy the Scenery

Another piece of advice that relationship experts give is to take in the scenery. If you find yourself rushing through your everyday life, use this getaway to enjoy the simple things that surround you. Napa Valley is perfect for this, as there are peaceful valleys, expansive mountain ranges and towering trees. Each season has something unique to offer, such as ripened grapes on the vines and valleys of blooming flowers.

Be Spontaneous

You can schedule a few activities such as a wine tour at a particular winery or a spa date at one of the many luxurious spas in Napa. It’s important to keep things unstructured too. After booking a room with Napa Valley Hotel and Suites, explore downtown Napa and find something fun and exciting to do – on a whim. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Napa, so there is plenty to see and do based on your mood.

Relax and Be Simple

One of the main reasons why Napa is a top choice for couples is because it sets the stage for romance. With a vast selection of hotels, bed and breakfasts, wineries, restaurants, spas, golf courses and galleries, the city caters to couples of all ages. With this in mind, you won’t have to overextend yourself or your budget by planning activities. You can settle into the environment easily and truly enjoy time with your partner. A picnic lunch. A stroll through the vineyards. A ride on a hot air balloon. Lunch on the Wine Train. Enjoy it all in Napa Valley!

Napa Valley for Non-Wine Drinkers

October 25th, 2014

Can you tour Napa Valley without wine? Absolutely! While Napa Valley is one of the best wine destinations in the world, there are many other things to do. Here are a few of the most unusual things you can do in Napa Valley that don’t involve drinking wine:

  • Attend a cultural event – Napa Valley is home to the historic Napa Valley Opera House that hosts plays, dances, and musical performances all year long. Napa Valley also has a wide range of night-time options, including places like Silo’s on the waterfront, which features live music most nights.
  • See Napa Valley from the air – Napa Valley has a number of hot air balloon companies as well as helicopter charters and even gliders, so you can see Napa Valley from a different perspective. The scenery is gorgeous in any season and the views are incredible. Check out Napa Helicopter Charters, Balloons Above the Valley, or American Flight Adventures, just to name a few.
  • See Napa Valley from a train – the Napa Valley Wine Train is a very popular way to enjoy a great meal in a restored antique train car as it passes through the beautiful scenery.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors – Napa Valley has a large number of hiking trails and biking options too, so you can enjoy the great outdoors here. Check out the Napa Valley Bike Tours for bike rentals and tour options. Check out Napa Valley Hiking for trail information and maps.

Reserve a room at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites and you can enjoy Napa Valley even without the wine.

Napa Valley is home to world-renowned chefs who are skilled at farm-to-table cooking, so you can also eat your way through Napa Valley. Eight restaurants in Napa are firmly in the Michelin guide. Plus, there are dozens of wonderful restaurants and eateries that aren’t mentioned in the guide and serve delicious food.

Napa Valley has some of the world’s best olive oil producers. Check out open-to-the-public tastings in places like:

Even if you are on a tight budget, you can stock up on gourmet goodies at the Oxbow Market or Dean & DeLuca. Enjoy an upscale picnic in one of the gorgeous local parks.

Call us at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites to reserve your suite and you can enjoy many activities in and around Napa Valley. Call 707-226-1871 for more details and pricing.

Which Wines Should I Buy for Thanksgiving?

October 17th, 2014

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday menu. If you plan on hosting the feast, you’ll need to decide which types of wines pair well with your menu. If you plan on attending as a guest, bringing a bottle of wine is a nice gesture. The typical Thanksgiving menu is elaborate, so how do you choose which types of wine you should bring? Here is a rundown of the various wine selections that are available for the fall holiday.

The Whites

Chardonnay is one of the most popular picks for white wines, but the oakiness and intensity of the flavors generally do not pair well with Thanksgiving foods. Instead, stick to white wines that are refreshing and fruity. Two good examples: Riesling with a spicy, fruity flavor or Sauvignon Blanc that is light and crisp. They won’t be overpowering and will complement the heavier foods nicely.

The Reds

Red wines are perfectly acceptable for a Thanksgiving feast even though some tend to be on the heavier side. Cabernet, for example, isn’t recommended because it is high in tannins, very tart and doesn’t pair well with turkey breast. Stick to lighter reds that will taste delicious with your meal and add a visual punch. Wines to consider for your holiday meal include Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah.

The Sparklers

Sparklers are a great choice for Thanksgiving because they are light, refreshing and bubbly. Sparklers have a way of making the meal more fun and lively, especially when they are served in champagne flutes. You can serve sparklers when guests are arriving, but when the meal is being served, it’s best to stick to dry sparklers as opposed to the sweet ones.

Don’t Forget Dessert!

When it comes to dessert, you have another choice to make, as not all wines pair well with sweets. Whether you’re serving up pumpkin pie or oatmeal raisin cookies, try some of these dessert wines: Muscat, Riesling or Port.

Napa Valley is home to some of the best wines in the world! If you plan on visiting, surprise your guests by picking up a few bottles of wine from one of our local wineries. Or, check out the local wineries that will ship bottles of wine to the home, such as Robert Mondavi Winery or Franciscan Estate Winery.

Leaf Peeping, Pumpkin Patches, and More in Napa Valley this Fall

October 13th, 2014

If you don’t believe California has a leaf-peeping season, you haven’t seen enough of the Napa Valley. With so much of the state’s population living on or near the coast, where Mediterranean plants thrive, many people miss the opportunity to enjoy the changing leaves of California.

The fall colors in Napa change like the aging of fine wine too. Most people forget that grapevines across the Napa Valley vineyards change color just like the trees, so you get a double flashy blast of yellows, oranges, and vivid reds on the ground and in the trees. The low winds usually mean that the colors stick around on the vines and in the trees for some time too, so you can enjoy them a little longer in Napa Valley.

October is time to grab a jacket and watch the changing leaves. Join us by making your reservation today at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suitesor call 707-226-1871.

October is that special time of year when the days grow shorter and everyone prepares for winter by stocking up their pantries and pulling out winter clothes. If you’re like most people, you should be ready for a little fall fun. Bring the kids to Napa Valley and enjoy pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hay rides, and more.

  • Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch – an annual event that many locals visit every year, this pumpkin patch is a celebration of fall for adults and kids. Climb on a straw bale mountain 13 layers high, scramble through the corn maze, and pick up the pumpkins you need for Halloween. Admission is FREE.
  • Pick of the Patch Pumpkins at ABC Tree Farm in American Canyon – select from pumpkins already gathered from the field, and stay for the bounce houses, slides, and obstacle courses for the kids. Visit the retail stores to pick up last-minute Halloween specialty items for your home.

Start with a hearty breakfast within walking distance of our hotel and fuel up, then head out for some October fun in Napa Valley!

Check our room availability at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Call us at 707-226-1871 to arrange your stay and enjoy a special harvest season this year in Napa Valley.

How to do Napa for Cheap

October 10th, 2014

Wait – did you read that title right? Can you really visit Napa for cheap? It seems like nothing comes cheap these days, especially vacations. With some proper planning and a little know-how, you can visit Napa Valley, enjoy everything it has to offer and stay within your budget. We’ll tell you how.

Visit During the Off-Season

The cheapest times to visit Napa are winter and spring. You’ll find plenty of hotel packages that drop their prices up to 50 percent! Don’t worry about missing out on grape picking and crushing. Beautiful valleys of bright yellow mustard plants are a gem to look at, and you can enjoy mild temperatures, smaller crowds and seasonal menus.

Nab Hotel Deals by Booking Online

Unlike other areas where downtown is the most expensive place to stay, downtown Napa is actually quite affordable, especially compared to the quaint bed and breakfasts throughout Wine Country. Napa Valley Hotel and Suites is situated in the heart of downtown Napa and offers great rates. Book your stay online and save up to 20 percent, or call the hotel directly and take advantage of one of the seasonal packages that include a deluxe room, jacuzzi and other amenities for one low price.

Use Coupons for Free Wine Tastings

Forget cheap – how about free? Wine tours can add up quickly if you don’t plan in advance, but there are many wineries that offer coupons and discounted wine tours. Here is where you can find a list of all the wineries that are offering coupons for the 2014 winter season. Check them out! Also call the winery in advance or visit their website to see if any special offers are available. Some wineries waive the tour fee with a purchase, others offer 2-for-1 deals.

Get Back to the Basics

Other tourist locations will have you spending hundreds of dollars on admission prices for amusement parks, water parks, museums and so on. And unless you visit these attractions, there may not be much else to do. With Napa, you can essentially pay for the hotel and food and enjoy free or low-cost activities throughout your stay. Napa is home to three state parks where you can enjoy hiking trails, picnics, a swimming pool and old-fashioned waterwheels. With the beautiful landscape and breathtaking maples, oaks, redwoods and madrones, you don’t need to take out your wallet to enjoy a day in Napa Valley.

Napa Valley is Buzzing with Crush Parties, Harvest Parties, and Special Tastings in October

October 6th, 2014

We can’t get enough of the good life in Napa Valley – we really can’t! At every turn, you’ll find farms, real working wineries, farmer’s markets and all the special Napa-style things that go with them. Take a look at what’s happening in October in Napa Valley:

  • We do farmer’s markets a little differently here. Take a look at the St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Market Veggies and Vino Pairing. No kidding. In honor of World Vegetarian Day, the wine educators will guide you through an exploration of tasty vegetarian bites pairing them with superb wines. (Saturday, October 4)
  • Ever fancied yourself as a wine maker? Play vintner for a day and blend your own Merlot. Take a look at the Rutherford Hill Winery’s Blend Your Own Merlot Seminar, teaching how wine making is both art and science. You’ll learn from the masters and create your own perfect recipe using wines from their vineyards. Blend, bottle, and label your wine. (Saturdays)

Reserve a room at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suitesand you can stroll to breakfast, catch a wine-making class, fit in a little shopping and be back in time for an afternoon nap before you start it all over again.

Napa Valley is world-renowned for its wines and every October, there are a number of crush-the-grapes and harvest parties you can join to get into the spirit of the spectacular fall season. Here are just a few:

  • The Crush Party at V. Sattui Winery – come experience the open house and step inside a real working winery to feel the passion and excitement that comes with the fall. (October 4th)
  • Markham Vineyards Harvest Celebration – celebrate another glorious Napa Valley harvest in their historic stone cellar. Enjoy a wine reception, stroll through the vineyards, and take in the sights. (October 11th)
  • Cornerstone Cellars Harvest Party – celebrate the season and the harvest with live music, BBQ by Cochon, and enjoy tasting the lovely Cornerstone Cellars wines. (October 18th)

These dates not working for you? No problem. Check out all the winery events for October and find one that fits your schedule.

Call us at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites to reserve yoursuite and you can enjoy all that the harvest season has to offer within a short drive or walk. Call 707-226-1871 for more details and pricing.

A Closer Look at Napa’s State Parks

October 3rd, 2014

Napa Valley extends itself beyond wine tastings and romantic dinners. It’s also home to three state parks where volunteers and park rangers work diligently to keep them clean, beautiful and open to visitors. If you’re looking for affordable family fun, take a peek at these three parks. There’s enough at each one to keep you busy all day, and if you’re not one to pitch a tent and sleep outside with the bugs, then rent a cozy room with Napa Valley Hotel and Suites for the evening.

Bothe-Napa State Park

To use the park for the entire day is only $8.00 per car. Set up a picnic lunch under the oak trees. Most sites have a barbecue grill, table and benches – come early to reserve your spot! A large pavilion is also available for groups of 60 or more, which is perfect if you plan on hosting a family reunion or birthday party. Of course, grilling, eating and hanging out under the oak trees is only a fraction of the fun.

Bothe-Napa State Park is home to many wonderful walking and hiking trails: Ritchey Canyon Trail, History Trail, Coyote Peak Trail and Redwood  Trail. Each trail is a different length so you can choose a path that is short and leisurely or get a full-on workout. Also to enjoy is the Native American Plant Garden, Wappo People, which is an easy trail and explores the many plants that are still used today for medicine, food and technology.

Additional fun at Bothe-Napa State Park includes:

  • Swimming pool

  • Horseback riding

  • White Church Cemetery

  • Flora and fauna

  • Tours and milling demonstrations

  • Camping

Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

This state park is the place to be when you want to learn more about California’s rural heritage. Come and watch the original set of French Buhr millstones in action! You may also purchase a Bale Grist Mill product such as polenta, cornmeal, rye, buckwheat or whole wheat flour. Picnic areas are also available for before or after you visit the mills.

Adults pay $5.00, children 6-17 pay $2.00 and children under 6 are free.

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

Hiking is the main attraction at this park, with west trails leading to the summit of Mount St. Helena and east trails leading to below the volcanic cliffs of the Palisades. The scenery is exquisite, and on clear days, Shasta and the Sierra Nevada can be seen. With the length of the trails and their steepness, be prepared to hike. The full trip is 10 miles. Hikers agree that it’s worth the effort thanks to the elaborate views and top-of-the-world experience.