Photography / See Hatsie Travel

Travel: Napa Valley – What to See

Napa week is coming to a close, and I think I’ve saved the best for last.  There are countless places to eat and drink in Napa Valley, so much so that we hired an expert to show us the way, but really what one can’t miss–because it’s impossible–is the beauty of the Valley.  It was everywhere I looked; out our car window, in the backyard of our rented house, shopping in St. Helena, each was just as beautiful and full of wonder and joy as the last.  Rolling hills, blue skies, and sunlight are my happy place.

We flew into San Francisco and rented a car to get to Napa Valley, but before we got on the road, we made a pit stop at Pier 39 to visit the famed sea lions.  As evidenced by the extensive write up I gave the dogs at Kelham Vineyards, all vacations are better with animals.

We had all visited San Francisco before, and had we had an extra day we would have explored more.  If you find yourself with just an hour in the city, Pier 39, although touristy, is a great place to visit.  The sea lions are a delight–they’re funny, loud, playful, sleepy, and remind me a lot of my brother’s lab, Doc.  From the lookout you can see Alcatraz and off in the distance, the Golden Gate bridge, if it’s not too foggy.

The sea lions stole the show, though.

Once in Napa Valley, there is much to see in addition to the vineyards.  St. Helena is an adorable little town with great shopping.  We stopped in Olivier, an olive oil and specialty foods store where I bought a couple of bottles of really great olive oil and an artichoke and truffle tapenade that I want to eat with a spoon.  We ambled up and down the street, stopping in shops when we liked, and taking in the village-life of Napa Valley.

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena is also a great place to stop.  It offers wine tastings and olive oil tastings, the latter of which we took part, but the real draw was the beautiful gardens, grounds, and paths.  We stopped in on a whim and ended up staying for over an hour exploring the herb and vegetable gardens, the gazebo, tasting olive oil, and dreaming up all the incredible parties we could plan in such a venue.

In my mind though, the real draw of Napa Valley is the vistas and the beauty they provide.  It’s my favorite type of vacation; going to a gorgeous place and soaking in what it has to offer.  Nothing is more inspiring, more rejuvenating, or more happy to me.  I would say to you that you should take time to really enjoy it, but it’s impossible to be there and not be moved by the colors, air, trees, and hills around you.

I came back inspired by the dusty greens and rust colored dirt, the rocky ridges and pine trees, the laid back nature of Valley residents, and the flavors of the food and wine.  They’re doing something right in the Napa Valley, and if I can have just a little bit of that, I consider myself pretty lucky.

*None of these restaurants/shops/vineyards know me; I just went there and liked them.  These Napa Valley posts are because when I was researching Napa Valley, I found it hard to find reviews and itineraries that I felt I could trust.  So, here you go, Internet!*

Check out previous Napa Week Posts: Napa Valley – Where to Eat and Napa Valley – Where to Drink!

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