Romantic, adventurous, therapeutic, culinary—there are countless ways to undertake a visit to this beautiful, budget-busting wine region. Yet on a recent rail road trip, we discovered there are plenty of ways for foodie travelers to enjoy an affordable Napa Valley getaway.
1. Warm up your tastebuds by sampling an assortment of what the area has to offer. Oxbow Public Market,
reminiscent of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, provides visitors with local produce and artisanal products made fresh daily, gourmet and specialty foods, wine, and other Napa treats. If you’re willing to brave the crowds, check out the weekly party for locals each Tuesday night.
2. Sip some bubbly at Domaine Chandon. Enjoy
friendly staff and a generously priced tasting ($18-25), then tour the facilities and their unique environmental architecture, or grab a well-priced, Michelin Star brunch or lunch at étoile (with your new bottle of sparkling wine).
3. Cruise over to the Culinary Institute of America
, a world destination for culinary education. Take a wine and food pairing class ($95), eat at the top floor experimental restaurant, and stop by the gigantic gift shop.
4. Stroll the quaint town of Yountville and save plenty of time to admire its special foodie shops, like Napa Style, a tasteful, chef-run store dedicated to everything food and drink. Take a peek at Thomas Keller’s acclaimed restaurant French Laundry and view its expansive garden, where most of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced.
5. Wind down by an outdoor fire, cocktail in hand, at Solage in Calistoga. No need to stay at the spa—drinks or dinner at Solbar is fun enough. Share a crispy slow-cooked pork belly with apple-miso soubise scallion vinaigrette ($13) and the arrowleaf spinach and ricotta agnolotti ($22). The excellent seasonal menu uses the best ingredients from local organic farms.
6. After an active day in Napa, you may want to stay the night. Enjoy a delicious complimentary homemade breakfast, then kick off your shoes and read a book with some Reisling in the romantic French Country garden at Oleander House (garden room/$180).
Take an Amtrak train to Martinez and transfer to an Amtrak Thruway bus to the Napa stop.
Bike the vineyards.
Photo: Cornerstone Cellars