Yountville

These days Yountville is something like Disneyland for food lovers. It all started with Thomas Keller's The French Laundry, one of the best restaurants in the United States. Keller is also behind two more casual restaurants a few blocks from his mother ship, along with a very popular bakery. Perhaps by the time you read this his proposed ice-cream shop will be open, too. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. You could stay here for a week and not exhaust all the options in this tiny town with a big culinary reputation.

Yountville is full of small inns and luxurious hotels catering to those who prefer to be able to walk rather than drive to their lodgings after dinner. But it's also well located for excursions to big-name Napa wineries. Near Yountville, along the Silverado Trail, the Stags Leap District helped put Napa on the wine-making map with its bold Cabernet Sauvignons. Volcanic soil predominates on the eastern slopes of Stags Leap, apparent from the towering volcanic palisades and crags hovering over the vineyards. Though many visitors use Yountville as a home base, touring wineries by day and returning to town for dinner, you could easily while away a few hours in town, wandering through the many shops on or just off Washington Street, or visiting the many downtown tasting rooms.

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