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-   -   First time to Napa/ Sonoma Valley (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/first-time-to-napa-sonoma-valley-891892/)

elly_185 May 22nd, 2011 01:33 PM

First time to Napa/ Sonoma Valley
 
Hello everyone,

So my boyfriend and I want to visit the Napa area. We know nothing about it and basically don't even know where to start. I checked online about different places, and I never knew there were SO many to choose from. We are going there for about 4 days and want to get the best experience, not too expensive:) But enough to try some wines, wonder through the grape vines (is that even possible?) and find a reasonably priced location to stay in. Please lend us some advise!

Thanks,

Elly

kleroux May 22nd, 2011 03:32 PM

Each valley is different. Napa is better known. It seems to have more tourists, more tourist buses, more bachelor parties with limo drivers... one big road up and down the valley, and a second road on the other side, not as well known. Lots of traffic, esp. on the weekends.
Sonoma County is to the West of Napa. Its a straight shot north from the Golden Gate Bridge up #101. There are lots of small towns, great wineries, wonderful restaurants both pricey and not, and lots of great roads to wander.
As you can tell, I much prefer Sonoma County. I like the town of Healdsburg, which is charming and has wonderful restaurants, shops and wineries. There are motels, hotels, B&B's as places to stay. You can also try using VRBO.com , (vacation rentals by owner) and stay in cottages, cabins, apts. and actually pretend you live here. You should have a great time where ever you decide to stay, and its easy enough to visit both Valley's if you are staying 4 days.

CaptCanuck May 22nd, 2011 04:45 PM

We also are big fans of Healdsburg. A great town to stay with proximity to all of the wine areas. You could stay all 4 nights there...or split it up and have 2 nights there and 2 nights in Sonoma or Yountville or one of the other small towns in the area.
Make sure you book a tour in advance at Frog's Leap Winery. Wonderful, low key tour..and you will get to wander by some vines as you are hoping!
Sterling and Hess are both interesting to visit in terms of the sites themselves...
cheers,
CC

elly_185 May 23rd, 2011 06:42 AM

Thank you for your help! Actually we were leaning towards Healdsburg and Kleroux I checked out the website you recommended and that is definitely an option. Capt Canuck, Frog Leap is totally happening. I want to wander by the wines more than tasting wines! Thanks:)

dhack May 23rd, 2011 09:49 AM

I stayed in Healdsburg a few years ago at a B&B. The location is wonderful. We walked to town in the evenings and had a fabulous meal at a different restaurant each night. There is easy access to tons of wineries, and you can even pop over to Napa for a day if you like. I enjoy tasting the wine more than wandering through the vines, and was not disappointed with the variety and quality of the wines in the area. Good luck!

elly_185 May 27th, 2011 06:54 AM

Well Im thinking to stay in sonoma for 4 nights....is that too long? Or maybe stick to the lodging there but go to different towns cause from what I understand they're all near by?

CaptCanuck May 27th, 2011 12:16 PM

Are you saying the town of Sonoma itself? Or Healdsburg itself?
4 nights in Healdsburg I would say yes....that's what we did the first time....but if you are thinking 4 nights in Sonoma, I would split it 2 and 2 as we enjoyed Healdsburg more....but that's just me!
cheers,
CC

elly_185 May 28th, 2011 08:51 AM

Capt- we haven't booked anything yet because not sure if 4 nights in Healdsburg would be too long. Ok I guess maybe we'll do just that, 4 nights in healdsburg and drive around other places. Thanks:)

CaptCanuck May 29th, 2011 07:49 AM

You'll enjoy Healdsburg as a base. Take a day to drive out to Sonoma and enjoy, another day to see St. Helena and Calistoga. From Healdsburg, you can also enjoy various winers in the Russian River Valley or Alexandra Valley as well. Two of our favourite places for dinner in Healdsburg are Scopa (book a month or two in advance) and Zin (book it...but a few weeks in advance should be fine). Yountville is a small town with outstanding restaurants..you could enjoy a lunch there during your travels one day as well.
have a great trip,
CC


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