Yountville (population about 3,000) 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 a few other Yountville enterprises—a French bistro, a bakery, American and Oaxacan restaurants, and a food-oriented boutique among them. And that's only the tip of the iceberg: you could stay here several days and not exhaust all the options in this tiny town with an outsize culinary reputation.

Yountville is full of small inns and luxurious hotels catering to those who prefer to walk rather than drive to their lodgings after dinner. Although visitors use Yountville as a home base, touring Napa Valley wineries by day and returning to dine, you could easily while away a few hours downtown, wandering through the shops on or just off Washington Street, or visiting the many tasting rooms. The Yountville Chamber of Commerce, on the southern end of town across from Hotel Villagio, has maps with wine-tasting and history walks.

The town is named for George C. Yount, who in 1836 received the first of several large Napa Valley land grants from the Mexican government. Yount is credited with planting the valley's first vinifera grapevines in 1838. The vines are long gone, but wisps of Yountville's 19th-century past bleed through, most notably along Washington Street, where a restaurant at 6525 Washington occupies the redbrick former train depot, and shops and restaurants west of it inhabit the former Groezinger Winery, established in 1870.

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