St. Helena Locals’ Best Kept Secrets

When guests ask what to see in Napa Valley, we start with the can’t miss list. All famous attractions, and deservedly so. St. Helena offers sophisticated experiences including boutique wineries, highly-acclaimed restaurants, luxury lodging and spas, ag-tourism adventures, and refined shopping — the town and its environs epitomize the romantic vision of authentic, charming Napa Valley. After that, though, we get down to spilling our true secrets. Our places for soaking up the seduction of St. Helena and living like a local in the heart of Napa Valley. Check out these locals’ best kept secrets.

Day One

Begin at the restaurant that is the first place you’ll see along Hwy 29, welcoming you to St. Helena. Even us locals indulge in a little wine tasting and lunch at Long Meadow Ranch’s Farmstead Restaurant. Farm-to-table is not a catch phrase — food is sourced from their gardens. If you stop by on a Tuesday, the fried chicken is a must.

Soak up some California sun with a stroll on Main Street — grab a chocolate confection at the renowned Woodhouse Chocolatier. This is the go to for holiday treats, dinner party desserts and a little mid afternoon pick me up.

Check-in: at your hotel, motel, boutique inn, resort, B&B or vacation rental and enjoy a glass of Napa Valley wine. When in Rome, er the valley!

After you settle into the hotel, find the charming Goose and Gander restaurant on Spring Street for one of Marcus’ bespoke cocktails — in the pub or in the garden.

Then, a short walk takes you to the ever-creative Market St. Helena where, as the name suggests, their menu takes its cues from seasonal ingredients and what looks and tastes good for Chef Martinez at the local markets. It’s a simple neighborhood restaurant. See if you can spot a winemaker or two at the neighboring tables…

Day Two

Main Street beckons, so answer your inner shopper at delightful boutiques like Vintage HomeAcresPearl Wonderful ClothingFootCandyPalladiumFindings or any of the intriguing art galleries.

Your partner’s not a shopper…send him/her off to one of Main Street’s wine tasting salons and plan a time to meet up…options include David Fulton WineryOrin SwiftYao Family WinesThorn Hill VineyardsVGS Chateau Potelle or Merryvale Vineyards.

Grab lunch at Clif Family Bruschetteria Truck. Delicious salads, bruschetta and other light, tasty treats. Take it into the tasting room for a wine pairing. You can also rent a bike, for a two-wheeled adventure around town.

Next up, enjoy wine, art and architecture of HALL Winery. Great wine, views and a giant sparkling rabbit greet you. You might think this is Wonderland (we do sometimes) but it’s just Napa Valley!

St. Helena is home to one of America’s top 3-Michelin-starred restaurants, The Restaurant at Meadowood. Plan an elegant evening or have a sunset cocktail in the fireside Rotunda.

Cap the evening with a film at the century-old Cameo Cinema where owner Kathy Buck personally welcomes the audience to each show.

Day Three

Wander into Archetype, the latest go-to spot for a late morning, fireside breakfast. Creative comfort food is the rule in an inviting, relaxed setting. The cheese plate is generous, delicious and full of wonderful rustic touches.

Check out the legendary Charles Krug Winery. Here the Peter Mondavi family has recently renovated the oldest commercial winery in Napa Valley. Classic wines and lush forested gardens abound. One of your go-to spots when guests are in town.

Tour the 19th century stone winery that houses the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s premier culinary college. Take a cooking class or see a demonstration. For the Foodies, check out the Spice Islands Marketplace for every cookbook imaginable, The Bakery Cafe by Illy, and student-run culinary gardens.

Take a respite and go where the locals go to unwind at Health Spa Napa Valley. You’re on vacation, we get it. But if you’re so inclined they have a full service gym. As well as a luxurious spa with great packages with amazing massage therapists.

Wind down at Harvest Table—with its seasonal Napa-style cuisine…sit at the u-shaped bar to get prime views and tuck into some goat cheese fondue. Lead bartender, Joel Pfeifle, works closely with culinary horticulturalist Laura McNiff and her “bar garden” on the Harvest Inn grounds featuring herbs, fruits, vegetables, and edible flowers designed specifically for the bar program, such as blood limes and pineapple sage. Stay for dinner or head to Press St. Helena where steaks and Napa Cabernet rule. Meet sommelier Kelli White for tips on new wine discoveries.

Departure Day

Watch the town come alive from Gott’s Roadside, home to Robert Parker’s favorite hamburger.

Then, make one last stop at the famous V.Sattui Winery Marketplace and Deli. The Winery’s Italian Deli has everything you need to create the perfect picnic, including over 200 different cheeses, salami & pâtés, fresh fruits and desserts. Bring a little Napa Valley to your home table.