Headed to the gorgeous Napa Valley for a girls’ weekend?
You won’t want to miss these must-do activities and places to stay!
I recently had the opportunity to partner with Visit Napa Valley to plan our Feed the Soul retreat in Napa Valley, and it was an incredible experience. The Feed the Soul retreat was the brain-child of four of my blogging besties and I, designed to help us relax, renew, and rejuvenate our spirits. The idea was to combine a typical girls’ getaway and a blogging business trip, where we could trade ideas, tips, and inspiration (all while sipping Napa Valley wine and getting massages, of course!), and return home feeling refreshed and re-inspired for 2016.
We ate a TON of indulgent food (check out my list of the most extraordinary places to eat in Napa Valley!), relaxed with spa treatments, visited some of the cutest little towns ever, stayed at great resorts, and participated in some truly awesome activities. Trust me, you won’t want to miss any of these the next time you’re in Napa!
Note: while many of these experiences were complimentary and were graciously arranged by Visit Napa Valley, I would wholeheartedly recommend all of these things even if they weren’t. As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!
We started our retreat with a couple of days at the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in Calistoga, CA. The warm geothermal mineral pools, with temperatures in the 100-104 degree range, were incredibly relaxing, as were the massages that we received from the spa.
A couple of friends were even brave enough to try the volcanic ash mud bath at the spa! I wasn’t keen on the idea of being buried up to my neck in mud, but they said it was really quite nice and soothing! If you want to know more, check out Britni’s “10 Things to Do in Napa Valley if You Don’t Drink Wine” including her firsthand account of the mud bath treatment.
The resort is within walking distance of the town of Calisotga, so we spent an afternoon browsing through the cute and quaint little shops and taking some silly photos with the town’s murals.
We discovered “blind date books” at Copperfield’s Books, and took a chance on an unknown package. We ended up with some pretty interesting and intriguing titles (this one was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel).
The Napa Valley is nearly as famous for its hot air balloons as it is for its fine wines, and my friends were eager to try the experience with Napa Valley Aloft. Personally, I’m much happier on solid ground, so I watched from below as they took to the skies.
I have to admit that these views are pretty incredible though! My friend Cori wrote all about her experience in “Flying in a Hot Air Balloon When You’re Afraid of Heights,” so maybe I’ll have to follow her lead and be a little braver next time!
Riding on the Napa Valley Wine Train has been on my to-do list for a long time, and I was quite pleased that I got to experience it on our retreat. It was even better than I had imagined!
The Le Petite Gourmet dining car where we enjoyed our lunch that day holds the largest capacity of travelers – 72. I was worried that the combination of dining, wine, and travel motion might upset my stomach since I am prone to motion sickness, but it was a breeze. The train ride was a bit bumpy, but I got used to it very quickly, and it didn’t pose any problems.
The food was excellent, and our server, Petar, was delightful. He pointed out all of the wineries and shared lots of interesting facts with us as we traveled through the stunning Napa Valley countryside.
The wine train offers gourmet lunch and dinner rides along with fun events such as Murder Mystery dinners, Romance on the Rails, and holiday-themed family events. The Wine Train also partners with several different wineries to offer tours at the end of your ride. We opted to tour the Castello di Amorosa “Castle of Love” winery, and we weren’t disappointed!
If you didn’t know that Castello di Amorosa was only built and completed less than ten years ago, you would swear that you were at one of the authentic 13th century Tuscan castles that it was modeled after. Meticulous attention was paid to even the smallest of details, and it truly looks like a medieval marvel.
I also picked up some delicious flavored oils and chocolates from the castle’s gift shop.
I highly recommend pairing the castle winery tour with the wine train excursion, but both are also available individually if you would rather split them up and visit on different days. Both are NOT to be missed though!
For the second half of our retreat, we stayed at the lovely Silverado Resort in Napa, CA. Behind us is the stately main resort building, however, we stayed off-site in a three-bedroom suite that was actually a stand alone condominium (and it was GORGEOUS!).
The full kitchen and large dining and living rooms were perfect for all of our blog planning and brainstorming sessions, and everything about our suite was charming and comfortable. Britni and I voted the beds in our room the most comfortable hotel beds EVER!
Our last must-do was a stop at the famous Oxbow Market, a foodie paradise, and home to such treats as Kara’s Cupcakes (Food Network’s Cupcake Wars champions), Anette’s Chocolates, and organic ice cream from Three Twins Ice Cream. Of course, there’s TONS of local meats, produce, cheese, olive oil, and wines there as well!
One of my favorite shops was Whole Spice, where we were able to sample and smell about a million different unique spices, seasonings and flavored sugars. I came home with a few, and I ended up wishing that I had bought more!
Our Napa Valley retreat was a TON of fun, and we couldn’t have done it without our awesome car from Kia Motors. If you need a car to get you around on your next trip (or even every day!), I highly recommend the Kia Sorento SXL!
The 2016 Kia Sorento was able to comfortably seat five adults in the first two rows, and with the third-row seats laid down flat, we had a ton of trunk space for all of our luggage and plenty of shopping bags. The built-in GPS navigation was invaluable, and we loved the car’s massive panoramic sunroof!
A huge thank you to my friends, Rebecca at Sugar & Soul and Britni at Play. Party. Plan., for providing me with many of the pretty images in this post, and to my friends April at illistyle and Cori at Hey, Let’s Make Stuff for the video footage!
WHERE TO STAY IN NAPA VALLEY:
Calistoga Spa & Hot Springs | Calistoga, CA | 866-822-5772
Silverado Resort | Napa Valley, CA | 800-532-0500
THINGS TO DO IN NAPA VALLEY:
Oxbow Public Market | 707-226-6529