Northern California is such a beautiful place to visit. Since the bf had to cover the NBA finals in Oakland, I decided to tag along and turn his work trip into a quick, weekend couple’s trip to Wine Country. 48 hours isn’t nearly enough time to see and do everything but here is how to try and make the most of it.
12:00: Land in San Francisco around noon and immediately grab a rental car as there is no other way I would suggest getting to or getting around Wine Country. Everything is so spread out and Ubers are minimal. Trust me on this! The journey there will take you to the Golden Gate Bridge. Simply breathtaking! Get several pics, but don’t spend too much time there. Remember: you’re on a mission-one that involves wine!
2:00: The traffic from San Francisco to Sonoma/Napa is terrible. Plan accordingly. What should be about an hour ride can be double that no matter the time of day. After you start your trek, the road to wine country can be quite blah. With droughts occurring in California often, don’t expect lush greenery, just dry, yellow everywhere. Not all that picturesque.
Once you arrive, there are the 2 most popular, and several lesser known cities in Wine Country to choose from. In regards to the popular, here’s the deal: Choose Sonoma for less frills, more peace and relaxation, less to do by way of activities and restaurants, and a little older crowd. Choose Napa for amazing restaurants, nicer wineries, a younger crowd and just an all-around “cooler” vibe. We chose Sonoma and checked in at The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa, but to do it all over again, I’d stay in Napa. Either way, choose a hotel that has some great amenities. A luxurious spa, a nice pool, even their own wine tastings and shuttles to pick you up after a little too much are ideal.
4:00: After checking in and getting settled, choose to do one activity in a nearby city. Whether that be a Lavender festival complete with lavender lemonade and U-Pick-It Lavender or a grape stomping festival, get creative and do something unique. If not, just drive around and choose a random winery (don’t make a reservation for your first day, with traveling and traffic, you will feel too rushed), because after all, that’s what you’re there for!
7:00: Dinnertime! From Italian to Mexican to classic American cuisine, there are so many options to please whatever the palate. If you’re as obsessed with Italian as I am, choose a cute little restaurant in the Sonoma Plaza like Della Santina’s. No frills here, just good, filling Italian food and great service. Request outdoor patio seating wherever you choose to go. The weather will be perfect. It gets cooler here at night so it’s the perfect setting following a hot day, just be sure to bring a sweater.
9:00: After a filling dinner that hopefully included a lot of wine, take a little walk around and explore a bit. Most things will be closed but so what! See the cute boutiques and restaurants nearby. You will probably even stumble upon a great place for dessert. Head to the hotel in about an hour or so and rest up. Tomorrow will be a big day being the first full day in Wine Country.
9:00: Get an early start! Either to pack more into the day or to beat crowds (trust me there will be crowds like you never imagined), whatever the case, just start early. Grab a hearty breakfast at a local spot like The Fremont Diner in Sonoma to ensure you have something on your stomach before you hit those wineries.
11:00: It’s time to start those wine tours! You can either book an organized wine tour through a private company, or if you’re a planner like me, you can go the DIY route. If you DIY, plan ahead.
1) Unless you plan on having one designated driver, hire a car service to drive you around for the day (after all, you’re only there for 48 hours, it’s worth it) 2) Make your reservations ahead of time as a lot of the wineries book very quickly. Tip for Reservations: You can start making tasting appointments for as early as 10:30 a.m. Make reservations as early in the day as reasonably possible to fit in as many wineries as you possibly can, just be sure to reasonably spread them throughout the day factoring in traffic. 3) Decide if you want to do a tour and tasting or just a tasting at each winery. Tip: For tours, if you’ve toured one, you’ve kind of seen them all and there won’t be time to tour them all so just plan 1 or 2 tours. Choose a perfectly picturesque winery for your tour like Ram’s Gate Winery or Paul Hobb’s Winery. Stick to tastings at all others given the time.
6:00: After a full day of “tasting” you should be pretty exhausted (and several other things). You probably won’t have the energy to do much of anything but crawl into bed. My alternative to that would be a relaxing spa evening at your hotel or to chill out at the pool followed by a simple dinner nearby or even room service. Relax and enjoy the night. Tomorrow is the last day.
9:00: Get an early start because this is your last day! Save the tears, and make the most of it. If you’ve started in Sonoma, head to Napa. If you’ve started in Napa, head to Sonoma. I fell into the former category so Napa it was. The two are about 20 minutes away from each other so not a bad drive at all. Select a breakfast spot that has good hearty food like Alexis Baking Company in downtown Napa. You will need something to get you going after a day of wine.
11:00: Explore! If you’re in Napa, walk along the Riverwalk, learn the history of Napa, and just get lost downtown. There will be an abundance of restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops. Then, head to my favorite, a market! I found Oxbow Public Market. Sample, shop, eat and enjoy your last moments.
2:00: What an amazing trip and so much was done in just 48 hours! Wine Country, you will be missed. Au Revoir, until next time…