Last month, we celebrated our oldest son Curtis’ birthday in Napa and St. Helena. It was a fun filled relaxing day and a day to remember. We had had an excursion like this one once before on Thanksgiving at the Sonoma Mission Inn a few years ago. It was so much fun, that I decided to plan another staycation for Curtis’ special day. If you are interested in how we celebrated Andrew’s birthday you can check it out here. Unfortunately, Curtis couldn’t join us that day.
My husband and I picked up our son’s Curtis and Andrew who happen to also live in Walnut Creek at 10:00AM. We stopped off at Stanley Lane Smokehouse for sandwiches to eat in the car on our way to the Alila Spa in St Helena. Stanley Lane Smokehouse Deli is family owned and is a fun place to visit in the Fall. They have a gorgeous flower garden as well as corn mazes, pumpkins and gourds for sale. They had a pig on the property also. How exciting! I was able to buy a bottle of white wine there (I only had red with me), so that we could save money on drinks during the day. We like to drink together, especially in the wine country so I always bring along a few bottles of wine from home.
Alila Napa Valley Spa was very accommodating. They were able to get all four of us into appointments at the same time, and I had only sent an email the evening before. It doesn’t hurt telling people you are a food and travel blogger either. I had been given a tour of the property after enjoying lunch at Acacia House Restaurant and Bar a few months before. It’s a great spot to have a day away from the stress of the Bay Area.
The spa offered a few different treatments, and we enjoyed being pampered. There were apples, granola and lemon, lavender cookies as well as cucumber water and green tea to keep us hydrated. After showers, we asked if we could sip the wine we brought by the pool. I even remembered plastic glasses and brought sparkling apple cider for my husband Ken who doesn’t drink alcohol.
Andrew and I were excited to be invited to a sip and paint event by the pool given by an artist named Andrea RJ Cazares. You can find her on Instagram under @AndrewCazaresArt or Andreacazares.com. A few other guests joined us and we had a ball getting one on one instruction painting on canvas. The wine was yummy too. Curtis and Ken talked by the pool and kept themselves occupied until it was time to meet us for cocktails at Acacia House Restaurant also on the property. I learned about this place while scrolling on Instagram. Chef Chris Constentino gave free cooking lessons online during the pandemic and kept me entertained. He became famous when winning Top Chef Masters, and donated the $140,000 winnings to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. How cool is that?
IL Posto “The Place” Napa was where we decided to dine since we love Italian Food. I had been there once before after dropping my Dad off at the Veterans Home in Yountville. I’m up that way often and love stopping somewhere for an appetizer and a sip of something if I’m not driving. You can find the locals here because they know founder Justin Graffigna makes great food. We had a substantial amount of food and wine including affogatos (espresso and vanilla ice cream) for dessert. The bill was just under $300.00 and it included a $50.00 tip for our waiter.
On the way home, Ken drove us to Stanley Ranch for one last cocktail. We didn’t want the night to end. I didn’t order anything else, but the boys imbibed. The Bear is the name of the Restaurant on the gorgeous Auberge Resorts Collection in Napa Valley. I like to sit at the bar and watch the bartender make drinks. It’s more fun and there is a certain vibe which you don’t get if you sit at a table. Try it. You’ll never go back.
Stanly Ranch is near the Stanley Lane Smokehouse where we bought our sandwiches earlier in the day, just down Stanley Lane. This place is a “must see” in the Napa Valley. Cyclists stop in for a Sightglass Coffee, freshly squeezed juice or a pastry made by Chef Harry at Gavel. They also sell unique gifts there. The property offers a Luxury Hotel, tours of the grange by farmer Nick Runkle which is where they grow the produce for the restaurant, Spa treatments, a wellness center where they offer classes, a wedding venue and more. I learned about their rare heirloom crimson flowered fava beans by farmer Nick who purchased them from Cottage Gardens of Petaluma. And if you are a gardener, you must make a trip there as well. It’s incredible.
Ken and I will often take a drive to Napa and enjoy lunch at Stanly Ranch, sometimes last minute. Solage in Calistoga, and Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley are also very special places to visit. Two weekends ago we brought our good friends the Cowies out for the day to enjoy the good food and wine. I will write about that adventure later.
Thanks for joining me on today’s latest blog. I’m very lucky to have my boys in the Bay Area still and love hanging out with them. It was a memorable day and I’m grateful for being able to afford these luxurious “staycations.”
Do you have a favorite restaurant or place you go to get away? Please share in the comments below.