Plug Bouchon Bakery into your preferred smartphone application. It’s okay, go ahead, I’ll wait…
See, it’s not that far away at all. Sitting in Midtown, Sacramento, Yountville is 69 miles away. Without traffic it’s about an hour drive. Think about all the ways you spend a few hours in the day, either productively utilizing time or watching television? One episode of the Bachelor is two hours; you can basically make it to Yountville and back in the time you’ve invested in a bad show.
I understand. The tv entertainment is simple, easy and mindless, and if you actually took my advice and drove to Yountville (which you may not know exactly where it is), you really wouldn’t know where to visit and what to experience.
That’s where we come in! I’ve loved the day-trips to Yountville for the past few years. It’s close to home, but not that close, far enough away where you actually feel like it’s a getaway. It has a clean and quaint atmosphere filled with friendly people, beautiful surroundings, and delicious bites. (Caveat: you can spend the entire weekend in Yountville if you’d like. However, as you’ll discover, the hotels are incredible, and with incredible things, come a price tag . The market dictates weekend fares somewhere in the $300-$1000/night range, depending upon luxury). Below are some fun ideas on ways to spend a day in Yountville!
A bike. Reading material. Golf clubs. An appetite.
10:00 AM. BOUCHON BAKERY
Plan your trip to arrive around 10:00 am. You’ll beat much of the I-80 traffic, which over the past few years has become stuffed with drivers in too big a hurry to remember how to navigate freeways properly. Or ones that know how to drive the speed limit. Avoid those traffic stresses if you can, as it’s best to start a relaxing day with a smooth drive.
Park on the street or in the lot across from the aforementioned Bouchon Bakery, near Bottega (a great restaurant in it’s own right). Haven’t heard of Bouchon? Well, it’s from the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, and we’ll get to (the outside of) The French Laundry later. If you aren’t familiar with The French Laundry, it’s been named the “best restaurant in the world” (yes WORLD) in 2003 and 2004.
Divulge in dessert for breakfast if you’d like, or grab yourself a coffee/pastry combo and enjoy the morning outside in the crisp Napa air. Grab your reading material and perch in the courtyard. You can lose yourself in a good book, or people-watch the growing line of sweet-toothed patrons seeking baked goods.
11:30 AM. VINTNER’S GOLF CLUB
Make a quick skip over Highway 29 towards Domaine Chandon and locate the Vintner’s Golf Club. They have a nice, roomy driving range to relieve that weekly stress. Get a bucket of balls and hit away with the mountains in the distance.
1:00 PM. BARDESSONO
When Bardessono was developed it was one of three LEED platinum certified hotels in the world. If you enjoy design and architecture, this place is for you. Snuggle up inside to the bar or sit in the calming outdoor area, surrounded by fire-pits and water features, grab a cocktail, and relax. Fall asleep in the hammock if you need the rest. You can always order lunch or a small bite from the friendly staff, as they offer bar food or a sit down restaurant.
2:30 PM. YOUNT MILL ROAD
Unhook your bicycle and head out for a relaxing ride on Yount Mill Road. Expect to encounter very few vehicles, as this is a side-road that connects back to Highway 29. While you won’t see too many people on your 5 mile round trip ride, you will see vineyards, some cattle, creeks, mountains, and views for days.
4:00 PM. FRENCH LAUNDRY GARDENS
As you return back into town, locate Washington Street, which acts as main street through the small town. Head towards The French Laundry and enjoy a scenic walk, passing by wine tasting, real estate, and art opportunities.
Upon arrival The French Laundry sits beautifully with a very innocent identification sign out front. You could easily pass by and not even know the famous restaurant is there.
Directly across the street is an impressive garden, aptly named The French Laundry Garden. Wander through and marvel at the ultimate farm-to-fork features, with seasonal produce sprouting in beautifully manicured grounds.
5:30 PM. R&D KITCHEN
A day of activities leaves an empty stomach, which can easily be solved at R&D Kitchen. There are four R&D locations and three are in California — Newport Beach, Santa Monica, and Yountville. The fourth is in Dallas, Texas. R&D Kitchen is the mastermind of the Hillstone Group, which also brings you delectable restaurants such as Bandera, Rutherford Grill, and Houston’s, to name a few. Sit outside and enjoy a beverage in the large courtyard, or snuggle up to the indoor or outdoor bar. Eat breakfast-for-dinner with an amazingly light omelet.
After dinner, the choice is yours. If you’ve booked a night in town, you’re best options are going to be Bardessono, North Block Hotel, Hotel Yountville, or the Napa Valley Lodge. All are various forms of greatness, and all will cost a pretty penny. The nice thing is you can enjoy a dessert from a handful of locations and make the drive back home.
A day trip to Yountville can incorporate many of the finer things around from design & architecture, cuisine, views, wine, art, and hotels. Make the most of Yountville with your budget as you can be frugal along the way, all while enjoying many locations. You can also divulge in a weekend away for a special occasion and you will not be disappointed. Recommendation: give it a try for the day, find out what you like, and plan ahead for a future visit and when you do be sure to tell them Martini Within Reach sent you! Perhaps we will see you there!
*Bouchon Images from @bouchon_bakery, Golf from @maxwell__connor, Bardessono from @Martiniwithinreach and @Bardessonohotel, Yount Mill Rd, French Laundry Garden at The French Laundry, and R+D