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Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

Houston, TX
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Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

My fiance and I are really confused. We want to go to Napa Valley for our honeymoon and we plan on staying in Napa for 4 days. We are from Texas. We love wine and we like hotels, not B&Bs. What is the difference between Sonoma and Napa? Are those two completely different places or are they both part of Napa Valley?? We like city life so we really do not want to stay in an area that is very country but we also want to relax so we need a good mix of both.

South Carolina
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1. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

Napa Valley is separated from Sonoma by a mountain range, running South to north. Napa wineries and vineyards in the valley are side by side for 37miles. Sonoma wineries and vineyards are clustered, and may be miles apart, over a tremendously larger area.

Both areas grow the same varietals. Napa has the best cabernet sauvignon. Sonoma has the best chardonnay and pinot noir.

For your honeymoon, Napa Valley meets your criteria better than Sonoma. Any succeeding anniversaries, you should give Sonoma County serious consideration!

Oh, yes! Schedule a tour of Schramsberg. It has honeymoon written all over it. You must call ahead for an appointment. At least 30 days in advance.

Houston, TX
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2. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

Thank you so much! This really helps us narrow it down from Sonoma to Napa. Do you recommend we stay in Napa the city or somewhere else? Where is Schramsberg located in Napa?

South Carolina
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3. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

The city of Napa is not all that appealing. It's pretty much like any Main Street, USA. You will do better exploring further north. I am not qualified to offer advice on particular places. Other posters will surely contribute more.

You may wish to try the "search" feature on the Napa Forum. Key word of "honeymoon" should give you a wealth of postings to explore. Also search on Schramsberg, to see what posters have said about it.

Schramsberg produces some of the best sparkling wines in America. It is located just south of Calistoga, 1400 Schramsberg Road, close to Peterson Drive an Hwy 29. Phone 707 942-2414.

Fremont, California
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for San Francisco
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4. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

I'd recommend:

Healdsburg area: Duchamp Hotel or Hotel Healdsurg.,

Santa Rosa area: Hotel La Rose

Sonoma: The Fairmont Hotel - Mission Inn and Spa

For Napa, itself,

Best Western Elm House or River Terrace Inn

Take a look at the different ones and decide what you like in terms of a hotel.

Wine country is primarily agricultural, with many many great wineries; great restaurants; and outdoor things to do. For city life, its best to plan a day trip to San Francisco.

For best restaurants, Healdsburg and Napa are the best if you're there for 4 days. Sonoma has some good restaurants (but more limited.).

If you like to walk fro the hotel to restaurants, I'd choose the Healdsburg area; followed by Sonoma.

In terms of the difference between the areas:

Napa - Medium city (not very pretty average till you drive about 5 miles away); Sonoma - nice town square but 1 hour will do most of the "non-winery sites", Santa Rosa is more your suburban commuinity. I like Hotel la Rose however sinec you can walk from the hotel to a music/comedy club and also go to restaurants. Downside is no swimming pool in the summer - so usually we go there in the winter. Healdsburg is a great place to walk around and go to local "wine tasting places in the area." For 4 days, its perfect as you can easily drive to Napa, Healdsburg, Alexander Valley. I like it also since you can drive to the ocean/redwoods (Armstrong State Park); and its close enough to drive to the bigger shopping areas in Santa Rosa. (However Napa also has a great premium outlet area.).,

All in all - you'll have great fun regardless of where you choose.

If you choose Sonoma valley, I'd recommend Santa Rosa or Healdsburg area over Sonoma itself (however for luxury hotel Farirmont is quite nice if in your price range. - if its not, don't stay in Sonoma..)

I've probably confused you more than helped - so if you have more questions about these suggestions, feel free to ask.

St Helena, CA
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5. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

A honeymoon in Napa OR Sonoma will not incorporate very much city life... they are both primarily agricultural. I would never ever recommend a honeymoon in the biggest town in Sonoma- Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is good for Costco and WalMart, malls, etc but not at all quaint or attractive. Just my opinion.

The city of Napa is pretty average too although there are some really pretty areas. I don't think staying there will give you the "city life" that you are thinking of though.

Personally, for honeymooning in Napa Valley, I would recommend the Meadowood resort. It is a luxury hotel, not an inn or B&B, great pool, service, bar area, restaurant, and grill. You will be relaxed but not feel like you are away from civilization. It attracts a cosmopolitan bunch of travelers and you will not by any means feel you are in hicksville. Some of the world's and California's best restaurants and wineries will be literally a 5 minute drive from you there.

You are not going to get a city feel, but you will not feel in the middle of nowhere. You will be surrounded by the excitement of wineries, tourism, and lots of things to do.

Sonoma is much more countrified, Napa Valley a bit glitzier.

Houston, TX
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6. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

Thank you! Actually the Meadowood is out of our price range.

What about the Meritage Resort? That is in Napa, right? Has anyone hearsd anything about it or stayed there? We were looking into The Meritage, The Chanrin Inn in Calistoga, and Mount View Hotel and Spa in Calistoga.

Sunnyvale...
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7. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

Congratulations!

Actually, you can't go wrong staying in one place or the other.

They're close enough to each other, that if you stay in one, it's really no problem to drive over to see the other for half a day's road trip. Stay wherever and go zip over to see the other for an afternoon's worth of winetasting after a late breakfast. You could be back to your hotel for dinner no problem.

Sunnyvale...
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8. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

If you're in Napa, that main road can get clogged with traffic pretty good on weekends.

In Sonoma County, Hwy 101 gets clogged all the time from Santa Rosa all the way up to Healdsburg especially on afternoons. There's been a lot of population growth here with no corresponding freeway expansion... However, it's no problem getting about on the frontage roads and other parallel roads. Healdsburg and northwards is quite quiet. The little town of Sonoma is quite quiet too, a little bit off to the east of Santa Rosa.

London, UK
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9. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

We are coming for our honeymoon in October to the Mount View in Calistoga. I will post a trip report when we get home.

I chose it because Calistoga sounds pretty, and there are a number of restaurants we can have dinner in each evening, and still walk back to the hotel (I hope).

Local experts - is this a good choice?

Napa, CA
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10. Re: Honeymoon to Napa or Sonoma?

worldtraveler (and maharani)-

You have to choose what's best for *you*-- what fits your personality, needs, and (of course)-- budget! :)

All of the towns in Napa have their high points:

-Calistoga feels like a frontier town that is "embraced" by the surrounding hills (the hills draw closer together at the top of the Napa Valley, where Calistoga is located). Because of its geothermal activity, it hosts many of Napa's spas and hot mud baths.

-St. Helena and Yountville have been quite popular over the years, and are kind of the "Beverly Hills" of Napa, w/more posh accomodations (and prices). We're including the resorts in this bunch (Auberge, Meadowood, Calistoga Ranch, Merryvale, etc.) Yountville in particular has a great restaurant scene-- with a half dozen amazing restaurants that are walking distance from the central Yountville B&Bs and Inns (you'll need to drive to any of them from the resorts).

-Napa (the town) is larger than the others, and offers more amenities (COPIA, the Wine Train, the Opera House, Outlet Shopping, 10 downtown tasting rooms), and literally dozens of world class restaurants that are walking distance from many of the B&Bs/Inns in the Old Town area. Napa tends to be the busiest/most popular location, in part because it's closer to San Francisco and the airports, and in part because it has more things to do/places to see/eat.

As has been noted by other posters, each spot also has it's potential downsides: Calistoga is 10-15 degrees hotter than Napa (imagine the difference between 85 and 100!), St Helena's Main St is Highway 29, which can make for a bit of traffic noise and bother (lots of bumper to bumper delays on the weekends), Yountville is also close to Highway 29 (so where your room is located can really make a difference), and Napa is busier and more bustling-- still more Mayberry RFD than New York or Miami, but busier, all the same.

Hope this helps. All of the Napa Valley is beautiful, and the people here are what really make this a great place to linger. Whatever you do, be sure to allow a bit of time for just relaxing and getting to know the locals-- be it at a winery, or in town. The softer-paced lifestyle here is addictive, and worth discovering.

We hope you have a wonderful time. :)

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn