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Romantic trip - recommendations please!

Hi all...I'm new here, but have read the rules and done many searches, so hopefully I won't be breaking any rules.

My fabulous boyfriend will be taking me on a trip to SF in August, from the 8th to the 12th. We have a bare bones itinerary and need some help in filing out the holes. We are looking for a low key way to experience the beauty of the area while doing lots picnicking, and perhaps some hiking. Of course, we want to taste some wines and olives. I hate the idea of rushing through anything and want to savor the scenery and the great food. So here's the plan...

Sunday Aug 8th - arrive in late in SF, stay at the Airport Fairfield Inn.

Monday Aug 9th - wake early, drive through SF and see the Golden Gate Bridge. Visit Muir woods, and perhaps stop at the Fremont Diner?
- travel to Sonoma, stay at the Inn in Glen Ellen. Visit Gundlach Bunschu for a wine tasting and picnic.

Tuesday thru Thursday August 10th - 12th - scenic drive on back roads to Napa. Suggestions as to which rd??
- stay 2 nights at Caymus Rancho in Rutherford.
- leaving on the red eye 10pm

We'd love your opinions on some things that sound really fun, such as:

*picnicking at Bennet Hill
*olive tour and tasting at Round pond in Rutherford
*eating at Rutherford Grill
*riding the gondola at Sterling
*visiting the hot springs
*hiking, and of course picnicking, the Palisades trail.

Any practical considerations that we should keep in mind? I have a great picnic backpack and would love to eat somewhere beautiful outside every day if possible, so breakfast and dinner suggestions would be welcome. I'm really wanting to hear about romantic places where my bf and I can enjoy ourselves.

Thanks in advance!

Rutherford Grill
1180 Rutherford Rd, Napa, CA 94558

Fremont Diner
2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

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  1. Hi, go to the Fisherman's wharf and have lunch or dinner. You can then
    take a boat cruise to Alcatraz. Don't forget the beach...bring a bottle of wine, and a
    fruit and dip platter. You can feed each other; stare in his eyes and as for the rest,
    I'll leave it up to you. (giggles)

    1 Reply
    1. re: morning star

      They are touring wine country, not the City.

    2. There are a number of wineries that have picnic spots, but some of them only allow you to picnic on their property with a reservation. Here's a list: http://www.napavintners.com/wineries/...

      I did the olive oil tour at Round Pond a few years ago, and it was lovely.

      1. We just stayed at Glen Ellen Inn cottages last winter and it was great! If you are staying there, you should definitely grab dinner at the Fig Cafe next door. They have free corkage and very affordable prix fixe menu. The Garden Court cafe across the street has a great breakfast, cheaper and more selection than at the Glen Ellen Inn.

        Garden Court Cafe
        13647 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

        Glen Ellen Inn
        13670 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

        1. great picnic spot is above Auberge du Soleil in Napa - it's across from Rutherford Hill winery. Go to Oakville Grocery or Dean & Deluca, pick up your stuff and head over.

          Oakville Grocery
          124 Matheson St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

          Rutherford Hill
          200 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA

          Soleil Restaurant
          625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

          6 Replies
          1. re: vis

            Don't you have to buy a bottle of wine from RH?

            Bennet Hill -- do you mean Bennett Lane? It's OK, not great for picnicking.
            Riding the gondola at Sterling -- take a pass, not really worthwhile and the wines are not well-crafted
            The Table Rock portion of Palisades is perfect for picnicking.
            IMO, there are better picnic supplies at Sunshine Market in St. Helena, certainly better prices.
            Wonderful small winery across the street from Rancho Caymus: Elizabeth Spencer.
            Also across the street, the great burritos at La Luna Market -- perfect for lunch.

            Be sure to read the other posts on Napa Valley.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              I actually don't know if you have to do that - i don't think this is owned by RH but I could be wrong. Either way, I think every time we've been there we've bought at least one bottle.

              1. re: vis

                The picnic grounds to which you're referring are the RH picnic grounds, reserved for their guests only,
                and there is a charge to use them.

                The website says:

                "Picnic Groves:
                Picnic Tables can be reserved for $25 per table by calling 707-963-1871 x2249. For groups of 25 people or more please contact events@rutherfordhill.com."


              2. re: maria lorraine

                Thanks for this info. That's disappointing about the gondola, it seemed like such a fun, romantic thing to do :(

                I'm wondering about the differences in the various picnic supply places. How would you describe the offerings vs. prices at Dean & Deluca, Oakville Grocery, and Sunshine Market? I'm interested in gourmet food rather than run of the mill picnic fare.


                Oakville Grocery
                124 Matheson St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                1. re: sodone

                  Well if it's gourmet you want, how about a ham sandwich from D&D with jamón ibérico de bellota. They also have Round Pond olive oil but you're probably going to get that at the mill.

                  1. re: sodone

                    None of the stores are run of the mill -- all are gourmet. It will be easy enough to check all of them out. The wait can get long so go well-ahead of the lunch rush.

                    The gondola is a short tram ride. Do it if you must. The view from Sterling's South Terrace is lovely. The view from Table Rock is phenomenal. Likewise, Pride, Viader, Spring Mountain wineries.

              3. Thanks for the great ideas! I think we'll definitely go to the Fig cafe and the Garden Court cafe. And I love the idea for the great picnic spot as well.

                Garden Court Restaurant
                8141 Redwood Blvd, Novato, CA 94945

                1. You should definitely know about Dean and Deluca, they will have everything you need for a picnic. You could go there and pick up any kind of wonderful noche and take it to a winery of your choosing. I would also make sure you have your own picnic essentials before you leave home (corkscrew, blanket, utensils, etc.). Napa can be expensive and it's better to reserve all of your spending for food and wine instead of incidentals that could be brought from home. Once you are there everyone will have a suggestion and/or recommendation, so don't worry about having holes in your plan... it's actually better that way. There are so many wonderful little spots to discover, go with you picnic gear and an open mind- you will have a great time. Cheers!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: savorygirl

                    I have a great picnic backpack that has all that we'll need. I even got a teeny little lantern that someone on these boards had mentioned :) so I'm all prepared. I guess it's good not to stress about the holes in the plan, thanks for the suggestion to go with the flow a little.

                  2. You don't mention what you are planning to do for breakfast on Monday. I suggest a stop at the Ferry Building where you can pick up baked goods, good coffee, cheese and even wine to use for picnic supplies that day. Then just hug the Embarcadero for the water views. Drive through Fisherman's Wharf so you can say you have been there, but this tacky tourist area really doesn't have much to offer in the way of good food.

                    You can drive along the Marina to the GG Bridge for great views or drive up Chestnut street if you decide against the Ferry Building and need to stop for a bite to eat.

                    Some of the back roads of Napa are not all that, involving slow winding roads with not much payback scenery-wise. My favorite route from Sonoma to Napa is 12/121 where Fremont Diner is located.

                    Not sure if you plant to go to Fremont Diner then the hotel or visa versa. If fyou go to the hotel, Fremont is a bit out of the way and I'd save it for the next day no your way to napa. They open at 7 am, so you could plan your meal accordingly.

                    A rather charming new place in Sonoma is La Bodega. It is in a little courtyard off the town square and chatting with the owner about wine and cheese is fun. Here is my report

                    You should stop at Vella Cheese which is tiny but has a nice feel to it and good Monterrey Jack cheese. Sonoma Market is a great place to pick up picnic supplies also.

                    In the town of Napa itself, Oxbow Market has cheese and other shops for picnic supplies.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: rworange

                      Thanks rworange! I hadn't thought about that breakfast monday am, and I like your idea. Also, my bf saw a teeny little road to Napa while we were looking at a map and he is liking the idea of travelling a little back road. I like the idea of a scenic drive where we can stop along the way to eat or to get out and enjoy beautiful scenery while we think romantic thoughts :) I think that maybe 12/121 is the way to go.

                      I'm gonna go now to read your report on La Bodega :)

                      1. re: sodone

                        If your bf found Trinity road here is some additional information with some previews.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          Thanks wolfe! That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for!!

                        2. re: sodone

                          Generally, the back roads of Napa Valley are stunning -- where the hidden beauty is. I guess it depends on which back road you're on.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            If you take Spring Mountain Road (which I think starts as St. Helena Rd on the Sonoma County end) you can visit Pride and School House Vineyards (both of which I really like). My favorite back road is the Oakville grade, absolutely awesome drive, But there aren't any stops worth making on it (as far as I can tell anyway). Avoid this road though if car sickness is an issue.

                            1. re: Piperdown

                              Slight detour south to Mayacamas. See link above.

                      2. Thanks all!

                        I wanted to let you know that your advice was right on the money! My bf was very impressed with my knowledge of places that we should try, and this ended up being a trip of a lifetime :)

                        Some highlights...Round Pond. We took the olive oil tour and had the tasting. It was just the two of us and we were treated like royalty. We then went across the street for a wine tasting and again were treated like superstars. A fabulous experience.

                        The Glen Ellen Inn was beautiful and romantic and far exceeded our expectations. It was ideally located for easy access to restaurants, shopping, etc. Loved it!

                        Loved Gundlach Bundschu as well. Did another tour there and had a lovely picnic lunch. All of the places mentioned to get picnic supplies had amazing offerings. I think Dean andd Deluca was my favorite.

                        Thank you all so much!

                        Glen Ellen Inn
                        13670 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen, CA 95442