Napa Valley

When B and I decided to spend some time up in Napa Valley, I was overwhelmed to say the least.  With 400 wineries, how were we ever going to find the *Perfect Ones* to go to?


I did an embarrassing amount of research to pick which two wineries we were going to visit.  We didn’t particularly want to visit any of the more popular ones, though we did consider Domaine Carneros and V. Sattui.

We decided on Stewart Cellars and Ashes & Diamonds.

I was pretty much sold on Stewart Cellars the moment I saw a picture of their dreamy courtyard.  I don’t even remember where I found it, but the more I saw the further I was convinced.  They have a gorgeous tasting hall, in addition to the courtyard, but I think we got the best seats in the house at a window side bar, since James kindly opened up the windows for us, allowing the perfect breeze to come in without being blinded by the California sun.  They also have a location of Southside Cafe on property, which helped our decision to go, knowing we would be able to grab a salad or torta after our wine tasting!

I found our second winery, Ashes & Diamonds, through one of my favorite Instagram accounts and bloggers, Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar!  The newest winery in Napa just opened in November of 2017, and offers a love letter to wine country that is so refreshing, especially after seeing some of the more ostentatious chateaus in the area.  The bright white and yellow midcentury modern buildings serve as an ode to Napa’s entree to the global wine business in the 1960s.   The inside space is striking yet welcoming- with comfortable seating and wine cork side tables, no detail has been spared.  The eye for minutia is even seen down to the bottle labels, designed by Brian Roettinger, aka the art director behind Magna Carta Holy Grail.  There are two distinct label designs, signaling whether the bottle is from a single vineyard or a blend!  Light and happiness pours throughout the property, creating the absolute perfect atmosphere.

Both of our sommeliers were amazing.  They did a really great job of gauging our wine knowledge and teaching us about the wines we were drinking and the process behind them in laymen’s terms, recognizing that we could still have a fun and informative experience without being wine connoisseurs.  Make sure you bring cash with you, since some wineries don’t accept electronic tips, even when though they are well deserved by the staff.

We spent the morning before our first wine tasting strolling the charming streets of Yountville, including a stop at Bouchon Bakery, one of my favorite stops in NYC as well.  They have a beautiful courtyard outside to eat at, if you manage to snag one of the coveted tables.  No where else in Napa that we went to was as busy as this bakery was!  In addition to Bouchon, the legendary Thomas Keller also has ad hoc and French Laundry right in town.  If I succeed in coming back to Napa soon for a more relaxed type of vacation (instead of the one day excursion from SF), I would probably stay at Hotel Yountville or Napa Valley Lodge.

The town of Napa itself has a great downtown area that we were able to spend a perfect evening walking around exploring.  There are plenty of restaurants we wanted to try, including Alba, Zuzu, Tarla, and Eiko’s, but we decided to snack our way through Oxbow Public Market instead.

We could have easily spent a full week in Napa Valley, and we hope to get the chance to soon!  It strikes the perfect balance of being relaxed and laid back, with no shortage of activities to do.  We would have loved the chance to go hiking or biking around the beautiful area, taken a hot air balloon ride, or taken a bit extra time to unwind at one of the world class spas.  Until next time, Napa!

San Antonio

Welcome back.  Today is the last installment of my Texas trip guides (you can view Austin here and my nightlife guide here).  Since it’s only about an hour’s drive from Austin, we decided to spend a day in San Antonio, ending it with a Spurs game at the AT&T center.  We had a late night the day before, so we took our time getting up and out of the hotel and got to San Antonio by late morning.  We decided to spend the day downtown, which allowed us access to all of San Antonio’s highlight attractions.  The list of other attractions we didn’t have time to get out to included the Botanical Garden and McNay Art Museum.

Most of our day was spent on the River Walk, a beautiful Texan Treasure.  As our first full vacation day, we alternated between walking along the river and watching other people do so from the comfort of a bench; catching up on life and talking leisurely in the lush oasis.  The River Walk seemed to me like the reverse High Line.  But instead of being elevated above the city you’re sunk in below it, hidden and protected by the overwhelming greenery in a serene kind of paradise.  From the midday warmth to the romantic evening under twinkling cafe lights, the River Walk shines at all parts of the day.

Nearby is the Shops at Rivercenter, where we stopped twice for a coffee and ice cream cone.  There was an abundance of chain shops at restaurants alike, but we stopped at the Marble Slab Creamery and enjoyed it by the center’s San Antonio River front.

No trip to San Antonio would really be complete without a trip to the Alamo.  The history and evolution of this landmark is particularly fascinating, but the grounds are beautifully landscaped and full of palms and succulents providing some shade from the warm Texas sun.  (We also spent plenty of time on a park bench chatting inside the grounds here, too).

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great day!

xo, C

Vacation Nightlife

Hey guys!  Part two of my vacation round up here.  Today I’m talking about my favorite ways to spend evenings on vacation.  As someone who isn’t really about the nightlife scene and would rather find a killer restaurant than a hot new club, I feel the pain and pressure of finding things to do at night during vacation and that self-inflicted disappointment that maybe you’re going back to your hotel too early or you haven’t done enough yet.

As my best friend and number one travel companion, Jenn and I have a pretty good idea of what we want to spend our evenings doing.  When we’re in Boston, you can usually find us at a concert or sporting event, finding a place with deliciously close proximity to eat at beforehand (or find cheesecake at after, whatever).  So whatever corner of the country we’re zigzagging off to, we tend to follow similar patterns on vacation.

I think experiencing the sports culture of other areas in an underrated aspect of traveling.  In LA I was mesmerized by the Staples Center and how theatrical the whole experience was (how apropos, Hollywood) and equally shocked that it was still half empty at tipoff-something that would never happen in Boston!  In Texas, we ended up at the San Antonio Spurs game and had a blast exploring their new stadium and witnessing the way fans enjoy a game down south.

As the live music capital of the world, I knew I definitely wanted to see a concert while we were there.  Going back and forth between small venues and mainstream acts, it became clear to me that I definitely wanted to see something at the Moody Theater.  Seeing such a culturally significant theater such as the one ACL Live is filmed at seemed like a good way to spend an evening in Austin, but I couldn’t have imagined how much I would love it!  I have a tendency to geek out over the strangest and weirdest things, like being outside, but the Moody Theater really hit the nail on the head with me.  The sound quality is superb and from what I could tell every single seat in the house had fantastic sight lines to the stage.  The open air foyer was perfect for a beautiful Austin evening, and the outdoor stairs provided fantastic views down 2nd Street.  To call this “Music’s Best Address” is the best, most accurate statement of my concert attending days.

Since we live in the Information Age, there are a ton of online resources available that I’ve found helpful when planning trips, or even when I’m at home looking for something to do.  I frequently use the events calendar at home, and I get the BosTen Newsletter delivered to my inbox every Thursday with ten things going on in the city that weekend.  When I was trying to find concerts in Austin I used Austin360, which is how I found out my Uncle Greg had a concert scheduled for one of the days I was in Austin (crazy).  It’s also how I found out about The Lantern Fest, which was an incredible real life Tangled moment.  If you have the opportunity to go to one next year I highly recommend it.

Our first day in Texas, we wanted to make sure we had something to do so we didn’t let jet lag tempt us into staying at the hotel all night.  The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema kept coming up while doing research, so we decided to give the Texas chain a try.  Luckily the Ritz location was having a Rocky Horror Picture Show party (the same night as the TV special), and as an avid Rocky Horror fan I knew that would be a good option.  This movie theatre absolutely blew me away.  I wish there was one closer than New York City to me, because I would be there all.the.time.  Serving everything from pizza and beer to big bowls of popcorn to warm chocolate chip cookies, this really takes movie going to a whole new level.  10/10 would recommend.   As an added bonus, this particular location is right on Sixth Street.  At midnight when the movie got out we walked out to a bustling street of nightlife.  In lieu of cars, it was filled with people walking down the middle street going in and out of the seemingly endless bars.  Walking back to the car we were offered free shots at least twice I believe from different venues (Thirsty Thursday is alive and well in Austin).  Knowing that we would never have gone in search of the traditional nightlife scene, it was fun to get to experience it as a happy accident post movie!

Make sure you stop by tomorrow for a recap of San Antonio!  See you then!

xo, C