For stateside romance, few places can beat the rolling hills and world-renowned vineyards of California’s wine country, an hour and a half north of San Francisco. Come here for a quick getaway or a more involved trip spent sniffing wines, strolling the coast, and surrendering to spa treatments and hot springs.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Flight time: 6 hours from NYC, 3 hours from LA
Getting around: Car
When To Go: Napa and Sonoma at their best
Best weather: August to November
Best prices: December to March
Grapes: Almost 300 vineyards dot Napa and Sonoma Valleys, including Beaulieu Vineyards, Sterling Vineyards, Domain Chandon (owned by Moet-Hennessey and Louis Vuitton), Kenwood Vineyards, Benziger Family Winery, Stag’s Leap, Blackstone, Sutter Home, Korbel Champagne Cellars, and Roederer Estate. If serendipity is your driver, be sure to visit large wineries for impromptu tours and tastings. Boutique wineries may require reservations. Venture underground, too, below Rutherford Hill in Napa Valley, for some of the largest wine caves in America. Or see the valley by train during a three-hour brunch, lunch, dinner, or theme ride from Napa to St. Helena and back on the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Hot Springs: The town of Calistoga is famous for its hot springs and spas. At the 1930s-inspired Indian Springs Resort and Spa, make an appointment for a volcanic mud bath but then arrive early to swim in the Olympic-sized, 90- to 102-degree mineral spring pool (said to feel like a giant vat of warm Perrier) and sip the house specialty — citrus and cucumber-infused mineral water.
Antiquing: In Sonoma, try the town of Petaluma, Sebastopol’s Antique Row (more than 200 dealers along the Gravenstein Country Highway), and the Collective Shops of Healdsburg. In Napa, take a drive on Highway 29 between Napa and Yountville or stop in at the Riverfront Antique Centre in downtown Napa.
Romance: Take in panoramic views of wine country — even San Francisco and the Sierras on a clear day — in a tranquil hot-air balloon ride.