Our 3 day Napa Trip

Okay, so we were in Napa about 5 days, but getting there and coming back and everything blah you get it. I’m not writing this to brag, I’m writing this to help give ideas and how to space it all out. I spent a lot of time creating this itinerary and I’m hoping it can help someone else. ūüôā Keep in mind that I am gluten free and my husband is not, so every place we stopped and ate had a gluten free option for me.

Day 1

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After eating breakfast at the BnB, we drove up 29 and started at V. Sattui around 9:15, they open at 9. I had found a 2 for 1 tasting card, but they have the same coupon on Visit Napa’s app. (And a bunch of other tasting cards and discounts!) Make sure to buy a bottle of water here, stay hydrated my friends. We toured, tasted and talked around this beautiful vineyard for about an hour. You can self guide underground and walk in the garden it’s absolutely gorgeous. Going this early fights the crowds as well. V. Sattui is very well known as a tourist spot.

Next we continued up 29 to Heitz Cellars, which opens at 10. They have complimentary tastings (YUP IT’S FREEEEE). We tasted their wines for free, and talked to the staff. The staff here is very nice and will give you as much information as you want/need. After the tastings are over, pet Rudy, the vineyard’s dog. And tour their beautiful facility. We stayed here for about another hour, talking and touring.

After these two places, we were hungry so we went to Gott’s Roadside¬†in St. Helena right up 29 from Heitz Cellars. It’s a great relaxing burger joint. You can eat on picnic tables and enjoy the space. We got there right before noon, and there was a pretty long line, but the service is great so it goes by very quickly. It’s reasonably priced as well. ūüôā Can’t go wrong with a good burger.

The next vineyard we visited was Frog’s Leap. It was gorgeous, and the tour was hilarious. This vineyard used to be an old frog farm. It’s just so silly and a great time! You have to book this tour in advanced, fyi. I didn’t know that, but luckily they had availability.

We went back to the BnB to get our lock to put on the bridge of love, or whatever they call it.¬†This bridge is the walk up to the Wine Train. It is in downtown Napa, near the BnB, and by the Westin Hotel. We parked in downtown and walked over. While walking over we inadvertently did the Napa art walk and it was fun! The whole downtown is sprinkled with sculptures or paintings or other neat ARTifacts. (tee hee) We finally got to the bridge and did our cheesy 1 year wedding anniversary lock, and then we tried to find Amy and Sheldon’s lock from the Big Bang Theory. (YEAH, it’s there!! If you find it, send me a picture!) However, we couldn’t find it. ūüė¶

After all that walking, we sure got thirsty, so on our way back from the bridge we stopped at Mason Cellars. It is kind of tucked away, but they offer complimentary tastings as well! (I’m all about the free, honey!) ¬†Mason Cellars is neat because it has artwork all over it. You can just walk around and taste, while viewing all the beautiful pieces. (Be careful when planning Mason Cellars, because they are closed on Tuesdays, so random)

You’ll probably be just as famished as we were after that. So, you’ll want to head on over to Velo Pizzeria for some grub. When we went they were only selling pizza by the slices, and oh my gosh. It was unbelievably good. I had the pesto, mushroom and cheese pizza! The slice was as big as my head! It was incredible. They also have beer on tap, and a full bar, so if you’re tired of wine you can refresh your pallet.

We were pretty beat after this so we went back to the hotel and played scrabble like old people.

Day 2

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Good morning, sunshine! After eating breakfast on this day, we had previously booked (and paid) for our seats on the Wine Trolley! They picked us up from the V Marketplace, but we got to the V Marketplace early so we shopped! It’s the cutest little town and has the nicest boutiques. We parked behind the Coffee Caboose and it definitely gave Starbucks a run for it’s money.

Finally the trolley came and the day was planned for us. (We received discounts at every vineyard because we were apart of the wine trolley, also the lunch and the Castle tour and tasting were included)

We started at the Castello di Amorosa! The vineyard I had been waiting for! It was incredible, not a single detail was overlooked, even the torture chamber. YIKES! They had a great tour with an amazing tasting! We had to buy a bottle of their Fantasia, it tasted like grape juice! Seriously!! Tasting and tour was included.

We stopped at Franciscan Estate for lunch! They have a beautiful landscape, we had a delicious picnic lunch and then a tour. Our tour guide was hilarious and very knowledgable. He took us around the estate and explained that they have the most expensive land in the nation! 10 acres cost 10 million dollars. WHOA! They also have the Rutherford Bench, which is a huge inside joke amongst Napkins (isn’t that cute, that’s what people are called who live in Napa) We got to see the insides of the winery and all the barrels and even taste some wine straight from a barrel, that was pretty cool. Tasting and tour was $20 a person.

Finally, we stopped at Provenance. Where we sat on the patio and were served with different tastings. The wine was really good and it was a nice end to our day of traveling, very laid back. They did not offer a tour, but my feet were tired from all the walking at the Castle and Franciscan, so I wasn’t complaining. Tasting was $20 a person

When we were finished with the Wine Trolley and back at our car, it was time for dinner! We went to Downtown Napa’s iconic Downtown Joe’s. This is where everyone goes for a good time out. They had a GREAT burger! Right when we were starting to eat a band started playing. We stayed inside because I had gotten a little too much sun, but you can sit outside and you’re right on the Napa River. Downtown Joe’s has beautiful views from their patio. My husband says that they have fantastic craft beers, too, if you’re into that.

We were pretty exhausted after all this activity. So, in our robes, we played cards and drank our bottle of Fantasia, on our room’s patio.

Day 3

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We were ALMOST wined out by our third day, but William and I are not quitters.

So, we started our day on Highway 29 going north and stumbled upon a beautiful (and open at 9:30) vineyard called Grgich Hills Estate. It’s family owned and operated, we talked to one of the founders sons (or maybe grandson, I don’t remember)! We got to guess how many corks were in a giant bottle for a chance for free wine and we saw a bobblehead of the original owner. It was $20 a person for a tasting, but the tasting was waived if you bought something. So, we bought something for only $10 more! No brainer!

Then we continued going north towards Sterling Vineyards. I found a coupon in a magazine from our hotel that was a free upgrade to the Premium Tasting. (Woo hoo!) Sterling Vineyards has a tram/gondola thing that takes you up to the winery. It was about $56 for the both of us. We enjoyed beautiful views and self guided tour, while sipping about 10 different wines, with several refills.

We were hungry and tipsy, so we strolled over to Checkers, an Italian restaurant in Calistoga. (Just north of Sterling Vineyards) It was reasonably priced and the food came out quickly!

On the way towards Napa, on Highway 29, we saw Sutter Home, which we all know and love their wines. They have complimentary tastings, FREEEE! This area is so nice, and their winery looks like a home! (no, duh) It’s beautiful and worth the price ūüėČ

After Sutter Home, we drove back to Downtown Napa and did some souvenir shopping at the MANY welcome shops. We did some olive oil tastings at a welcome shop. We were quite tired so we went back to the BnB to rest (play scrabble) and munch on the h’or devours that they offered.

We were pretty wined out after 3 days, so we decided to go bowling at Ultra Crush Lounge. It was so fun! It’s a bowling alley inside a resort hotel! Bowling was $15 per person, per hour. And an hour was about all we could do!

We grabbed dinner from Bugerfi and sat right on the Napa River. We enjoyed our delicious burgers and beautiful scenery one last time.

 

We had a great trip, it was action packed, yet still really relaxing.

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Napa… on my budget?!?!

Yup, it’s true! You can enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley on a small budget! Let me show you how I did it.

When to go?

The cheapest time to go is around the grape’s “winter”. They call it winter, but we went during Spring Break and it would get up to 80 degrees. It was perfect weather. Because it isn’t the harvesting time, there isn’t a ton of traffic (tourists, blah). Also, most hotels are not booked, so it’ll be the best time for prices!

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    Where to stay?

    We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, MY FAVORITE PLACE TO STAY! We got a discount because it was during Napa’s Winter, our discount was buy one night, get one free. No, I’m not kidding!! The stay was literately 50% off! It was a huge room with a romantic fireplace and gigantic tub! Thanks to the Blackbird Inn. I definitely recommend staying here; it was a short walk from downtown Napa, breakfast was to die for, cookies, sodas, tea and coffee available 24/7, AND they had hor devours at 5pm every day! I ate sooo much and it was all included!

  • I would look at several locations for the best rate, but keep in mind that location is everything. We stayed in Napa, however Napa Valley is from Sonoma (south of Napa) to past Calistoga. Napa is the perfect middle ground.

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    What type of adventure do you suggest?

    I suggest taking the wine trolley. It was AWESOME! We had the funniest and sweetest tour guide. They have a trolley that takes you to 4 vineyards and includes a yummy lunch for $99. This is a really great deal because you don’t have to drive, they plan the whole day for you, and the vineyards have discounts on their tours/tastings because you’re riding on the trolley. We made a lot of friends, our tour had 15 Australians, it was a blast. Important!! The trolley really makes sure that you’re staying hydrated, they give you water every time they stop and start! We chose to do a more expensive tour because I really wanted to go see the Castle!!

     

    Aren’t tastings expensive?

    Only if you don’t know where to look. I found coupons (at our bed and breakfast) and groupons for a lot of 2 for 1 tastings. So, we saved quite a bit doing that. However, there are some places you have to see and don’t mind spending money on.
    These places include:

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    • Sterling Vineyards- I found a coupon in a local magazine for a free upgrade from the regular tasting. It saved us $20 and bumped up our tickets. Sterling has a beautiful aerial view from a tram that takes you to the vineyard. Yeah, it’s fancy! This was just under $60 for the both of us, but it was one of the coolest places. You get a free souvenir glass and when we were done we counted about 10 tastings each, not including the multiple refills we enjoyed.IMG_0288
    • Castello di Amorosa- also known as the CASTLE! We took the trolley up to the Castle so the tasting/tour was included and VERY in depth. We went into all the caves and it was creepy and really cold! This was a really neat and personalized tour, but I think that’s because we were on the trolley. AND THEY HAVE ANIMALS YOU CAN PET! It was so awesome!
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    • Heitz Cellars- Heitz was great! Mostly because it was completely FREE! Saaaaay whaaaat? It was also great, because they have a dog that works in the tasting room. He’s a great salesman. Oh, did I forget to mention that they’re tastings are completely FREE? Okay, good.
    • Mason Cellars- Mason Cellars is in downtown Napa and they have free tastings as well. Just keep in mind that they are closed on Tuesdays, random I know…
  • IMG_0259.JPGV. Sattui- V. Sattui is your quintessential tourist vineyard. It’s absolutely beautiful, but it gets JAM PACKED! We showed up, with our 2 for 1 tasting coupon thanks to the Visit Napa Valley app, right when they opened. I know what you’re thinking, 9:30 is too early for wine, but not for Napa Valley and not if you want to actually talk to the workers and learn about V. Sattui.
    • We went to a bunch of vineyards, but these were the absolute best for the price!

What can I do that isn’t wine?

I am so glad you asked. Of course I know the free things to do.

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  • You need to take your companion over to the wine train. They have this beautiful bridge that is covered in locks. It’s super cheesy and we were all over it. (So, only bring your partner if you’re serious.)

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    One of the many interesting things you can sit on, while doing the art walk.
  • There’s an art walk in downtown Napa. Great paintings, statues are all around downtown and it’s beautiful. Just go for a stroll and relax, it’s vacation!
  • You can go bowling at Ultra Crush Lounge in the super nice Mertiage Resort. Yeah.. bowling in a hotel!?! It’s crazy. It was $15 per person, per hour, but after a long day of wine, you need a break.
  • You can always souvenir shop, or regular shop. In downtown Napa there are a ton of stores, and welcome centers that sell souvenirs or have olive oil tastings yum!

Go to my next blog to see our day by day itinerary and feel free to copy! We made the most out of our time in Napa!

Unique Experiences by DFW Airport

So, you’re either staying home, DFW what what!! Or you’ve decided to come down to the Cowboys’ Town. There are (approximately) a bazillion of things to do and places to go in the DFW. There’s also a ton of stuff you can do without breaking the bank.

Shall I go on?

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Grapevine, Texas

You totally need to go to Grapevine, Texas. It’s literately right by DFW airport. Grapevine is obviously named because it’s got so much WINE! It’s like Texas’ small town version of Napa Valley.

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  1. You have to see Delaney Vineyards it’s sooooo pretty and it has VINES!

    2.Then, go to Main St. and just walk up and down go from tasting to tasting and stop and eat at Farina’s¬†¬†it’s a delicious italian food/pizzeria. Farina’s has great gluten free options!! Keep going and sipping and you can have some amazing Tex-Mex from Esparza’s.

download (6)3.Grapevine is home to the Gaylord Texan, which is like you’ve stepped into a totally different world. It’s got 2 amazing pools, and a waterpark that opens after Memorial Day. They also have one of the top nightclubs in the nation! The Glass Cactus, it’s AMAZING! They shoot fireworks at 9pm and have a beautiful deck overlooking Lake Grapevine. The Gaylord is totally worth the price, it’s a GREAT experience! They have good deals if you join their Marriott rewards. It’s totally free and you get free wifi just for signing up.

download (7)4.Grapevine also hosts¬†Great Wolf Lodge, I’ve never been there (because a lot of my students go and when I vacation I’m trying to get AWAY from them.) BUT It’s a great family friendly resort and it has an indoor waterpark that’s open all year round. It’s a lot more expensive than the Gaylord though.

5.Grapevine has Grapefest, block parties, and more just check their website for events on the town’s calendar.

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Fort Worth, y’all.

If Grapevine doesn’t sound like your thing, that’s okay! You can go to Fort Worth.¬†Fort Worth, Texas is ginormous, the fun stuff isn’t near the airport, even though it’s called DFW airport. There are a lot of areas that are awesome!

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Sundance
  1. Go to Sundance Square!¬†¬†It’s exactly as it sounds, it’s a giant square. There are some great restaurants, my personal favorite in the square is Taco Diner. (Can you tell I love Tex-Mex?) After dinner, you can go to one of the fun pubs/bars around, or you can go for a romantic evening at the Scat Jazz Lounge. This is a great low-key jazz club. It’s tiny, but that makes it even more romantic. If jazz isn’t your thing there’s a great piano bar called Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, and it’s a hopping country/top40 piano bar. You can’t go wrong with these jokesters playing and singing all night. If none of this sounds fun, there are a TON of chic stores around. They also have great events on the square, like movie nights for free projected or block parties, just check their website for events on the calendar.

download (4)2. If you want your stereotypical Texan experience, check out the Stockyards. It’s clearly what you thought it would be. If you need more Texas cowboy country in your life, you can go to Billy Bob’s… there’s really not much that would be more Texan. Unless you get BBQ for dinner.

3. Now, if none of this sounds good and you’re a hipster, or a wanna be like me.¬†You should check out Magnolia street. Obviously I’m going to tell you where the greatest Tex-Mex joint is… Yucatan Taco Stand. They have live music, a sweet patio, and the biggest place of nachos you’ll ever see! Magnolia is fun, because you can just walk up and down the street and see some awesome music venues, awesome roof top patios and cool unique bars. Like the Usual.

These are just a few things on the West and North side of the Airport there are a ton more that can be done. To find great deals, there are ALWAYS Groupons for most of the things I just listed. Next post will be about Dallas and the East and South side of the Airport.

Don’t Fall into the Self-PITy!

 

There’s like a bazillion sins that I don’t even realize I do and I pray that God shows them to me so that I can grow closer with him. Now, I know that God is showing them to me slowly, because if he didn’t I would totally hate myself for being such a terrible daughter.¬†

The most recent sin He’s shown me is Self-Pity.

God just revealed to me the pit of self pity. That trap that we fall into and it’s easy to do, I do it all the time. (I’m the worst, I’m always pitying myself… here I go againnnnnnn <—me falling into the pit of self pity.)

This is such a sneaky sin. We don’t even realize that we’re falling into the pit, until we’re rock bottom in it. And it’s hard to get out, once you’ve sunk low enough. But what’s so bad about the self-PITy? Well, when we are in the pit, all we can think about are the situations that brought us down there, right? A recent illness, financial troubles, the end of a relationship, etc. When these¬†temporary situations control our attitude, God’s not even an after thought. These thoughts control everything, the walk we walk, the way we perform at our jobs, and so on. (Think of the self-fulfilling prophecy!) We start to edge God out of our lives, because we become so overwhelmed by how much we suck.
We need to protect ourselves from ever going close to the edge of it.
How can we protect ourselves from the self-PITy?
By keeping our eyes on God. (What does that even mean?!?!) It means…
“pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Don’t stop talking and thanking the Lord for what He has done. And for what He’s doing. There are things He’s doing in the background that you don’t even know about, I promise!! Ask Him to reveal some of that with you, if you don’t believe me.
“Cast all your anxieties to him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Let go! Give everything to Him, I promise He’s taking care of you! Did you ever think that maybe your situation is happening to draw you closer to Him? NOOO! That’s probably exactly what’s happening. My closest moments to God were when I was in traumatic situations and had no one else to rely on.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a promise to hold onto. Memorize this! Write it on your heart and stand firm in knowing that….
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ¬†Proverbs 3:5-6
I can say all of this because I know that God is making my paths straight. I know this, because I thank Him along the way. (Yes, even in the bad times, you brats.)