So You're Visiting Napa for the Weekend: Day 2

Balloon rides areNapa, and you simply cannot imagine the beauty of the valley in the early mornings. These excursions are romantic and old world -- and not for the meek at heart.
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(This post is part 3 of 3 for the perfect weekend itinerary...)
Day 2: Yountville/ Napa
Early Morning Ballooning

Coffee is served at 7am at Oakville Grocery, Dean + DeLuca and Bouchon Bakery, followed by a balloon ride with Napa Valley Balloons. Balloon rides are quintessentially Napa, and you simply cannot imagine the beauty of the valley in the early mornings. As residents, the sound of balloons catching air overhead is a very surreal experience in the groggy hours; sounding much like a GIANT taking a toke off his MASSIVE peace pipe! These excursions are romantic and old world, and not for the meek at heart!!! FYI: In the summertime, it is shockingly cold and foggy in the morning, so make sure to pack a lot of layers.

Lunch: Bouchon Bistro in Yountville

Bouchon promises to delight, indoors or out! I live to sneak away here under any circumstance: a romantic lunch or dinner with friends. I adore everything about Bouchon: Tony at the door, the authentic Parisian bistro vibe, the cozy seating, the lighting, for starters... I live for that EPI baguette on the table, served with the perfectly salted butter, a dozen oysters, followed the shrimp cocktail, and then... either the chocolate mousse OR the warm chocolate bouchons... Not to be missed... their amazing in house by-the-glass wine program at $8 a glass, juice procured from some of the Valley's best cellars.

After lunch, be sure to stop by Ma(i)sonry wine collective on Washington Street and taste the gorgeous wines of Blackbird, Lail, Husic, Pedras, to name a few ... I am all about "EXPERIENCE," and have to tip my hat to the brilliant vision of Michael Polenske who has found a way to illuminate all the things that he is passionate about: fine wine, art, and antiques while creating a real life "gallery."

This restaurant rocks year in and year out for a reason -- it is passionately Italian -- the owners, the food, the clothing, the music, the coquettish waiters etc. The big deal is: the food is really exceptional and the porch is super special and fun, particularly for a summer lunch or dinner. I also love the owners, Donna and Giovanni, because when I was in high school they gave me a summer job, hostess-ing at their first restaurant, Piatti. I crave their summer gazpacho, fried olives, pizza with figs, gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar, the seared salmon, and lastly... the "bostini" trifle--that 1200 calorie extravaganza that is not to be missed.

Late night naughtiness:
There are two choices, I am proud to share:
The first: The local fave--
Pancha's Bar
in Yountville

This bar is a dream, and nothing you'd ever expect to find in the town of Yountville.. And in truth, it is something you'd expect to find in Mexico or along Route 66. Pancha's is a treasure, that needs the respect of the Historic Preservation Society! During the day, its' parking lot is home to one of the very best taco trucks in the Valley; and by night, it is the same as it was decades upon decades ago. The owners run a very authentic establishment, one that is seedy and tragically hip at the same time, with a juke box, 2 pool tables, and respectably priced drinks. A good time is a sure bet here! PS: they only take cash!!!

The second: The UPTOWN THEATRE in Napa

The old mantra, "that, which is old, is new again" couldn't ring more true, for the recently refurbished UPTOWN THEATER in downtown Napa. This old and magical theater had become an awkward and carved-up, four screen movie house, and was dying on the vine. For the past dozen years it has been under construction, and supported by some of the Valley's wisest visionaries ... and finally reopened this spring. The UPTOWN THEATRE of today, has been lovingly restored to its' original glory and is bringing to the Napa Valley amazing musicians and performers of your youth. Their summer calendar includes: Roseanne Cash, Gypsy Kings, Cyndi Lauper, Merle Haggard, English Beat, Ani DiFranco, Rickie Lee Jones, Lyle Lovett, Rufus Wainwright...

(Photo credits: pancha image via, acme fine wines, uptown theater, maisonry)