Skip the four-figure tab at The French Laundry—there are plenty of ways to enjoy this walkable Napa Valley town without going broke.
Yountville is arguably the most famous town in Napa Valley. Its reputation far exceeds its tiny size (it’s home to just 3,000 people) thanks, of course, to Thomas Keller’s Michelin three-star restaurant, plus a whole host of other destination-worthy eateries and wine tasting rooms.
It's easy for locals to chalk up Yountville as a destination just for tourists, ones with hefty coin to dole out at that. And while it’s true that there countless ways to rack up sky-high bills here, there is actually so much more to do and taste without breaking the bank in this quaint Wine Country village than most of us give it credit for.
Yountville is especially great for a day trip since you can park your car in the morning and forget about it the rest of the day. With one main road, the town is easy walkable for exploring restaurants, tasting rooms, public art, parks, and shops. And, thanks to the Yountville law that requires a certain percentage of tasting room space to be devoted to non-wine-related use, you'll find an interesting variety of experiences.
There’s room for regular, non-rich folk in Yountville, too: Here’s how to spend a perfect day on a budget.
Morning in Yountville: English Muffins, Free Art + Budget-Friendly Wine Tasting
Specially commissioned works by local and national artists regularly rotate along the free and open to the public Yountville Art Walk.
(Courtesy of @shane8675309)
Start the day with Oprah's favorite English muffins or a breakfast sando at this mini outpost of Model Bakery (its main location is in downtown Napa). Wash them down with a Stumptown coffee. // 6523 Washington St., themodelbakery.com
An Art Tour
Take your coffee to go and hit the well-manicured sidewalks that will lead you along a free public art walk. Yountville commissions sculptures from local and world-renowned artists; there are at least 35 pieces on display at any given time. Scan the QR codes on each sculpture to learn about the work and its creator, or listen to a free audio tour. You'll find the famous "Love Wine" sign by Richard Starks at Washington and California Avenue; it's ripe for a photo moment. // Next, stop by the Napa Valley Museum(55 Presidents Circle), which offers rotating exhibits. Through April 30, 2023, see a collection of striking photographs captured on film sets by Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges.
Swirl + Sip at Hestan Tasting Salon
In the wine world, Thomas Rivers Brown is an MVP. As one of Napa’s most accomplished winemakers, Brown is behind some of the region's most distinctive wines, including those made for Hestan Vineyards and Meyer Vineyards, which fall under the Hestan collection of sustainably farmed wines. Tastings here ($40 per person) are a chance to try some of Brown’s wines at an affordable price. Don't miss the gorgeous Hestan cookware while you sip. // One-hour tastings are by appointment; 6548 Washington St, hestanvineyards.com
An Affordable Afternoon in Yountville: Picnic Lunch + (More) Wine Tasting
Don't let the potato chip pairings and affordable price point fool you: Decked out entirely in Ralph Lauren furnishings, Silver Trident's Yountville tasting room has style and substance.
(Courtesy of Silver Trident)
Light-on-the-Wallet Lunch Alfresco
Yountville does public parks about as well as it does food and wine. Make the best of all worlds (and save some cash) with a picnic. Your first stop is Velo Deli & Pizzeria (6498 Washington St.) for huge made-to-order sandwiches, most of them under $15. Then, grab a bottle of local wine to go from Kelly's Filling Station & Wine Shop(6795 Washington St.), a local favorite in a renovated gas station—yep, you could fill up your tank, too. // You’ll spot plenty of cute little green spaces along your walks through. One of the best is Veteran’s Park (6465 Washington St.); after you've scarfed your food, you can pick up a game of bocce.
Make room for another tasting—or two.
While Yountville may be known for its wine tastings priced at $100 and up, there are a surprising number of tastings under $50 if you know where to look. If the weather's nice, grab a bistro table outside at Hill Family Tasting Salon(reservations are required for tastings Thursday through Monday; 6512 Washington St.), which also has a cozy tasting room indoors with leather couches, a long antique wood table, and a super laid-back vibe. This family operation is known for excellent pinot noir and merlot from its winery in the Yountville appellation. Taste a selection of wines for just $40—they'll waive the fee if you buy 100 bucks worth. // Make reservations in advance for a truly unique tasting experience at Silver Trident Winery(open daily; 6495 Washington St.): the "Potato Chip Extravaganza" ($50 per guest), which pairs five Silver Trident wines with five different kinds of artisanal chips. The whole deal feels decadent in a space entirely kitted out—think plaid wallpaper, vintage rugs, silver trays, crystal wine glasses, and plush club seating—by Ralph Lauren Home.
At around $20 per trio, these aren't the cheapest tacos you'll ever eat. But Thomas Keller's La Calenda serves up a value for Yountville—plus, mezcal is in order after all that wine.
(Courtesy of @lacalendamex)
Tacos, but make them Thomas Keller-fied.
Dinner in Yountville is an event. You'll see dressed-up honeymooners and vacationers steering toward the French Laundry, Bottega, and Bistro Jeanty. But you'll be headed for something better: tacos among the locals. But don't worry, this fresh Mexican food place is owned by Thomas Keller, so you can still say you've eaten at one of his restaurants. La Calenda(6518 Washington St.) serves regional Mexican cuisines with a spotlight on Oaxaca in such dishes as mole coloradito, grilled marinated fish, and tacos de barbacoa. The hefty cocktail menu highlights a collection of more than 30 tequila and mezcal drinks, while an extensive wine list leans heavily south of the border.
Don't want to leave?
Spending the night in Yountville can cost an unholy amount of money these days, with rooms easily going for $1,000-plus per night. This is the beauty of being a Bay Arean: You can just go home (bring your designated driver). But if you’re looking for a place to stay, some of Yountville's more affordable options include bed and breakfasts such as the French Country–style Maison Fleurie(6529 Yount St.) where you might score a petite queen room for under $300 a night midweek; the five-room Petit Logis Inn(6527 Yount St.), which has weekend rates of $300 in March; or Lavender Inn(2020 Webber Ave.), where all nine rooms have a king bed, fireplace, and tub at 20 to 35 percent off when you book direct.