Date Nights Spots, Happy Hours, Fun Brunch & Dinner Spots, Romantic Special Occasion Anniversary Ideas + Places To Meet Singles, Wine Country Activities, Day Trips from San Francisco

For the longest time, Napa and Sonoma were known for their endless wineries and Michelin star restaurants. A lot has changed in the last 5 years in that wine country to appeal to those beyond stuffy wine tasting experiences and Yountville restaurants that require reservations booked months out. 

As a professional photographer in San Francisco, I have scouted many areas for photoshoots, lifestyle images, branding sessions and backgrounds for headshots and portraits. It’s my job to create photos with the best conversation starters and iconic locations that invite people to learn more about my clients whether it’s for dating profiles, press releases, business profiles or personal branding efforts. Click here for press coverage.

Check out some of my favorite spots in and around Sonoma and Napa.

 

Date Ideas In Sonoma County + Fun, Romantic Things To Do In Napa Valley

Below is my list of casual, approachable date ideas as well as special occasion anniversary and honeymoon ideas all over Sonoma, Napa, Yountville, Healdsburg, Petaluma and beyond.

Domaine Carneros, Chateau Winery

 

For my Marin County and San Francisco date ideas, scroll to the bottom of the page.

For some of my favorite spots for views, photos, and backdrops in Sonoma and Napa, check out my gallery: https://eddie-hernandez.com/sonoma-and-napa/

Napa & Sonoma Wineries, Restaurants, Bars & More

Oxbow Public Market, Napa

Great place for a variety of appetites, dietary restrictions and places to sample bitters, sweets and other delicious bites. Pro-tip: The public market also features a Fieldwork Brewing taproom known for their hazy IPA’s and stouts (great option and a fan favorite on my list of breweries mentioned in my “Guiltless Ways To Trick Your Girlfriend / Wife To Go Beer Tasting” 

https://oxbowpublicmarket.com/

 

Girl and the Fig, Sonoma

Great restaurant and a classic Sonoma institution for places to eat in Sonoma. Known for amazing brunches and beautiful patio, this is a must stop for dining in Sonoma.

Pro-tip: They have Russian River Pliny the Elder on tap and their milk and cookies dessert is divine.

https://www.thegirlandthefig.com/

Hot Air Balloons, Yountville

If you don’t mind waking up early to enjoy the sunrise and look at wine country at dawn then this is for you.

https://yountville.com/balloon-rides/

 

Russian River Brewing Company, Windsor

Much bigger and more upscale than the smaller downtown location, this is a great place to visit for beer enthusiasts. Tours, tastes and lounging outdoors are all options for visitors to this amazing facility and production space.

https://russianriverbrewing.com/windsor-location/

 

Lagunitas Amphitheater, Petaluma

Live music, good beer and bites on the lawn on a warm afternoon day? Yes please!

https://lagunitas.com/music-amphitheater

 

Stone Brewing, Napa

Located in downtown Napa, this picturesque brewery is located on a beautiful plot of land on the river and is unassuming to those looking for a place for wine. Grab a seat for views of downtown on the river for a nice break from wine. Pro-tip: they do have wine here as well.

https://www.stonebrewing.com/visit/outposts/napa

 

Domaine Carneros, Napa

Beautiful estate featuring some of the best sparkling wine by a woman-owned winery. Expansive views, late opening hours, one of the closer places to SF and beautiful sunsets make this a popular destination. Pro-tip: this place is flooded with raucous bachelorette parties on weekends, mostly Saturdays from Spring to Fall (beware or take note if you are looking for places with high female to male ratios).

https://www.domainecarneros.com/

 

Brewsters Beer Garden, Petaluma

https://brewstersbeergarden.com/

 

SingleThread, Healdsburg

For that special occasion dinner, anniversary or celebration, this is the place for you.

https://www.singlethreadfarms.com/

 

Redd Wood, Yountville

Excellent wood-fired pizzas and patio seats are a great way to cap off a day in Yountville.

http://www.redd-wood.com/

Barndiva, Healdsburg

One of the best brunch spots in all the wine country. Perfect al fresco seating under the trees on a warm day.

http://www.barndiva.com/

Chalkboard, Healdsburg

Tucked away on the side streets of Healdsburg, this place has great outdoor seating. Get the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Thighs.

https://www.chalkboardhealdsburg.com/

Glen Ellen Star, Glen Ellen

Often ignored because of the drive from downtown Sonoma and Napa, this beautiful restaurant is situated in the darling town of Glen Ellen is definitely worth a visit when visiting wine country.

https://glenellenstar.com/

Pearl, Petaluma

Located in the industrial part of Petaluma this little cafe and restaurant has is a major draw to locals and tourists alike. Order the Shakshuka.

https://www.pearlpetaluma.com/

El Molino Central, Sonoma

If you want Mexican food and not just tacos from a taqueria, this is your place. Enchiladas and tamales are what people come here for.

http://www.elmolinocentral.com/

Bohemian Creamery, Sebastopol

Not all creameries and cheese shops are created equally. If you want some rustic, funky, unique cheeses, this is your place.

http://www.bohemiancreamery.com/

Farmstead Restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena

A beautiful, rustic restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Great for brunch and dinner as well as a drink and bar bites to hold you over.

https://www.longmeadowranch.com/eat-drink/restaurant

Farmhouse Inn, Forestville

The Infatuation calls this a power move of a date – I agree. Cute, off the beaten path without all the stuffiness of Napa fine dining.

https://www.farmhouseinn.com/restaurant

Auberge du Soleil Restaurant, Rutherford

If you want insane views for brunch, come to Auberge du Soleil for brunch.

https://aubergeresorts.com/aubergedusoleil/dine/

Archetype, St. Helena

Beautiful interior, great dishes like biscuits and gravy and waffles and chicken and duck confit. Beware of the Instagram influencers *vomit*.

http://staging.archetypenapa.com/

Bothe-Napa State Park & Camping Site

Close to Calistoga and other great towns, this is a great spot to cozy up for a nice, romantic nature getaway.

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=477

Addendum, Yountville

Thomas Keller Fried Chicken – enough said.

https://www.thomaskeller.com/addendum

Napa Valley Wine Train

Nice scenic ride, but lots of tourists which can be annoying. Kind of like a cruise shop on land.

https://www.winetrain.com/

Napa Valley Visitor Guide, Tourist Guide + Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Month To Go To Napa Valley?

That depends on your focus. November for fall colors. May-Sept for bachelorette parties. December for sunset views at closing time. March/April for mustard bloom. End of June for Lavendar harvesting.

Should I Stay In Napa Or Sonoma?

Depends on your lifestyle, focus. Napa is a little more quiet, romantic yet uptight whereas Sonoma is a bit more lively and relaxed.

How Do I Spend A Day In Napa?

Eat, drink and relax. See above options.

Is There A Dress Code For Napa Valley Wineries?

Most don’t but don’t dress like a slob if you want good service, free pours etc.

How Many Wineries Should You Visit In One Day In Napa?

Realistically 2-3. Many wineries will not serve intoxicated parties.

What Is There To Do In Napa besides Wine Tasting?

See above options.

What Is There To Do In Napa If You Don’t Drink?

See above options.

How Many Days Do You Need In Napa Valley

3 days is recommended to try a variety of wineries, restaurants and activities. Most wineries have limited hours and close early i.e. 4pm-5pm.

What Is There To Do In Napa At Night?

Most wineries close between 4-6pm so downtown Napa or Sonoma is your bet for tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and more.

North Bay Date Ideas: Date Ideas Bay Area

Clients get my additional insider picks and specific details for when and where to go for fall foliage, mustard bloom, best views and more.

San Francisco First Date Ideashttps://eddie-hernandez.com/san-francisco-date-ideas/

East Bay Date Ideas (Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda): https://eddie-hernandez.com/east-bay-date-ideas/

Marin County Date Ideas, Places To Meet Singleshttps://eddie-hernandez.com/marin-county-date-spots/

South Bay & Peninsula Date Spotshttps://eddie-hernandez.com/silicon-valley-date-ideas/ 

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.

In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

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