Berkeley and Napa Valley, CA

Virgin America was having a special rate to kick off their LAX to SJC (San Jose) route, a buy one-get one free! I couldn’t resist such a deal, that I booked the trip, and found a weekend deal on Jetsetter at the Lafayette Park Hotel located midway between San Francisco and Napa Valley.

Originally, we were going to hang out in San Francisco. What I didn’t plan on was the city of San Francisco was having the Bay to Breakers weekend. Knowing nothing about this event, I found out that the city is practically shut down because its a marathon / biking event that takes over the City.

So on our first day, we decided to visit on the opposite end of the Bay Area, going to Berkeley and visiting the first Peet’s Coffee and Tea, and having pizza at the Cheese Collective.

Lafayette Hotel
Stephen at the Original Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley, CA
The Pizza of the Day
Dining pizza al fresco

Since it was still impossible to go into the City, I decided that for our second day we would head into the Napa area, which was about an hour’s drive from Lafayette.  We took the bridge across and made our way to Wine Country.   Stephen had never been to Napa, or at least have never stopped at any wineries.  Our first stop was the Robert Mondavi winery, a favorite of mine.  I took us a tour, which changed quite a bit since my last visit.  It used to be free to take the tour, but now that Napa has become more commercialized, you now have to pay for a tour, but the tour does include tastings and a snack.
Robert Mondavi winery
Robert Mondavi Winery, St. Helena, CA

After we completed Robert Mondavi, we drove along the “Winery Road” and stopped at other places, including Sterling Winery.  While this winery doesn’t have a vineyard on property, they do have a gondola ride to the top of their visitor’s center.  The gondola ride isn’t free, but it does include a great view of the Valley, as well as a self tour of how they make their wine, and tastings of their wines.


Riding the gondola at Sterling

Sterling Winery, Calistoga, CA
After a long day of wine tasting, we headed back to our hotel. One nice touch that the Lafayette had was house picked apples in the lobby.  Stephen took advantage of the fresh fruit, and we got ready for dinner.
Enjoying our room at Lafayette Park hotel
It was our first time in this part of Northern California, and we needed help finding dinner.  Thanks to Yelp, we found this great Indian place in Concord, CA called “Naan n Curry”.  The Chicken Tikka Masala was excellent, but Stephen’s Kufta was so spicy, he said it felt like it was burning a hole in his stomach.
Naan n Curry, Concord, CA
On our last day, we decided to visit the Jelly Belly factory, which is about an hour north of Lafayette. The tour was free, and they also give plenty of free samples of any Jelly Belly flavor. We just couldn’t take photos of the factory during the tour.
Outside the factory
Jelly Belly Factory, Fairfield, CA
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