St. Helena Napa Valley Day Trip (Gott’s, Oysters et al!)
We arrived in St. Helena today around 10am and parked in front of Model Bakery at 357 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574. Parking on Main St. is free for 3 hours and this spot seemed close to the center of town. You can have an amazing day in St. Helena if you do nothing but do a loop around Main Street!
We wanted a well-known burger first! We began by walking .3 miles to the famous Gott’s Roadside (933 Main St.). We’d been to Gott’s at the San Francisco Ferry Building and were excited to visit this original Gotts (formerly known as Taylor’s Refresher).
We ordered and waited in the front area where you can turn the switch on your own heat lamps.
We ordered well:
- Chili Fries
Gott’s Tip to Beat the Lines — if you want to beat the crazy-long lines at Gott’s, just show up early. We were there at 10:15am and were second in line. When we were leaving St. Helena around 1pm we saw 100 people in line. Another tip: we hear you can order online (including on-site at Gott’s) and then pick it up.
Everything was delicious and fresh. The burgers were cooked perfectly (slightly pink). We give this burger a slight edge over In-n-Out Burger (it’s slightly larger and the meat is slightly pinker).
When we got our food we headed to the back (to be in the sun) where there are 40+ picnic tables with umbrellas. There’s 2 cornhole setups in the far rear dining area.
Gott’s has wine and beer too:
We wrapped up our burger brunch with a chocolate/vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone.
For those of you like design, Gott’s has clever designs such as:
- Outdoor sink troughs
- Variety of seating areas (low picnic tables in 3 different areas, covered bar with raised bar seating)
- Clean bathrooms with a cool screened drain in front of the urinals (so you’re not stepping in pee!)
Gott’s in St. Helena is located at 933 Main St. (Highway 29), St. Helena, CA 94574
A Gourmet Gas Station?
We walked back towards town and ran into The Station (1153 Main St.), a gas station that has a beautiful walk-up cafe with comfy outdoor seating covered by umbrellas.
It resembled Gott’s a bit and sure enough we learned that Gott’s owner Joel Gott had just bought an old gas station and turned it into this new cafe. And you can still pump gas!
The Station is at 1153 Main Street, St. Helena, CA.
Jane was looking for a choker necklace so we popped into E.R. Sawyer Jewelers (1343 Main St.), a 140-year-old Sonoma family business.
Alexis Rago and her partner there could not have been kinder. They even gave our toddler a toy diamond to keep!
Free Sauce Tip!
We were then lured into Olivier Napa Valley (1375 Main St.) by 8 free mustard samples near the front of the store. It turns out the food/house/kitchen store is one giant sampler.
They had about 50+ tasty things to sample such as chocolate sauce, marinades, tapenade and confit (jam). All were delicious: the Key Lime Confit was my favorite.
We then popped into Steve’s Hardware (1370 Main St.) after we saw a pair of rain boots in the window. They had friendly staff and a deep collection — they’re more of a variety store. While Steve’s didn’t have a restroom, they recommended the St. Helena Welcome Center/Chamber of Commerce down the street and we’re glad they did!
Secret St. Helena Free Wine Tip (nice bathroom too!)
The St. Helena Welcome Center/Chamber of Commerce (1320 Main Street) had a super-friendly hostess and clean bathroom.
On our way out we noticed a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. This was the first Chamber of Commerce I’ve been to where you got a free glass of wine!
Make sure to ask the Chamber hostess for any local specials. She gave us a 2-for-1 tasting at Elizabeth Spencer.
Oxbow & Hog Island Oysters On The Way Home
If you’re leaving St. Helena and heading South, you can’t miss by visiting one of our favorite restaurants: Hog Island Oysters which is located inside the stunning Oxbow Market (610 & 644 First Street, Napa, California 94559.
Hog Island serves the best oysters we know of in the Bay Area. But they also have yummy bread, chowder and salad. You can sit inside or outside. We chose outside so you don’t have as much of the chatter from the neighboring Oxbox stores. We wrapped it up with a decaf soy mocha from Ritual Roasters inside Oxbow.
And if you don’t like seafood, Oxbow has other eateries including another Gott’s!
Things We Plan to Do Around St. Helena Next Time
We heard great things about these places too:
- Model Bakery — They serve pastries, pizza, coffee, fruit and have a couple of tables outside right in the thick of Main Street! 1357 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574
- The Charter Oak Restaurant — 1050 Charter Oak Avenue
St. Helena, CA 94574 (March 15, 2020 udpate — we ended up visiting this restaurant as part of our day trip to Safari West in nearby Santa Rosa, CA (see Safari West: the Sonoma Serengeti) for pics and our review.
- Castle Winery (a winery with a 136,000 square foot 13th Century-inspired Tuscan Castle!). There’s a general admission tasting or a $45/person guided tour ($35 for kids). 4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515; 707.967.6272.
- Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park — An old mill is still there and we hear kids love it! Supposedly staff walks around in colonial outfits. It’s located 3 miles north of St. Helena (3369 N St.) on Highway 29
- Elizabeth Spencer Winery — This was an old Post Office. We hear it’s kid-friendly (they give them grape juice). 1165 Rutherford Rd, Rutherford, CA 94573.
- If you go in late November/Early December, make sure to look up what holiday stuff is going on by Lyman Park. In 2019, they had a Holiday Winter Trolley on Nov. 30th, Dec. 7th, Dec. 14th and Dec. 21st.
Distance from Oakland to St. Helena: 56 miles (1 hour and 18 min. drive time).
I hope you enjoy St. Helena as much as we did. If you have any questions about St. Helena I recommend you chat with the friendly St. Helena Chamber of Commerce at 1320 Main St A, St Helena, CA 94574,(707) 963–4456.
Please add in your own highlights here. We’ll be sure to go back to experience the many things you enjoyed that we missed!
PS: On our way to St. Helena, we drove up some nearby hills to a town called Angwin (the main attraction there is Pacific Union College). One really cool thing we saw was on our way was this tiny house for sale: