Napa Valley is one of the most popular destinations in California and the U.S. It’s a world-famous wine destination and a haven for foodies and outdoor enthusiasts. This is the perfect place for a romantic, girlfriends, or mother-daughter getaway!
Know Before You Go: Napa Valley is much larger than most people think. In addition to the town of Napa, Napa Valley also includes the cities of Calistoga, St. Helena, and Yountville. So you’ll want to plan your trip so that your accommodation is close to the activities you want to do.
Here’s how to plan the perfect trip to Napa Valley!
Top Wineries To Visit
There are more than 500 wineries in Napa Valley, so deciding which ones to visit can be daunting. That’s why I’ve divided my favorite wineries and the most popular and Instagram-worthy wineries into several categories to help you decide.
Best Views: William Hill Estate Winery, Blanket Estate, Joseph Phelps
For The Region’s Iconic Cabernet Sauvignon: Pine Ridge, Beaulieu Vineyards, Cliff Lede Vineyards
White Wines: Alpha Omega, Signorello Estate, Alyris Vineyards
If You Love Rosé Wine: Clos Du Val, Calmere Estate, Hess Collection
Themed Wineries: Domaine Carneros (built to look like the Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France), Castello Di Amorosa (a Tuscan-inspired castle winery)
When To Go
Napa Valley is a year-round destination because the region doesn’t experience seasonal closures. August – October is the peak season for Napa Valley because of the harvesting season. These months have the perfect weather, and you can participate in harvest dinners, balls, and grape smashing. But crowds and prices are at their peak in these months, so book well in advance.
November – February is Napa Valley’s low season because the weather is in the high 50s to low 30s (14-0ºC). But if you want to experience Napa on a budget, then it’s worth packing your warm layers to come in these months. Accommodation rates are at their lowest, there won’t be many other travelers, and wineries offer deals and discounts.
March – May is the region’s shoulder season. Crowds and prices won’t be at their highest yet, and the temperatures will be rising. The Spring wildflowers will be blooming, and the (still cool) temperatures are perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities.
June – July brings long summer days with equal chances of sun and rain (these are the region’s wettest months). Tourist numbers and prices will be on the rise during these months, so visit during the weekdays to avoid some of the crowds and rising costs.
Where To Stay
My favorite accommodation in Napa Valley is the Tuscan-inspired Meritage Resort (pictured above). This expansive resort and its “sister resort,” The Vista Collins across the street, have created a place that provides everything great about Napa Valley in one place. You’ve got nine tasting rooms on-site, multiple gourmet restaurant options, family-only and adults-only pools, an underground tasting room and spa, and the resort has its own vineyards.
But if you want a more intimate and personalized stay, then I recommend the boutique Napa River Inn or the Carneros Inn. For bed and breakfasts, you’ve got Embrace Calistoga and The Candlelight Inn.
If you want to camp or will have an RV, then I recommend Bothe-Napa Valley State Park.
Where To Eat
French Food: French Laundry (reservations required), Bouchon, Angele Restaurant & Bar
Italian Food: Ciccio, Bistro Don Giovanni, Bottega Napa Valley
Brunch Places: Evangeline, Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery, Lovina, Goose & Gander
“American” Food: FARM at the Carneros Inn, Cordeiro’s, Cole’s Chop House
Markets: Oxbow Public Market, Osprey Seafood of California, Browns Valley Market
Restaurants With A View: Brix, The Auberge Du Soleil Bistro & Bar
What To Do
Napa Valley offers far more than just wine tasting and vineyard tours. Other activities I recommend are biking the Vine Trail, playing a round (or two or three!) of golf, and taking a cooking class.
You can ride the Napa Valley Wine Train, which, despite its name, is a culinary experience more than a drinking experience. You can also hike some of the fantastic trails in the region, paddle the Napa River, and go horseback riding.
My favorite thing I did in Napa was a hot air balloon ride! These start very early in the morning (usually you meet your guides between 5 – 5:30 am), so if you take a ride, make sure to give yourself time for a nap later in the day.
Pro Tip For Hot Air Balloon Rides: bring a warm layer because it’ll be cold during the first part of the ride. But make sure it’s a layer you can easily take off and tie around your waist because the heat from the balloon will make it warmer and warmer as the ride progresses.
Unless you have a designated driver in your group, you’re not going to want to drive to and from wine tastings. I recommend hiring a driver who can guide you around the region to some of the best wineries, sights, and viewpoints.
You can also use UBER, Lyft, and taxis. Many of the larger hotels and resorts in the region also provide shuttle services around the area.
I highly recommend spending at least a few days in Napa Valley, but the region can also be explored as a day trip from San Francisco, so here’s my Ultimate Guide To San Francisco.
If you only have a day for Napa, then I recommend using Bin 415 – a fantastic private tour company – to plan your day trip. Bin 415 will customize the perfect tour for you, and your guide will take care of all the logistics.
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If you’ve been to Napa Valley, share anything you’d like to add to this guide in the comments!
For Planning The Rest Of Your Pacific U.S. Trip
Your Getaway Guide To Napa Valley
YOUR TRAVEL CHECKLIST
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This post is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article about Napa Valley are entirely my own. Some of these links are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.