Napa Valley is a premier wine destination in the USA. It’s recognized worldwide, even amongst the best winemakers across Europe. With over 500 wineries, different regions, and tons of hotels, it can be overwhelming to navigate and figure out the best things to do in Napa Valley. This is the ultimate Napa Valley travel guide, detailing everything you need to know about the region.
Napa Valley Travel Guide
Getting around Napa Valley is relatively easy. You can drive yourself, or if you’re worried about drinking and driving you can hire a driver or take an Uber/Lyft from winery to winery. With free parking offered at each winery, if you drive yourself you don’t have to stress about finding a parking spot.
While Uber and Lyft are both available in the area and in my experience, the further north you get, the longer it will take to get a ride. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get one, I would just recommend checking the app about 20-minutes before you leave to make sure you get to the next place on time.
If you’re visiting Napa from San Francisco, I recommend renting a car from the airport and driving yourself to Napa. There isn’t a direct bus or train to the area, the only way to get transported there is if you sign up for a tour, hire a private guide, or take an Uber/Lyft out.
Napa Valley is not walkable. You will need some form of transportation.
If you’re looking for a Napa Valley Itinerary from San Francisco, don’t miss From San Francisco: The Perfect Day Trip to Napa Valley
Regions of Napa Valley
Napa Valley is made up of different regions (it’s not just Napa). The most well-known wine regions in the area north to south are Calistoga, St Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, and Napa. The further north you are, the more beautiful the region becomes with vineyards stretched out for as far as the eye can see.
In all, the drive from Napa north towards Calistoga is about 30-miles. So if you want to see the entire valley, it’s realistic.
There are many different options when staying overnight in Napa Valley. You can stay in one of the posh, Napa Valley hotels, an Airbnb, or even a bed and breakfast. The options are endless! One of my best Napa Valley travel tips when choosing where to overnight is to pick the hotel that is closest to the last place you will be or the first place you’re going. So for instance, if I have dinner reservations in Napa, I’ll spend the night in Napa. Or if my first wine tasting is in Calistoga, then I’ll spend the night in Calistoga. You may also be choosing one region, in particular, to focus on. If that’s the case, then make sure to grab an overnight stay near where you’ll be.
Located in downtown Napa. the Andaz is a chic, four-star, Hyatt hotel. From the hotel, you’re within walking distance from tasting rooms, restaurants, the Napa Valley Wine Train, and boutique shopping.
Archer Hotel Napa
Also located in downtown Napa near the Andaz, the Archer Hotel is a boutique-style hotel with a rooftop bar, fire pits, and a shallow water deck. The Archer is also within walking distance of tasting rooms, restaurants, the Napa Valley Wine Train, and boutique shopping.
Casa Alta (Airbnb)
If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb, or are planning a weekend with friends, then the “Casa Alta with Hot Tub Near Oxbow Market” Airbnb would be for you. Within minutes of downtown Napa, and near the Oxbow Market, Casa Alta is the perfect place to stay if you need some space or want a kitchen. Plus it’s complete with an outdoor hot tub and an outdoor table to enjoy the sunshine. (If you’re new to Airbnb, use my referral code for a discount!)
Lavender, A Four Sisters Inn
Lavender, A Four Sisters Inn is located north of Napa in Yountville. It’s a three-star hotel with small casita-style rooms where you can lounge on your private patio. It’s near downtown Yountville so you’re within walking distance of different shops, tasting rooms, and you’re close to nearby restaurants. If you’re driving, the Lavender also has a free parking lot.
Napa Valley is home to 500+ vineyards. While overwhelming at times, it just means that there is so much to explore! You can have a down-to-earth, laid-back tasting experience; or an elevated private tasting experience. Decide what is important to you and plan accordingly.
For recommendations on wineries to visit in Napa Valley, read The Best Vineyards to Visit in Napa Valley
A Napa travel guide wouldn’t be complete without sharing one of the greatest things about the valley… the food! Napa Valley has incredible restaurants throughout the region, so no matter which area you choose to explore you won’t be lost for food!
Angele Restaurant and Bar – A chic French restaurant in an old boathouse with a goal to “transport you to the countryside of France”.
Bistro Don Giovanni – A rustic Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining.
FARM at Carneros – A chic and elegant, American fusion restaurant at one of the most incredible resorts in Napa – Carneros. The brunch is particularly tasty, with a flat rate of $55/person for four plates to be shared family-style.
Gott’s Roadside – The perfect place to stop for a quick burger before continuing to your next wine tasting. There’s also a Gott’s in downtown St Helena.
Model Bakery – Start your day in downtown Napa with Oprah’s favorite English muffins!
Oxbow Market – Oxbow Market is located in downtown Napa and has a mix of different bars and eateries inside. You can find Mexican, pizza, oysters, and more. Or grab some picnic supplies and head out to make your lunch.
Ad Hoc – Ad Hoc is also a family-style restaurant with a fixed menu that changes often. It’s informal but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t superb.
Bouchon Bakery – A French-style bakery perfect for takeaway pastries or simple foods like sandwiches and salads.
With this Napa Valley travel guide you’re bound to experience the best of Napa whether you’re visiting for a short time or longer. Cheers!