When it comes to Napa, there are a lot of questions for first timers. There are a few different ways to do the trips, and I have tried quite a bit out. Here are my favorites and recommendations for an enjoyable and relaxing trip to Napa Valley, California:
Where to Fly Into
There are two options when choosing where to fly into to get to Napa. You can either go to San Fransisco/Oakland or to Sacramento. I always choose SFO or OAK because then I have the chance to visit San Fran and Sausalito while I’m there. Napa is about an hour and 15-minute drive from each airport. If you opt for SFO or OAK, you can take a ferry, which is nice and has plenty of space. It’s also a cool way to see the city, and you pass right by Alcatraz.
Where to Stay
Most people recommend staying in St. Helena or Yountville, which is what I did the last time I visited Napa Valley. But this time, I opted for downtown Napa to see what the difference was. While it did take longer to get to the wineries (like 20 minutes vs. 5-10), it was a slightly shorter drive back and forth to San Fransisco, which I appreciated. I don’t like long car rides because I get carsick, so this was a good balance for me. There’s also the convenience of being near more businesses, like Target, which we took advantage of.
Transportation in Wine Country
I absolutely recommend hiring a car and driver for touring the wineries. I used Perata Luxury Tours and could not be more pleased with the experience. They helped us pick wineries, brought us to a quick and tasty lunch, provided water and snacks, and tons of entertainment with our fun driver Todd. While this option is a bit pricey, it totally made our trip. Another option is using Uber or renting a car. Obviously renting a car means someone can’t drink(boo) and Uber can be difficult with the limited cell service in the winery areas. If you plan on going up the mountains, don’t count on Uber, or having cell service in general. We actually got stuck at a restaurant for almost an hour because there weren’t enough Ubers around at night. (Napa is dead after like 9pm.)
The Best Wineries to Visit
St. Supéry – best food pairings
Rombauer – casual and best tasting wine
Somerston – best tour and overall experience
Durant & Booth – not a winery, but a tasting room. Great for a quick visit with a wonderful atmosphere.
What to Wear
You may think that since it’s California, you can expect beach weather. This is not the case. San Fransisco is cold (like 60s in the summer) and while it is hot during the day in Napa, you will absolutely need a jacket at night, even in the summer. I tried to warn my Floridian bestie before we got there, but that’s the one thing she said she wished she was more careful about. Once the sun goes down, plan to wear warmer clothes – think jeans and a faux leather jacket. Here’s what I wore day 1 and day 2. Both nights I added a jacket and was still a little cold when I was outside.
And I think that covers it! Overall, Napa is very high on my list of favorite places in the US – I just love it! If you’ve been, I’d love to read about your recommendations in the comments! And read more about my Napa experiences here.