California's Wine Country draws millions of visitors each year. One of the best destinations is Napa, which boasts dozens of wineries, an exciting culinary scene, impressive shopping, and a year-round temperate climate. There are also choices in accommodations for every lifestyle and budget.
If you’re visiting Napa for the first time, we’ve compiled some helpful tips and resources, so you can plan a fun and enriching itinerary while making the most of your "wine time."
Oxbow Market Napa California. Photo courtesy of David H Collier Visit Napa Valley
BOOK YOUR EXPERIENCES EARLY
The Napa region is extremely popular, particularly during the late spring season through October. Hotels book early and wineries, which often cap tastings and wine-pairing events, fill up quickly. Once you know your travel window, begin planning and book your favorite places and activities early. If you need some ideas or inspiration, Downtown Napa offers several ready-made itineraries:
- The Foodie: Here’s a plan with tasty places to try and amazing foodie sights to see in Downtown Napa.
- Guy’s Trip: Downtown Napa is just as much a guy’s trip destination.
- Wellness & Relaxation Retreat: If you’re looking for wellness and relaxation, here is a game-plan for unwinding in style.
- Art & Entertainment: This schedule explores the arts and entertainment of Napa's downtown district.
- Beyond The Wine: The city of Napa offers more than just wine experiences. Take advantage of the beautiful countryside and enjoy a delicious, locally sourced meal.
- Girlfriends Getaway: Travel with a girlfriend or two, and explore all that Napa offers.
- Taste, Sip, and See Napa: Leave your stress-filled workweek in the rear-view and plan a relaxing getaway to the City of Napa.
- Overnight Couples Retreat: Ready for a romantic escape for two? Here’s a sampling of ideas to reconnect and revel in wine country.
Terroir to Table, Napa Valley Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Visit Napa Valley
WINE, WINE, AND MORE WINE
Napa is recognized as the Wine Tasting Room Capital of the World. Whether you’re a wine expert or an emerging taster, learn something new in Napa’s 55+ wine tasting rooms—many within walking distance of downtown. Explore and enjoy, as each winery has its own style and personality.
Here are two ways you can up your wine-tasting game:
- Wine Quiz: For first-timers coming to Napa who aren't sure where to start, this quiz is a helpful start. Learn which personality fits you best. Are you a cork connoisseur, historian, good vibes imbiber, or casual cork lover? Napa Valley Wine Trolley: During your Napa Valley wine trolley tour, you'll take in scenery, aromas, and tastes of the Napa Valley’s wines. This is a perfect fit for first-time Napa Valley visitors as well as experienced Napa Valley wine tour lovers.
To get you started on exploring Napa's wines, here are some of the standout wineries:
- Krupp Brothers: Well known for cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, Krupp Brothers has made a name for itself creating wine varietals that are rare in Napa.
- Mark Herold Wines: Featuring private label wines, they have by-the-glass and by-the-bottle options for those looking to relax and enjoy.
- Be Bubbly: The first and only dedicated champagne & sparkling wine lounge in Napa Valley.
- Gamling & McDuck: A hidden-gem with grapes from France’s Loire Valley: Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.
- Chateau Buena Vista: Located in the heart of downtown Napa, Chateau Buena Vista pairs champagne, caviar, cabernet, and chocolate.
WHERE TO STAY
Downtown Napa is home to intimate bed-and-breakfasts, charming inns, and hip hotels that suit every type of traveler. Also, there are properties that are AAA partners, including:
- The Embassy Suites Napa Valley: This venue is surrounded by seven acres of landscaped grounds, with California redwoods, rose gardens, and a mill pond graced by resident swans.
- The Westin Verasa Napa: This prime location makes it easy to discover the best of Napa Valley.
Enjoying lunch. Photo courtesy of Josiah Roe Visit Napa Valley
Consider visiting Napa midweek, when it's generally less crowded, traffic is lighter, and lodging rates are generally lower. Also, use a transportation service like Blacklane, a private car service for reliable transport to and from the airport or if you’re going beyond the downtown Napa area. Download the app and pre-schedule a ride or call for a ride when you need it.