Napa Valley is one of the most popular weekend getaways from San Francisco – in less than 90 minutes you are surrounded by the beautiful wine country, with rolling hills and vineyards. You’ll be tasting some of the best wines in the world by day, enjoying delicious food and be pampered in high-end spas and hotels – it’s pretty hard to turn that down. Typically, that involves driving around the valley, but more recently you can get all of that in the little towns of Napa Valley with less driving!
Perfect Weekend Itinerary: The perfect pampering starts after your arrival at your hotel in Napa – with dinner at the property. The beauty of staying in town or closeby is that you don’t have to drive around for dinner and can spend more time enjoying and less time driving. AFter a good night’s sleep you’ll enjoy breakfast at the hotel as well, before venturing out.
While historically, the wineries had their tasting rooms right at their vineyards, more recently a number of them have established tasting rooms in Napa, giving you a chance to just walk around, rather than risking a “drink & drive” situation! So, you go on a walking tour of Napa’s downtown and try a few tastings along the way. For lunch, you head to the Oxbow Market across the river. It’s an indoor market that looks and feels like San Francisco’s Ferry Building Market and is a great option to have some snacks with a little more wine. Uncorked at Oxbow has nice cheese and cold cut plates and a great selection of wine you can enjoy at their outdoor seating with river views! You’ll also be able buy some local specialities, like amazing olive oils, chocolates or wine-infused chocolate sauces!
If you are feeling a little sleepy after lunch and wine, head back to your hotel for a pampering session at the spa. Nothing will help you relax after a tough week like a nice massage at a good spa!
While many small towns across the United States are often limited in their dining choices, Napa is really an extension of San Francisco an some of Northern California’s best restaurants are found here! And you’ll find a number of excellent restaurants right in downtown Napa: We had wonderful California Cuisine at Basalt, with more nice riverviews and right around the corner is Morimoto, the famous Japanese restaurant serving exceptional sushi!
On Sunday it’s time to check out of your hotel and head back to the city. But you take the “long way” home and go for a drive along the beautiful Silverado trail. You have one more chance for great food & wine and stop at V Sattui Winery. They have a great market surrounded by a garden with old trees, providing the perfect setting for a wine country lunch!
Insider Tip: The best weekend getaway to Napa is actually a non-weekend getaway: Napa Valley is very popular with Bay Area residents and gets crowded on weekends. And business drives hotel prices sky-high on San Francisco on workdays. So, if you don’t live in California and are visiting from further afield, your best plan is to go against the stream: Stay in San Francisco for a fun weekend and go to Napa during the week – you’ll enjoy lower hotel prices both in the city and in Napa and can enjoy the wine country with fewer people for a more relaxing visit.
How to get there & around: Your best bet is to drive with your (rental) car to Napa. The drive is less than 90 minutes and is very relaxing. Splurge on a convertible for the full California feeling. If you are visiting San Francisco before or after your trip, DON’T rent at the airport. Take and uber or train into the city and pick up your rental car downtown the day you drive to Napa. Parking is excruciatingly expensive in the city, there are significant extra airport charges on rental cars and you won’t need the car in town!
Where to stay: For this lazy itinerary with minimal driving, I recommend a hotel in Napa or closeby. There are several hotels in town that allow you to walk to many places or take a bicycle, allowing you taste wine without having to drive.
The Napa River Inn is located right in downtown, just steps from many restaurants and tasting rooms. The Andaz Napa and the Westin Verasa, as well as a number of independent hotels are also walkable. If you prefer more of a resort setting without being too far, we enjoyed the excellent Silverado Resort & Spa Napa (read my review), just a short (bike) ride away! You can find a list of options below:
|Andaz Napa||4*||Downtown||World of Hyatt||Location, Style, Rewards|
|The Westin Verasa Napa||4*||Downtown||Marriott Rewards||Location, Rewards|
|Silverado Resort and Spa||4*||Silverado Trail||Wyndham Rewards||Amenities, Spa, Gold, Value, Rewards|
|Napa River Inn||4*||Downtown||-||Location, Views, Ambiance|
|Hilton Garden Inn Napa||3*||Napa Suburb||Hilton Honors||Value, Rewards|
|Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Napa Valley||2*||Napa Suburb||Wyndham Rewards||Family, Value, Rewards|
When to go: Peak season is in the wine country is in fall – it’s harvest time, the weather is perfect and prices are highest. You can mitigate the prices by going during the week. You’ll also have nice weather in the spring time and summer. Winter can see heavy rains in California, making walking tours of town a lot less pleasant, although I’ve had wonderful visits in December and January as well!