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10 Tips to Know Before Visiting Napa Valley

10 Tips to Know Before Visiting Napa Valley

Planning a trip to Wine Country? Here are 10 tips to know before visiting Napa Valley for the perfect vacay.


5 min read

February 16, 2022

Napa can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. Where do I start? What should I see? How do I tour Napa Valley? How long should I stay? The questions that can spark up and dim your wanderlust are seemingly endless. Hidden under all the initial confusion is a dreamy destination you’ll love to discover. And with the right set of Napa Valley visiting tips, you’ll be unstoppable.

The Napa Valley Visiting Tips to Know

Nobody wants to have a last-minute change of plans so it's always better to plan ahead to guarantee your trip is fun.

1. Plan Ahead and Make Reservations Months in Advance

Once you map out your itinerary and choose where you’d like to stay, eat, and go when visiting Napa Valley, start making reservations immediately. If you wait too long, you might end up paying too much for a hotel room, or even worse, not be able to get one at all! Popular restaurants and accommodations fill up months in advance at this popular getaway destination, especially during high seasons. So, if you have a picture of what your ideal Napa Valley vacation looks like, you’d better get your bookings sorted right away.

Picturing your photo ops in light summer dresses? Plan your trip to accommodate the weather and you'll nail the IG photos.

2. Know What to Anticipate in Terms of Weather

Napa Valley enjoys mild weather year-round, but winters tend to get quite chilly. Like anywhere else, every season here has its pros and cons, and the best one for your trip depends on your preferences. Summer and fall draw in the most crowds, but they’re also the most expensive time to go to Napa. BottleRock fanatics love Napa in spring, the vineyards are in full green growth in summer, autumn has a nice and cozy ambiance, and winter gives you fresh olive oil and traffic-less streets.

If you’re visiting on a cold day, head north. It sounds wrong, but unlike many other places, northern Napa Valley tends to be warmer than the south, which is cooled by the San Francisco Bay winds.

3. Check out the Festival Calendar Before your Pick a Time to Visit

Napa Valley hosts a number of super fun festivals and events throughout the year. If you have a keen interest in music, agriculture, fine dining, golf, or any other Napa-related activity, you’d love to coordinate your getaway to take place at the same time as your favorite festival. Not only will this give you a specific set of Napa Valley activities to enjoy with people of similar interests, but it’ll also be the best way to see Napa Valley through a specific lens.

Not the biggest fan of crowds and waiting in line? We recommend visit Napa during the week to avoid all the fuss.

4. Try to Visit Mid-Week if you Can

Wondering when to go to Napa to avoid crowds? Our best Napa Valley visiting tip would be to avoid heading up there on the weekends. All the restaurants, wineries, hotels, and Napa attractions will be packed at the end of the week, especially if you’re planning on visiting Napa Valley in the summer or fall. Plus, going mid-week also means avoiding crazy traffic to and from your destination.

The best part about coming back from a vacation is getting to talk about it all the time; you really don't want to be sick right after your trip.

5. Pack an Extra Layer and Choose a Comfy Pair of Shoes

Even if you’re visiting Napa Valley in the summer, packing a light jacket is smart. This is especially smart if you’re planning on touring wineries, where the caves are maintained at about 60 degrees year-round. Whatever you wear in Napa Valley, a jacket is crucial. 

Even if you won’t be going on long hikes, wearing comfortable footwear is also a good Napa Valley visiting tip to follow. You’ll likely be spending a lot of time on foot on your trip and if you’re stepping into vineyards, your shoes better accommodate soft dirt, gravel, and dusty paths.

6. Pick the Right Experiences for You

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for a Napa Valley vacation. And yes, enjoying your Wine Country getaway without wine is totally possible. Forget about following the crowds and craft an itinerary of Napa Valley activities that truly excite you. After all, you’re heading to a destination that’s rich with agricultural bounty, talented culinary artists, and some of the world’s best resorts—this could go a hundred different ways! 

There's so much to see and do in Napa, but it's not worth being tired during the entire trip. Pick the highlights and save the rest for another time.

7. Don’t Cram your Itinerary

People often make the mistake of letting their excitement get the best of them and cramming their itinerary with one too many Napa Valley activities. But in reality, Wine Country is huge, and if you’re driving from one place to the next, you might start falling behind your schedule halfway through the day. Don’t undermine the driving distances and traffic, and make sure you allocate enough time to fully savor each activity between drives. This Napa Valley visiting tip could easily make or break your trip.

Don't let the FOMO get you; plan a weekend trip to Napa so don't miss out on any of the activities on your bucket list.

8. Try Not to Make Napa a Day Trip

You’re probably asking yourself how many days you should spend in Napa Valley. If you have no option but to enjoy Napa as a day trip, then, by all means, go for it. However, if you can spare an extra day, spreading your list of activities over several days is the best way to see Napa Valley. By leaving after sunset, you’ll miss out on all the fun things to do in Napa at night like memorable dinners and live music performances—you’ll definitely want to spend the night at a hotel here; they’re on another level. So, if you’re truly trying to immerse yourself in Wine Country culture, two or three days is the perfect amount of time.

9. Take the Roads Less Traveled

If you visit Napa Valley on weekends and during high season, avoiding traffic completely is not an option. But sometimes, taking the road less traveled truly pays off. When driving south, opt for the Silverado Trail, and if you’re going north, take Oak Knoll Avenue. Not only does this Napa Valley visiting tip help you spend less time in the car, but you’ll also likely drive along far more scenic roads than Highway 29.

Is there anything more picturesque than a vineyard during sunset? Or a medieval castle during sunrise? Snap away at Napa and bask in the aesthetics.

10. Pack your Camera 

Lastly, we recommend packing your camera along for the trip! Napa Valley is rich with natural beauty, and you’ll want them imprinted in your memory. Hills, valleys, vineyards, and beautiful city panoramas reminiscent of the Italian countryside—photo ops in Napa Valley are everywhere! Grab a friend that knows your angles, and remember this Napa Valley visiting tip because your Insta game is about to be next-level. 

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