Napa, California is one of America’s best vacation destinations. From San Francisco, it takes just one hour to get to this revered, enchanting escape where you’ll find over 500 wineries, sweeping views and enough entertainment to last a lifetime!
Today, the city has developed into a gourmet getaway for both food and wine (and coffee, cocktails, beer — you name it!). In fact, Flavor! Napa begins on March 22. This week-long culinary festival is one of the region’s best food, wine and dessert events and is centered around Napa Valley culture, ingredients and style.
Whenever you make the trip, you’ll find art, food and community alongside the classic wine country lifestyle we’ve all come to admire. Follow our Napa guide to make sure you don’t miss any of the must-see destinations!
Start with Coffee
Napa may be famous for its wine production, but there are plenty of places to get caffeinated. And with the day we have planned for you, you’re going to want a morning pick-me-up!
One of our favorite coffee companies in the city, Ritual is a leader in the artisan coffee scene. Since 2005, they’ve been carefully following and controlling the whole process — from growing the bean, to roasting and brewing your cup however you like it, whether that’s French Press or Hario V60 pour over.
Molinari is a Napa coffee shop through and through. They serve Weaver’s hand-crafted, artisan coffees as well as their own Molinari Private Reserve, a fine wine-infused coffee that is unlike anything else out there. Order yours with a locally-made pastry and you’ll be ready for your wine country adventure!
Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company has nine single-origin coffees from Indonesia, Africa, and the Americas. Their roasting process is based on crafted practices and enhancing the flavor of every bean. Grab an espresso drink in the Main Street storefront and buy a bag to brew at home!
The main attractions in Napa are the world-famous and award-winning vineyards and wineries. If you’ve never been before, try out an arranged tour, or stop by each of our winery highlights!
On the Napa Valley Wine Train, you’ll get wined and dined while riding the rails through wine country. While aboard restored vintage rail cars, you’ll experience fine dining service, multiple course meals, Napa Valley scenery and spectacular relaxation. Book your ride in advance!
The Napa Valley Wine Trolley is a more casual option that will take you through the city’s grand estates, subterranean caves and quaint, cozy cellars. Along the way, you’ll see the living history of a unique wine region that survived prohibition and dates back to the early 1800s. Hop on the hand-built replica of a classic California Street Car and enjoy one of two different tours.
Book a tour with HALL wines and you’ll get to taste some of Napa’s finest wines paired with small bites from acclaimed local chefs. Your $125 ticket gets you 90 minutes of local cheeses, craft salumi, seasonal tastes and outstanding wines from thirteen of the sixteen Napa Valley appellations.
This accessible Downtown Winery is the perfect place for you, your friends and even your dog! Their wines are made from the region’s best grapes and served in a charming, rustic setting. Since the first release in 2004, this small, family-owned production has remained high-quality and innovative and the dog-friendly café sets the scene for a memorable tasting!
The Chappellet family settled on Pritchard Hill more than four decades ago when Donn and Molly Chappellet fell for its vista of forests and wildflower-filled meadows. And from the same location, they’ve been crafting extraordinary wines since 1967. Book an appointment in advance and you’ll get the chance to take a tour of the iconic pyramid-shaped winery, a walking tour of the vineyards with stunning views of Lake Hennessey and a tasting of a few esteemed wines in the winery barrel room. This is a perfect sunset activity and a great way to relax after a day of adventure!
Take in Napa Culture
If you’ve tried enough wines for one trip, explore Napa via its historic and modern culture. From sustainable marketplaces to art galleries, there’s plenty more to see!
No trip to Napa would be complete without exploring Oxbow Public Market. Over the years, it has become the local gathering place for great food and wine in downtown Napa and throughout the Valley. Inside, you’ll find local food vendors, artisan cafes and an organic produce outlet for local farms. Each one helps to foster the community atmosphere and sustainable culture of the marketplace. Grab a snack at C Casa, a beer from Fieldwork Brewing Company and a book from independent book store, Bookmine. Take it all out to the scenic outdoor deck with seating along the Napa River!
Once you’ve gotten a taste of Napa character, explore di Rosa for history and culture. The park covers 217 acres filled with Northern California art. Throughout three galleries and the famous Sculpture Meadow, you’ll get to see modern and contemporary works, architecture masterpieces and sculpture.
Uptown Theater is Napa’s destination for live performances. The historic, restored art deco theater has been serving Napa since 1937. Today, you can see music shows from BB King to Snoop Dogg as well as nationally touring comedy acts. Check their website for upcoming shows and plan your day around an evening of performance!
Once you’ve had your fair share of character, culture and art, shop in Downtown Napa’s adorable boutique shops. Walk along Main Street and window shop or take home your next statement piece. Whether it’s clothing or furniture, you’ll find exactly what you need. Cake Plate Boutique and Boho Lifestyle are just a couple of our favorites!
Don’t Forget to Eat
Though there’s plenty to do in Napa outside of eating, the culture is centered around wining and dining. The places you eat should be as carefully planned as the wineries you visit! Take a look at our favorites and start planning your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Photo Courtesy of Boon Fly Cafe and Trinette + Chris, Stills + Motion
This rustic café is named after a Carneros pioneer named Boon Fly, who planted orchards and vineyards in the area throughout the mid-1800s. As an homage to Napa history, Chef Albert Rivera’s menu is based on local ingredients and flavor. Despite our long list of meals, you’re going to want to come back for lunch and dinner too! Start off with an order of World Famous Boon Fly Donuts and finish with a hearty Red Quinoa and Egg White Bowl.
JAX has been a local Napa favorite since it opened it 2014. Community-driven and historically-inspired, their menu is small but innovative and everything is delicious. Try the Cali Benny for something savory or mix savory and sweet with the Chicken and Waffles. Be sure to come on a weekday because they serve bottomless mimosas Monday – Friday!
Bounty Hunter merges homestyle barbeque with carefully selected local and international wines. Pair your BH Beer Can Chicken with one of 400 highly-allocated wines by the bottle or one of 40 wines available by-the-glass. Recently, their menu also features over 40 American whiskeys available by-the-glass and for purchase.
On sunny afternoons, enjoy lunch on the garden patio or move inside and cozy up by wood-stove. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to enjoy your crafted meal — whether it’s a scratch-made pizza fired in the mugnaini brick oven or the unforgettable General’s Cheeseburger. But no matter what, start out with an order of Champagne Poached Shrimp Spring Rolls!
Calistoga Kitchen is a short drive outside of Napa. On the way, you’ll pass Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and miles of vineyards. The gorgeous drive and intimate cafe setting create the perfect end to a long wine country day. Try something classic, like the Wild Fish of the Day served in a white wine butter sauce, or a creative dish, like the Spring Mtn. Heritage Farm Rabbit Gumbo!
Carpe Diem’s atmosphere is sophisticated, but strives to create a warm, welcoming and casual ambience. The menu changes seasonally to ensure the best Napa ingredients are represented. Throughout the year, the most popular plates are the housemade burrata and the ostrich burger – which comes with cherry coriander compote, creamy brie and a side of truffle fries.
Finish with a Nightcap
Outside of wine bars, vineyards and family wineries, Napa offers a lively social scene — complete with quiet, cozy lounges and exciting bars.
Bartender Scott Beattie serves up retro-inspired craft cocktails in this wine country public house. The casual setting and upscale fare create a blended atmosphere you’ll want to come back to again and again. Order a Cucumber Collins to refresh your evening; the cucumber, lemon and huckleberry will give you the bright, fresh pick-me-up you need!
Mercantile Social is located inside the Andaz hotel. There, you can find Napa’s best wines alongside artisan, regionally and seasonally-inspired cocktails. Wake up a bit with a Marci’s Breakfast cocktail made with Elijah Craig 12 year bourbon, jelinek fernet, grapefruit, combier, coffee bitters and angostura bitters.
Cadet is a more casual option serving a huge wine and beer selection sourced locally and internationally. Sip a rare Champagne, a Normandy cider or a San Diego Saison while lounging in the bright and lively space.
Enjoy your time in wine country
Whatever you choose to do in Napa, share your favorite experiences, places and, of course, wines!