The most populous state in America, California is also one of the largest and by far the most economically prosperous. It's a highly popular place to visit, too, with the big cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego drawing in huge numbers of tourists from all over the globe each and every year.
Many people associate California with sunny weather and wonderful beaches, and there's plenty to see from the north of the state all the way down to its southernmost cities, with the likes of redwood forests, family theme parks, celebrity homes, and gorgeous coastal towns standing out as some of the top highlights of any trip to California.
The Golden State is also known all over the world for its wine production, with areas like the Napa Valley contributing greatly to the world of wine and producing some of the best bottles in all of America. The Napa Valley AVA and surrounding Wine Country area is classed as one of the prettiest places, not just in California, but in the whole US.
Many people, especially couples looking for romantic and intimate getaways, choose to spend a week or longer in and around the Napa area, but it’s perfectly possible to do a Napa day trip and get a lot out of it. Napa day trips are especially popular with people in Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose. Here’s how to plan out your Napa day trip.
Getting to Napa
Getting to Napa for your Napa day trip will depend on where you're starting off. Those traveling from San Francisco, for example, will have about an hour of driving ahead of them along the I-80 or US-101 to get to the city of Napa, in the heart of Napa Valley. Those traveling from San Jose, meanwhile, will have a slightly longer journey of up to two hours and should follow the I-680 N for the fastest route. If you're heading to Napa from Sacramento, you can be there in about 90 minutes by following the I-80 W.
There are also bus and train links connecting the San Francisco Bay Area with Napa, and you can even choose to reserve a spot on an organized Napa day tour and let your tour operator take care of all the travel arrangements. The advantages of taking a Napa day tour include the fact that you won’t need to worry about anything, but taking your own car does give you more freedom in terms of where you want to go and how you want to organize your Napa day trip itinerary.
Things to Do on your Napa Day Trip
- Wineries - The Napa Valley is synonymous with wine. It’s one of the top wine production locations in all of America, and there are dozens of different wineries and vineyards to be found all around Napa. Tasting and purchasing wine are two of the main reasons people visit Napa in general, and no trip to Napa can really be complete without stopping off at at least one winery and sampling a few of the bottles on offer. You can either choose to sign up for a winery tour with a professional operator, which often involves visiting various wineries and even getting exclusive discounts on bottles, or simply drive around yourself.
- Visit the City - The city of Napa is the county seat of Napa County and is generally regarded as the beating heart of the whole Napa Valley wine region. It features some lovely 19th century architecture, delightful riverfront walks, and interesting landmarks like the Oxbow Public Market and the Napa Valley Opera House. There are various festivals and concerts held here each year and it’s a great city to walk around if you want to get a great taste of Napa Valley in just one location. You’ll find various tasting rooms for local wineries, as well as plenty of world class restaurants and interesting boutiques.
- Restaurants - As well as wine, Napa is known for its food. This part of California is where you'll find some of the very best places to eat in all of America, with lots of very high profile chefs working around Napa. Many of the restaurants in this area specialize in pairing their dishes and sample platters with various local wines, so many people choose to visit Napa purely to indulge in amazing culinary experiences. You’ll find a lot of restaurants to choose from and the vast majority offer farm-to-table dining with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients in every dish.
- Top Tip - Even though you're going to Napa for just one day, our top tip for any Napa day trip is to take your time. Napa isn't a place to be rushed around. The lifestyle in this part of California isn't about doing as much as you can every day and feeling tired and out of breath by the time the sun sets. It's a very relaxed and laid-back location, with a lot of beautiful scenery all around. A big part of Napa life is savoring each moment, each sip of wine, each glimpse of the world around you. So be sure to take your time, pace yourself, and plan out a day trip itinerary that lets you see a few things without needing to hurry about too much.