Are you looking to explore the amazing vacation spot of California’s Wine Country but have only 3 days in Napa Valley and are wondering where to go first? Worry not! Even if you only have a few days to visit, you can definitely still have a worthwhile experience in the valley. Because there is so much to see and do, however, you may need a bit of guidance on what exactly you can fit into a weekend in California’s Napa Valley. That’s why we compiled this perfect 3 days itinerary in Napa Valley.
Nestled between the Vaca Mountains and the Mayacamas, only two hours away from San Francisco and 1.5 hours away from Sacramento, this picturesque valley is one of the most popular options for a Bay area day trip but if possible, you should try to spend at least a few days. You can get around by buses or trains but the easiest way to travel around Napa Valley is by renting a car.
If this is something you’re planning to do, you can use this special offer by Auto Europe to compare prices from all car rental companies in the region and save up to 30% on your car rental in Napa Valley. This way, you can take your own pace and visit all the places you want to visit without being limited by public transport.
3 Perfect Days in Napa Valley: Day 1
Start at Carneros
Start your perfect 3 days in Napa Valley by trying some of the finest wines in the Carneros region; Napa Valley’s southernmost part. Carneros is filled with gently sloping vineyards and is surrounded by scenic byway which makes it a perfect starting point for exploring Napa Valley. Our recommendation is not to miss the legendary Bouchaine Winery. Dating back to the 1880s, this is the oldest winery in the region.
After this, if you want to explore more wineries, you can…
Take the Wine Train ride
Although railway travel isn’t very glamorous most of the time, Napa Valley is an exception. The Napa Valley Wine Train is a six-hour journey featuring an antique rail car, history of the area, a four-course dining experience, and full access to Napa Valley winery events throughout the region. Wine tastings along your journey include wineries along Highway 29 such as V. Sattui, Robert Mondavi, and Charles Krug, which is Napa’s oldest winery and home to California’s first-ever tasting room.
However, if this is too expensive for you, you always have the budget alternative of taking a self-guided tour following the same footsteps with your own vehicle. You can probably cover the same distance a lot faster and not stay in any place longer than you want to while waiting for the rest of the group.
This way, you’ll have more time to…
Explore Downtown Napa
If you think Napa Valley is only about sprawling wine country, you’re wrong! During your visit, you should definitely take the opportunity to check out downtown Napa. Throughout downtown space, you will enjoy a host of excellent restaurants including Hog Island Oyster Co., Kara’s Cupcakes, and Fieldwork Brewing Company. The downtown area, of course, includes many wineries and tasting rooms so that you’re never too far from Napa’s Wine Country.
While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to take a stroll around Oxbow Public Market where you can purchase some local wines, olive oil, taste some local snacks, and find a ton of interesting souvenirs.
Another must-visit is the Napa Valley Museum whose permanent exhibition The Land and People of Napa Valley gives visitors a glimpse of the region’s history and how the unique climate shaped Napa Valley into what it is today. If you want to visit, note that the museum is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays.
If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Downton Napa after a long day of exploring, we got you covered. You can use this Booking.com discount voucher and save up to 15% on all properties in town.
3 Perfect Days in Napa Valley: Day 2
You should spend your second day exploring the picturesque cities that put valley in Napa Valley. If you want to have more time to spend, you should definitely visit Oakville and Rutheford, but since this is a 3-day Napa Valley itinerary, you would only have enough time for Yountville and St. Helena.
Yountville is often referred to as the Heart of Napa Valley and this isn’t a reference only to the town’s geographic location. Just like any other town in Napa Valley, Yountville has a lot of award-winning wineries and arguably the best food scene in the region with several Micheline-starred restaurants. Add a friendly, small-town culture and beautiful landscapes to the mix and you’ll get a perfect stop that will make sure your 3 days in Napa Valley are nothing short of perfect!
Even if you have only 3 days in Napa Valley, you should leave some time for St. Helena. Around 10 miles north of Yountville, you’ll discover the chic, upscale town of St. Helena. This town is part of what locals refer to as UpValley, a term you can use if you want to blend int. St. Helena is home to arguably the finest tasting experience- The Hall. It’s a modern stone-and-glass tasting room decorated with beautiful sculptures and surrounded by endless stretches of picturesque vineyards. The only thing that can rival the scenery is the wine.
However, wine isn’t the only thing why you should visit St. Helena. You can unwind in the town’s scenic park, visit one of the oldest buildings in California (The Old Mill), check out the Christopher Hill Gallery, or even take a bicycle tour and learn more about the city’s history.
Stay at the Wine Country Inn
After a long day of wine travels aboard your train excursion, travel just a bit further to the Wine Country Inn. This little slice of wine lover’s heaven is nestled in the heart of Napa Valley and provides an authentic experience as well as a romantic atmosphere deserving of your wine lover’s weekend. The inn offers accommodations for standard, but luxurious hotel rooms, but also quaint cottages with perfect patios and enchanting views of the surrounding vineyards. They’re also sure to provide plenty of tips for Napa wine tasting events and tours if you’re still keen to taste the Valley’s best grapes.
3 Perfect Days in Napa Valley: Day 3
After tasting so many different delicious wines and dining in some of the finest restaurants in Napa, St. Helena and Yountville, we think it’s a good idea to add some adventure into the last day of your 3-day Napa Valley itinerary. But before you start, it would be a great idea to…
Enjoy Some Spa Time
An eight-mile drive from St. Helena will bring you to Calistoga, where a unique experience is sure to be found. The town is famous for its natural hot springs and healing waters that draw in visitors from all over the world. Many spa opportunities can be found in this quaint and quirky little town, like in Solage, Indian Springs, Golden Haven Hot Springs, and The Moonacre Spa. The choice is yours, but a mud bath at one of these high-end spas will ensure true relaxation after a day of sipping the region’s many wines.
While you’re in Calistoga, another experience you shouldn’t miss is…
Seeing Napa From the Skies
We just can’t compelte this guide to 3 days in Napa Valley without experiencing views of Napa from the skies. Flying over Napa is a worthwhile experience, but if you’re not interested in seeing the region from a loud and intimidating whirly-bird, then try something a bit quieter like a hot air balloon! Balloons Above the Valley, Napa Valley Balloons Inc, and Napa Valley Aloft all offer the chance to see Napa in a serene setting while you enjoy taking pictures and gain a true bird’s eye view of this incredible landscape. Some of the earlier flights include a unique post-flight breakfast experience complete with some of the Valley’s sparkling wines.
Old Faithful Geyser of California
Finally, what better way to complete perfect 3 days in Napa Valley than visiting one of the region’s most spectacular natural attractions? The Old Faithful Geyser of California spouts off almost regularly and this is a great chance to catch a glimpse of Northern California’s thermal activity. Next to the geyser, you’ll also find a geology museum and picturesque gardens (great for picnics) that just add on to the site’s appealingness.
Are you looking for some more cool things to do near the West Coast? Here’s some more inspiration:
Helpful resources for visiting Napa Valley
If you’re looking for a great deal on international flights to Napa, book your flight to San Francisco. From here, Napa Valley is only a short ride away and you can get some ridiculous deals on international flights.
For huge savings on car rentals, check out this offer by AutoEurope and get up to 30% off on all car rentals in town.
Looking for great places to stay in Napa Valley? You can use this Booking.com discount voucher and save up to 15% on all properties in town.
Finally, don’t forget about travel insurance. Napa Valley might be very safe, but international insurance is mandatory for international travelers. And when you’re traveling to the US, you should never try to save on travel insurance because their medical system is ridiculously expensive! So, if you want to get travel insurance that covers every possible incident, I sincerely recommend World Nomads.
Did you ever visit Napa Valley? How did you like this perfect 3 days itinerary of Napa Valley? Feel free to share your thought in the comments.
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