Amazing 3 Days In Napa Valley Itinerary (2024 Guide)

Here is our perfect Napa Valley itinerary for travelers hoping to see the highlights of Northern California!

Located in the heart of Northern California, Napa Valley is the perfect destination for wine lovers with its rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and world-renowned boutique wineries. This iconic wine region, just a short drive from San Francisco, is a popular day trip destination but is well worth a few days or more.

Beyond its famous wine culture, Napa Valley boasts a vibrant culinary scene and plenty of natural beauty for adventure seekers to explore. Hiking and biking trails wind through the scenic hillsides and along the banks of the Napa River, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Art galleries, boutique shops, and historic landmarks add to the long list of experiences for every traveler. To encompass all the highlights of the region, we’ve created the perfect Napa Valley itinerary for a weekend getaway!

From riding on the Napa Valley Wine Train, to watching live music in a wine bar in Downtown Napa, to touring famous wineries in the region, any wine lover will have the time of their life in Napa Valley. We’ve also included other types of activities, such as kayaking, hiking, and visiting a spa so you can have a range of experiences in Napa Valley!

Enhance your stay with our list of the best things to do in Napa!

3 Days In Napa Valley Itinerary

Here is our perfect Napa Valley itinerary! We’ve created this itinerary to be a well-rounded summary of the Napa Valley highlights.

Though, of course, you could easily spend your entire weekend itinerary on wine tastings if you wanted to! Many people plan a Napa Valley trip solely for wine tasting, so feel free to modify this itinerary to include more wineries and vineyards.

But if you’re looking for a varied approach to California’s wine country, here is a 3 days in Napa Valley itinerary that includes a range of activities and attractions.

Day 1

On the first day of your weekend itinerary, start with a lazy morning in downtown Napa. In the afternoon you can try something unique: a history kayaking tour of Napa Valley! Then spend the evening relaxing at a natural spa in Calistoga, a highlight of Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Wine Tasting
Napa Valley is a wine lover’s dream, though there are lots of other fun things to do besides wine tasting!

Morning: Walk around Downtown Napa

Downtown Napa is the heart of California’s wine country and is a vibrant hub of culinary delights, cultural experiences, and scenic beauty.

Lined with charming boutiques, wine tasting rooms, and Michelin-starred restaurants, the area effortlessly blends historic architecture with modern sophistication.

Strolling along its picturesque streets, visitors are greeted with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans and the sight of towering palm trees against a backdrop of lush vineyards. Spend your first morning in Napa Valley with a cruise around downtown. Grab a leisurely breakfast, soak in the sights, and do some shopping.

The Napa River meanders through the downtown, offering serene views and opportunities for leisurely cruises. With its inviting ambiance and world-class amenities, Downtown Napa beckons travelers to indulge in the region’s finest wines, cuisine, and hospitality.

Find more things to do in the region with our list of day trips from San Francisco!

Afternoon: Napa Valley History Kayaking Tour

Add some outdoor exploration and history to your Napa Valley itinerary with a guided history kayaking tour! You’ll cruise along the Napa River with a local guide who will set you up with all the kayaking gear.

As you explore the scenery, the guide will share stories and legends about the history of Napa Valley. You’ll pass historic sites, spot local flora and fauna, and learn about the indigenous people of the area.

This is a super cool way to gain a new perspective of Napa Valley! There is much more to the area than just wine tasting, so try to venture out and try something new outside of the tasting rooms. This guided tour is the perfect way to gain a new appreciation for the area and its history, culture, and wildlife!

Evening: Visit the natural hot springs and mud baths of Calistoga

In the Upper Napa Valley lies the charming town of Calistoga, a haven of relaxation and rejuvenation known for its mineral hot springs and mud baths. Famous for their therapeutic properties, these natural wonders draw visitors seeking solace from the stresses of modern life.

The mineral-rich waters, heated deep within the earth, soothe tired muscles and promote overall well-being, offering a blissful escape amidst the serene Napa Valley landscape.

Additionally, the famed mud baths, crafted from volcanic ash and mineral water, provide a unique and indulgent spa experience, detoxifying the body and leaving skin feeling soft and revitalized.

There are a few hot springs to choose from in Calistoga, and most of them are part of the day-use area at some resorts like Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and Golden Haven Hot Springs Resort.

Whether soaking in the warm embrace of the hot springs or luxuriating in the healing embrace of a mud bath, Calistoga’s mineral springs offer a sanctuary of relaxation and renewal, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the restorative power of nature.

Read next: San Francisco to Las Vegas Drive Itineraries

Day 2

After a relaxing first day in Napa Valley, it’s time to embrace the delights of wine country with some wine tasting! This is, after all, the main reason why tourists are visiting Napa Valley. Spend the morning and afternoon indulging in the best Napa Valley wines at various tasting rooms and vineyards around the area. There is no shortage of options!

Morning and Afternoon: Wine Tastings

You’ll want to dedicate almost one full day to wine tasting on your Napa Valley itinerary. Have a relaxing morning, eat some breakfast, and set off on your exploration around 9:30am. Most wineries open for wine tasting at 10am.

Whether you embark on a self-drive adventure through boutique wineries and vineyards, or you join a guided tour, you’re sure to have an educational and delicious wine tasting experience on your Napa Valley itinerary. Here is a rundown on how to plan your day!

Guided Wine Tasting Tours

One way to make the most of the nearby wineries in Napa Valley is joining a guided tour. Guided tours include transport and the knowledge of an expert local guide. Your tour leader will take you to some of the most well-known wineries in Napa Valley, and you can drink all the wine you want without worrying about driving!

Guided wine tasting tours are ideal for solo travellers who want a social experience, and for travellers who just prefer the ease of a guide taking them to the best places without having to do research themselves.

One popular option is a guided wine tasting tour by open air trolley. Visit boutique wineries, enjoy a delicious lunch, and enjoy the stunning scenery of Napa Valley and all the wineries. Another option is a full day guided winery tour through Sonoma Valley with a picnic lunch.

If you want a more educational wine tasting experience, you can book a lesson in wine pairing with a local sommelier! This tour will teach you expert knowledge about local wines, food, and how wine pairings work.

Whatever option you choose, spend the day on an informative and enjoyable guided day tour of the best Napa Valley wineries!

Self Guided Wine Tasting Tours

For those who prefer to plan their own wine tasting in Napa itinerary, you can drive yourself around the best wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards in Napa Valley wine country. Whether you want to taste sparkling wines, red wines, or white wines, there are so many amazing wine tastings to choose from during your Napa Valley itinerary.

Here is a summary of some famous wineries in Napa Valley that you may want to visit!

  • Beringer Vineyards: The region’s oldest winery, also on the National Register of Historic Places and a California Historical Landmark
  • Domaine Carneros: An elegant chateau specializing in sparkling wines
  • Robert Mondavi Winery: Famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Fumé Blanc
  • Mayacamas Vineyards: A historic, mountaintop winery also known for its Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Louis M. Martini Winery: A contemporary tasting room with unique food and wine experiences and spacious outdoor seating
  • Castello di Amorosa: Taste Tuscan-style wines and explore the medieval-inspired castle chambers
  • Pine Ridge Vineyards: A picturesque winery and tasting room known for its Cabernet tasting and caves
  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Produces world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals
  • The Hess Persson Estate: One of Napa Valley’s oldest wineries that doubles as an art gallery
  • Opus One Winery: Known for its iconic Bordeaux-style blends and state-of-the-art tasting room
  • Round Pond Estate: Combine wine tasting with home-grown olive oil tastings
  • Schramsberg Vineyards: A beautiful estate known for its exquisite sparkling wine

There are so many more wineries you can visit on your Napa Valley itinerary, but it just depends on what your tastes and preferences are.

Visit one winery and hang out there for hours, or hop around to lots of different locations. Just remember to stay safe and don’t drive if you’ve had too much wine!

Napa Valley Wine Barrels
There is no shortage of wine to taste in Napa Valley!

Evening: Live music in downtown Napa

Head back to downtown Napa for a fun evening in the heart of wine country. In Downtown Napa, the culinary scene comes alive at night with an array of top-notch restaurants and wine bars offering exquisite dining experiences.

But there is something for everyone here! Whether you want fine dining or a casual dinner like burgers or wood-fired pizzas, you can find it all in downtown.

From upscale eateries showcasing locally sourced ingredients to cozy bistros serving innovative cuisine, there are so many nice options for a nice dinner out on the town. If you’re a real wine lover looking for even more of the local delicacies, spend a few hours at one of the wine bars in the area!

As the evening progresses, the vibrant music scene takes center stage, with live performances echoing through the streets. Whether it’s soulful jazz, energetic blues, or lively indie bands, the nightlife in Downtown Napa pulsates with rhythm and melody.

Visitors can sip on artisanal cocktails or local wines while immersing themselves in the captivating live music at a venue or wine bar. Downtown Napa is an enticing place to visit, and there is no better place to spend an evening during your Napa itinerary!

Explore more of Northern California with this incredible road trip itinerary.

Day 3

Finish off your Napa Valley itinerary with a dreamy hot air balloon ride, a quintessential wine country experience. Then explore the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and finish off with a dinner ride on the iconic Napa Valley Wine Train!

Morning: Hot air balloon ride

An absolute must-do on any Napa Valley itinerary is a hot air balloon ride over the sun-soaked vineyards and mountains. You’ll get coffee and snacks at check-in and then board a scenic hot air balloon for a 1-hour ride over the stunning Napa Valley scenery.

Each individual winery in Napa Valley has its own charm, but there is something so special about seeing the entire agricultural area from above. Feel the cool morning breeze and cherish every moment of an aerial flight over one of the world’s most iconic wine regions.

Hot air balloon rides in Napa Valley are a real treat, so don’t miss this opportunity!

Hot Air Balloon Napa Valley
A hot air balloon ride in Napa is a magical experience.

Afternoon: Go for a hike

Napa Valley isn’t just about sipping exquisite wines; it’s also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with its array of breathtaking hiking trails. Spend the last afternoon of your Napa itinerary with a stroll along one of the many scenic routes in Napa Valley. Here are some of the best hikes you could conquer during your Napa itinerary!

Skyline Wilderness Park Trail

This trail offers a diverse terrain that caters to hikers of all skill levels. As you traverse this trail, you’ll find yourself immersed in a landscape of oak woodlands, grassy meadows, and rocky outcrops. The panoramic vistas of Napa Valley and the surrounding mountains are simply awe-inspiring, making every step worth it.

Oat Hill Mine Trail

For those seeking a more challenging trek, the Oat Hill Mine Trail promises an unforgettable adventure. This historic trail follows the route of an old stagecoach road and leads hikers through rugged terrain adorned with wildflowers, ancient oaks, and remnants of the region’s mining past.

Stevenson Memorial Trail

Located in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, this is another fun hike you could try during your Napa itinerary. Named after the famous author who once lived in the area, this hike offers a blend of scenic beauty and literary history. The trail culminates at the summit of Mount Saint Helena, where panoramic views await, rewarding hikers with a sense of accomplishment and a connection to the region’s storied past.

Ritchey Canyon Trail

Another must-visit hiking destination in Napa Valley is the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. One of the park’s highlights is the Ritchey Canyon Trail, which leads hikers on a journey through lush woodlands and alongside picturesque streams. With its tranquil ambiance and abundant wildlife, this hike offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Whether you’re seeking a challenging ascent or a leisurely stroll immersed in nature, Napa Valley’s hiking trails provide an unforgettable outdoor experience for adventurers of all levels.

Read next: The Perfect 3 Days in San Francisco Itinerary

Evening: Napa Valley Wine Train

It’s time for more wine! Finish off the final day of your Napa Valley itinerary with dinner reservations on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

This iconic excursion offers passengers a unique opportunity to explore the picturesque landscapes of Napa Valley while indulging in gourmet cuisine and world-class wines.

Settle into meticulously restored Pullman railcars dating back to the early 20th century, each exuding timeless elegance and charm. As the train chugs through vineyard-draped hillsides and charming towns, guests are treated to panoramic views and a delicious, upscale dinner.

The Napa Valley Wine Train offers a variety of excursions, from leisurely lunch journeys to intimate dinner experiences, all showcasing the region’s finest flavors. Taste amazing dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients, perfectly paired with a selection of acclaimed wines from Napa Valley’s renowned wineries.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply seeking a memorable culinary adventure, the Napa Valley Wine Train promises an unforgettable ride through one of the world’s most celebrated wine regions.

Napa Valley Travel Guide

To accompany your Napa Valley itinerary, here are some handy travel tips to help you plan your stay including when to visit, how to get around, and where to stay.

When to visit Napa Valley

The best time to visit Napa Valley is the peak season from late spring to early fall, particularly from May to October. This time of year offers ideal weather conditions for exploring the region’s vineyards and outdoor attractions.

Between May and October, the valley is bathed in warm sunshine, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures, making it perfect for leisurely strolls through the vineyards, al fresco dining, and scenic drives along the iconic Silverado Trail.

Additionally, this period coincides with the grape harvest season, known as “crush,” when the vineyards buzz with activity and visitors can witness the winemaking process in action, making it an especially exciting time to visit for wine enthusiasts.

Alternatively, some travelers prefer the quieter atmosphere of the shoulder seasons, such as late fall (November) and early spring (March to April). During these times, the crowds thin out, accommodations are more readily available, and the landscape takes on a different charm, with autumn foliage or blooming wildflowers adding a splash of color to the scenery.

While the weather may be slightly cooler during these months, it remains pleasant enough for outdoor activities, and visitors can still enjoy wine tasting, gourmet dining, and exploring the valley’s cultural attractions without the hustle and bustle of peak tourist season.

Wildflowers Napa
You can see wildflowers during spring in Napa!

How to get around Napa Valley

Having your own car is the best way to get around Napa Valley! From Calistoga in the north to American Canyon in the south, Napa Valley stretches on for about 40 miles and includes a range of different towns. So to fully explore the area, you’ll want a car to cover more ground.

Napa Valley is conveniently located near a range of airports that you can fly into, including San Francisco International Airport, Sacramento International Airport, and Oakland International Airport.

San Francisco is the easiest and most popular starting point for a trip to Napa. It’s just an hour or so to reach Napa Valley from the city, and you can even book guided tours of the region from San Francisco.

Or you can rent a car in the city and drive yourself out to Napa Valley! For this itinerary, the best way to get around is with your own car. You’ll have more freedom and flexibility, though it can be handy to book Ubers or a guided day tour for wine tasting so you don’t have to drive.

If you are driving yourself into the valley, try to stop by the famous Napa Valley sign! Located on Highway 29 in Oakville near Robert Mondavi Winery, travelers love snapping a photo with this massive, Napa Valley sign.

Additionally, bicycle rentals offer a leisurely way to soak in the stunning scenery and visit nearby wineries, with dedicated bike paths and routes making for safe and enjoyable rides.

With a variety of transportation options catering to different preferences and interests, getting around Napa Valley is as enjoyable as the destination itself.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Where to stay in Napa Valley

To accompany the best Napa Valley itinerary, you need to book somewhere amazing to stay! Napa Valley doesn’t have many cheap options because it is an upscale destination, but if you’re willing to treat yourself there are some incredible accommodations!

There are a few different towns in Napa Valley that you could stay in, from Sonoma to Calistoga to Yountville and more. We’ll recommend options right in or near downtown Napa, just because it puts you in a great location for the activities we’ve included in this itinerary. And you’ll be within walking distance of the downtown attractions and restaurants. Plus if you have a car, you can easily explore all the different towns in Napa Valley.

Best budget accommodation: Napa Valley Hotel & Suites

If you’re hoping to plan a Napa trip on a budget, one of the cheapest options is going to be the Napa Valley Hotel & Suites. This modern and comfortable hotel is one of the most affordable options in Napa Valley, and it’s located right downtown within walking distance of the local shops, wine bars, and restaurants. There are modest rooms, an outdoor pool, free Wifi, and everything else you might need!

Best mid-range accommodation: Napa River Inn

Napa River Inn is one of Napa Valley’s best hotels that combines elegance with gorgeous views. Located right on the Napa Riverfront, this cozy, historic hotel has beautiful rooms, quality amenities, and excellent service. The tour desk can help you organize wine tours, and there are also free shuttles and even a gourmet wine shop and bakery on site.

Best luxury accommodation: Churchill Manor

One of the most luxurious accommodations to choose on a trip to Napa Valley Wine Country is Churchill Manor. This magnificent bed and breakfast is set in a gorgeous, historic building and has perks like free bikes, landscaped gardens, sun terraces, spa treatments, and more. It’s a stunning property where you can relax and rejuvenate during your Napa Valley itinerary!

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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