Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley overlooking the pool — Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley
About an hour north of San Francisco lies California’s dreamy wine country with 16 distinct appellations, over 375 wineries open for tasting and several Michelin-star restaurants.
Napa has all the ingredients for a perfect weekend getaway: great weather, excellent food and world-class wine. Whether you choose to eat or drink your way through the valley (or do both!), we’ve rounded up a guide with some of the best things to do in Napa if you’ve only got 48 hours.
How to get there
Exterior view of JSX aircraft — Photo courtesy of JSX
Napa is about a 75-minute drive from San Francisco or a 6.5-hour drive from Los Angeles – perfect for a road trip. Alternatively, semi-private airlines like JSX make it even easier to get to Napa with direct flights from Burbank to Concord in just 1.5 hours. JSX offers private terminals to avoid long lines and crowds, so you can check in just 20 minutes before your flight.
Once you arrive in Napa, you can rent a luxury vehicle with Go Rentals, which offers seamless pick-up and drop-off at JSX terminals. From there, Concord is an easy 45-minute drive to Napa.
Where to stay
Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley guest room — Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley
In Calistoga, the highly anticipated Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Napa Valley finally opened its doors as the first and only resort within a working winery in Napa. The intimate 85-room hotel is surrounded by mountain and vineyard views, and it features two pools, a holistic spa, a fully supervised kids club called Kids for All Seasons, and the TRUSS Living Room, a restaurant by renowned Chef Erik Anderson.
Lobby at Hotel Villagio — Photo courtesy of The Estate Yountville
Yountville is best known for its culinary scene, so food lovers might want to consider a hotel in the area for a high concentration of Michelin-star dining options. The Estate Yountville, comprised of two distinct boutique hotels just several feet apart, is a good option. For more contemporary accommodations, consider Hotel Villagio, and for more rustic chic lodging, choose Vintage House where exposed wood beam ceilings, wood floors and a fireplace make guest rooms feel like a cozy living room.
The Spa at The Estate Yountville — Photo courtesy of The Estate Yountville
After a full day of wine tasting, unwind at the spa conveniently located in the heart of Yountville, which features 12 treatment rooms, five private suites with soaking baths and fireplaces and three couples suites. Choose from a selection of spa treatments, such as the 4-hour Mud Moor Thermal Springs Wrap that incorporates a detoxifying exfoliation and scalp massage.
9 unique wine experiences you can enjoy in Southern Oregon
9 unique wine experiences you can enjoy in Southern Oregon
Where to go wine tasting
It’s hard to choose a few wineries to visit when there are so many fantastic wines that come from a single region. But Napa is best known for producing big, bold cabernet sauvignon and merlot, as well as sauvignon blanc. Whether you’re looking for an intimate tasting room or prefer a larger winery, here are a few great options for wine tasting in Napa.
Darioush Sensory Sessions Olive Oil Experience — Photo courtesy of Darioush
From the moment you enter the opulent gates of Darioush Winery and notice the Roman-style columns, it’s apparent that the winery is influenced by the owner Darioush’s Iranian heritage. But contrary to what many believe, the winery is named after the Persian King Darioush from the Roman Empire, also known as Darius I or Darius the Great.
Choose from several wine tasting options or guided tours that will take you throughout the vineyards and show you how the robust cabernet sauvignon and shiraz wines are made. The Fine Wines, Artisan Cheese wine tasting is a group tour that ends in the wine cave and includes four wines paired with Iranian-inspired snacks, such as barbari bread, pistachio butter and barberry compote.
Far Niente Winery — Photo courtesy of Far Niente
Far Niente Winery is a charming winery in Oakville that focuses on two varietals: cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. The 116-acre property is home to 65,000 plants, oak trees, and redwoods creating lush grounds and a beautiful outdoor space for tasting, when weather permits. There are four distinct ways to taste wine at Far Niente, but we recommend the 90-minute Group Tour and Tasting, which includes a tour of the wine caves and the owner’s vintage car collection, ending with a seated tasting for $115 per person.
Quintessa harvest — Photo courtesy of Quintessa
Located on 280 acres of land surrounded by oak trees, Quintessa Winery is an intimate winery best known for its sauvignon blanc and Bordeaux-style blend. The name "Quintessa" is derived from the Latin “quinta essentia," meaning five essentials which represent the natural elements on Earth. The intimate tasting room in Rutherford offers two group tasting experiences – The Salon and The Estate Experience – with a walking tour of the property included in the latter.
Where to eat
There is no shortage of outstanding restaurants in Napa Valley. Whether you’re looking for a fancy tasting menu or a more casual cafe experience, some of the best restaurants and the most talented chefs in the country are located here in Napa. Here are a few restaurants to check out.
The French Laundry, helmed by Thomas Keller, was one of the culinary trailblazers that brought California farm-to-table to life. Reservations for the acclaimed restaurant in Yountville might be hard to come by but will be well worth the wait. If you can’t snag a reservation, the French bistro Bouchon (and its bakery next door), also run by Thomas Keller, is a good alternative for a restaurant with a buzzy vibe. Pro tip: Stop by the bakery in the morning and pick up a croissant or two.
A one-stop-shop for all your picnic needs, Oakville Grocery has been around since 1881, offering ready-made farm-fresh salads and sides along with coffee, wines, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and other artisanal goods that pair well with wine. But most people come to Oakville Grocery for the made-to-order sandwiches which include the chicken gruyere, turkey pesto and the muffaletta sandwich made with prosciutto, salami and mortadella served on artisanal bread.
PRESS Restaurant outdoor patio — Photo courtesy of Eric Wolfinger
Under the leadership of chef Philip Tessier (formerly The French Laundry, Bouchon, Per Se, Le Bernardin), PRESS restaurant highlights California cuisine with a seasonal menu that includes popular dishes such as the sweet and sour pig ears, fruits de mer and roast chicken. The all-Napa Valley wine list also happens to be the most extensive collection of Napa Valley wines in the world.
The dining room is adorned with a large terracotta clock from Union Station at the center of the dining room, high wood-beamed ceilings and leather banquettes for a contemporary farmhouse-style restaurant. Guests can also dine outdoors on the garden patio, which is equipped with string lights and a fireplace.
What to do
If you’re looking for something else to do outside of wine tasting, Napa Valley offers a variety of outdoor activities. Most of the roads in Napa are flat and well-paved which makes bike riding through the vineyards a fun way to experience Napa. Getaway Adventures offers several bike and kayak tours throughout Napa and Sonoma County. You can choose from self-guided, group or private tours. The Sip ‘n’ Cycle Tour is a scenic 12-mile ride along the backroads of Calistoga and includes stops at two wineries and a picnic lunch for $250 per person (wine tasting is additional).
Adventure seekers will be interested in booking a sunrise hot air balloon ride with Napa Valley Aloft, a 10Best Readers' Choice Awards winner. Watch the sun rise as you float over the rolling green hills and enjoy an eagle’s-eye view of wine country during a peaceful 45-minute hot air balloon ride. Upon landing, you’ll enjoy a champagne brunch at Ottimo, chef Michael Chiarello’s casual eatery.