Post # 1
Hi bees! My hubby and I really want to plan a trip to napa in June. Neither of us have ever been and are very excited!
I’ve done a little bit of looking on trip advisor but I’d like to know what you think, those of you who have been! We live in Chicago, so where should we fly into? San Francisco? We are 24 and most rental car age minimums are 25 so not sure if we would be able to rent a car to drive to Napa from there.
Where should we stay? There are so many different areas I don’t even know where to begin!
We both love wine (obviously why we are going) what are some of the must visit vineyards or winery’s?
Thanks in advance bees for your help!
Post # 3
I love the napa region!!!
You may have trouble visiting there if you dont have a car though. Depending where you stay its easily an hour minimum from the airport to get there.
And once you are there you can get wine tours, but then what about dinner and other site seeing etc? Not all, but many of the hotels arent really central to a downtown. And while a few of the areas have a small downtown, its not what you are probably expecting in terms of walkability. Downtown Napa (the city) and Sonoma wil have more walkability.
It can be done, but it may be more expensive because of long cab rides, paying multiple days of tours (and they dont go to the best wineries)
I would see if you can get a car to rent from some place despite your age. Some place may.
Post # 4
You will need a car. Usually you can rent a car under 25, but you may need to put an additional deposit down.
Sfo is close enough to fly into.
Honestly, I don’t know napa as well as sonoma, which is where I live. Castello di amorosa is a fun winery!!! I suggest that one. If you want to make a trip to sonoma county we would live to have you!
Napa is more upscale, where sonoma is more close-knit, small town experience.
Visit Safari West in Santa Rosa!! You can visit by making reservations for a tour. You can also stay in safari tents. I have a huge bias, but I do love it.
There are so many wineries in the area, it just depends what kind of wine as well as what experience you are after.
Hot air balloons are a great way to view everything! Also in sonoma county we have zip lining in the redwoods which I highly recommend.
Post # 5
@ThreeMeers: Depending on what’s cheaper, you can fly into Oakland (OAK) or San Francisco (SFO). The drive is about an hour or so up into Napa area. I know Alamo rental offers rentals to those below 25; you just pay a price difference. I’d highly recommend booking through Costco; you get a free class upgrade and a free additional driver.
Also you can look into Groupon for the wine country tours so both of you can enjoy yourselves!
My favorite wineries:
Alpha Omega/Cakebread/Peju/Domaine Carneros/Mumm/Blackbird
Great pictures but totally touristy sell out places are Sterling and Castello di Amarosa, don’t miss the Muscat Grape juice at Castello!
Food wise, Yountville has some great restaurants, any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants are great. I also highly recommend Morimoto’s and Boon Fly Cafe.
If you drive a bit futher you go into Calistoga and there are some great spas and mud bath places to enjoy yourself!
Hotel wise, the pricey ones are in Yountville and Napa proper, you can find B and B’s along the way; what is your price range?
Post # 6
@lalalalauren: Agree with PPs, great advice! You will definitely need a car, I believe most agencies will rent to under 25 with extra depositi/insurance.
I don’t know what your budget is but I liked the suggestion about Calistoga and Sonoma. Pretty much all of wine country is pretty overpriced but it is fun and beautiful. If you’re willing to stay outside of wine country, Vacaville & Santa Rosa have cheaper lodgings though you might be spending the difference in gas (gas is really expensive here!)
Sonoma wineries: Cline, Jacuzzi, Imagery (actually in Glen Ellen, north of Sonoma). There’s a couple small family wineries in Carneros that are nice too like Robledo. As previously mentioned, Sonoma is more mellow and chill, you don’t have to get all done up, pretty casual.
Napa: Cakebread, Miner, Mumm (sparking wine). You don’t “have to” get dressed up but it’s a bit more upscale in Napa. IMHO, also a bit more stuffy but it’s a fun experience. Some wineries require a reservation but most do not; same with tasting fees. Cakebread is the my favorite and I believe it’s a $10 tasting fee and requires a reservations.
As @missporkchops said, check out Groupon, Bloomspot, LivingSocial, Google Deals, etc for all kinds of wine country deals. I’ve done a bike tour of Napa before and that was pretty fun although I doubt I would do it again =) July sun + lots of wine = exhausted early!
Post # 7
Great tips! Thanks everyone! We will definitely have to rent a car and discuss where we want to stay. We don’t want to spend like $400+ a night we were thinking like $200-$250 a night. is that reasonable?
Is it true you can hire a driver and its similarly priced to the rental car and gas?
Any other restaurant suggestions would be awesome too!
Post # 8
You need a car.
You can rent under 25, but they will make you pay a surcharge. It isn’t much – a few dollars a day, I think? I know for a fact that Enterprise rents to people below 25, because I rented with them when I was under 25!
You can fly into either San Francisco or Oakland. Oakland is an easier drive because you don’t have to cut through the city. It’s also a smaller airport and experiences less fog, so that’ll mean fewer delays, especially in June, when it can be very foggy in the city! Just price out both and see what comes up. Southwest flies to both of those airports, as well!
I don’t have recs on where to stay, as I am local and never needed a hotel, but perhaps try AirBnB and see if you could rent a home or apartment? Then you can take advantage of all the amazing fresh local produce and make a romantic meal in, and enjoy a bottle of wine from your tours!
Make sure you get off the beaten path one of the days, and see some of the smaller, farther afield wineries. They are spectacularly beautiful, and will have much better/more personal service than the giants!
Post # 9
@lalalalauren: I think $250 is pretty reasonable, especially for a B&B.
There are soooo many upscale restaurants in Napa like French Laundry, Meadowood, etc. But for more everyday fare, BarbersQ in Napa (BBQ), Oxbow Public Market (lots of stalls), Three Twins ice cream. You can check out Yelp and TripAdvisor for more
Post # 10
Hiring a driver is about $700/day in Napa, more on weekends in wedding season. Even with a groupon, it’s lucky to find 6 hours of car service for under $500 + tip.