A road trip through Napa Valley is more than just a scenic mountain drive. It combines splendid views with plentiful wine, good food, interesting history, and a bit of adventure. Here are some of the must-visit towns in Napa that you’d normally pass on a road trip through the beautiful Wine Country. They’re home to hundreds of wineries, some dating back to the 1800s. Each town is unique with its own sets of sights and appeals – be it for the wine enthusiast, travelling families, the photographer, the foodie, or the outdoorsy type.
Napa is the main town in Napa Valley where most won’t miss on their road trips through California’s famous wine region. Here you’ll find bits of the former trade hub’s heyday in its preserved historic buildings, especially in downtown, among all the modern facilities from accommodation to dining and shopping and nightlife.
Hit Oxford Public Market for a multisensory experience or stroll between Main Street and 1st Street for Downtown Napa’s all-in-one offerings. It’s where you can find most of the stylish boutiques, galleries, and wine-tasting rooms. The great outdoors isn’t too far away – adventures like kayaking and gondola rides await by the namesake river that runs through the middle of town.
Yountville lies in the middle of a string of towns within the Napa Valley wine region. Best known for its high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, those on road trips through Napa Valley mark the town high on their list for among Napa’s top wine and dining experiences.
Culinary hot spots in Yountville are well-varied. Top names include The French Laundry for great contemporary cuisine, Bouchon for classic French, Ciccio and Bottega for Italian, and La Calenda for Mexican. Of course, wine tasting opportunities abound. The scenic road trip through Yountville also treats you to some of the prettiest architecture in the entire valley.
Oakville is a small town that most would likely pass and overlook on their Napa Valley road trips, en route between Rutherford and Yountville. Even so, it’s worth a stop along Highway 29 where you can find small boutique wineries – some having some of the best Cabernet in Napa Valley to offer.
Lining the St. Helena Highway are a selection of top Napa wineries that call Oakville home, such as Robert Mondavi, Opus One, and Cakebread Cellars. Turning south into Oakville Grade Road leads you to more pretty wine estates and further southwest into Sonoma. Not driving? You can always hop on the Napa Valley Wine Train for a memorable ride through the wine region with Oakville as among the stops.
Rutherford is one of the highlight towns in Napa, home to some of the top wineries in the region and is designated as an American Viticultural Area on its own. Oenologists, and wine lovers in general, would mark it as a top visit on their road trip itinerary.
Among the notable names calling Rutherford home is Inglenook, a grand wine estate that dates back to 1879 and is now owned by Francis Ford Coppola. There are also the historic Beaulieu Vineyard, Round Pond Estate, and the Rutherford Hill Winery where you can taste their legendary wine with spectacular views of the Valley.
Related: More posts on the US
St. Helena is a charming town with a downtown main street lined with pretty shops, galleries, and cafés set in historic buildings. Just a short trip outside town are some of Napa Valley’s most historic wineries, including Beringer Vineyard – considered the oldest continually operating winery in the Valley.
St. Helena is also cool for families with older kids on a road trip, as a stop at Robert Louis Stevenson Museum can be fun and inspiring. It’s filled with around 11,000 personal belongings of the author of the coming-of-age adventure novel, Treasure Island. Looking for a sweat with a rewarding view? Hike Mount St. Helena for the outlook over the San Francisco Bay Area.
Calistoga is a small town in the northern area of Napa Valley where you can experience a mix of natural attractions, history, and of course, great wine. Just northwest of town is California’s Old Faithful geyser which regularly blows off steam in intervals, together with hot springs and mud baths.
For historical sights, look out for the medieval-style Castello di Amorosa. Wine lovers shouldn’t miss Chateau Montelena, one of the top Napa Valley wineries known for its triumph at the historic Judgment of Paris in 1976.
For more stuff like this, join the club! If you’re not already a member, you can sign up here and get tons of amazing, incredible, badass stuff that no one else can get and all your friends will be jealous.
Until next time, be jealous friends. Be jealous.
Get FREE access to our member’s only club and enjoy unlimited travel resources. Be the first to find out about new travel discounts and exclusive discount coupons for leading brands. Did I mention it’s all FREE? Are you in? Great! Sign up below!