Napa Valley, California
Getting There

  • Having a good map is vital to enjoying your visit. Use the grapeguides map or pick one up at the first winery that you visit.
  • If possible try to visit wine country during the week. You will avoid the crowds and traffic that accompany the weekends. Wednesdays through Fridays are the best days.
  • If Highway 29 is backed up, try the Silverado Trail.
  • Parking lots can get very hot in Napa. If you buy wine during your trip, carry it with you into wineries.

Flights Napa Valley is slightly more than a one hour drive from both San Francisco and Sacramento (when traffic is light). If traveling from out of state, it is easiest to fly to San Francisco or Oakland airports then drive to Napa. If you are using a tour service in Napa, there are some shuttle companies that can transport you from San Francisco and Oakland airports to Napa. Evans Airporter is one option to consider.

Driving To reach Napa from San Francisco, you can either drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and head north on U.S. 101 or drive over the Bay Bridge and continue east on I-80. From U.S. 101, exit on Highway 37 which will connect with Highway 121. Continue east past the Sonoma Valley exit and turn onto Highway 29. From I-80, exit at Highway 37 then turn onto Highway 29 north. This will lead you directly into the town of Napa.

From Sacramento, the easiest way is to take I-80 west and exit at Highway 37 then turn onto Highway 29 north. A slightly more direct route is to take Highway 12 west from I-80 then link up to Highway 29 north to Napa.

Bus Greyhound offers service from San Francisco and Sacramento to Napa. The schedule is fairly infrequent so it’s not the most convenient way of getting to wine country. From Napa, you can hire a tour operator or rent a bike to explore wine country. See below for details.

Ferry It’s possible to ride a ferry from San Francisco to Vallejo which is about 20 miles south of Napa. Baylink Ferry provides this service. The ferry ride is quite pleasant but you will need to get from Vallejo to Napa on your own. The best option here is to use the Napa Valley VINE bus service which has stops at the Vallejo ferry terminal, downtown Napa and several other locations in the valley. From Napa, you can hire a tour operator or rent a bike to explore wine country.

Train Amtrak has a station in Martinez and buses which shuttle back and forth from Martinez to Napa. This would not be our preferred way of getting to Napa but might be convenient if you happened to be taking Amtrek anyway.

Tour Operators There are several tour operators located in San Francisco which will drive you to and around Napa Valley for a day. Please look at the Tour Operators section of grapeguides for more information. Gray Line offers a guided bus tour of Napa and Sonoma that leaves daily from San Francisco. With this option, you won’t see a tremendous amount of wineries but the scenery during the driving should be terrific. The total trip will be about 9 hours.

Getting Around Napa Valley The wineries in Napa can be quite spread out. Therefore, a car is pretty essential for most itineraries. Driving yourself would be our recommendation. However, there are alternatives. If you are planning to use alternative transportation, we would recommend looking into your options well in advance of your trip. Some weekends are very busy in Napa and space is limited on most alternative transport options.

Cycling in Napa Another option to see Napa’s beauty is to rent a bike and ride through the valley. There are several options for bike rentals. We have some recommended choices listed in the Bike Tours section.

Tour Operators Getting a limousine or tour operator can be a good way to see the wineries. While you don’t need to do the driving, there are some drawbacks – some wineries don’t allow limos to visit and often the driver might try to steer you to wineries which will compensate him. However, there are some quality options, please look at the Tour Operators section of grapeguides for more information. Again, we recommend booking in advance if you choose this option.

Wine Train There is a 20 mile wine train that travels between Napa and St. Helena. The train serves full meals with wine, of course, and will typically stop for a tour of a winery. Reservations are essential.

Public Transport The public transport in Napa is quite limited. The VINE bus connects most of the towns in Napa but is not really designed for visiting the wineries.