Topics include Transportation, United States: For Foreign Visitors & more!
It's hard to believe that there was a time when a trip to Napa didn't include a stop first at the ATM. Twenty years or so ago you could drive up and down Highway 29 and sample wines for free. Today you'd better have a fistfull of dollars before hitting the road. From hotels to restaurants to winery tours, Napa is expensive! But with a little pre-planning and a few compromises, there are ways to make a trip to Napa a little less frightening to your wallet.
Sadly most of the freebies are gone in Napa but do a bit of homework and you'll find deals and offers on the internet. The bulk of the deals are at these sites:
The cheapest times to visit Napa are Winter and Spring. From October to May you'll find plenty of hotel bargains with many dropping their rates by over half. A hotel you couldn't touch during Summer in popular Yountville becomes almost affordable, and downtown Napa gets downright cheap. But don't worry that coming off season means missing the good stuff. Sure, you won't see grapes on the vines and you won't see wineries crushing grapes, but who can argue with fields of bright yellow mustard plants blanketing the hillsides and more manageable crowds at the wineries? November through February is the rainy season, so plan accordingly. But really, cozying to a fireplace on a chilly Napa evening doesn't sound that bad, does it? And guess what? You can actually afford a room with a fireplace if you come during off season!
From June to October, Napa offers a produce stand in south Napa. It is D&S Produce, located on the corner of Stanly Lane and hwy 121/12. They are inexpensive with delicious, fresh produce, better than a farmers market. ds-produce.com. Stanly Lane Olive Mill, also on the property a store that offers speciality coffees, olive oil tasting bar (no cost), deli sandwiches and a picnic area. October there is a big pumpkin patch that is free to enter, with tons of exotic pumpkins, Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch.
Napa has some very nice thrift shops, Community Projects, which is located in downtown Napa, Goodwill on Imola.
Alston Dog park, huge off leash area, leashed area & fenced areas for dogs to play. It is great for hiking even without your doggie! It is located off Dry Creek Road, Napa, in the rolling beautiful hills. They have kid pools for the dogs to cool off in aswell. This is an outstanding park & at NO COST!
Napa River, Kennedy Park, launch your boat for free! Then float your way to the San Francisco area.
Chefs Market on Thursday Nights, NO COST, with bands and crafts a street full of venders.
If you have the bucks, Yountville is the place. But for budget Napa travelers, head a bit further south to downtown Napa for more reasonable rates. In the past, downtown wasn't the place to be but that has all changed. It's now hipper, trendier, and has a cool small town feel to it with its historic buildings and tree lined streets. Here's a guide with lots of hotel photos, but the top picks for downtown are:
Napa is known for its restaurants nearly as well as its wines. With famous chefs like Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Bouchon, Ad Hoc) and Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen) and others calling Napa home, it's no wonder. You might think with all of these gourmet restaurants that the average guy with a below average budget doesn't have a chance and will be relegated to Burger King or KFC, but you can find cheap food in Napa - if you look hard enough! Here's the best of the cheap eats.
Visiting Napa Valley is more than running from winery to winery to sample wines. Slow down a bit and take a tour to see how wines are made. Tours are not only fun but they're a great way to get to know a bit more about the history of Napa and the winery, plus you get a bit of special attention at the end when you taste. The days when every winery seemed to have some sort of free tour are over but there are some bargain tous worth checking out.