Vacation time is always something to look forward to. Spending it in Napa Valley takes vacationing to a whole new level. With so many activities and scenery to discover and take in, it can almost get overwhelming. So what is the best way to plan your holiday and maximize what you can see and do?
Remember that this is wine country and you need to be prepared to do some tasting. On second thought, “drinking” is a better word. Put your drinking hat on, and keep reading to learn how to get the most out of your holiday by planning an excellent Napa Valley tour.
1. Have a Designated Driver or Hire a Vehicle to Take You Around
Cruising in a vehicle is the best way to see this region. It’s convenient and allows you to stop at any place you can think of or just happen to stumble upon. The drawback is that since it’s somewhat of a booze trip, there has to be someone sober behind the wheel. With ample preparation ahead of time, you can decide to take turns on who will be the designated driver for the day.
If no one wants to be left out from all the fun, the next best solution is hiring a car to take you around. Sure it may be a little costly, but it’s well worth it because no one is left out of the enjoyment. No one will have to endure not “tasting” the wines at the various vineyards you will be hopping to and from. Safety is the number one priority here. Drinking and driving as we all know is illegal.
2. Plan Your Route
Decide whether you want to take a busy road where there could be quite a bit of traffic, opt for the back roads. Each one has their own merit. With main roads, like Highway 29 for example, there are plenty of wineries and food stops to choose from. Restaurants abound but also tend to make for heavier traffic.
If you go with the roads less travelled, like the Silverado Trail, the journey will be more relaxed and filled with beautiful scenery. It’s a stark contrast to the major highways. However, the choices of vineyards and restaurants won’t be as diverse when you’re off the beaten path. No matter which you choose, it is prudent to plan an itinerary before setting off.
3. Follow Your Budget
Set a budget that you can work around for the time you will be staying in wine country. Select places to stay that fit your daily budget. Research the cost of tours and wine tastings so you won’t be surprised when you arrive at a place. Set aside a little extra should you decide to purchase some wines that you like.
With a budget in place, your trip will be much more organized and allow you to enjoy yourself without having to worry about if you have enough money. There is nothing worse than finding a wine treasure and realizing you don’t have the money to take it home with you.
4. Be Picky When Choosing Where to Taste Wines
Again, some research is required to find the best wines you know you will enjoy. While bigger wineries can be inexpensive, they can also be quite crowded. Of course there are likely people who want to take advantage of the lower cost. Usually, among them are the habitual drinkers who can get quite rowdy.
If that is not your scene, then opt for a more expensive tasting. This often ends up with a better experience because the wine makers are usually the hosts. The number of tasters tends to be smaller, making for a more intimate experience. Select wineries that are a bit out of the way to give you a unique experience.
5. Eat, Eat, and Eat
Eat to live or live to eat? An abundance of world-class restaurants around the Napa Valley area means you will live to eat. From fine dining to burger joints, you will find a wide selection of eateries as you travel around. To maximize the eating experience, you can pair the food you want to try with the wine at hand. Although most wine tastings offer little bites, this is just a way to give you an idea of a good pairing.
Once you find a good combination of food and wine, try taking it to another level by having a full course meal with the same theme. One thing is for sure, in Napa Valley you won’t have a difficult time satisfying your food cravings. So save some space for food, don’t fill up just on the wine.
6. Forget About Wine for a While
Even though you came for the wines, you should give it a rest once in awhile. Napa Valley has a lot more to offer and with a little research or a tip from locals, they won’t be hard to find. From hot air balloon rides to helicopter tours, there are lots of great way to see the country.
Appreciating the scenery puts you in a good mood and leaves you wanting to explore more. There are also awesome local markets, like the popular Oxbow public market. Here you can buy locally made products. It’s a perfect place if you need to pick up gifts to bring home.
Give the car a rest too. Instead, hop on a bike and take in the area in a more personal way. For greater exposure to the elements, go on a hike. There are many trails that you can experience here. Not enough? One of the simplest and most satisfying ways of traveling is on foot. Take a good walk and talk to people you meet along the way.
Napa Valley has a lot to offer for those who plan their trip well. What is important on any trip is to keep a good attitude, open your mind, and allow the experiences to happen. If you follow these tips, there’s no way you will not have a perfect time.