“We’re spending a weekend in Napa for our anniversary,” my boyfriend announces. Ahh.. Napa Valley. The land of luxurious estates, lavish resorts, and globally-acclaimed wine. A normal person would turn into the star-eyed emoji and pack in a blink of an eye. But being the thrift-shopping, “we’re not throwing this toothpaste away until we squeeze every last bit of it” type of gal, I was like… “How are we gonna afford this?”
To my surprise, it is possible to enjoy Napa Valley without having to eat top ramen for 2 weeks post-vacation. Here are my tips for a budget-friendly getaway in one of the top wine destinations in the world.
- Best time to visit
- Where to stay
- Tastings & restaurants
- Tips when visiting
-Best time to visit-
It’s best to visit places in their “off-season”. 1. Less crowded 2. Cheaper
Off-season for Napa: Winter & Spring (October – May).
Sure, the weather is a bit more “chilly” (keep in mind- California’s “chilly” is a lot different than other places in the world), and the grapes won’t be on the vines- but you’re there for what’s already in the bottles, right? Right.
That’s what the vineyards looked like when we went. The weather was in the mid- 50’s, half the time cloudy, other half sunny (lucky us!). The weather certainly didn’t take away from its beauty though!
-Where to stay-
Lodging in the actual city of Napa is very pricy. Stay in one of the neighboring cities- it’s way more cost-effective. We stayed in Fairfield. But Vallejo, Calistoga, and American Canyon are cheap options as well. The drive to the city from our hotel was only 25 minutes and trust me when I say: you’ll save hundreds. Worth the short drive.
If you come to Napa, you’re gonna want to taste the wine. Unfortunately, Napa has the priciest tasting fees ranging from $20-25, some even $50+. (If you’ve never been wine-tasting: you pay to taste a list of different wines they offer, usually about 4-5).
Here is a list of wineries with FREE wine tasting:
Here is the link for the top-rated, cheap eats in Napa. I’m redirecting you to Yelp because it’s my go-to for everything. Real reviews, real pictures, always a win in my book. You can find the list [here].
You can find $10 & $15 tastings and two-for-one deals [here].
You can also find deals on wine tours [here].
I highly recommend tours because: -They have cheaper tasting prices included with the tour -Most tours include a shuttle so you don’t have to pay for Ubers to and from each winery (we toured 4 wineries on our tour) -They give exclusive “behind the scene” tours of the wineries (that regular wine-tastings don’t offer).
Below are some pics of the tours we took on our full-day wine tasting trip:
For more deals & coupons:
Download the [Winery Finder app]
Pick up coupons at the [Napa Valley Welcome Center]
-Tips when visiting-
Short tips for you guys (that we read on other blogs beforehand) that helped us on our trip:
- Do NOT do more than 4 wineries per day. In the beginning of our wine tour I spoke with a lady and told her that we were first-timers. Her piece of advice: “It’s a marathon, not a race.” Trust me, 4 wineries is enough to get the whole experience. Below is a picture of my boyfriend midway through our tour.
- Drink lots and lots of water. (refer to picture above) We were warned about this in the beginning of our tour also, so we chugged a bottle of water before and after every tasting to play it safe.
- Wear comfy shoes- you’re gonna be walking everywhere, wine tasting is considered “fancy” but if you decide to look the part with fancy shoes, you’re gonna get fancy blisters that come with it. I wore wedges and I was content!
- Consider buying a bottle of wine at one of the tastings! Almost every winery waves the tasting fee if you purchase a bottle. Gives you more bang for your buck and also makes a nice souvenir!
Alrighty guys, that wraps up my tips to enjoy wine country! Hope you enjoyed. Stay tuned for more budget-friendly trips.