Planning A Trip To Napa Valley
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Napa Valley and surrounding Sonoma are the quintessential vacation for the wine lover. A wine enthusiast will find many things of interest in Napa. The wines of this area of the United States gained notoriety in the late 70’s, specifically, 1976 when the wines of California actually beat out the “big boys”, the French wines in a blind taste test. Famously referred to as “The Judgement of Paris” this competition put Napa Valley on the map and has been immortalized in movies and other pop culture.
The region was gaining fame locally for years before the Paris competition, it was born of a small-town, hip and diverse as the wine itself. The climate is also very similar to that found in the Mediterranean which also cultivates a fantastic vintage and wine.
When planning a trip to Napa you have some important decisions to make, if this is your first trip you’ll definitely want to hit some key attractions and sights in the Valley.
Firstly, you’ll want to choose whether you are going to be flying or taking a road trip to Napa Valley. Napa is located about an hour away from three major airports (Sacramento, San Francisco and Oakland). All airports will have rental cars available for you to take advantage of.
Lodging will also be important and Napa Valley is full of bed-and-breakfast inns, many of them in the Victorian style. These options are very conducive to the romantic get-away, they have options for feather beds, breakfast in bed and amazing décor. Some resorts even have restrictions for children, catering exclusively to couples. Families are welcome at the larger, regional chains and some smaller cottages around the valley.
Perhaps the most important choice you’ll make when planning a trip to Napa Valley is to pick the season you’ll travel. If you want to visit the wineries or if that is your main reason for visiting Napa the majority are open year round. Napa is a world all its own in terms of community and culture, depending on your other interests you may want to build a trip around a local festival as well. Festivals can highlight music, food or art found through California. Temperature are optimal in the spring, between the months of February through May – these are the months that bloom and blossom. Summer temperature can be very warm even in the Valley so take that into consideration when planning your visit.
You’ll want to look at the available wineries in the area and decide which ones you’ll want to visit. There are big names such as Mondavi, Stag’s Leap or Beringer and those will allow more flexibility in your schedule. Bigger named vineyards are open with more flexible hours however you may have to pay for tastings. For the smaller vineyards you’ll want to research visiting times or availability – it is always smart to call ahead or research these vineyards online.
Wineries aren’t the only attraction in Napa Valley, you should also allow some time or plan for other attractions. Dining is an option many people take advantage of as well. There are many gourmet options as well as small sidewalk cafes. You can spend any number of days in the great outdoors with activities such as hiking or even a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards. For those looking for the luxurious experience and pampering there’s also a number of spas in the area. Take advantage of day spas or mud springs.
These are just a few ways to make your trip to Napa Valley a success but do your research, there are many attractions available to visitors and many are sure to make your vacation memorable.