How to Visit Napa Valley on a Budget

Napa Valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California, and for good…

Napa Valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California, and for good reason! They have the world’s best restaurants, hotels, and wineries. Therefore, it can be quite expensive to visit. 

So, if you’re looking for ways to enjoy Napa Valley on a budget, look no further! 

In this post, we will give you a list of the best budget hotels, food options, transportation, and wine experiences in Napa Valley. Let’s get started!

When to Travel to Napa Valley 

The best time to travel to Napa Valley is during the shoulder season, which is from April-May or September-October. The weather is still nice during these months and there are fewer tourists. During the Fall season, you will still get the beautiful colors of Fall. And in the Spring, you’ll witness the sea of mustard flowers and vineyards beginning to bloom. 

To be honest, I’ve visited Napa in the winter plenty of times. The hotel rates were some of the lowest we found and securing reservations at our favorite restaurants and wineries was easy. However, the vines and vineyards will appear barren during the Winter, but since you’re in California, it won’t get too cold and there’s a good chance of sun!

If you’re looking for the cheapest time to travel, aim for mid-week in April or October. You’ll find that many hotels and restaurants offer discounts during these times. 

How to Get Around Napa Valley

By car is the most convenient method to tour around Napa. If you’re tasting wine, though, it’s not a great idea to drive your own vehicle. In the region, there are several car services to hire. Keep in mind that travelling with others is the most cost-effective approach to go. So, make the most of your visit to Napa by spending it with family and friends. The more the merrier! 

Napa Valley is one hour north of San Francisco and one hour west of Sacramento. There are plenty of day tours that you can book from San Francisco and San Diego to Napa Valley.

This tour from San Francisco – takes you to both Napa and Sonoma Valleys to enjoy 3 popular wineries where you’ll enjoy wine tastings and estate tours.

This Sprinter Wine Tour leaves from San Francisco, Sacramento, and Sonoma Valley and is completely customizable. The day starts with a glass of sparkling wine followed by visits to vineyards of your choice. If you don’t know where to visit, let your driver select a few for a well-rounded experience.

Another option is the Napa Valley VINE bus. It’s a public bus system that operates throughout the city. You can buy passes at most hotels or online. However, it doesn’t take you to the wineries. 

Another option would be to bike however, I do not recommend this as some of the wineries are located on hilly terrain. And normally they are separated by a significant distance. So, biking would not be the greatest alternative if you want to visit numerous wineries. However, if you want to go riding at your leisure and don’t wish to visit wineries, Napa Valley is a gorgeous and wonderful area to ride.

Here are a few options for Local Napa Tours

Best Wine Tasting Experiences in Napa Valley on a Budget

Napa Valley is home to some of the world’s best wineries, so it’s no surprise that wine tastings can be quite expensive. The cost of a wine tasting at most wineries ranges between $40 and $100. But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to enjoy wine tastings without breaking the bank. 

Pro Tip: Purchase a wine tasting pass from Priority Wine Pass. They entitle you to discounted or complimentary wine tastings at a variety of wineries. So, if you’re looking to save money, this is a great option! 

Here are some of our suggestions for fantastic wine tasting experiences at a reasonable cost.

1. Black Stallion Winery

Black Stallion Winery is located in the heart of Napa Valley near the beginning of the Silverado Trail.  They offer a variety of wines, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay. Their wines have won numerous awards and accolades, and their tasting room is a beautiful large garden terrace with plenty of outdoor seats. 

Next to the terrace, there is a small garden with all the different wine varietals planted. Not only that, but they even have descriptions for each varietal, allowing you to learn a lot more about them. Check out their website for details.

2. Raymond Vineyards

Raymond Vineyards has one of the most fascinating tasting rooms in all of Napa’s wineries. The flight will include a variety of unique, limited-production California wines, including red and white wine varietals.

From their Crystal Cellar to the Red Room, they have a number of different tasting rooms that are well-appointed and elegantly decorated.  In addition, they offer an educational display of Biodynamic and organic agriculture in Northern California via their Theater of Nature Walk.

$35 for a Reserve Tasting Flight. See their website for details.  

3. Mumm Napa

Mumm Winery is one of the most well-known and respected wineries for Sparkling Wine in Napa Valley. So, if you enjoy your bubbly, this is definitely a place to visit.  Their indoor and outdoor patio tasting room has stunning views of Napa Valley. 

$35 for a Reserve Tasting Flight. See more at their website.

4. Rombauer Vineyards

One of the most spectacular views of Napa Valley is offered by Rombauer Vineyards. The tasting room is perched on a hill with panoramic views of the wineries. Outdoor tables can be reserved for groups of 5-8 people. 

They also provide a chance to sample some of my favorite, award-winning Chardonnay and Zinfandel from Napa Valley. And at $20 for a tasting flight, this may be the best value tasting in all of Napa, especially if you like Chardonnay/Zinfandel.

$20 for a Tasting Flight. See more details here.  

5. Beringer Vineyards

Beringer Vineyards is one of the oldest and most historic wineries in all of Napa Valley. Founded in 1876, it’s the perfect place to learn about the history of winemaking in California. From their famous Rhine house to their world-famous wines, this is a must-see for any visit to Napa.

But the highlight of the experience is definitely the self-guided tour of their massive caves. The caves are over 100 years old and were hand-dug by Chinese laborers. They’re a fascinating piece of history and well worth the visit.

$30 for a Self-guided Cave tour. Details here.

Where to Eat in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. But that doesn’t mean they’re all expensive! Here are some great places to eat on a budget.

6. Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s Roadside is a Napa Valley institution. Founded in 1949, it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the valley. And it’s still going strong today!

Gott’s is a great place for burgers and fries. But they also have a fantastic selection of sandwiches, salads, and shakes. And best of all, their prices are very reasonable. This is always a must-stop for me when I’m in Napa for lunch in between my winery visits. And I highly recommend their burgers!

7. The Station

The Station is a great place for breakfast or lunch. They have a wide variety of items on their menu, from eggs and bacon to sandwiches and salads.  And their prices are relatively low-cost, making it a great option for budget-minded travelers. Plus, the food is always fresh and delicious! I highly recommend any of their pastries and donuts. And the breakfast biscuit sandwich is my favorite!

8. Ad Hoc

Ad Hoc is a restaurant by famed chef Thomas Keller. It’s a casual, family-style restaurant serving American comfort food.

The menu changes daily, so you never know what you’re going to get. But it’s always delicious! And at $45 for four courses, it’s a great value for the price. Considering his other restaurant down the street, French Laundry goes for $400-500/person.  However, the best option is to order fried chicken from their takeout menu. And I highly recommend their fried chicken.

9. Oxbow Public Market

Oxbow Public Market is a great place to eat on a budget. There are a number of different vendors, each with their own specialty.  So, whether you’re in the mood for sushi, oysters, tacos, wood-fired pizza, or ice cream, you’ll find it here. And best of all, prices are very reasonable.

I highly recommend the empanadas from El Porteno. Only $6.50 each, they are some of the best I’ve ever had! 

10. Lou’s Luncheonette

Lou’s Luncheonette is a great place for breakfast or lunch. They serve American comfort food at inexpensive prices. Between Carneros and Sonoma, you’ll find this small but charming restaurant located a bit off the beaten path.

I highly recommend their BBQ or chicken sandwich! 

Where to Stay in Napa Valley 

There are quite a few great hotels in Napa Valley. But if you’re on a budget, here are some great places to stay.

Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham  – Located near downtown Napa, Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham is a great place to stay on a budget. The suites are spacious and well-appointed. And the best part is that they offer complimentary breakfast each morning!

DoubleTree American Canyon  – Just south of Napa, DoubleTree American Canyon is a great option for budget-minded travelers. The rooms are clean and comfortable. And the complimentary breakfast each morning is a real bonus!

Springhill Suites by Mariott  – Located in American Canyon, Springfield Marriott is a great place to stay on a budget. 

I’d rate this hotel as the best value in the area. The rooms are some of the most spacious and well-equipped. There is a swimming pool, gym, and a business center. They offer complimentary breakfast each morning and free coffee throughout the day. Plus, it is located conveniently near the entrance of the Napa Valley. 

Holiday Inn Express American Canyon  – If you’re looking for a great place to stay on a budget, look no further than Holiday Inn Express American Canyon. The rooms are clean and comfortable. 

How to Save Money When you Visit Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a great place to visit on a budget. There are a number of ways to save money and still enjoy all that the area has to offer. Here are some tips:

  • Visit during the off-season. You’ll find lower prices on hotels, restaurants, and activities.
  • Eat at budget-friendly restaurants. There are many great places to eat in a budget in Napa Valley.
  • Stay at a budget hotel. There are several hotels in Napa Valley that won’t break the bank.

Map of Places to Visit in Napa Valley

With a little planning, you can enjoy a wonderful vacation in Napa Valley without spending a fortune! So are you ready to enjoy all the wonderful things to do in Napa Valley this weekend? Happy travels!

  • Read more about traveling in California