It’s the beginning of the semester. There are no exams, complex assignments, group presentations, or sleepless nights just yet. Do you know what that means? Perfect time for a getaway! And what better place to go than Napa?
Located about an hour away from Berkeley, Napa is the perfect place to enjoy the wonders of nature and relax with your significant other, friends, or just by yourself. I will say, however, that to enjoy Napa to the fullest, you need to be 21+.
My boyfriend and I love to visit Napa, so we are already a bit of an expert on the subject. From quick visits to weekend trips, this beautiful place never disappoints.
So, are you ready to plan your escape? Here are some pro tips at your fingertips:
1. 21+ Please!
I will say this again: I truly think you should be over 21 in order to get the full experience. Napa’s scenery is so Instagram-worthy, especially the wineries. However, most won’t even allow you to enter without your ID.
2. Say NO to the “deal”
I often read online about these “great deals” for four different tastings. However, the small print conceals an important technicality. The deal may not cover the ticket to the winery and/or the glass. In other words, you are paying for the transportation between four different wineries. Unless your pocket allows it, I do not recommend it. Besides, it limits the time you spend in each winery.
3. Research, research, research
If you, like me, you enjoy going to places with the 3 Spanish B’s–Bueno, Bonito y Barato. In English, this means “good, pretty, and cheap.” This means that visiting the wineries’ websites is the best place to start in the planning process. Do not get scared by the steep prices you may find on your first Google search. There are SO many options! Wineries offer different experiences, and some are less costly than others. No matter what, there’s always something that will fit your financial needs.
4. Set an appointment
Yes, you need an appointment for each winery. Is there an opening on the day you are planning on visiting? No? Then check out another one. I don’t recommend just appearing at a winery; especially with the current situation (thanks but no thanks, COVID). Wineries cannot always accommodate last-minute visitors.
5. The itinerary is key
Tastings are usually an hour-long or more, depending on the experience you choose. What are your plans for the rest of the day? Are you able to stay longer after your appointment? Are you planning on visiting more than one winery? Are you staying the night or driving home? Are you having dinner or lunch in Downtown Napa? Plan your day(s) ahead so you can enjoy yourself without worrying.
6. Make reservations
If you are planning on having lunch or dinner, I highly recommend making reservations! Napa is always full of visitors, and finding a table can be troublesome. Save yourself minutes or even hours by making a reservation. This way you can use the saved time to stroll through the beautiful city.
(Pro-tip: Use OpenTable.com for your reservations)
7. Hot Air Balloons
What better way to appreciate the Valley’s views than riding in a hot air balloon? This is an exciting and unique opportunity that breaks the typical vacation monotony. Usually, the ride lasts an hour; however, you have to include the check-in process, the inflation of the balloon, etc. Altogether, it can add up to four hours. Again, creating an itinerary is key!
8. Downtown Napa
Do not forget or overlook Downtown Napa! The city is full of activities such as shops, museums, clubs, restaurants, etc. If you book a hotel there, you’ll be so close to everything that you can walk everywhere!
9. Walk in comfy shoes
Besides your fancy boots, high heels, or sandals, bring comfy shoes! There are tons of guided and self-guided tours that you can’t miss. The valley and the city are full of wonderful places to explore, so do not miss this opportunity just because your feet are sore!
Whether you have company or are alone, Napa is such a gorgeous place to explore and forget about school and work. Make the best out of your trip and focus on having fun.
I highly recommend visiting Napa, especially now, when you probably have more time on your hands. It’s beautiful and so close to Berkeley, plus the weather is lovely! Don’t hesitate to start planning your perfect escapade.
If after these tips you still feel a little lost on where to visit, here’s one of my favorite wineries to visit. Instagram-worthy views, amazing wine selection, and experiences start at just $30.