Your Guide to Napa Valley on a Budget

  • Guides
  • by WC STAFF
  • on APRIL 11, 2016
  • 18350
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Although Napa Valley has become increasingly synonymous with luxurious and elevated experiences, there are still plenty of deals and hidden experiences available for the savvy. This down-to-earth guide includes some of the most charming destinations and activities for the budget-minded traveler, without any skimping on the quality.

What to Do

A Tour of Town

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Image Source: Yelp

Napa Valley Welcome Center
600 Main St.
Napa, CA 94559

The numerous boutiques of downtown Napa are ripe for browsing. Be sure to check out the sculptures along the Napa Art Walk as you wander the streets: maps are available at the Napa Valley Welcome Center. Don’t miss the Oxbow Market, a collection of shops and restaurants featuring local artisans, such as Annette’s Chocolates and Kara’s Cupcakes.

Insider tip: Swing by the Napa Valley Welcome Center to get the latest information on deals in the area. They often have coupons and discounts available for local wineries and tasting rooms.

Downtown Wine Tasting

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Image Source: Yelp

Purchase a Do Napa wine tasting card from the Napa Valley Welcome Center or Napa Tourist Information Center. This $30 tasting card includes tastings at eight different tasting rooms and wine bars in downtown Napa.

Insider tip: Park in one of the free public lots, leave the car for up to three hours, and travel from tasting to tasting on foot.

A Walk in the Clouds

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Image Source: Yelp

Skyline Wilderness Park
2201 Imola Ave.
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 252-0481
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 83 reviews

Take in the natural beauty of Skyline Wilderness Park by spending the day crisscrossing 850 acres of wilderness. Get a map from the ranger at the parking kiosk, and choose from the meandering and intersecting trails. This is one of the most peaceful ways to spend a few hours in Napa while enjoying stunning views and interactions with wildlife.

Insider tip: After parking, it’s a three-minute walk to the trailheads. Walk past the Martha Walker Native Plants Garden to find the base.

Where to Eat

Picnic at a Winery

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Image Source: Yelp

V. Sattui Deli
1111 White Lane
Saint Helena, CA 94574
(707) 968-3200
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 1,129 reviews

V. Sattui Winery has a gourmet deli located in the winery’s marketplace, as well as sprawling picnic grounds. Visitors to the winery and deli are welcome to enjoy their purchases at the tables on the grassy lawn, but indoor picnics are an option as well, in the underground wine cellar on rainy days.

Insider tip: Plan to picnic at V. Sattui after your tasting, so that you can choose a bottle of wine from the tasting room to go with lunch.

Gourmet Comfort Food

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Image Source: Yelp

Melted
966 Pearl St.
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 392-9669
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 31 reviews

Melted is the destination for a fresh take on an old favorite—grilled cheese. At Melted, the sandwiches are served on freshly-made waffle bread and are served with a mini tomato basil soup for dipping. The menu offers an array of inventive eats, such as “Settin’ the woods on fire,” a combination of oaxaca cheese, tomato, jalapeno, avocado, salsa, and cilantro.

Insider tip: This spot offers vegan-friendly and gluten-free sandwich options.

A Sweet Escape on the Riverfront

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Image Source: Yelp

Frati Gelato
670 Main St.
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 265-0265
Tripadvisor: 4.5 stars, 75 reviews

Frati Gelato is located on the picturesque Napa Riverfront, and has plenty of indoor and patio seating options. The eatery makes housemade gelato, espresso drinks, and specialty Italian desserts, including delectable cookies and cakes. Order your treats at the counter, then relax with a view of the river while enjoying a taste of Italy.

Insider tip: Get a cone to go and take a stroll on the riverfront.

Where to Stay

A Great Stay in Napa

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Image Source: Yelp

Best Western PLUS Inn at the Vines
100 Soscol Ave.
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 257-1930
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 588 reviews
Check availability

Best Western PLUS Inn at the Vines offers great value in convenient location at the south end of Napa (just a five-minute drive from downtown). The furnishings are classic and comfortable, and accommodations can include private patios and pet-friendly spaces. Exercise enthusiasts will enjoy taking advantage of the pool and onsite gym.

Insider tip: Pick up some breakfast items and snacks from Raley’s across the street.

A Quiet Wine Country Gem

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Image Source: Yelp

El Bonita Motel
195 Main St.
Saint Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-3216
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 266 reviews
Check availability

El Bonita Motel is the hidden gem of wine country lodging—a budget option with a central location in Saint Helena. El Bonita has roots dating back to its start as a retreat center in the 1940s before it took on a new life as an art deco motel in the ‘50s. Today, the hotel offers visitors quiet, quaint lodgings with an air of simplicity.

Insider tip: Request a garden room to be near the pool and patio.

A Classic American Hotel in Calistoga

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Image Source: Yelp

Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery
1250 Lincoln Ave.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4101
TripAdvisor: 3.5 stars, 56 reviews
Check availability

Calistoga Inn consists of seventeen second-floor rooms outfitted with crisp linens in cool whites and blues. The hotel rooms all share common restroom and shower facilities down the hall, which keeps rates down to a reasonable $119-169 on average. Plan to dine in the restaurant and brewery on the first floor—the outdoor garden is green and serene.

Insider tip: Walk to Huge Bear Wines to try some delicious red wine. The tasting room opened in 2015, and was originally a bank.

It’s not necessary to break the bank to have a transformative experience in the Napa Valley. There are plenty of unexpected, authentic experiences waiting to be had in the area, and with a little planning and creativity, a visit on a budget just may lead to the most special, off-the-beaten-path itinerary yet.