Where to Stay When Visiting Napa Valley

napamapAnyone who lives in Napa Valley will be familiar with this experience: A friend or acquaintance from out-of-town calls, says they are coming to the Valley for a getaway or vacation and asks for recommendations on where to eat, where to taste wine and where to stay. It happens on a regular basis.

In fact, it happens so often that I’ve actually put together a document that has a list of my personally recommended places to eat, drink and sleep in Napa Valley that I can just forward off to these folks. The other day I had the occasion to send this list off to an old acquaintance following an email announcing they were coming here for vacation. But when I opened my document I realized that there was no advice in it about WHERE in the Valley to park oneself when they stay here. Where they ought to sleep and why?

It takes a good 40 minutes to drive from the town of Napa in the South to Calistoga in the North. Does this mean you ought to split the difference and find a bed in the middle in Saint Helena? Not necessarily. As with so much else…It depends. Here’ how to decided:

In this case, it’s not a matter of where to stay but where the lodging is that represents a good value. There answer here is the Town of Napa. It’s getting more pricy here in the south, but the proliferation of larger lodging alternatives with somewhat lower prices makes Napa the location to look for budget minded visitors.

Yountville never struck me as a strolling kind of town. Saint Helena is better, particularly once you get off Main Street and get back into the neighborhoods where you can stroll on the tree-lined streets, many of them with lovely old homes with beautiful gardens. Downtown Napa is where the action is at night, however. More and more we see lots of folks strolling about at night in the vicinity of Main Street/1st Street/3rd street.

If your intent is spend most of your time here in Napa Valley going from one winery to the next tasting wine for a series of days, then really the only thing you need to know is which wineries you will be visiting. Many people coming to the Valley already know which wineries they will be visiting and have made tasting appointments. If this is the case, just find a place to stay that is in the middle of your attack plan. If you are going to wing it, then I recommend staying in either Calistoga or the town of Napa so your daily outing can be circular in nature, taking you back to your resting place when you are done for the day.

Napa Valley might be one of the top 10 destinations in the world for those seeking a culinary vacation; where sampling great food, great chefs and great service is the be all end all. If this is the case and you are coming to Napa Valley to sample our dining options, then you really must stay in Yountville. Currently, Yountville and the town of Napa possess the most concentrated number of really great  and interesting restaurants and Yountville is no more than 10 minutes away from the Town of Napa.

2 Responses

  1. johng - April 4, 2013

    Assuming you can’t get a table at French Laundry, I think you can eat just as well or better in St. Helena than you can in Yountville.

  2. Tom Wark - April 4, 2013


    it’s a fun debate for foodies: Which Napa Valley Town has the best selection of really good restaurants. I don’t think Yountville blows away Saint Helena. But I also think a good case can be made for the town of Napa holding the crown currently.

Leave a Reply