The Ultimate Guide To The Best Areas To Stay In Napa Valley

napa valley trip planner

You asked the question. What are the best areas to stay in Napa Valley? We’ve got you covered with our ultimate guide written by a local.

Did you know about the five charming wine towns to stay in Napa Valley? 

So you’ve heard of the five boroughs of New York City, but have you heard of the five wine “boroughs” of Napa Valley? They are considered the best areas to stay in Napa Valley. They are Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, Napa and American Canyon.

We’re listing where to stay, where to taste and what tours to do in each town. Check it out.

When you’re searching best areas to stay in Napa Valley, know that each small town within the Napa Valley gives a fresh take on wine country and offers unique tasting experiences, overnight stays and exciting events as part of your overall Napa Valley vacation.

Each one is considered the best town to stay in Napa Valley, in their own right.

best areas to stay in napa valley

Napa- One Of The Best Areas To Stay In Napa Valley

One of the best areas to stay in Napa Valley is obviously Napa.

The town of Napa is like attending a family reunion with a bunch of different personalities sharing brews and burgers at the annual barbecue.

Napa is funky, fun, and classy all at the same time which gives you plenty of options of where you want to stay, play, and “wine” down on your visit. 

Where To Stay In Napa

There are plenty of bed and breakfasts in Napa, as well as wine county-style inns, but if you want to have a bit of fun and soak up the nightlife in Napa (one of the few towns that have it), the best place to stay in Napa is at the Andaz.

While it’s a concept hotel from big chain Hyatt, it’s more of a boutique hotel with all the modern amenities putting you right in the middle of downtown surrounded by shops, restaurants and tasting rooms.

You won’t have to go far for entertainment, the Andaz features live music on the outdoor terrace and in their lobby and you’re just within walking distance to the famous Oxbow Market and Napa Valley Wine Train

Best Wine Tasting Experiences

best wineries in napa valley

There are plenty of wineries to float your boat in Napa, but if you literally want to take sail enjoy a winemaker cruise. Here’s you’ll board a yacht at the Napa Yacht Club and enjoy a four-course dinner with wine pairings.

From a 50-foot catamaran yacht, you’ll enjoy views of the Napa River while learning about its history and ecology.

Best Restaurants In Napa

When thinking about the best areas to stay in Napa Valleyyou need to think about your dining options.

This place just a barbecue, it’s an experience. The Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ in downtown Napa is a local favorite with some of the best outdoor BBQ and happy hour you’ll find in the valley.

Try the beer can chicken served just as it should be — whole and atop a can. You’ll also find over 400 wines and an 18-page wine list. 

Best Attractions In Napa

Bottle Rock is the premiere music festival to attend if visiting Napa around Memorial Day weekend.

The Coachella of Northern California attracts such talent as Stevie Nicks, P!nk, and Foo Fighters.

Bottle Rock blends music with food and wine.

You’ll find wine tasting tents set up from your favorite wineries and food stations hosted by some the best restaurants in town with additional chef demonstrations sponsored by Williams-Sonoma. 

Yountville- One Of The Best Areas To Stay In Napa Valley

Next up on our list of best areas to stay in Napa Valley is Yountville.

As one of the more walkable towns in Napa Valley, Yountville is a place to wine and dine if you have a thick stack of Benjamins to spend. Filled with some of the most high end restaurants in Northern California including the legendary eatery French Laundry, Yountville is your one-way ticket to fancytown.  

Where To Stay in Yountville

best places to stay in napa valley

While there are plenty of elegant, high-end hotels in Yountville, you’ll find the Napa Valley Lodge a relaxing and more down-to-earth hotel experience as it’s away from the town’s traffic and sits quietly within a vineyard. It’s located at the beginning of Yountville, within walking distance to all shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms and is considered by many to be the best hotel to stay in Napa Valley.

Best Wine Tasting Experiences In Yountville

Rock and roll your way to wine tasting at Cliff Lede Vineyards where you’ll have a one-of-a-kind tasting experience with their award-winning wines just on the outskirts of Yountville.

Take a tour of the winery to find the rows and rows of vineyards named after the owner’s favorite rock albums and songs like “Dark Side of the Moon” and “My Generation”. Don’t forget to take a tour of the state-of-the-art wine caves. 

Best Restaurants In Yountville

If you’re lucky enough to get a coveted reservation at French Laundry, congratulations! But for the rest of us diners, we’ll be over at RH Yountville, the modern dining experience from Restoration Hardware where you can shop, dine and taste wine in the historic Ma(i)sonry building.

End the night with an espresso from the barista bar as you relax under the crystal chandeliers in their outdoor living rooms.

Best Attractions In Yountville

During your stay in Yountville, download the online walking map and audio tour or stop by the town’s welcome center to do the Yountville Art Walk.

Tour the outdoor sculptures down Washington Street featuring art from across the world. 

St. Helena- Best Areas To Stay In Napa Valley

Another of the best places to stay in Napa Valley is St. Helena. Classic beauty can describe the quaint and sophisticated town of St. Helena where you’ll find a bustling Main Street filled with restaurants, shops and tasting rooms.

Throughout the town take note of the landmark wineries and Instagram-famous eateries. 

Where To Stay In St. Helena

A clawfoot bathtub, wood-burning fireplace and private outdoor balcony with views of Napa Valley’s rolling hills is what your wine-fueled dreams are made of.

Southbridge Napa Valley is a modern-day hotel in the heart of St. Helena that features all the charm of a classic wine country inn. Guests get free access to their spa amenities including heated lap pool and invigorating eucalyptus stream room.

Best Wine Tasting Experiences In St. Helena

It’s a long and winding road to get there, but Pride Mountain Vineyards is worth car sickness as it features some of the best cabs in Napa.

Here’s a secret insider tip you won’t find anywhere else — Pride Mountain Vineyards is not only an exceptional winery to visit during your Napa Valley stay, but has a little known picnic spot down the hill that features a tree swing and remnants of the old Summit Winery founded in 1890 on the same property. 

Best Restaurants In St. Helena

best restaurant in st helena

Gott’s Roadside Diner may look like a vintage roadside diner, but it was actually founded in 1999 by the Gott Brothers.

Here you’ll find Instagram-worthy foods like their crispy tofu burger, cauliflower fries, and kimchi burger. Don’t leave without trying one of their famous hand-spun milkshakes. 

Best Attractions In St. Helena

For a perfect day in St. Helena add one rented bike from St. Helena Cyclery, stop at the St. Helena Farmers Market (Fridays) for some fresh local treats, and then tour the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, the writer of such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Sprinkle wine on your adventure with a stop at Beringer Vineyards for a self-guided walking tour and visit the downtown tasting rooms on Main Street where you’ll find historic buildings and street lamps from the early 1900s. 

Calistoga- Best Places To Stay In Napa Valley

Calistoga is definitely considered one of the best areas to stay in Napa Valley.

Soak up all the wine and relaxation in this spa-friendly destination with small-town vibe where there are plenty of shops, tasting rooms, and hot springs to keep you drunk on self-love.

The town was founded in 1862 by the state’s first millionaire, Sam Brennan and made to be the hot springs resort destination of Northern California. 

Where To Stay In Calistoga

After wining all day, kick back at Indian Springs Calistoga where you can continue your rustic vineyard vacation in one of their historic cottages and bungalows that spreads over 17 acres.

There’s a spa, Sam’s Social Club restaurant with artisanal cocktails and you get even get your zen on at the Buddha Pond.

Don’t miss the Olympic-sized mineral pool. 

If you’d prefer to stay among the vines be sure to check out Chateau De Vie.

This bead and breakfast is located on a working winery. You’ll love the full breakfast, breathtaking views, private garden jacuzzi hot tub and daily wine tastings including a selection of yummy cheese!

Best Wine Tasting Experiences In Calistoga

Don’t settle for the expected when wine tasting, take your palate to Tank Garage Winery, a 1930s gas station where you can taste a selection of their California blends in edgy wine bottles with labels featuring one-of-a-kind art and photography.

Be a gangster and ask about their secret speakeasy in the back. 

Best Restaurants In Calistoga

Feed your appetite with a taste of the old west at Cafe Serafornia.

Not so much in food, but in its no frills, no attitude, reasonably-priced entrees in a no-reservations diner that has been serving all-day breakfast to visitors and locals since the 1890s.

Hot tip: get there early to avoid the lines! 

Best Attractions In Calistoga

Put down your wine glass for a breather while you enjoy the natural wonders of Calistoga.

After you enjoy one of the many mineral pools including Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort, take your rested soul to Old Faithful Geyser where you can partake in the thrill of seeing this infamous geyser erupt every 30 to 40 minutes.

best things to do in calistoga

American Canyon- Best Areas To Stay In Napa Valley 

Sitting at the very southern tip of Napa Valley, American Canyon one of the best places to stay in Napa Valley because it is the town known for being the most approachable with easy access to San Francisco, affordability, and close to kid-friendly attractions.

It’s down-to-earth vibe is visible in the many trails and parks you can explore. 

Where To Stay In American Canyon

Accommodations are usually the priciest part of a vacation, but you’ll find budget-friendly hotels in American Canyon like Doubletree by Hilton Hotel & Spa, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and Holiday Inn Express.

While they are not your quintessential cozy Napa Valley Inn, you can’t beat that free breakfast. 

Best Wine Tasting Experiences In American Canyon

All of those Napa Valley wineries you hear and read about are found north of American Canyon, however while visiting this town take advantage of the lesser known wineries and tasting rooms like Jamieson Ranch, an old west-inspired vineyard with inviting outdoor wine cabanas and a restaurant featuring ingredients from the chef’s own organic garden. 

Best Restaurants In American Canyon

Make your next meal an adventure when you embark on the Napa Valley Taco Trail. Tour the best taco spots in the valley that starts in American Canyon at two taquerias — Tacos Michoacan and Los Cantaros Restaurant.

Best Attractions In American Canyon

While American Canyon may seem like a stopping ground before you head into the more populated towns of Napa Valley, you’ll find golf is quite the draw in this small wine town.

From the Chardonnay Golf Club to the Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club, practice your swing while working out your wine arm muscles, sipping and putting on the green. 

As you can see, there’s so much more to Napa Valley when planning your visit. Each town within the valley has its own unique offerings and can make your vacation so much more exciting and fulfilling when taking time to explore each of the individual towns. 

If you’re looking to venture outside of Napa Valley, that’s right I said it, consider sailing Bodega Bay.

want to bring napa valley home with you?

turkey 1

We recommend the VinGardeValise 12 bottle wine suitcase. There are a couple ways you can use this suitcase. One is, when you come home you only pack half the suitcase with wine and the other side clothes; or, what we do is bring a duffle bag to carry our clothes home. You can still check a duffle bag home btw, you don’t have to schlep it around for all four connections.

Pro tip: you can also use the duffle bag to drop off your clothes to be laundered if you’re doing an extended trip. Multiple uses for one duffle bag.

Best Areas To Stay In Napa Valley FAQ

What part of Napa is the best to stay?

Napa Valley’s 5 Best Areas

– Downtown Napa: Best known in the valley for its nightlife.
– St. Helena: Wine aficionado’s paradise.
– Calistoga: Spas and hot springs call Calistoga home.
-Yountville: A foodie’s mecca.
-American Canyon: Laid back.

Is it better to stay in Napa or Sonoma?

Compared to Napa, Sonoma is considered the more affordable and laid back wine destination. Reasonably priced wines abound, great pinot noir, tasting room fees won’t leave you with sticker shock, and even hotel accommodations and restaurants can be considerably more affordable in Sonoma than Napa.

What is the main town in Napa Valley?

Napa is the main town in Napa Valley and shouldn’t be missed while traveling through wine country.

Is it worth staying in downtown Napa?

Downtown Napa is known for, wine tasting rooms, boutiques and nightlife (by wine country’s standards). You’ll have the best both worlds (wine and food) when you opt for lodging in downtown Napa.

How many days is enough in Napa?

How long should I spend in Napa Valley? Four-five days and three-four nights is the ideal amount of time for a vacation to Napa Valley. You can taste wine in all areas in Napa and take a trip out to Sonoma Coast in five days. Be sure to take a break from drinking wine if you opt for five days. Or not, no judgment here!

Author: Tiffany Carter

Tiffany is a contributing writer to Armchair Sommelier. When she isn’t writing about wine, the California native is touring local wineries (Hello Napa and Paso!) and filling her glass across the globe (Ciao, Tuscany!). She loves a full-bodied cab, but she plays favorites when it comes to a spicy Zinfandel or juicy Malbec. Her fridge is stocked with a bottle of sparkling rosé for emergencies. Hint: there’s always an emergency. You can follow Tiffany @winetastetravel.

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