Enjoy a full Northern California wine country experience in just three days with a combination of tours and activities that highlight the wine, food, and natural attractions of Napa and Sonoma. Here are our favorite ways to create an itinerary that hits all the top wine country spots.
Day 1: Discover Napa Valley
Start the day with a sunrise hot-air balloon ride, which often includes a sparkling wine brunch afterward. Then take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Trolley or Napa Valley Wine Train for a fun way to explore the area scenery. The train passes by towns such as Oakville and Rutherford with some tours include winery stops, while the trolley (a replica of a San Francisco cable car) makes tasting stops at wineries. For a VIP-style wine tasting experience, opt for a private winery tour by limo that can be tailored to your wine preferences. Alternatively, get to know the gourmet town of Yountville, home to The French Laundry, on a food and wine tour.
If you didn’t ride the Wine Train earlier in the day, an evening option with dinner is available, or head to Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa to try food and drinks from an array of vendors that includes oysters, pizza, wine, coffee, cupcakes, and ice cream.
Day 2: Explore Sonoma County
Wine-tasting tours and other activities that introduce you to the delights of Sonoma County typically start midmorning and last through the afternoon. A small-group wine tour gives you the chance to visit wineries around Sonoma County without having to worry about driving yourself after tastings, or opt for a Segway tour to enjoy the scenery and fresh air as you travel past vineyards. You also have another chance for a trolley ride with the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley, or skip wine altogether and drink beer instead with a bike tour to the breweries of Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. Alternatively, learn more about a single town and its culinary scene with a food and wine walking tour of either Healdsburg or downtown Sonoma, both known for their attractive town squares and restaurants.
Day 3: Go Beyond the Wine
From rivers to redwoods, Sonoma County offers several ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Northern California. Popular activities include canoeing or kayaking down the Russian River, ziplining, exploring Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve by Segway, and learning about the Russian history of the area with a walking tour of Fort Ross State Historic Park, located on Sonoma’s Pacific coast. Or, discover a bit of Africa in Sonoma with a visit to Safari West, a wildlife preserve home to giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, and other animals—you can even spend the night in a safari tent from Botswana. In Napa Valley, watch the Old Faithful geyser erupt in Calistoga, or take a kayak tour down the Napa River to look for birds and learn about the area’s Native American heritage.