Wine country in Northern California spans a few counties and valleys but none is more synonymous with California wine than Napa Valley.
Considered one of the premier wine regions in the world, Napa Valley covers an area of 43,000 acres. The areas unique combination of Mediterranean climate and ideal geography and geology make it perfect for growing the grapes that lend to making California’s tastiest wines.
Although this area is only one hour north of bustling San Francisco, it will feel like you’ve traveled to a whole other country. Read on for our recommendations for the perfect RV road trip through this amazing wine country home to more than 500 wineries and six quaint towns perfect for touring.
The largest of the six towns in Napa Valley, Napa is a charming town loaded with wineries, food, and activities. Walk into downtown Napa and visit many wine tasting rooms and wine bars for quick sampling of much of the area’s wine. The Oxbow Public Market has a variety of vendors selling fun souvenirs and locally-made items like olive oil.
For dinner, try the famous Morimoto restaurant on the Napa Riverfront or Angele. Winery tours are a big draw here so if you’d like to leave the RV at your campsite and get a chauffeur between vineyards, get one here. Another fun way to see Napa is by a hot air balloon ride!
With 178 wineries just in this town alone, it’s impossible to see them all. To see the winery that put Napa Valley on the map, visit Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, a winery that won a 1976 Paris wine tasting that made them a name to know.
The boutique Conn Creek Winery sits along Napa’s iconic Silverado Trail. Conn Creek’s barrel blending experience builds a superb foundation for discovering your preferred Cabernet Sauvignon by sampling from various AVAs in Calistoga, Carneros, and beyond. Begin by studying a range of test tubes containing samples of the region’s terroir—the visual differences are stark in composition and color.
Next, you’ll squeeze pipettes from four Napa Valley Cabs to create a personalized blend, further tweaking with Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot for added dimension. Throughout the process, you’ll discover several Napa Valley appellations, with the resulting bottle hand-corked on site for you to take home.
Considered the culinary capital of Napa Valley, there are many restaurants and tasting rooms to satisfy all wine and food appetites. Famous chef Thomas Keller’s bakery, Bouchon Bakery, is a must destination for pastries and espresso. Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry is three Michelin-starred and internationally-renowned.
If you can get it, it’ll be the culinary experience of a lifetime! Yountville is also known for its culture that includes museums, art galleries, an art walk, and a performing arts theater. Combine art, wine, and design with a visit to Ma(i)sonry, a “living gallery” with private wine tastings, the Aerena Gallery, and more.
Yountville is home to Domaine Chandon, the first winery to be established in the U.S. by a French wine and spirits producer and America’s leading sparkling wine producer. Take a tour and get some bubbly sips. Some boutique wineries recommended are Goosecross Cellars, Stewart Cellars, and Cliff Lede Vineyards.
The small towns of Rutherford (population 164) and Oakville (population 71) are small enough that they are often combined as a destination in Napa Valley. The wineries in this area are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon.
For a historic winery, look no further than Inglenook, established in 1879. Take a tour of the property which includes wine and artisan cheese tasting in a private cave. For family-owned, boutique wineries, visit Sequoia Grove Winery or the Staglin Family Vineyard. Stop by Oakville Grocery, California’s longest continually operating grocery store.
This town in Napa Valley is both historic and modern, with Michelin-starred restaurants as well as one of Napa Valley’s oldest wineries. Enjoy small boutiques for shopping and peruse contemporary art galleries as well in this town with a little of everything.
Foodies will love St. Helena for its many culinary delights. The Culinary Institute of America is located here and offers tours of its campus and cooking demos as well. Meadowood Napa Valley is another three Michelin-star restaurant in Napa Valley and restaurants The Charter Oak, Acacia House, and Harvest Table are worth a meal as well. For a fun food landmark, visit the original Gott’s Roadside location for ‘50s-style burgers and shakes.
In terms of wineries, Hall Wines has great wines and unique art collections as well. Classic Cabernets can be found at Freemark Abbey and a visit to Charles Krug, Napa Valley’s oldest winery, is a must.
While home to great wineries and restaurants, Calistoga is known for its relaxing draw with its numerous hot springs and mud baths. The spas of this town have been drawing visitors for years who come for the wine and stay for the relaxation. There are any number of spas within a one-mile radius.
A must-see in Calistoga is its iconic castle winery, Castello di Amorosa. This winery is in an authentically recreated, 13th-century Tuscan castle. Tour the winery and stay for their Royal Food and Wine Pairing dinners on Fridays through Sundays. Also worth a visit is Fairwinds Estate Winery where you can visit their 22,000-foot wine cave.
There’s plenty of art culture to enjoy in this town; check out the Calistoga Art Center or one of many galleries.
RV camping in Napa Valley
Though Napa Valley extends across six small towns, the area itself is small enough that staying in any of the following campgrounds and RV parks, while closer to one town versus another, will be close enough to all activities in the area to make it a home base.
There are several RV-friendly spots to lodge in Napa, starting with Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. The park accommodates campers up to 31 feet and accepts reservations online (highly recommended for this popular area). The Lake Berryessa Marina Resort has two campground areas: Pleasure Cove Resort & Marina which has 26 lakeside RV sites and Steele Canyon Campground which has 6.
The Napa Valley Expo RV Park has numerous sites with full hookups. Skyline Wilderness Park, located in the Napa foothills, has RV sites with full and partial hookups available year-round. The Calistoga RV Park has year-round sites with full hookups as well as amenities like access to the Calistoga Art Center.