A guided tour of Napa Valley will not only provide you with an experienced guide and their knowledge of the region, but also a safe and easy way to explore as you sample the region’s best wine. These tours, determined by U.S. News to be some of the best available using expert input and tourist opinion, use various transportation methods, ranging from vans and trains to bicycles and hot air balloons. No matter which method you choose, you’re sure to see the best Napa has to offer. Plan to make a day of it to drink it all in and remember that participants must be 21 or older to tour.
Soar above Napa Valley’s wineries, hills and estates on this memorable hot air balloon ride, which starts and ends at Domaine Chandon winery. Pilots serve as guides offering commentary on the various sights, and they earn plaudits for their informative and amusing delivery. Activities last about four hours, including approximately 40 to 60 minutes in the air. Balloon rides generally begin soon after sunrise, so the tour start times can vary depending on the time of year. Tickets start at $239 and include pre-flight snacks, breakfast and a glass of sparkling wine. Groups can range from six to 20 people. Napa Valley Balloons also operates private balloon tours as well as balloon rides bundled with traditional winery tours.
Napa Valley Wine Train – The Collective Tour
Visit a trio of top-notch wineries aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train during its Collective Tour. In between stops, you’ll enjoy a four-course gourmet meal – frequently described by reviewers as superb. The day begins with sparkling wine and a breakfast course as the train makes its way to the first stop, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery, for a private tour. Following lunch, patrons head to Beringer Vineyards. Cheese and fruit precede a visit to Raymond Vineyards for a tour of its barrel room and crystal cellar. Dessert is served on the return leg of the trip. In all, the journey takes about seven hours, with about an hour spent at each of the three wineries. Check-in begins at 9:45 a.m. every day of the year. Tickets cost approximately $460 and participants must be 21 or older to tour. The Napa Valley Wine Train offers a variety of tours, including half-day and full-day tasting experiences.
Max Napa Tours – Napa Valley Tour
This semiprivate tour visits three area wineries, considering tourgoers preferences for a customized itinerary. Patrons may choose stops by Napa Valley subregions (such as Calistoga, Carneros or Rutherford) or by grape type (such as cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay or pinot noir) and Max Napa will build the perfect itinerary. Guides, all certified sommeliers, are frequently described by reviewers as highly informed and helpful. Tourists also rave about the wineries and the customized experience. Tickets cost approximately $190 per person. The cost covers transportation via SUV, but not food or wine tasting fees (which can cost up to $50). Trips beginning in Napa Valley usually last seven or eight hours, while trips starting in San Francisco can last up to 10 hours. Group size is restricted to six people. Max Napa also offers tours in Sonoma Valley.
Napa Valley Wine Trolley – Classic Tour
Napa Valley Wine Trolley uses replicas of California’s iconic open-air cable cars to transport wine enthusiasts around Napa Valley. Its six-hour Classic Tour stops at four wineries in the lower half of the valley; specific wineries vary from day to day. Drivers double as guides and provide information about the region and its best-known product, and patrons generally find them to be both very informative and amusing. The tour departs from the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa at 10 a.m. daily, with pickups at select hotels starting earlier. Tickets cost approximately $99 and include transportation and a picnic lunch, but exclude wineries’ tasting fees, which range from $20 to $35. Napa Valley Wine Trolley also offers a slightly longer trip to the upper portion of Napa Valley.
Platypus Wine Tours – Join-in Wine Tour of the Napa Valley
Platypus Wine Tours escorts tour-takers to four area wineries over the course of approximately 6 1/2 hours. Wineries visited depend on availability and change from one tour to the next, though they tend to be small, family-owned operations. Driver/guides earn enthusiastic praise for being knowledgeable, professional and personable. Tours typically depart from the Napa Valley Welcome Center daily at 10:15 a.m., but pickups from nearby hotels are also available. Group sizes range from eight to 12 participants. Tickets start at $110 and include a picnic lunch at one of the stops as well as snacks aboard the bus. Tasting fees, which tend to cost about $15 at each winery, are not covered. Platypus also offers tours of Sonoma Valley and private tours.
See the best of Napa’s scenery by bike, and taste delicious wine along the way, with a guided excursion from Napa Valley Bike Tours.(Courtesy of Napa Valley Bike Tours)
Napa Valley Bike Tours – Classic Half-Day Napa Bike Tour
Cycle to two different wineries on this 10- to 14-mile ride. Along the route, guides share information regarding the region and wine-making, and they are widely regarded as knowledgeable and helpful. If you aren’t an experienced rider, heed the advice of reviewers and upgrade to an electric bike. The outings, which are restricted to 12 participants, begin each day at 9:30 a.m. and end around 2 p.m.; this includes bike fitting and riding instruction. After the tour, Napa Valley Bike Tours will let you continue using the bike unguided until 5 p.m. Tickets start at around $124 and include use of a bike and helmet but not wineries’ tasting fees, which can range from $30 to $40. Electric bikes are available for an additional charge. Napa Valley Bike Tours also offers full-day cycling excursions as well as tours that include a hot air balloon ride.
Napa Valley Wine Country Tours – Join-in Napa Daily Wine Tours from Napa
You’ll visit four wineries, ranging from well-known vineyards to small, family-owned establishments, on this six-hour outing. Drivers, who are generally found to be both friendly and accommodating, provide insider information about the region during trips between the wineries. Along with the chauffeurs, travelers also enjoy the wineries selected for the tour. Buses pick up tourgoers from Napa area hotels between 10 and 11 a.m. and tours typically end at about 5 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $120 and include a picnic lunch at one of the stops; tasting fees are not covered. Private tours are also available.
Dynamic Wine Tours – Napa Valley Wine Tours
Visit four boutique wineries on this daylong outing from Dynamic Wine Tours. No two tours are the same, as guides take into account participants’ preferences and input during the planning stage. What’s more, the group size is small: The company’s limousine-style vans can carry up to 10 tour-takers. Overall, travelers enjoy the trip and applaud the selection of wineries. However, others wish the guides interacted more with the group and shared more information about Napa Valley. Pickups at Napa Valley hotels occur from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.; drop-offs take place between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. In addition to transportation, the approximately $125 per person fee covers a glass of sparkling wine and a picnic lunch prepared by a local eatery. It does not cover wineries’ tasting fees, which range between $15 and $35 per person. Dynamic Wine Tours also offers private outings.
Green Dream Tours – Napa Valley Wine Tours
Green Dream Tours shines a spotlight on three locally-owned wineries during its Napa Valley tours. Wineries visited may include Bouchaine Vineyards, Spelletich Family Winery and Hagafen Cellars. Between the second and third wineries, buses stop at Oxbow Public Market for lunch. Patrons consistently describe the driver/guides as both informative and fun. They also enjoy learning from winery employees. Green Dream’s Napa Valley tours begin and end in San Francisco, with hotel pickups between 8 and 9 a.m. and drop-offs between 4:45 and 5:45 p.m. Tickets start at $144 for adults. The price includes wineries’ tasting fees, but not lunch. Tours are capped at 14 participants. Green Dream Tours also offers excursions highlighting Sonoma’s vineyards, along with combo tours of both regions.
Napa Native Tours – First Timer Wine Tour
A lifelong Napa Valley resident curates and leads this six-hour private tour. You’ll visit three to four small boutique wineries, providing your preferences to the company during the booking process. Guides share information about wine-making along the way, which tour-takers tend to find exceptionally insightful. Tours cost approximately $500 for a group of up to six people. Tours start at 10 a.m. daily and include a break for lunch. Napa Native Tours also offers tours for folks who already have some familiarity with the area as well as outings for larger groups.
Napa has more to offer than its famous wineries; check out its food scene downtown.(Getty Images)
Gourmet Food and Wine Tours – Napa Food and Wine Tour Riverside
Stroll through downtown Napa to discover some of the region’s top eateries as you sample a series of food and wine pairings. The 3 1/2-hour walking tour travels alongside the Napa River from the Culinary Institute of America to three much-lauded restaurants, including Morimoto. In between each 30-minute stop, your guide provides commentary concerning Napa’s winemakers and restauranteurs as well as its culture an
d history – a particular highlight for reviewers. Tours are offered most Fridays at 4 p.m.; tickets start at $195. Gourmet Food and Wine offers walking tours in other parts of wine country, including St. Helena, Sonoma and Yountville.
As its name suggests, Flex Wine Tours adapts its itineraries to suit visitors’ desires, with wineries selected following pre-tour conversations, and patrons effusively praise the personalized service and professionalism. As a consequence of this versatile approach, the number of wineries (usually four or five) varies, as does the length of the journey, though private tours typically last around five to six hours. Prices also depend on a number of variables, such as number of participants, season and length of the tour, but rates generally range from $75 to $95 per hour (excluding lunch and tasting fees). Flex Wine Tours can make pickups outside Napa Valley, but additional fuel charges may apply. The company also provides private tours of Sonoma Valley.
Napa Your Way provides personalized, private tours of Napa Valley, each of which is unique. Its team crafts excursions based on patrons’ preferences and particular interests, creating tours suitable for everyone from amateurs to oenophiles. Reviewers rave about guides’ knowledge, enthusiasm and professionalism, and acknowledge they might not have discovered the wineries visited if not for Napa Your Way. Rates vary depending on tour duration, but a five-hour minimum at a rate of $90 per hour is standard. Wineries’ tasting fees are not covered, nor are the price of meals if a restaurant is included in the day’s plans. The company’s SUV can accommodate up to six passengers.
Getaway Adventures – Calistoga Sip N’ Cycle
Traverse the northern part of Napa Valley via bicycle on this approximately 5 1/2-hour tour. Along the 12-mile ride, you’ll visit up to four wineries. Stops may include August Briggs, Bennett Lane, Chateau Montelena, Envy Wines or Frank Family Vineyards, but routes and specific stops vary from day to day. Guides win high marks for their vast knowledge of the region and attention to detail. The scenery along the mostly flat path also earns rave reviews. Tours depart at 10 a.m. daily and typically conclude at 3:30 p.m. Tickets start at $159 per person. Winery tasting fees are not included, but water and a picnic lunch as well as use of bikes and helmets are covered in the ticket cost. Getaway Adventures also offers several guided bike rides in other areas of the region, as well as hiking and kayaking excursions.
Rooted Fork Foodie Tours – Taste of Downtown Napa
The approximately three-hour walking tour begins at Monday Bakery in downtown Napa and ends at the famous Oxbow Public Market with several stops in between for a total of eight food and drink pairings. Along with the region’s wine, the tour spotlights local beer, dessert, Italian cuisine, sliders and more. Foodies rave about the samples and guides are widely regarded as friendly and informative. Tours start at 2 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Groups consist of no more than 10 people. Tickets, which cover the cost of beverages and food, start at $95 for adults of legal drinking age; discounted tickets are available for those 18 and older not drinking alcohol. Rooted Fork also offers a brunch-centric tour and private outings.