Does a behind the scenes winery tour, picnic lunch and night in a Yurt, while surrounded by some of Napa Valley’s best Vineyards, all on a budget, sound appealing to you? Then my friend….Read on because here’s 10 great tips on how to make this day come true on the cheap!
On our summer road trip I was pretty pumped to spend a few days relaxing in America’s Best Known Wine Region! But after simply dreaming of delicious Cab Savs and Bodreaux Blend’s I dove into actually planning our stay and found that this trip could be well out of our budget. With many wineries charging upwards of 30 bucks for a tasting, a trip to a few vineyards can quickly add up, never mind accommodations!
But with a little research and creativity I was able to have the ultimate Napa Valley Va-k while staying in my budget! Here are 10 tips to enjoy Napa Valley on the Cheap:
1) Spend the Night in a Yurt Surrounded by Vineyards
With the average hotel cost around $200 bucks per night looking for an alternative place to get some shut-eye is essential to budgeting an affordable vacation in Napa. I was so EXCITED to find Bothe-Napa Valley State park situated in the heart of the Valley and surrounded by vineyards.
For just $70.00 per night you can rent a Yurt that accommodates up to four people (with the option to rent larger ones as well.) After a day exploring vineyards we had such a memorable time unwinding by the fire, outside our yurt, and sipping our favorite bottle!
2) Ride the Vine
A difficulty about exploring Napa Valley is doing it without getting behind the wheel once you’ve had something to drink. If everyone in your party is interested in doing some wine tasting it is important to find a designated driver. Group Tours generally cost about $100 (not including the price of tastings). For about $2.00 a trip you can ride the public bus system ‘The Vine’ which will allow you to travel throughout Napa Valley to many of the vineyards, small towns and downtown Napa!
Of course when using public transportation you must allot extra time from place to place do to frequent stops and be willing to do a little leg work once you arrive at your stop, but the savings are huge!
Other (more expensive) options include renting a bike (around $45.00 per day ) or utilizing Uber.
3) Become A Wine Connoisseur (for free)
Start your day by learning about the whole process of wine making during a Free Vineyard tour. Tour the vineyards, learn how to pick the perfect grapes and go behind the scenes to see the production process.
4) Pack a picnic
After checking out a tour, find a vineyard with a ‘picnic permit’ and head that way. Lounging around enjoying the beautiful scenery, a farmers market picnic lunch and a bottle of wine produced in my surroundings, really couldn’t of made for a better day.
The savings from packing your own lunch, and purchasing a bottle at the vineyards are huge compared to wine by the glass and tasting menus, and in my opinion, even more memorable . Several wineries allow picnicking in Napa Valley.
5) Get your drink and grub on for half price!
Many establishments throughout Napa offer happy hour. After picnicking away the afternoon, if you still are thirsty take advantage of this time of day (generally from 5-7pm) for some great eats and award winning wines that are on offer for a fraction of the price. A simple internet search will tell you lots of participating locations.
6) There’s an app for that, that you should download!
I was shocked to find over 100 apps related to Napa Valley. Whether you want to be in the know about what you are drinking or find out where there are discount/free tasting there is a phone application for that! My favorite must have money saving app in Napa is ‘Tasting Pass’ which shows you where many of the best discounts are throughout the valley.
7) Cut your coupons
Many of the local wineries offer free or half price tastings coupons! Visit the Napa tourist information center, ask hotel concierges or consult the internet for free and money saving coupons. The best wineries may not offer savings, but if you are not a savant the ones that do still can be quite wonderful! There is also a Priority Wine Pass that can offer savings for about 50 bucks a person, however I recommend just hunting for the coupons yourself and pocketing the extra change.
8) Hang out downtown
If you prefer ‘city life’ hang out in downtown Napa and pick up a Taste Napa Downtown card. The card will get you 13 pours for 20 bucks within walking distance from one another at the Wineries show rooms. Once you muster up an appetite you can checkout some of the restaurants that offer savings on Groupon or Living Social for a lovely meal that you can stroll on over to as well.
9) Go for a hike with some fainting goats
If you are wined out or have kids along for the ride check out the town of Calistoga, which is scattered with hot springs. A favorite hike here is to Old Faithful, a regularly erupting geyser that also is home to a heard of fainting goats! There is a small admission to the geyser of $10 for adults and $3 for kids.
10) Test your Culinary Skills
Visit the Culinary Institute of America and check out where many of America’s renowned chefs came from! Take a tour ($10) or attend a cooking demonstration ($20) complete with a wine pairing and see if you have what it takes to be one of America’s future great chefs! If you just want to get some great grub visit the Market and Café (free to enter) and sample some discount fine dinning.