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A Weekend in Napa Valley Itinerary

Napa Valley is a region in California known for its world-class wineries, breathtaking vineyards, and gourmet cuisine. 

While I often travel solo, I spent three days there with my friend, starting my trip in San Francisco and finishing in Napa Valley for the other two days. I mainly made my way to the region for the famous Napa Valley Wine Train, which you’ll read about! 

In this blog post, I’ll share my brief Napa Valley itinerary so you can get an idea of what you can do in the few days you may have to explore. 


Please Note: I did the activities listed on Days 1 and 2 all in one day. However, for the sake of this itinerary recap and your energy levels, I’m splitting the activities into two separate days. I think it would be better that way, and I would have done it if I had more time!  


Disclaimer:  This blog post also may contain affiliate links which means that if you book one of these activities using my link (which I know you will because you loved how helpful this blog post is *wink*) I am going to receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting BCJ! 

Check out my visual review of the Napa Valley Wine Train on Youtube!

Day 1: Fly into San Francisco, Wake Up and Explore the City 

Check-in to the CitizenM Hotel in downtown San Francisco 

[Previous Night]

To get to Napa Valley, you can fly into one of the three closest airports to Napa. 

We flew into San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which is about an hour and 30 minutes by car from Napa Valley. 

Given the distance between Napa and San Francisco and landing at night, I decided to get a hotel room at the CitizenM Hotel in downtown San Francisco for a good night’s rest. 

I didn’t expect much from this hotel because of how inexpensive it was compared to other hotels in the area, but it absolutely blew me away with its features, amenities, and personalized touches. 

Cost Breakdown:

  • One-Night Stay with Taxes + Fees: $152.76

Hop on a trolley for a scenic route to the Pier 

Trolleys, or cable cars, are an iconic part of San Francisco’s charm, so start your day in the city by hopping on one down to the Pier!

Introduced in the late 19th century, these manually operated vehicles navigate the city’s steep hills and provide you with views of different neighborhoods on the way to your final destination. 

With open seating along the perimeter of the trolleys, you can choose to sit on wooden benches along the sides or stand on the running boards, like I did, to get the thrill of riding.

Christina Jane standing on a trolley
Use Google Maps to search for a trolley stop near you or just hop on any stopped one for the experience!

Planning Tip: You will need a local metro card called “Clipper” to use the trolley, which can either be purchased at a metro station or added/downloaded as a virtual card within the Wallet App if you are an iPhone user and loaded with money from one of your debit or credit cards. 

I found the second option to be cheaper and more convenient, as you won’t have to search for a metro station before having access to the local transport systems. 

Cost Breakdown:

  • One Trolley Ride: $8.00

Start the day sea lion watching on the Pier 

Sea lion watching in San Francisco draws visitors to Pier 39

This popular and free attraction is home to hundreds of California sea lions, who started taking up residence on the floating docks in 1989.

The closer you get to the pier, the more you’ll be able to hear their loud barks. 

You can watch as they bask in the sun, jump in and out of the water, and interact with one another. 

It was my first time seeing sea lions, so I was entertained! 

Cost: FREE

Planning Tip: While you’re at the Pier, consider having some more fun with a 7D Ride Experience.

Stroll the streets of Chinatown 

The largest Chinatown in the United States, and outside of Asia in general, is located in San Francisco. 

When I found this out, I knew I had to incorporate it into my Napa Valley itinerary. 

The significance of the community alone makes it worth taking a stroll through the area. 

From vibrant markets and traditional Chinese temples to restaurants and cozy shops with authentic Chinese cuisine being sampled through the glass windows, everything about Chinatown exudes the community’s cultural heritage, bringing a taste of China to San Francisco. 

Cost: FREE

Observe the making of fortune cookies at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

While you’re in Chinatown, stop by the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and get a behind-the-scenes look at how fortune cookies are made. 

A small shop and factory in one, the employees at this fortune cookie manufacturing facility spend their day making as many as 10,000 fresh fortune cookies from scratch. 

Upon arrival, you’re given a free flat fortune cookie to try, and you can observe the employees using the machinery to craft each fortune cookie.

I didn’t know fortune cookies could come in so many different shapes, sizes, and flavors! 

Planning Tip: Don’t leave the store without creating your own fortune cookie! There’s a small station where you are given a cute little takeout box and can write out your own fortunes. 

When you’re finished, your handwritten fortunes will be placed into a fortune cookie, and now you have a temporary souvenir to remember your visit!

Keep in mind that this place is really small and is probably not what you would think of when you think of a factory. It can also get pretty crowded as people come in and out to make purchases and see the process. 

It’s also more self-initiated, as you are not guided through anything. Customer service in this regard was lacking, as the head employee seemed more annoyed with the presence of customers and you’re not really embraced, but I believe that is due to how many people probably come in just to look around. 

I was still happy with my experience, but I expected more of a formal tour, so I would manage your expectations. 

Cost Breakdown:

  • Visiting the Factory: FREE
  • Create Your Own Fortune Cookie: $2.00 for one. $3.50 for 2 cookies (max) in the same box. 

Day 2: Head to Calistoga to a Luxurious Vineyard and a Mud Bath

Take the San Francisco Ferry to Vallejo

Napa Valley is a little over one hour away from San Francisco and you’ll want to be strategic about how you plan to get there from the city. 

If you aren’t renting a car and want to avoid possible traffic, taking the San Francisco Ferry to the Vallejo Ferry terminal is an affordable and quick option to get to Napa Valley. 

The ferry leaves daily from the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal at Gate E1. You can see the routes and times of departure here

The ferry is very comfortable, takes one hour to get to Vallejo, has a snack and drink bar available, and is a great opportunity for a scenic journey across the Bay.  

You can pay for the ferry ride using your Clipper card when boarding or once you board the ferry. There will be an employee processing payments in a small section. 

Once you arrive at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, you will have to take an Uber into Napa Valley, which is about 10 minutes away, depending on where your accommodation is. 

I stayed at Courtyard Vallejo Napa Valley, and it was only a 10-minute drive away! 

Cost: $9.30/each way

Take a gondola ride up to a vineyard in Calistoga 

Once you’ve settled in, head to Calistoga, a city in the Northern part of Napa Valley to Sterling Vineyards.  

Part of the allure of this vineyard is that it is accessible by an aerial gondola with views of the vineyard and mountainous landscape as you make your way up to the stunning property. 

You can enjoy immersive wine tasting and tour experiences of the vineyard that you’ll want to book online. 

We did the Tour and Terrace 90-minute experience that includes the gondola ride, a self-guided wine-tasting tour of three wines, and a seated tasting of two wines and a cheese board on the vineyard’s elevated Southview Terrace overlooking the Napa Valley. 

If you don’t take anything else from this Napa Valley itinerary, understand this is an absolute must-do when visiting Napa! 

I love a good experience, and this was beautifully crafted and organized from the beginning to the end. Not only is the property itself breathtaking, but the value for the money paid was 10/10. 

We even got to take home a wine glass and a cheese board, which was included! 

Cost Breakdown:

  • Tour and Terrace Experience: $75/person. 

Soak in a mud bath at Golden Haven Spa 

Calistoga is also known for its geothermal hot springs, which means that the city has numerous spas and resorts that offer a variety of treatments designed to have therapeutic properties of the natural hot springs. 

My friend was keen on visiting a spa while we were in Napa Valley, and I love a good spa, so who was I to deny it? 

The Golden Haven Spa is only 5 minutes away from Sterling Vineyards and is known for their mud baths so we booked under the Couples and Friends Special. The spa can fit up to four people in one room. 

Golden Haven Spa in Calistoga
This was my first time in a mud bath and I wasn’t a fan honestly!

We were escorted into our own private treatment room and walked through the steps of getting into the Mud. Then, we were left to undress and get ourselves in. 

The experience is typically done naked, but for women, I recommend having bottoms on or a swimsuit you don’t mind getting stained. 

The Mud is a mixture of clay, peat, and hot mineral water. These ingredients are known for their traditional health-giving properties, as explained on the website. 

The experience is stated to be an hour long and includes the actual mud bath, a clay face mask with a cooling towel, soaking in the hot springs mineral bath, and resting in an aromatherapy and salt lamp room. 

My Honest Review on Golden Haven Spa 

I’m always down for a new experience and this was my first mud bath so I can’t say that I regret it. However, I’ll keep it real and say that I would not return back to this spa for a few reasons. 

For one, the facility was a bit underwhelming to me in general and did not give a resort feel. It is listed as a 2-star hotel and that is very accurate from what I saw. I have visited many spas that are not the fanciest or have a luxury feel, but this spa felt a bit rundown in a way like they just happened to build a spa in the middle of a motel. The actual room where the mud bath took place was less than stellar. 

Mud Bath Room
The room in my opinion was not that nice. It felt very rundown and although the experience is messy, I believe it can be done better.

Second, the experience was very rushed. It took us a while to get called back past our appointment time, and there were lots of people with the same-time appointments. I’m sure the facility had enough rooms to accommodate these appointments, but it was clear that the staff was overwhelmed and behind schedule. 

This led to us being rushed at almost every stage. The actual mud bath was only 15 minutes, rinsing the mud off took some time, but then the soak in the tub (which was the best part) was about 10 minutes. 

We made the personal decision to extend our time by staying in longer to get our money’s worth, but that led to more rushing by the staff. 

I think by the time we got to the relaxation room, our attendant felt bad and allowed us to stay in there for about 30 minutes, but that was essentially just laying on a bed. 

All in all, I didn’t feel very relaxed or that it was worth the money. I would have rather paid more and had a nicer spa experience where I got to take my time. 

Cost Breakdown:

Couple and Friends Special: 

  • $118/person Monday – Thursday
  • $124/pp Friday – Sunday, and holiday periods  

Finish the day with dinner at Los Agaves 

While we didn’t end up making our dinner reservations due to straight fatigue after the spa, if you end up hungry, Los Agaves is a restaurant we had on our list! 

It’s 42 minutes from Calistoga and will take you back to the main street of Napa. 

Serving Mexican cuisine at the Riverfront, Los Agaves immerses its diners with colorful décor and a warm, welcoming ambiance. 

The menu features a variety of dishes that showcase diverse flavors, such as tacos, enchiladas, and fresh guacamole, all crafted with authentic ingredients and spices. 

Day 3: Board a Wine Train and Go Wine Tasting Venue Hopping!

Board the Napa Valley Wine Train for a 3-hour ride through the Valley

Start your day with a ride aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, the arguably most popular attraction in Napa Valley!

The Wine Train has been around since 1864 and provides a range of luxury experiences like Tasting on the Rails and the afternoon tea service. 

Christina Jane on the Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa Valley Wine Train has been on my travel bucket list for years!

The slow pace of the train allows guests to immerse themselves in the beauty of Napa Valley in another way, making it an ideal way to celebrate special occasions or just enjoy a leisurely day in the region. 

I did the Vista Dome Lunch experience which includes a four-course lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm. 

Once we boarded the train, we were escorted to our plush dining booth, and a server began to take our order. 

I will say that the food was delicious and more than filling, so that did not disappoint. 

Crème Brûlée
Crème Brûlée

Honest Review on the Vista Dome Lunch Experience

The Wine Train is what brought me to Napa, but I will say that for the $400 price point of the Vista Dome Lunch, I don’t think it’s worth it. I thought we would get to go in and out of the cars, but we were restricted as each car is a private experience as we were told by the attendant. 

So it’s essentially just sitting and eating on the train. I expected to be able to walk around more, explore the outer deck, etc. 

On the website it says “After your indulgences, treats, and feast, you explore the train cars between courses—and even visit our chefs hard at work in our gourmet kitchen.” and that was definitely not the case in my experience. 

Nonetheless it was a beautiful experience and I would definitely do another experience on the Wine Train again to see what it’s like! 

Note: Our four-course meal came with a glass of champagne, but wine is not included. You will have the option to add a flight tasting to your meal. 

The flights start at around $25, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous that wine is not included in the high price point. 

Cost Breakdown:

  • Vista Dome Lunch: ~$400/person 

Go gin tasting inside of the Oxbow Public Market 

The Oxbow Public Market is a short five-minute walk from the Wine Train and is a place I’m happy to include in this Napa Valley itinerary! 

The market features several shops, eateries, and food stalls where you can enjoy various cuisines. From wood-fired pizzas and fresh oysters to sushi and tacos, there is something for everyone. 

Inside, you’ll also find a selection of vendors offering a variety of fresh produce, gourmet foods, baked goods, meats, seafood, and specialty items. 

While we expected to just walk around and quickly see what the market had to offer and leave, we were reeled in to try some gin at the Napa Valley Distillery by Pappy Mark.

My friend and I split a flight of 6 different gins as Pappy walked us through each flavor, sharing tips and tricks on drinking alcohol!

Cost: $25/flight of 6

Pappy Mark and I!
This was not part of our itinerary, but I did learn something new so yay!

Stroll and shop from boutique shops on First Street Napa 

Head to First Street Napa for a taste of the shopping culture in Napa. First Street is where you’ll find a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment. 

The area has upscale boutiques, unique specialty stores, and a diverse selection of eateries, from fine dining to casual bites. 

I also found more wine-tasting spots within walking distance of each other, so I highly recommend taking some time to explore! 

Here are some spots on First Street Napa that may be of interest:

  1. Be Bubbly Napa – The first & only champagne and sparkling wine lounge in Napa
  2. Rooftop Day Spa at Archer 
  3. Makers Market
  4. Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar 
  5. Riza Plants 
First Street Napa
Some of the shops within First Street Napa – Be sure to check opening and closing times!

Taste the flavors of red wine at the Brown Estate 

Brown Downtown Napa is Napa Valley’s first Black-owned estate winery. It’s also in First Street Napa along with many shops.

When I heard there was a Black-owned estate winery, I knew I had to add it to my Napa Valley itinerary. 

Christina Jane at Brown Downtown Napa.
Absolutely loved my experience at Brown Downtown Napa! Such an inspiring time for me as a young Black professional.

I immediately fell in love with the space. It’s beautifully designed, adding to a chill and laid-back vibe and making it very inviting. 

The interior features sleek furnishings, wooden accents, and soft lighting that creates a relaxed atmosphere. 

We opted for the Zinapalooza Flight and a small cheese board. The entire time, our wine educator walked us through each of the items on the board as well as explained the thought behind the curation of each wine.  

Planning Tip: If you’re looking to visit, I highly recommend booking a reservation for one of the tasting slots. We were walk-ins and were thankfully accommodated, but the space is limited, so that may not always be possible. 

Cost Breakdown:

  • Zinapalooza Flight: $55
  • Small Cheese Board: $35 

                    TOTAL: $90

Visit Tamera and Adam Housley’s Winery 

Ya girl grew up on Tia & Tamera, so I was surprised when I found out about the Housley Wine Tasting Room! 

Owned by Tamera and Adam Housley, this wine-tasting room was a great place to end our final day in Napa. 

Christina Jane at the Housley Napa Tasting Room!
This tasting room is owned by Tamera & Adam Housley and was also another one of my favorite spots!

The “room” has a cozy living room setup inside, with a large display of black-and-white pictures of the Housley family, which was a personable touch. 

Outside seating is also available on the Deck, where we sat and had great vibes! We had some small talk with some of the other patrons. 

At this point in the day, the wine was doing me more than I was doing it, so I just had a small taste of a delicious, sweet wine recommended by the manager, Paris, who was amazing. 

You can find the menu at the bottom of this page

Cost Breakdown:

  • Five Wines Tasting: $25 

Dinner at Celadon

Celadon is a restaurant on the Riverfront in Downtown Napa that serves food with flavors from the Mediterranean, Asia, and America. 

We were seated in the courtyard, which was really pretty at night, and had heaters since the wind can be a bit harsh in Napa at night. 

We didn’t end up staying to eat here because we were exhausted from our long day (we really tried, lol), but I still want to mention it as a possible dinner spot if you need one. 

Celadon in Napa Valley has courtyard seating which is beautiful.

More Activities to do in Napa Valley 

Cheers in Napa Valley
I hope this Napa Valley itinerary was helpful and that you found some gems to add to your own itinerary in the beautiful Valley!

Final Thoughts

Napa Valley was a bucket list trip for me, and I’m so happy that I made it happen. I’m already planning my next trip back! 

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled to a place where I felt so carefree and comfortable the way I did in Napa. 

Furthermore, as a young Black professional, it was beyond inspiring to see the generational wealth that exists within the Valley and what so many families like the Browns were able to build. 

I hope to have some good eats the next time I’m in Napa and explore even more of the local scene. 

Leave any questions you may have below, and let me know what you’ll be taking from this Napa Valley itinerary or how your time in Napa was! 

2 Responses

  1. Loved the information on Napa Valley -I will be in Vacaville in September 2024 and you have made my itinerary.Thanks!
    Ann

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Christina Jane Travel Writer

About The Blogger

I’m Christina, a travel blogger and content creator from Fort Myers, Florida.

Being Christina Jane is my way of inviting you to join me on my travel ventures by sharing the knowledge gained from my adventures and experiences— both good and bad.

This travel blog is filled with helpful travel tips, information, and is a recollection of the lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had while traveling.

My goal is to curate a space that interconnects my love for travel and transparency and I hope you will join me on that journey. 

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Some posts on this website may contain affiliate links. Meaning if you buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and may even save you money!.

Anything I ever recommend is because I genuinely enjoyed that product/service. I promise to always keep it real with you!

Also, opinions and posts expressed on this blog are of my own accord. 

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