Our Top Tips For Visiting Napa Valley on a Budget, Ep. 85

Photo credit: Michael Cuffe (Visit Napa Valley)

The number one thing people always ask us is, can you do wine country on a budget?

With the Napa Valley wine experience becoming more and more expensive, with wine tastings regularly costing upwards of $10, can you visit this incredible wine mecca without blowing a small fortune in the process?

We, the Marys, say yes! You can be bougie on a budget in Napa Valley. We’ve got the inside scoop on the wine tastings for $50 or less, hotels in the $200 or less range, and restaurants that won’t break the bank. We even got some freebies!

Here’s the list of all the places and experiences we mention. But you’ll have to listen to the pod for all the great details and tips – you won’t want to miss any of them!

A caveat – none of the prices that we mentioned are fixed – It’s just what we found currently. And also, we’re not getting paid to promote any of these places. They’re just what we discovered on our quest to find some bargains among the wine barrels.

Photo credit: David Collier (Visit Napa Valley)

Wine Tasting for $50 or less

Thing To Do For (Mostly) Free

Napa Valley Vine Trail, Napa Valley, California. Photo credit: David H. Collier (Visit Napa Valley)
  • Hiking – VisitNapaValley.com has a helpful trail finder. Some of our favorites – Boothe Valley Napa State Park, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, Skyline Wilderness Park. You can also play frisbee disc golf on the course at Skyline for free.
  • Napa Valley Vine Trail for biking, walking or running. 12.5 miles from Napa to Yountville. Bike rental companies – listed on VisitNapaValley.com
  • Olive oil tasting – Free at The Olive Press at Oxbow Public Market. You can taste the entire line of olive oils and vinegars.
  • Napa Valley Distillery has two options for tasting their libations: The Oxbow Public Tasting Room ($25 brandy tasting only) and the Distillery (1-hour $45 tour and tasting) at 2485 Stockton St, Napa.
  • CIA at Copia, the Culinary Institute of America’s food and beverage center, has free exhibits, including more than 4,000 pieces of cookware, appliances, food preparation tools and more, plus extensive gardens you can walk through.
  • The Napa Art Walk is a free rotating exhibition of multiple works throughout the city. Download a walking art map at Napa Art Walk.org
  • Rail Arts District – RAD Napa – is a free outdoor contemporary art museum showcasing murals, sculptures, installations and more by local and international artists.
  • Napa Valley Museum, 55 Presidents Circle, Yountville; (707) 944-0500

Where to Eat

Where to Stay

Our Insider Tips for Visiting Napa Valley on a Budget

  • General Tips
    • Visit midweek. Staying on weekends often means a two night minimum.
    • Visit during the off season or shoulder season. Try the winter months, or between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
    • Make reservations. Not every tasting room is open 7 days/week.
    • Plan no more than 2-3 winery visits a day.
    • Do some things other than wine tasting.
    • Have a designated driver or plan to use Uber or Lyft. Some wineries, such as Beringer Vineyards in St. Helena offers a $15 fee for visitors who are not drinking alcohol. Ask ahead of time about designated drivers – if they have to pay a tasting fee or not.
    • Save money on dining by getting picnic supplies or eating at places like the Oxbow Public Market.
      • Ask ahead of time if you can split a tasting. Most likely this works at places where you can do a walk-in tasting. Never hurts to ask though, as more and more people are choosing to drink less alcohol.
    • Check out VisitNapaValley.com for more lists and guides. Napa Valley Vintners has a winery finder that helps you discover wineries that welcome walk ins, with art displays, barrel tastings, gardens and more.
    • How to get around without a car or rental car? Public Transportation.
      • VINE Transit is the fixed-route bus system in the County of Napa.
      • Shuttles Up Valley. On-demand transit services within its city limits for the general public. These shuttles are wheelchair accessible.Calistoga Shuttle: Call to schedule a pick-up. Cost: Free for lodging guests.St. Helena Shuttle: Call to schedule a pick-up. Cost: $1The Yountville Bee Line : Call for a pickup. This service is free.