Traveling solo can be an intimidating proposition, but as many experienced travelers know, traveling alone can also unlock a wealth of new experiences and lifelong connections.
Solo travel is especially unique and less-daunting in Napa Valley, where meeting enthusiastic and accommodating local residents as well as fellow travelers who like nothing more than to talk about wine, food, and art and…well, just about anything else regarding this incredible destination.
Whether you’re looking for workshops, classes, and organized tastings, or you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, the busy calendar of events in Napa Valley will assuredly include something that will meet your fancy.
Peruse this three-day curated itinerary. Then, book your trip and make this handy itinerary your very own.
What's On Your
Start your stay at the Archer Hotel, in the heart of downtown Napa. Easily walkable to shops, restaurants and tasting rooms, the Archer is also a few steps away from the Napa Valley Welcome Center. Located on 1st Street in downtown Napa, the Welcome Center offers complimentary maps and guides, and a welcoming staff ready with personalized travel recommendations and excursion planning tips. It’s a must-stop for any solo traveler.
Next, head over to the Oxbow Public Market to browse through this delicious food hall before landing on your selection. Maybe it’s a fresh sandwich at Loveski Deli or perhaps fresh oyster, shucked and served on the half shell at Hog Island Oyster Company.
While you’re at Oxbow Public Market, hop next door to The CIA at Copia, the Napa outpost of the Culinary Institute of America. Stroll through the facility’s beautiful, cultivated gardens, meander through the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum to view antique cookware and culinary tools, or catch a cooking demo.
Nearby find any number of boutique tasting rooms and wine bars located in downtown Napa, including the lavishly decorated Chateau Buena Vista, the artful Acumen Wine, the stylish John Anthony Vineyards, the polished Kerr Cellars, or the hip Compline Wine Shop and Bar.
Wrap up the day back at the Archer’s iconic Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar and treat yourself to a cocktail paired with a spectacular view of the southern Napa Valley. Sip your cocktail solo or, very easily enjoy it with the new friends you will easily make at this vibrant, jovial spot.
Rent a bike from Fat Tire Bike Rentals and get onto the Napa Valley Vine Trail. From downtown Napa, you will find Yountville just a short 7 miles north on the path. Cycling on the path is peaceful and safe – it’s a paved, pedestrian-friendly stretch that is big on scenic views of the surrounding vineyards and hillsides. Plus, once you reach Yountville, you can reward yourself with a lunch and a fabulous margarita at La Calenda, Chef Thomas Keller’s Oaxacan-inspired restaurant on Washington Street in downtown Yountville.
After lunch, park your bike and explore the lovely little town of Yountville. Along with some fun boutiques and wine tasting rooms, including Priest Ranch which pairs its wines with bacon – yes, bacon. And, if you have room after that lunch, you will want to try this. Don’t worry, you can walk it all off! Yountville has a plethora of art installations that pepper the town. So, stroll and peruse those.
If you’ve made your home base the Archer during this trip, then on your cycling trip back to Napa, stop at the approximate halfway point at Laird Family Estate. This fun and casual winery hosts tastings on the back deck. Sip a glass of Chardonnay and take in the views of the vineyards and the Mayacamas mountain range.
Wake up early and get a new perspective on Napa Valley by seeing the vineyards and valley from a flight in a hot air balloon. This is a guaranteed memory-maker and the peaceful, serene flight will be worth your early morning wake up call. Several excursions are available, including those offered by Balloons Above the Valley and Napa Valley Aloft, and some packages come with light breakfast and champagne toast pre-flight! Hot air balloon flights are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you might even make a new friend or two with passengers sharing the balloon basket with you.
After your balloon flight, make your way all the way up to Calistoga, the northernmost town in Napa Valley. The quaint little town of Calistoga is also known as the wellness capital of this region. Book a mud bath treatment at Dr. Wilkinson's Backyard Resort and Mineral Springs to experience a unique and truly relaxing, truly Calistoga spa.
Walk around to explore the town of Calistoga and be sure to include a stop at the cute little wine shop/gift shop, Picayune Cellars where you will find unique wines to taste along with a bevy of curated gift items including jewelry, hats, and decor items. Save time for a spot at the Calistoga Depot, too, to explore gourmet snacks plus fun offerings from refurbished rail cars that have been converted into boutiques.
Before you head back to your hotel for the evening, be sure to stop and shop in the quaint little town of St. Helena. On Main Street, find a range of unique shops featuring curated gifts and stylish clothing, plus beautiful art galleries. For dinner, don’t miss Goose and Gander, which features a delicious American-inspired, seasonally-driven menu. No choice here is a bad choice! And the craft cocktails are artful and innovative, and you can enjoy your meal and beverage in the somewhat speakeasy-like bar on the property. This section of the restaurant hearkens back to the days of bootlegging and has a warm, nostalgic vibe.