When to visit the Napa Valley

by SmarterTravel Staff

Throughout the year, the Napa Valley is one of California's most beautiful destinations. In spring, the hills surrounding the valley are still lush from the winter rains and the mustard flowers are in full bloom; while in summer, the grape vines are green and sprawling. Around harvest-time in the fall, the leaves on the vines offer spectacular shows of color. In winter, the vines are bare, though the green grass returns and the wine tastings continue. Spring, summer, and fall draw crowds, while winter is a quieter visitor season.

  • high season: April to November
  • low season: December to March

Weather Information

The Napa Valley follows the inland Northern California pattern of dry and hot in the summer and chilly and rainy in the winter. July is the hottest month, with an average high of 83 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, with average highs of 57 degrees, and average lows of 39 degrees. November through March tend to be the rainiest months.

Crowd Information

Expect the biggest crowds from June through the October harvest time, especially on weekends when overnight visitors compete with day trippers from the Bay Area for space at the many restaurants and wineries. Music, wine, and art festivals are common at wineries and also attract visitors, especially in the warmer months.

Closure Information

Hotels, shops, and attractions remain open throughout the year.

Other Information

Though the weather may not be as pleasant, there is a benefit to visiting in the winter. During this calmer off-season, crowds aren't three deep in every tasting room in the valley, and you can spend more time talking to the wine experts and less time competing for vineyard views and parking spaces.

When to Save

April and November are slightly less busy than the summer and fall months they frame, and can be good times to find deals on accommodations. The low winter season can also mean discounted accommodations rates and easier booking. As with most leisure destinations, the easiest way to find the best rates and avoid the crowds at any time of year is to visit mid-week.

When to Book

The Napa Valley is a popular destination, so booking hotels a month or more in advance will yield the most options, especially for weekend and high season visits.

Those with flexible travel plans can take advantage of low last-minute airfares. However, those with a set schedule should book flights at least three weeks in advance to find lower prices and ensure availability, especially for travel during the high season.

Information provided by the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau.

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