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How to Pack for a Napa Valley Vacation: The Ultimate Guide

by | Oct 31, 2023 | Featured, North America, Travel Tips | 13 comments

If you’re looking for ideas on how to pack for a Napa Valley vacation, look no further! This post will help you pack for any season. 

It’s no secret I love Napa Valley. The incredible wines, the delicious food, and the breathtaking views- what’s not to love?! I have been many times, and each time I find more to love and new experiences to try. Each trip also provides me with more knowledge than before, and I love passing the tips and tricks I learn along to my readers.

This Napa-inspired blog post is all about packing. Packing for my first trip to Napa was stressful. I was worried about the weather, dress codes, and how in the heck I was going to get my wine purchases home (Side note, if you’ve read any of my other Napa posts, you know that I dropped the ball big-time when it came to planning of how to get the wine home). If you’re anything like me, and get stressed over packing for your trips, keep reading for tips on how and what to pack for your trip to Napa.

Packing for Napa Valley. Couple in front of the Welcome to Napa Valley sign. Blue skies and vineyards in the background

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How to Pack for a Trip to Napa Valley

Luggage

Let’s first start off with luggage. If your trip to Napa is primarily for wine tastings, and you intend to purchase wine while you are there, you will want to take a wine suitcase with you. This one is my fave. It holds up to 12 bottles, has plenty of padding, and will fit odd-shaped bottles.

You might want to consider upgrading your luggage, especially if your Napa trip is for a special occasion like your honeymoon. This set from Samsonite is a great option.

Wine Tasting Essentials

Chances are you won’t be going back to your hotel between tastings, lunch, or other activities. With that in mind, I recommend that you take a day bag in addition to a purse. I like to keep the day bag in the car and fill it with items that I need throughout the day but don’t necessarily need to carry with me while I’m at a wine tasting. Having this will keep your purse lighter and make winery tours more enjoyable.

Another must-pack item is a reusable water bottle. It is super important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water between wine tastings. I really like this one, it is the perfect size and keeps your beverage cool from morning til afternoon.

Napa is known for its world-class wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s highly likely that you will be tasting plenty of Cab and other red wines on your trip. I don’t know about you, but I hate walking around with purple lips and teeth. To help keep your smile sparkling, do not forget to take these Wisps. They are super small, disposable, and work excellently.

How to Pack for Each Season in Napa Valley

How to pack for a fall trip to Napa Valley.  Rolling hills of a vineyard with green grass, bright orange and yellow leaves on the vines in the foreground. Trees with leaves in the background in shades of green, yellow, and brown in

The first thing to know when thinking about what type of attire to pack for Napa is that Napa is a farm town. It’s a lot more casual than you might expect. Most people dress in a style that’s been labeled “wine country casual.” There is no need to go full glam for tastings and dinner- unless, of course, that’s your vibe, then go for it!

There is no specific dress code in Napa, so when deciding what outfits to pack, let your itinerary be your guide. For example, if you have reservations at exclusive or high-end wineries, consider dressing up a little more than you would for a winery that has a more casual feel. This rule also applies to dinner. I dressed up more for our dinner at Auberge de Soleil than I did for the dinner at Gott’s Roadside, for instance.

Another important thing to know is that your tasting experience might include a lot of walking and/or a tour of the vineyard. With that in mind, you will want to pack comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in. Save the high heels for dinner.

Another thing to keep in mind when packing is the weather. Because Napa has a Mediterranean climate, its weather is mostly dry and fairly temperate year-round, although the summer months can get quite warm. Temperatures also can vary from region to region- sometimes as much as 10 degrees. The temps also change throughout the day- morning and evening temps can be up to 30 degrees cooler than afternoon temps.

Spring

How to pack for a trip to Napa in the spring. View of Napa Valley from a brown stone patio. Flowers blooming in orange, pink and fuchsia, trees full of leaves and pine trees fill the photo

Spring is a beautiful time in Napa, everything is blooming, and the mountainsides are green from the rain that fell during the winter. On average the temperatures can fluctuate from a low in the mid-40s to highs close to 70 degrees. This can make packing a bit of a challenge, so make sure to take layers and pieces that can be styled in various ways.

Dress in layers if you plan to be out and about all day. A versatile outfit would be simple top with a light sweater or blazer with a pair of jeans or trousers. If you warm up too much, simply take off the jacket.

Typically, it doesn’t rain too much, but it would be a good idea to take an umbrella with you just in case!

Summer

How to pack for Napa Valley in the spring. Napa Valley in the spring. Couple standing next to a table full of sparkling wine with rolling hills in the back ground

Summer in Napa means hot sunny days with the average daytime highs in the 80s but can get even hotter, sometimes nearing 100 degrees. The evenings can still get cool, with average temps in the mid-50s, so it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or two.

Make sure to dress for the heat, especially if you’ll be outdoors for your tastings. Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics, like linen. There are so many beautiful, linen, two-piece sets that would be perfect for a summer’s day of wine tasting, especially sipping crisp sparkling wine. Another good option, and what I tend to wear the most, are flowy sun dresses.

Don’t forget to bring a light sweater. even though it will be hot outside, the tasting rooms can sometimes be chilly and if your experience includes cave tours, you will be glad you have it!

For shoes, keep them comfortable. Beautiful flat sandals or a pair of wedges would be ideal during the day.

Fall

Napa Valley in Fall. Big, purple grapes hanging on the vine in Napa Valley. How to pack for Falll in Napa Valley

Fall is the best time of year to take a trip to Napa, well in my opinion anyway. The weather is still quite warm during the day, the leaves are changing, and the atmosphere is electric during harvest season. The average highs are in the mid to upper 70s and the lows are in the upper 40s.

The mornings can be chilly so you will want to pack clothing that can be layered easily. During the day, you could wear a floral dress with a jacket. A sweater dress would be a chic option for evenings.

Harvest season is also the great time of year to rock those cowboy boots!

Winter

I love Napa in the winter! The weather is cool, daytime highs are in the 60s with lows in the 40s, there are fewer crowds, and it is the perfect time to enjoy the wine that Napa is known for, Cabernet Sauvignon.

When thinking about what to pack for Napa this time of year, I recommend dressing in layers as the daily temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. For a more casual look, cozy sweaters, dark-wash jeans, and boots would work great for your wine-tasting outfits. If you wanted to dress it up a bit, you could pair boots with a simple top or bodysuit, a vegan leather skirt, and a blazer.

My biggest tip when packing for your Napa trip is to check the weather forecast before you leave. This way you can pack accordingly if it looks like the weather will be unseasonably cool or warm.

Napa Activities to Consider

Hot air balloon ride over the vineyards in Napa Valley. A multi-colored balloon floats over green, yellow and orange vines. Blue sky

Wine tasting is one of the main reasons people travel to Napa, and with over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, and even more in nearby Sonoma County, it’s easy to see why. But there are so many other things to do in wine country. Because Napa’s weather is mild year-round, it’s the perfect location for many outdoor activities.

Hiking

There are so many wonderful state parks with beautiful scenery and epic views. A morning hike would be an excellent way to start your day in Napa and if you can fit it into your itinerary, I highly recommend doing so. If you do plan on going hiking on your trip, make sure you pack hiking boots, or comfortable walking shoes, athletic wear, and a jacket.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

A hot air balloon ride over wine country is at the top of my bucket list, and an experience I can’t wait to cross off. The balloons take off early in the morning, so you can see the sunrise over the valley. Remember the mornings in Napa are typically cool, no matter the time of year. Make sure to dress in layers- long-sleeved tops or sweaters, jeans, a light jacket, and either a pair of sneakers or boots.

Biking

One unique way to see Napa is by renting a bike from Napa Valley Bike Tours and riding along the Napa Valley Wine Trail. Make sure to pack clothes you can comfortably move in. The trail is close to a handful of wineries too. This would be a fun way to experience Napa and still fit in some wine tastings.

Hot Springs

Calistoga is known for mineral hot springs, spas, and mud baths. It’s a fabulous area of Napa if you’re looking to pamper yourself. Make sure to pack a swimsuit or two, sandals or flip-flops, and a cover-up if you plan on visiting any hot springs or if your hotel/resort has a pool or hot tub.

Evenings

For me, a nice dinner out is always a good reason to get dressed up. When I’m in Napa, it’s no different. I usually wear a dress and a pair of heels when I head to dinner, especially if it’s for a special occasion or a Michelin Star restaurant. Of course, if pants or a jumpsuit are more your style, then wear what is most comfortable for you!

Most restaurants have some sort of outdoor seating, and the evenings can get chilly. Make sure you take a jacket or pashmina to keep you warm, just in case you get cold.

Napa’s nightlife is becoming a bit livelier, especially in downtown Napa. But it is nothing like L.A. or NYC. Don’t feel like you have to break out a slinky dress that you’d wear dancing. What you wear for dinner will work great.

How to Pack for a Napa Valley Vacation

How to Pack for a Trip to Napa Valley. couple sitting a wooden table surrounded by several wine glasses each with a sample of red wine. A large format wine bottle of Opus One wine is placed between the couple

​Some key things to remember when packing for your trip to Napa include:

1. Don’t wear perfume or heavy lotions while wine tasting. This interferes with the aromas of the wine.
2. No matter what season you are visiting, make sure you pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and an umbrella. 
3. Your outfits should reflect your own style! Use this packing guide as a starting point. 

Whether this is your first trip or your tenth, I hope you found this packing guide helpful. I’d love to know, what are your must-have items when traveling to wine country.

13 responses to “How to Pack for a Napa Valley Vacation: The Ultimate Guide”

  1. Courtney Avatar
    Courtney

    This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. L Lee Avatar
    L Lee

    Like how you share your personal experiences

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      Thanks! I love Napa and enjoy helping others experience it as well!

  3. P.D. Avatar
    P.D.

    Interesting. I’m glad you mentioned hiking and biking, I’m more of a hiker-biker than a wine enthusiast and from your first hand description it sounds like a great place for a couple with divergent interests.

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      It is a great place for people of all interests! There are many wonderful parks and trails to explore.

  4. Tracy McHugh Avatar
    Tracy McHugh

    Oh my goodness, your pictures are amazing! I used to live in the San Francisco Bay area and went to Napa a few times. I am not a huge wine drinker, but the area is beautiful. I love that you mentioned the nights can be chilly, even in the summer. I lived in California for 8 years and many people not from the area realize how cool it can get in the evenings. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Tyler Wilson Avatar

    Love your guide! You described your experience in Napa to explain why the items listed were needed and recommended fun activities in Napa along with how to best dress for them! Awesome!

  6. Sonia Avatar
    Sonia

    Biking and hiking sounds like a great combination with wine tasting. These are great tips to ensure you’re prepared for all experiences in Napa.

  7. Christine Avatar

    These are such great ideas! I’m going to Willamette Valley for a wine tasting bachelorette party soon and I’ll definitely be applying some of these great recommendations to that trip as well!

  8. Pauline Stephens Avatar

    My only experience with Napa Valley is seeing it on TV. I hope to go someday and your post just inspired me to get the ball rolling. I’m due for a hot air balloon ride. And yes to biking.

  9. Olga Avatar

    I have never tried a hot air balloon ride, but it seems like a great idea! Plus, I love wineries. I hope we will visit Napa Valley one day.

  10. Jolayne Avatar

    I am a big proponent of sunscreen…all the time, every day. I’m sure it is necessary for Napa Valley when you don’t realize just how much time you are spending in the sunshine.

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