After a visit to Napa Valley in the 1880s, writer Robert Louis Stevenson pronounced, "Wine is bottled poetry." You'll see this quote as you pass the area's landmark sign on Highway 29. Unfortunately, Stevenson was referring to French wine — what Napa vintners should aspire to. But as the film "Bottle Shock" documents, California wineries have since risen to the level of their European predecessors. Now, both connoisseurs and amateurs savor the respected vintages from Napa.
With its rise in the wine industry, Napa Valley has also become a vacation hot spot. The tiered hillsides, wine caverns and illustrious estates make for stellar scenery, and top-class hotels are taking note. Scattered between the vineyards, sumptuous resorts cater to every indulgence — golfing, spa pampering, gourmet dining, you name it. A trip to California wine country is made unforgettable by not only the life-changing Cabernet, but also the intoxicating natural setting. And if you can afford it, you'll be back for more.
The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.
U.S. News editors analyzed weather and price trends to recommend the top times to visit.best time to visit
If you love food, then you'll love Napa. And thanks to its array of award-winning restaurants, you'll have no trouble finding delectable international cuisine to pair with your incredible wine. After all, properly pairing food and wine is extremely important, especially in California wine country. But expect to spend big bucks when it comes to dining in Napa, as the majority of restaurants offer fine dining. You'll have your pick of menus, but La Toque, Morimoto Napa and Angèle are all highly regarded (and Michelin star recipients). If you're looking for something more casual that won't break the bank, Genova Delicatessen and Ravioli Factory is a great Italian option.
And consider heading directly outside of Napa to some of the surrounding towns and restaurants, where you'll find equally as yummy dishes, sometimes even at lower prices. The French Laundry or Bistro Jeanty are located in Yountville and both Michelin star award-winning restaurants serving French cuisine, beloved by locals and visitors alike. While Farmstead at Long Meadows Ranch and Tra Vigne serve locally sourced dishes in neighboring St. Helena.