We’ve all imagined what spending a weekend in California wine country is like. Beautiful? Yes. Sun-soaked? Of course. Full of delicious wine? Duh. But what is the primary thing that probably comes to mind? “I’d absolutely love to do it, but can’t because it is completely, heartbreakingly, nevermind-that’s-an-absolutely-insane-price expensive”. Thankfully, there is another way to experience the valley in a way that doesn’t involve over-priced B&Bs (you can make your own darn breakfast, right?). You, my friend, are in luck, as we are about to show you a whole new world of exploring wine country on a dime, and give you a chance to spend some quality time outside in one of the most beautiful spots in California. The key? Not being afraid of a little dirt and sleeping under the stars (which we assume you are down with, because you are here!).
When it comes to camping in wine country, there are really two superstar parks that you are going to want to focus on: Bothe-Napa in (rather obviously) Napa Valley, and Sugarloaf in Sonoma County. Both offer some absolutely stunning landscapes, and, most importantly, proximity to some of the best wine in the US. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown on what’s going on at both parks, and how to make the most out of your trip!
Where: St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, California
Why: Rolling hills, a badass swimming pool, hiking through coastal redwoods and, of course, great proximity to some of the world’s best wineries. Oh, and did we mention yurts? (!)
If you wind up camping out here, you should definitely look into getting a yurt. It’s a little bit more expensive (about $75 instead of the standard $35 for a site), but come on. Staying in a wine country yurt means you have massively upped your glamping game. With this in mind, we’ve included a few yurt hacks, which are as follows:
If you are a dairy fan, grab some local cheese to go with that amazing bottle you snagged earlier. That, my friends, is living. Ready to book? Come on over, we’ve got all the details worked out, all you need to do is pick the time! Oh, and be sure to bring your ‘kini and trunks, because that pool is going to look AWESOME after your long bike ride.
Okay okay, so maybe you’ve been-there done-that with Napa and you are looking for a new experience. Or maybe you are looking for more of a wilderness-meets-wine-country mash up, heavy on the wilderness side. If this is the case, then Sugarloaf Ridge is definitely your answer.
Where: 2605 Adobe Canyon Rd, Kenwood, CA
Why: A breathtaking waterfall, 25 miles of awesome hikes, gorges, a view of the golden gate bridge from the top of Bald Mountain, oh, and it’s just a short bike ride away from some spectacular wine.
Ready to roll? You know we’ve got you covered! Wine country isn’t exclusively for drinking wine, however. If you are looking for a respite from the sniffing and swirling, you should absolutely check out some of the amazing parks in the area. Jack London’s home is actually located in Sonoma County, about 10 minutes away from Sugarloaf. The frontier comes to life at Bale Grist Mill in Napa, which was once the spot settlers gathered to have their corn and wheat ground into flour. And, of course, the respective downtowns of Sonoma and Napa have all the charm, delicious food and strollable streets that you would expect.
The moral of the story here is that you can absolutely have a spectacular vacation in wine country for, literally, 25% of the cost. Because at the end of the day, staring at the stars in a sleeping bag beats a fancy ceiling (disclaimer: they are all the same) any day.
PS: Since there are approximately a bazillion wineries that are nearby if you are traveling via automobile, we excluded that from our list. We did, however, find a few of the best in Napa and Sonoma, for your perusing pleasure. It goes without saying, but please please please drink responsibly!