Skip to Content

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Napa Valley in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Napa Valley in 2024

What's the best time to visit Napa Valley?

The best time to visit Napa Valley is during September and October, the vibrant harvest season with colorful foliage and comfortable temperatures between 61-82°F. This period offers unique experiences like grape-stomping, harvest parties, and scenic hot air balloon rides, though it’s also the busiest and priciest time of year.

With numerous events like harvest celebrations, farmers’ markets, and cultural festivals, these months provide a rich and immersive experience for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Wine enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and lovers of good food and drinks can’t resist the allure of Napa Valley, California. This verdant playground of gentle slopes home to vineyards, wineries, trails, and eateries is incredible to experience, but knowing the best time to visit Napa Valley helps make the most of your experience. 

As one of the 12 Great Wine Capitals of the world (and the only North American region on the list), there’s no better destination in the U.S. if you’re an appreciator of wine. The rolling hills are ridged with endless rows of vineyards growing wine grapes that produce the region’s world-famous wines. 

While you’ll have some things to figure out before your visit — are you going to taste wines, learn about the growing and wine-making process, discover the region’s hiking trails, or take in some incredible estates and wineries — starting with the right time of year to visit will set you up for success. 

We’ll show you the best, cheapest, least busy, and worst time to visit Napa Valley along with recommendations for things to do during each season, weather and pricing info, and festivals you can check out while you’re there. 

Overall Best Time to Visit Napa Valley

Vineyards on rolling hills under a sunrise during the best overall time to visit Napa Valley


The best time to visit Napa Valley is during September and October, the busy harvest season when the leaves are boasting golden, purple, and red color and temperatures cool down.  

It’s no surprise that the best time to visit one of the world’s Great Wine Capitals is during the fall harvest season — it’s the one time of year you can join in the ancient practice of grape-stomping and attend festive harvest parties and dinners at local wineries and vineyards. 

You’ll arrive to warm, sunny conditions in fall with highs ranging from 75-82°F, but cooler average temperatures closer to 61-66°F. Chances of rain this time of year are low, but slightly higher in October (where there could be 3 or so rainy days). 

Since it’s the best time of year to go to Napa Valley, you won’t be able to avoid big crowds and the need for reservations at every winery and tasting room you visit. But for the gorgeous fall foliage, fun harvest season extras, and great opportunities for tasting, tours, and hiking, you really can’t beat a fall visit to the valley. 

It’s a prime time to get out and enjoy the valley’s hiking trails at Alston Park (west of Napa) or Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (south of Calistoga).

Book a hot air balloon ride over the valley to get a bird’s eye view of the colorful foliage! Swing by Oxbow Market to check out the restaurants and bakeries (Model Bakery, Hog Island Oysters, and C-Casa Mexican restaurant are favorites). 

Be mindful of the pricing this time of year — in line with the peak season, you’re going to pay higher prices for your hotel room, tours, tastings, and meals. Here’s a look at the average nightly rate during harvest season across the valley, according to Google Hotels data:

  • September: $439/night
  • October: $434/night

You’ll find there’s never a shortage of events and activities going on during the much-awaited harvest season, so make time to check out events like these:

  • Harvest celebrations and tastings (Sept.-Oct.): Vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms around the valley offer special harvest events, dinners, and tastings with fun activities like grape-stomping, wine-making tours, music, food, and dancing
  • Farmer’s markets (year-round): Visit downtown Napa, downtown Calistoga, or the Long Meadow Ranch Mountain Estate for Friday/Saturday farmer’s markets filled with fresh produce, baked goods, and delicious foods
  • Calistoga Harvest Table (Sept.): Popular annual event in mid-September with a social cocktail hour, dinner at a 1,000 foot-long table in downtown Calistoga, and multiple courses of fresh harvest season fare
  • Open Studios Napa Valley (Sept.): Free, self-guided art walk during the last 2 weekends of September showcasing local artist works and collections 
  • Sabor + Ritmo Latin Music Festival (Sept.): A one-day Latin music festival celebrating different genres with cultural flair, food, drinks, and dancing at the Silverado Resort and Spa 

These are two of the priciest months of the year to visit Napa Valley (July is the most expensive), but if you’re here for tours, great food and wine, a little shopping, and time to enjoy the outdoors, it really is the best time to go. 

Cheapest Time to Visit Napa Valley

Grapes hanging from tall vines on a cloudy day during the cheapest time to visit Napa Valley

Lukasz Szwaj/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Napa Valley is during the off-season winter months between December and February, part of the slower-paced Cabernet Season. 

Winter is easily the cheapest time to head to Napa Valley, with hotel, food, and attraction prices reaching their lowest point of the year after the buzz of the official harvest season dies down. 

But don’t think that winter is a “dead” time for the valley. It’s the laid-back Cabernet Season, named for the Cabernet wines that are resting in their barrels at this time of year and it’s known for special Cab season pricing. 

You’ll find great rates on hotels around the valley from December to February under $300/night on average. We’ve averaged and compiled Google Hotels pricing data for the region to see average hotel prices by night:

  • December: $276/night
  • January: $267/night
  • February: $275/night

The winter weather in Napa Valley is mild, but chilly. Expect daily highs around 56-61°F with average temperatures closer to 47-50°F — definitely sweater weather! There are usually 8-9 rainy days each month during the winter season, which is the wettest of the year. 

You’ll find outdoor fire pits and hearths to warm up by at many wineries and vineyards, cool experiences like ice skating and enjoying warm cocktails in “igloos” at the Meritage Winter Village, or enjoying meals in heated yurts at Charter Oak. 

It’s a great time of year to check out Calistoga’s volcanic ash mud baths, hot springs, and mineral pools, where magma-heated mineral water from the Earth is pumped into hotel and spa pools and baths at a soothing 80-104°F. 

You’ll find plenty of things to do during the Cabernet Season in Napa Valley, including special festivals and events like these:

  • Napa Christmas Parade (early Dec.): A festive, decked-out holiday affair in downtown Napa with floats featuring holiday characters, candy, and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus after the event
  • Napa Lighted Art Festival (mid-Jan.): walkable outdoor experience is FREE in downtown Napa featuring 10 lighted art sculptures for five weeks and projection artwork on 3 iconic downtown buildings (First Presbyterian Church, Napa County Courthouse, and Native Sons) for the first 9 nights
  • Napa Truffle Festival (mid-Jan.): A 4-day foodie event with chances to taste world-class truffle-centered dishes paired with regional wines, check out truffle orchards, learn about harvesting, and more
  • Napa Lantern Parade (Feb.): Part of the Napa Lighted Art Festival, the Lantern Parade is a half-mile loop from Oxbow Commons Park where everyone makes their own lantern, lights it, and carries it around the route after dark
  • Napa Valley Restaurant Week (late Jan.): A 10-day event where participating local restaurants and cafes offer amazing specials on meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients 
  • Napa Valley Mustard Festival (Jan.-Mar.): Napa Valley’s mustard season is a hidden gem during the winter and the 3-month festival brings mustard-inspired dishes, dinners, and even spa treatments to the valley

Winter in Napa Valley sees the region at a slower pace with smaller crowds and lower pricing. This is your chance to visit popular wineries and tasting rooms without crowds, score discounted tours, and try locally-famous restaurants at lower prices without long wait times. 

Least Busy Time to Visit Napa Valley

Long vineyard overlooking the rolling hills on a sunny day during the least busy time to visit Napa Valley


The least busy time to visit Napa Valley for a less crowded experience is during the months of April and December, when the valley sees the fewest tourists outside of the summer and harvest seasons. 

April and December might seem a bit random, but these are the months with the lowest number of arriving tourists if you’re hunting for the least busy time to visit Napa Valley. Say goodbye to dense crowds and hello to Napa Valley in its purest form! 

The weather varies quite a bit from April to December. April sees highs around 70°F with average temperatures near 54-56°F and about 4 rainy days. December is chillier, around 54-56°F highs and averages closer to 44-47°F with 8-9 rainy days. 

April’s more welcoming weather is represented in its higher pricing than December’s. We’ve analyzed and averaged Google Hotels pricing data for the region to find the average prices each month by night: 

  • April: $345/night
  • December: $276/night

So if you’re willing to spend more per night (and possibly higher-priced tours, tastings, and attraction tickets), April is the better month to get out and explore Napa Valley with warm temperatures and lush, green valleys and grape vines. It’s a good month for kayaking the Napa River or hiking in local parks. 

But December may be a better fit if you’re keeping to a tighter budget or want to indulge in cozy vibes while you’re in the valley. There are Winter Villages and events, lower pricing on tours, Restaurant Week specials, and plenty of heated spots where you can warm up indoors and out this time of year.  

April and December are wonderful times to book a sparkling wine tasting at Domaine Carneros (Napa) or Mumm (Rutherford, just north of Napa). If you’re more into beer, craft brewery tours and pub hopping is a lot of fun! 

  • Arts in April celebrations (Apr.): Numerous art fairs, walking tours, and exhibitions take place around Napa Valley showcasing the work of local artists and craftsmen 
  • SIP Napa Valley (Apr.): Songwriters in Paradise, or SIP, takes place in the Bahamas, Cabo, and Napa Valley with featured songwriters performing at local venues around the valley
  • Vineyard to Vintner (Apr.): This special annual event features seminars, lunches, tastings, and a special chef-selected wine-pairings with dinner at 4 upscale vineyards and estates around the valley
  • Christmas celebrations (Dec.): From tree-lighting ceremonies and $75 specials on winery tours and tastings to downtown Christmas parades with special guests of honor, Napa Valley does Christmas right with lots of holiday cheer and special pop-up “villages”
  • Bubbles and Blitzen or Tinsel and Tea (Dec.): Meritage hosts special holiday-themed events for kids and adults, featuring visits from a princess, tea sandwiches, and desserts at Tinsel and Tea or a selection of bubbles, pastries, and tea sandwiches at Bubbles and Blitzen
  • Gulyas Fest (Dec.): Held at Obsidian Winery, this early December event celebrates the end of harvest season with homemade Gulyas, Hungarian stew, cooked in a copper pot with wine and barrel samples offered

Both April and December are great times to take the luxury Napa Valley Wine Train, where you’ll sip regional wines on a scenic ride through the valley with stops at vineyards and wineries.

Make time to stop by the Bouchon Bakery (just outside of Napa), tour wine caves and cellars, visit the food trucks on Soscol Ave. in Napa, or hit up the farmer’s markets on the weekends.

Worst Time to Visit Napa Valley

Jack London farm in California on a slightly cloudy day during the worst time to visit Napa Valley

Lebid Volodymyr/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Napa Valley is June through August, some of the hottest months with big crowds, packed tastings and tours, and higher pricing. 

If you visit between June and August, you can catch the start of the harvest season (August), but the entire valley is inundated with tourists who’ve all made their reservations months in advance.

If you don’t plan ahead, you could run into a lack of available time slots for tours and tastings at the most popular spots. You’ll also run into some of the region’s most expensive rates on hotels this time of year, especially during the month of July. 

Here’s a look at the average nightly rate across Napa Valley, which we’ve compiled using data from Google Hotels for the different towns in the valley:

  • June: $383/night
  • July: $445/night
  • August: $396/night

When it comes to weather, Napa Valley is never unbearably hot (that’s one of the reasons it’s such a prime spot for growing wine grapes). But temperatures reach their annual peak with highs around 80-88°F in summer, with daily averages closer to 66-69°F. 

While it’s easy to gripe about the prices and crowds during the summer, the season does have its pros.

Seeing the rolling hills with green grapevines bursting with blooms and ripening fruits is truly a majestic sight. And most days are 100% clear with ideal conditions for hiking in the valley, kayaking the Napa River, or taking walking tours to tasting rooms in Calistoga or St. Helena. 

You’ll also find plenty of festivals and events taking place during the bustling summer season in Napa Valley, like these:

  • Napa Valley Jazz Getaway (Jun.): A 4-day festival centered around smooth jazz music, featuring local and renowned musicians playing original and classic pieces with nightly events like “wine downs,” after parties, welcome dinner, and Sunday brunch 
  • Summer concerts (Jun.-Aug.): From the Blue Note Summer Concert Series at Meritage Resort to the St. Helena Summer Concert Series and Napa Friday Nights in the Park, there are always live music shows happening around the valley during the summer months
  • Festival Napa Valley (Jul.): A nearly month-long festival featuring 200+ music and theater acts, wine tastings, chef-prepared food, and great views of the valley in Napa 
  • Napa PorchFest (Jul.): Local musicians gather in the Fuller Park neighborhood on historic home’s porches to play music as people wander from house to house on closed streets with food trucks parked around the neighborhood

While June through August isn’t the best time to visit Napa Valley, we feel a bit strange calling it the worst time to visit — it’s pricey and crowded, but still a nice time to be in the region. 

Napa Valley by Season

Calistoga wine barrels outside Chateau Montelena during the best time to go to Napa Valley


Napa Valley completely transforms itself through the seasons, enrobing its hills and towns in varying shades of green, warm fall colors, and the brief dormancy of winter. Weather, activities, and pricing changes by the season, too. 

Check out details on what you can expect when visiting Napa Valley during each season below! 


August is the start of the harvest season in Napa Valley, but September, October, and the first of November is the real heart of the season. Warm, dry, and sunny weather with average temperatures in the mid-60s and highs in the mid-70s and low 80s makes it an excellent time to visit Napa Valley.

This season brings the much-awaited fall foliage displays all through the valley as leaves and grapevines morph into shades of gold, auburn, and deep purple. Grape-stomping, harvest events, and bustling activity make this an energizing time in the valley.

It’s not a cheap time to visit, however, with hotel prices reaching one of the highest points during the year at $373 (November) to $439 (September) per night in Napa Valley. 


After the bustling harvest season, the slower-paced Cabernet Season arrives in the valley, named for the wine resting in barrels at this time of year when tourism slows down.

Winters in Napa Valley are mild, seeing highs in the mid-50s to low 60s from December to February. Rain is more common this season, with each month experiencing 8-9 rainy days. Holiday celebrations are in full swing in December, while wintry activities like heated “igloo” and yurt dining and ice skating last through February. 

Discounts are a big part of the Cabernet Season, with restaurants, hotels, and local attractions lowering their prices during the off-season for more affordable travel. Hotel rates dip to their lowest point, from an average $267 (January) to $276 (December) per night. 


Once spring arrives in Napa Valley, the cool weather warms up a few degrees with highs around 64-75°F and steadily declining rainfall. While March has 7-8 rainy days, April sees about 4 and May only has 2-3.

It’s a popular time to visit and a close runner-up for the overall best time to visit (though not quite as magical as the fall harvest season). Wildflowers burst into bloom, the vineyards and surrounding hills are lush and green, and temperatures become more inviting for outdoor hikes, downtown exploration, and tours. 

Events like the Napa Valley Marathon and art festivals take place, and it’s the perfect time to do a bike tour or book a wine train ticket.  Prices are very reasonable in spring, with hotels ranging from $304 (March) to $348 (May) per night this time of year. 


Napa Valley summers are warm, dry, and busy with tourists. The weather isn’t usually hot, but highs can reach 80-88°F between June and August. That makes it a great time to spend time on the Napa River kayaking, hiking shady paths, and doing wine tastings and vineyard tours indoors to escape the heat. 

You’ll run into more traffic and long wait times at restaurants, reservations are a must at vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms, and hotels may be booked months in advance by eager travelers. So plan ahead and start booking as soon as you know your dates! 

The prices during summer aren’t the highest overall, but July is the most expensive month to book hotels in Napa Valley, so you may want to plan for June or August instead. Expect to pay around $383 (June) to $445 (July) per night on average during the summer months.

Things to Consider

People in Napa during the best time to visit in a vineyard overlooking the garden

NAPA VALLEY, CA – APRIL 29, 2012: Vineyard in Napa Valley during spring in California. Napa Valley is a premiere wine growing region/Rolf_52/Shutterstock

Making the most of your visit to Napa Valley is easy when you’re armed with some helpful travel tips for this immersive wine region in California. Here’s what you should keep in mind! 

  • Evening quiet time is taken seriously. Napa County has a strict 10PM cutoff for noise, including noise generated from concerts and live music. For this reason, most of the summer and fall concerts scheduled in the valley are scheduled to finish up before 10PM, and the city will pull the plug if concerts go past the cutoff. 
  • Prepare to spend. Napa Valley isn’t cheap to visit, even if you go during the cheapest time to visit (typically December through February). If you’re planning on doing tours and tastings the whole trip, the cost for each will add up fast! The 6-hour Legacy Experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train alone can cost $525-$625, while flight tastings may be closer to $40-$50.
  • Make reservations in advance. We don’t mean the day before you leave for your trip — you’ll want to make reservations as soon as you know your trip dates to ensure there’s availability at the wineries, vineyards, and hotels you want. Some restaurants require reservations, and you may need to book in advance for specials like Restaurant Week and events in the valley. 
  • Get your rental squared away. Touring California’s Wine Country will almost always involve renting a car (though you can stay in towns like Healdsburg with several tasting rooms in walking distance of your hotel). Rent a car in advance and keep traffic and driving times in mind to make sure you make it to your reserved slots on time! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Castello di Amorosa, a tourist castle, pictured during the best time to visit Napa valley with blue sky and blooming grape vines

Nature’s Charm/Shutterstock

Find out how Napa Valley compares to Sonoma, how many days you’ll need in the valley, and more pointers on the best and cheapest times to visit Napa Valley below in the most frequently asked questions. 

What is the best month to go to Napa Valley?

September is the best month to go to Napa Valley, bringing warm, mild temperatures, dry conditions, gorgeous fall foliage, and chances to join in harvest season celebrations like grape-stomping and vineyard harvest festivals.

Prices aren’t at their highest in September, and while the vineyards and wineries are buzzing with activity, things aren’t as crowded as they are in the summer months. This is the perfect time to book tours and tastings, take a hot air balloon ride, and enjoy hiking in Napa Valley parks.

What is the cheapest time to go to Napa Valley?

The cheapest time to go to Napa Valley is during December, January, and February. The winter months, or Cabernet Season, see fewer tourists than harvest season and prices drop to reflect the reduced demand this time of year.

You’ll pay a fraction of the cost of peak season for your hotel, save money on tours and tastings, and find it much easier to book popular vineyards, wineries, hotels, and restaurants this time of year.

How many days do you need in Napa Valley?

You need at least 2 days in Napa Valley if you want to explore more than 1-2 wineries or vineyards, making it a nice spot for a weekend trip. If you’d like to do several tours and explore a few different wineries or vineyards, plan on spending 3-4 days in Napa Valley.

Wineries and vineyards can be far apart, so factoring in the time it takes to drive or ride to these properties is essential when planning how long you’ll be staying.

Is it better to go to Sonoma or Napa?

Sonoma County and its wine region is much larger than Napa County. There are more vineyards and wineries in Sonoma than Napa, and Sonoma is generally less expensive than Napa. Some travelers feel Sonoma is less “pretentious” than Napa, but that’s subjective.

Go to Sonoma if you have a tighter budget, want to try more wines produced from a wider range of grape varieties, and want to spend 4-5 days doing tours and tastings. Pick Napa if you want a more intimate experience, are taking a shorter trip, and want high-end vibes with Michelin-starred restaurants and upscale wineries.

Is it cheaper to stay in Napa or Sonoma?

It’s generally cheaper to stay in Sonoma than Napa. Many people decide to stay in Sonoma and travel an hour into Napa for a day or two of the trip to tour and taste at some of its famous vineyards and wineries.

Wine tastings, hotels, and tours are typically a bit cheaper in Sonoma, so if budget is your priority, it can be a great option.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Napa Valley?

People flock to Napa Valley year-round, but there’s no better time to visit than during the fall harvest season from September to October. Fall color, ripe grapes on the vines, harvest celebrations, and great weather make it an excellent time to visit the valley. 

It can be pricey, though, so head to Napa Valley during December through February if you’re hoping to save some money and score cheaper hotel rooms. You’ll also find crowds are smaller and the winter weather is delightfully mild. 

Focus on April and December if you’re looking for the best time to visit Napa Valley without crowds — these months historically have the fewest tourists, and each one offers a different kind of experience in the valley. 

Many people avoid visiting during the summer months from June to August because it’s so crowded and gets expensive, but there are some nice benefits, like the green appearance of the valley and warm temperatures that don’t often exceed the low 80s. 

Planning a memorable trip to Napa Valley starts with having this info top of mind, so next on your list is figuring out which vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms you don’t want to miss on your trip!

You’re sure to delight in the valley, whether you’re going when it’s calm and serene or bustling and buzzing with activity.