Best Ways to Travel to Napa Valley and Sonoma County

  • By Region
  • by WINECOUNTRY COLLECTIVE
  • on MAY 13, 2023
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By Region

Best Ways to Travel to Napa Valley and Sonoma County

By WineCountry Collective May 13, 2023

You’ve booked your trip, scheduled your tours, and now all you need is your ticket to Wine Country. With five airports to choose from, traveling to Napa Valley or Sonoma County has never been easier. So, whether you’re looking to travel on a budget or want to splurge on a one-of-a-kind experience, we’ve got you covered with our guide to getting to Napa and Sonoma. You’ll be sipping on Wine Country’s finest in no time.

The Best Choice for Flight Options and Flexibility: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Accommodating nearly 50 million travelers a year, the San Francisco International Airport is one of the largest hubs in the bay area. Suffice to say – it’s busy. Its modern interior and easy-to-navigate configuration makes it also one of the most convenient. With numerous shopping and dining options, as well as multiple on-site wine bars, it’s a great way to start the trip out right. If you find yourself waiting for friends to arrive, pop into SF Uncork’d for some quick refreshment. They offer local wines from the surrounding counties, small plates and excellent charcuterie; and when you’re ready to hit the road, options for getting out of the city are almost endless. For visitors who prefer travel by train to Napa, the The Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) connects directly to the airport. A short ride will drop visitors at the San Francisco Ferry Building where passengers can board the Vallejo Ferry for a quick and scenic ride across the Bay. Once on the other side, travelers can board the Napa Vine Route 11 shuttle to downtown Napa. If Sonoma is your final destination, renting a car is one of the better options. The 56-mile drive will take you over the Golden Gate and off to Wine Country, although traffic may impact travel time. If a private car is more your style, dial up your app and call an Uber.

Insider Tip: Stop off at the San Francisco Ferry Building’s indoor Farmers Market to pick up some of Carmel Honey’s artisanal, local honey or sweet treats from Dandelion Chocolate. Perfect for a pairing with your favorite varietal.

The Best Choice for Staying on Budget: Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Oakland Airport

Many travelers prefer the small and more budget friendly option of flying into Oakland International Airport. Although it is only about 30 miles from its sister SFO, its relative location on the bay often means fewer delays due to fog. Serving only one fifth the amount of visitors as San Francisco International, Oakland’s straightforward layout and efficient terminals are just what the no-frills visitor needs. While they offer most of the usual options for getting out of the city, with on-site rental cars, shuttles and a BART connection, one of the easiest options is to book a space with one of the local tour companies associated with the valley. California Wine Tours airport transportation offers private and group tours with their partnered wineries in the southern part of Napa. Please note that they are cash only, so prepare accordingly. For travel to Sonoma, Airport express is also a great choice. With pick-ups every two hours they’re available to take Wine Country visitors to Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Sonoma for just $34 each way.

Insider Tip: To really up the ante, book your transport through Sonoma Sterling Limo. They provide door-to-door service to anywhere in Sonoma County. Bonus tip – if you ask ahead, they’ll even stock your ride with your beverage of choice. Nothing cures jet lag quicker than a flute full of bubbles.

The Best Choice for Beating the Rush: Sacramento International Airport (SMF)

Sacramento Airport

After a $1 Billion renovation and expansion project in 2011, the Sacramento International Airport has become larger and more efficient than ever. With great dining and shopping options on premise as well as a lower amount of travelers, getting in and out of the terminals is a snap. While tickets may be somewhat more expensive, its relative size and popularity make it a great option for people who want a modern travel experience. For travel to Napa Valley, Napa Valley Tour and Transportation is the go-to concierge for luxury rides from the airport to the valley. In addition to getting guests where they need to go, they also offer private and guided tours through local Napa restaurants and wineries. If you’re heading to Sonoma, be sure to plan your ground transportation ahead. Many travelers opt to rent a vehicle but with a little foresight, shuttles can also be arranged. Napa Airporter provides shared service from $90-$150 per person as well as personalized wine tours once in Sonoma proper.

Insider Tip: If all that travel has made you thirsty, wet your whistle at Vino Volo. Located in Terminal A of the Sacramento Airport, Vino Volo offers hand-selected flights and glasses of premier wines from around the world.

The Best Choice for Convenience – With a Dash of Whimsy: Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS)

Sonoma County Airport

If proximity is your concern, look no further than Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport. Undoubtedly the closest you can get to landing in the vineyards, incoming flights are treated to stunning views of the valley and a private, luxury arrival. Since few commercial airlines aside from Alaska fly into this location, the majority of flights are private planes and charters. Named in honor of longtime resident artist, Charles M Schulz, the airstrip is festooned with Peanuts statues and tributes to Snoopy and the gang. While visitors will pay more for this experience, the reward is definitely worth it. Ground transport couldn’t be any easier. Outside the single-gate terminal, visitors can hail a cab, summon a ride-share or hop on the Sonoma County Transit. For Napa, travel is just as simple. One of the best choices for ground transport from STS to Napa is through Beau Wine Tours. Give them a call and they’ll pick you up curbside in one of their luxury vehicles where you can either head to your hotel or straight out to a guided tasting.

Insider Tip: On your flight home, take advantage of the Alaska Airlines Wine Flies Free Program at the Sonoma Airport. Provided it’s packed properly for shipping, Alaska provides complimentary bag check for your purchases. Just be sure to add your mileage plan number to your reservation to take advantage of the opportunity. Now there’s no excuse to pass on those extra souvenirs.

The Best Choice for Tech Nerds to Geek Out: Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)

San Jose Airport

With its close proximity to Silicon Valley, it’s no surprise that a little tech influence has found its way into the San Jose International Airport. With state of the art terminals, entertainment and sculpture, SJS is efficient and easy to navigate. For an easy ride to Napa, trust Pure Luxury Tours to make the process painless. With one of the largest fleets in the region, as well as being one of the Certified green ground transportation companies, Pure Luxury’s commitment to lowering their carbon footprint while providing excellent service makes them a smart choice for a location focused on the future.

Insider Tip: If you need some assistance finding your way to the Access Lounge, the only place in SJC to get a tech-themed cocktail; just ask the robots. No, seriously. Since embracing its role as a travel hub for Silicon Valley, SJC has employed the use of three interactive robots to assist with showing visitors to the airport’s dining, shopping and other services.