Grape times in dog-friendly Napa Valley

The best things to see and do in Napa with your dog!

Nicole Wakelin
10 min readJun 23, 2024

We had visited Napa previously (sans dog) and loved it so we were really keen to go back and see what activities we’d be able to do with our French Bulldog, Beatle.

The Napa region is best known as an amazing food and wine destination, so we knew we’d be somewhat limited when it came to dog-friendly activities. However we were really happy to find that quite a few of the amazing wineries allow well behaved dogs and we also found a couple of other things that we could do together.

The famous Napa road sign

While the wider Napa region is made up of several smaller towns, on this trip we stuck to the Napa Township, Yountville, St Helena and Calistoga — and also spent a sunny afternoon in nearby Sonoma.

THINGS TO DO

Explore Downtown Napa

As the Napa region is so large, one of the first places we stopped in downtown Napa was the Visitor’s Centre. It’s a good hub to get information and also includes a large store that sells an inviting range of local products.

We picked up some maps and Beatle was allowed to browse inside with us — but was definitely more interested in sniffing out the dog treats. You’ll find the Visitor’s Centre at 600 Main Street.

No time for photos, just open the treats!

Once you have your bearings, downtown Napa is well worth exploring. It’s full of pretty shops, lots of eateries, tasting rooms and cute alleys. As you walk around you’ll also spot a range of public art, ranging from sculptures to colourful murals. Many shops allow dogs to join you while browsing and you’ll find a few dog bowls out for thirsty pups.

Downtown Napa is well kept and has lots of cool outdoor art to explore

For a comprehensive list of dog-friendly shops, restaurants and tasting rooms in downtown Napa click here

Explore the Riverfront area

Only a few mins walk from downtown is the Riverfront area, where you can meander along the wide pathway that offers lovely views along over the river.

Between Second and Third Streets is Veteran’s Park, a large open grassy space that often hosts events. You’ll also find a lot of bars, restaurants and tasting rooms along the Riverfront walk.

Riverfront area, Napa

After Third Street, you’ll reach quite a modern part of the Riverfront area that has lots more restaurants — ranging from casual eateries to more upmarket spots (such as Morimoto’s). It’s a really pretty area to explore and you’ll find lots of places to get some good photos.

Lots of good photo ops at the Riverside area

Yountville Art Walk

Yountville is only a 15 min drive from downtown Napa — and in my opinion it’s the prettiest town in the Napa region. Its main street (Washington) is full of beautiful shops and buildings and so we parked the car and headed out to explore by foot.

They also have a fantastic Public Art Walk that includes a wide range of outdoor sculptures along Washington Street and surrounds. As it was so hot the day we visited, we focused on a few favourites, but if you have time it would be a great way to explore the town over a couple of hours with your dog.

Following the Art Walk is a great way to explore pretty Yountville and clock up your steps!

You can pick up a printed copy of the Art Walk Map from the Yountville Welcome Center (at 6484 Washington Street) or see it online here

Visit some Dog-Friendly Wineries

If you’re a fan of good bubbles then you’ll definitely want to visit Domaine Chandon. Even the carpark is set amongst towering green trees and from there you walk over a small bridge to reach their beautiful tasting room and dining area. While dogs are not allowed inside the tasting room, they can join you in the impressive, large outdoor seating and picnic area which has lots of great spots to sit and sip, or you can walk around and explore the beautiful grounds. They are located at 1 California Drive in Yountville.

There’s lots of space for doggo’s at Domaine Chandon

Just the name of this winery is a giveaway as to why we HAD to visit, but Frenchie Winery At Raymond Vineyards also has beautiful grounds to explore and one of the most eclectic, OTT interiors we’ve ever seen (in a good way). Under the watchful leadership of their squishy faced leader, called Frenchie, dogs are welcome to join their people on the patio and inside the tasting room, where good boys and girls will be rewarded with fresh water and tasty treats. They area located at 1585 St. Helena Highway.

Cutest winery mascot ever!

One of of the main reasons I wanted to visit Hall Wines was to see the giant Bunny Foo-Foo sculpture at the entrance, however they also have some pretty delicious wines to try. The winery is located at 401 St. Helena Highway and is set on beautiful grounds that include a number of contemporary outdoor art pieces. Their tasting room and indoor art is located in the large building on site. While dogs aren’t allowed inside, you can enjoy a tasting outside as there are lots of great seating options on their lawn (right next to the vineyard and a cool water feature).

The epic Bunny Foo Foo at Hall Wines

At Napa Cellars dogs are welcome to join their well behaved people in the gardens and their pet-friendly tasting room. They also offer a free ‘Pampered Pooch’ package for your dog that includes a bottle of water, water bowl, treats, and a Napa Cellars bandana. How cool is that! They are located at 7481 St Helena Highway.

While you’ll need a car to navigate between towns, if you would rather take a professional tour there are companies who accept dogs including ‘Dog Friendly Wine Tours’. We didn’t personally use them, but I think this is a fantastic option if you don’t want the hassle of driving — plus they will be able to recommend some great wineries that also allow pets. For more information click here

For a full list of dog friendly wineries in Yountville click here

Visit nearby Sonoma

Only 25 mins by car from Napa, it’s worth visiting the small town of Sonoma. Also famous for its vineyards and impressive wine history, the town is largely set around a large, central square called The Plaza which has lots of grassy space, trees and shady spots to sit. As you explore the Plaza you’ll find the Visitor’s Centre, a pond and a historical looking brick building in its centre.

Surrounding the square are a number of shops, restaurants, galleries and tasting rooms, many of which welcome well behaved dogs to join you.

Sonoma is well worth visiting and has great wineries and galleries

We spent a couple of hours here, exploring the main town — however there are also a number of dog-friendly breweries and wineries in the wider area if you have more time.

We didn’t personally visit any of the wineries, however the Sonoma County website has a comprehensive list of these that also includes information about dog-friendly accommodation and off leash parks. Click here for more info.

See Old Faithful of California — in Calistoga

While it’s not quite as impressive as Yellowstone’s Old Faithful… visiting this Californian geyser is still a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Its relatively reliable, and a board at the entrance lets you know the next expected eruption times. The grounds around the geyser are well kept and there is plenty of seating and tables (both open and undercover) if you want to enjoy a cool drink or a picnic while you wait.

Also on site is a small farmyard that has some very cheeky and cute goats as well as other farm animals. You can also purchase food for the goats at the entrance (which I highly recommend) — and if you do, you’ll have a friend for life.

Waiting casually for some treats…

Well behaved dogs are welcome to join you, but must be leashed due for the safety of the other animals on the property and to also protect them from the scalding hot water that the geyser throws out. Click here for more information.

Its bigger and noisier than it looks!

EAT AND DRINK

We found Napa was one of the pricier places for food and accommodation in the US and the cost for wine tastings seemed to have increased considerably since we were there last (many wine flights were $50)….

However as there are so many cafes, bars, tasting rooms and restaurants in and around Napa you’ll never have an issue finding a spot to dine with your best bud, or somewhere to suit your budget. There are lots of great places to eat on the main street (First St) and surrounding streets and you’ll also find lots of covered, outdoor seating at restaurants along the Napa Riverwalk.

If you’re after something a bit lighter, many of the smaller bars and tasting rooms offer delicious platters that pair perfectly with their wine flights.

Yummy food at wine pairings at Mayacamas tasting room

We also enjoyed dinner at Ox and the Fox, which had a yummy menu, lots of drinks options and a good sized outdoor dining area that welcomed dogs.

If you’re looking for a cheaper spot to eat, then head to Oxbow Public Market which is a ten minute walk from downtown (across the First St bridge) or only a couple of minutes by car. The market itself has lots of amazing options to choose from, and while dog’s aren’t allowed inside, there is plenty of dog-friendly seating outside. Alternatively pop in and purchase a range of goodies to create your own picnic which you can enjoy in a local park or along the riverfront.

Next to the market is the infamous Gott’s Roadside, a retro looking diner that serves up traditional American fare — such as burgers, fries and shakes. They always seem to have a queue, but the wait times weren’t long and there is seating outside where your dog can hang out until you arrive with the good stuff.

Behind Gotts / Oxbow is Fieldwork Brewing Company if you prefer beer over wine. It’s dog-friendly and offers flights if you’re keen on trying a few different brews.

In Yountville we went straight to Bouchon Bakery as had heard their sweets were absolutely delicious. Luckily for us there was an only a small line when we arrived. I did see a small dog in the queue, but officially they need to wait outside where there is a nice open courtyard and seating to enjoy all those tasty treats. They also have savoury options if you’re looking to put a picnic together.

Bouchon Bistro with the Bakery on the right (green building)

Right next door is the Bouchon Bistro, and they have outdoor seating which is dog friendly. The food was great — but was pretty expensive at over $300 for two people! But we did really enjoy the experience.

SLEEP

While there were lots of dog-friendly accommodation options, many were priced on the higher end (but had the benefit of being located more centrally). As we had a car, we opted to stay at the new Cambria Hotel Napa and were really happy with our choice. They had free car parking on site, some grassy spots for late night pee breaks, modern, spacious rooms, a beautiful lobby and bar on the ground floor, and a really nice secluded, outdoor patio where Beatle was welcome to join us for drinks and snacks. The hotel is only a five minute drive from downtown Napa. For more info click here

Beats felt right at home at the Cambria

GETTING AROUND

Napa Valley is about an hour’s drive from San Francisco, and bonus — you can drive a route that will take you right over the Golden Gate Bridge to get there which is pretty cool.

The Golden Gate bridge is still impressive even when covered in fog.

Even though the day we drove from San Fran was very foggy, once we were away from the bay the fog dissipated and the sun came out. You’ll also know you’ve reached Napa by the quality of the roads, which were much newer and smoother than their San Fran counterparts.

The other closest major city is Sacramento, which is about 2.5 hrs away.

IN SUMMARY

I thought there would be limited things that we’d be able to do with Beatle in the Napa region, but was really happy to find that there was more that she could do than just watch us eat and drink!

Out biggest hindrance actually turned out to be the heat, which is why Beats doesn’t appear in many photos in this post… Even though she was allowed to visit a lot of places, unfortunately on some days the temperatures were just too high, so she stayed at the hotel to nap in the air-con.

While California has good weather year round, I’d definitely recommend visiting in the cooler months as this will be more comfortable for your dog (silly us visited in July).

Traveling outside of peak season might also mean easier access to the more popular restaurants and better deals on accommodation. If you have the option to travel on week days rather than weekends, this will also help your budget go further as everywhere here tends to be much busier on weekends.

For more information about dog-friendly Napa, including accommodation options, wineries and restaurants that welcome pets click here

Thanks so much for reading, and please follow me for more dog-friendly travel tips!

--

--

Nicole Wakelin

Travel blogger focusing on dog-friendly travel and adventure around the USA, Europe and Australia with Beatle the French Bulldog.