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Napa Valley, California

Getting Around Napa Valley

Driving Tips

The California Highway Patrol points out that most roads in Napa County are two-lane and require extra caution. Common accidents include head-on collisions, and running off the road over the embankment or into a tree. Drivers need to be aware of bicyclists, particularly on the winding country roads that bikers love. If you're pulling a trailer, be especially aware of how much clearance you have when you pass a bicyclist.

Here are some helpful hints.

When the red light turns green, it does not mean you can safely enter the intersection. It means you can legally enter the intersection. Look both ways to make sure that no vehicles are continuing to drive through.

If you are a pedestrian, work on the assumption that it is very difficult for drivers to see you. Signaled crosswalk policy in the downtown area is that it is generally safe to cross in the direction of a green ligh but use caution. It isn't that drivers are out to get you. It's just that they're frequently out-of-towners and are unfamiluar with the area and therefore looking for a good restaurant instead of for you. Cross a street only when you are sure it is totally safe.

First and Second Streets in downtown Napa are one-way. This does not mean you need look in only one direction before crossing the street. It is not unknown that a car travels in the wrong direction. (In all fairness, this is almost always a tourist. This is one thing locals seldom do however I nearly turned the wrong direction once while talking on my cell phone while driving.)

In California, unless otherwise indicated, it is legal to make a right turn on a red light after stopping and checking that it is safe to make the turn. In Napa, the stopping and checking parts are usually ignored. The custom is to just turn; slowing down only enough to keep the car from tipping over.

Cars at an intersection, unless there is a left turn signal, must yield to oncoming traffic before making a left turn. The decorative broken glass and plastic at many intersections should give you an idea of how closely this quaint law is followed.

In summary, assume that at every intersection, no matter what color the light, vehicles are likely to turn left right in front of you or to attack you from either or both sides. Assume the worst and you should survive to happily enjoy your visit.

Two-lane highways lead into Napa County from both the east (Highway 12) and west (Highway 12/121). Both can be dangerous. Highway 12 from the east travels from Highway 80 through Jameson Canyon to Highway 29. Most of the stretch through the canyon is two-lane. Do not try to pass on the two-lane section, and watch out for cars coming toward you that try to pass. Many accidents on this highway are head-on and fatal.

Highway 12/121 is the "Carneros Highway," and it is two-lane all the way from Highway 37 in Marin County to Highway 29 in Napa County. The last stretch, from the turnoff for the town of Sonoma over the hills to Napa, deserves particular caution. Avoid passing, and be particularly cautious when you come over the hill at the Napa/Sonoma County line. There is a passing lane for cars going uphill, which is occasionally used by cars going the other way downhill. Again, many accidents on this highway are head-on and frequently fatal.

Once you've survived the drive to the Napa Valley, you'll find the country driving pleasant. Stay sober, take your time, and you should enjoy driving along Highway 29. Just be careful turning off, and onto, Highway 29, particularly when it involves a left turn.

The main caution is driving along the Silverado Trail, which runs along the east side of the valley. Locals use this road to avoid tourist traffic and get somewhere in a hurry. As a result, the average speed on this road is considerably higher than that on Highway 29. This leads to accidents on the Trail that are more often fatal than those on Highway 29. Use caution, take your time, don't bother passing, and watch out for passing cars coming towards you. If you decide you want to drive the Trail at sightseeing speed, please pull over occasionally to let the line of cars (there will be one) behind you go by.

Napa County Map

Napa County map

Traffic Information

For online traffic information for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, including the North Bay and Napa Valley, we recommend:

www.sfgate.com/traffic

Caltrans

Caltrans, the State of California's Department of Transportation, has up-to-the-minute online information on state highways. Here's information on Highway 29, which runs north-south through the Napa Valley.

www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/sr29

For toll-free information on significant delays on California State Highways, call 1.800.427.ROAD (7623).

Caltrans District 4

www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/

Information on District 4, which covers the entire Bay Area including Napa County.

511

www.511.org

Toll-free hotline from all area codes in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides complete Bay Area public and private transportation information, including up-to-the-minute traffic information on 37 freeways, eight bridges and all major roads. Includes information on public transit, paratransit, carpools, vanpools, parking and biking. Just dial 511 from your cell phone or land phone.

Napa County Transportation Planning Agency

707.259.8631

www.nctpa.net

The NCTPA web site provides information on transit and paratransit throughout Napa County. This includes these services:

VINE (County-wide bus system)

Downtown Napa Transit Center

1151 Pearl Street

Napa CA 94558

707.255.7631 800.696.6443 TDD 707.226.9722

VINE Go (Paratransit)

Napa 707.252.2600

Upvalley 707.963.4222

American Canyon 707.556.8221

American Canyon Transit

707.648.7275

Calistoga HandyVan

707.963.4229

St. Helena VINE Shuttle

707.963.3007

Yountville Shuttle

707.944.1234

TaxiScrip Program

707.255.7631

Automobile Rental

If you didn't arrive by car, you can rent one in Napa.

Budget

407 Soscol Ave

Napa CA 94559

800.527.7000

Enterprise

230 Soscol Ave

Napa CA 94559

707.253.8000

Hertz

686 Soscol Ave,

Napa CA 94559

707.265.7575

Autorickshaw

Travel within and between Napa and Yountville.

NV Hoppers

Napa

707.224.4677

www.nvhoppers.com

Tour/Limousine Services

If you don't want to drive, you can take a tour bus or rent a limousine.

Antique Tours Limousine Service

707.226.9227

www.antiquetours.net

Fully restored 1947 convertible Packard limousines.

California Wine Tours

800.294.6386

www.californiawinetours.com

Five-hour Napa Valley tour and tasting $49/person.

Classic Limousine

572 Lincoln Avenue

Napa CA 94558

707.253.0999 800.259.8401

www.classiclimousine.50megs.com

Limos include a 1949 Packard and a 1969 Silver Cloud Rolls Royce.

Esperya

101 Old Vine Way

Napa CA 94558

707.255.7517

www.winecountryesperya.com

Personal and corporate tours, including winery visits, barrel tastings, restaurants, picnics and cave dinners.

Group Outings

4225 Solano Avenue #575

Napa CA 94558

Fax 707.226.8652

www.groupoutings.com

Limos include a town car and 120" stretch limousine. A special tour offers barrel tastings and discounts at top wineries.

Napa Valley Off-Road Tours

3266 Silverado Trail

Napa CA 94558

707.257.6680

$150 per person

Wine tasting, vineyard tours, lunch, off-road excursions, private visits to wineries, all in a comfortable Pinzgauer all-terrain vehicle that seats 10 visitors.

Royal Coach Limousine Service

1850 Imola Avenue

Napa CA 94558

800.995.7692

www.royalcoachlimousine.com

Napa Valley's oldest service—since 1985.

Taxis

Taxi service is available throughout the valley, but only by telephone. It's very unlikely you'll be able to wave one down on the street. These services offer vehicles that are much more luxurious than the average.

Black Tie Taxi

707.259.1000 888.544.8294

www.blacktietaxi.com

Valley Valet

707.942.9009

www.valley-valet.com

Primarily in Calistoga and upvalley, but also for Napa, airports and wine tours.

Winery Shuttle

Napa Winery Shuttle

707.257.1950

www.wineshuttle.com

The shuttle is a great service if you'd like to spend the day touring and tasting and have someone else do the driving. The shuttle, which leaves from most Napa Valley hotels, travels on a fixed route, stopping at seven well-known wineries. You can get off and on when and where you wish. Because they stop at each location every 30-40 minutes, you can do a tasting, then conveniently catch the next shuttle to the next winery.

If you get hungry, the shuttle also stops at two upvalley restaurants for lunch. Price, which does not include winery tasting fees or food purchases, is $38 per person, which includes unlimited stops per day. Plus they'll pick up your wine at the winery and deliver it to your hotel.

Train

Another "getting around" alternative is the Wine Train.

Napa Valley Wine Train

1275 McKinstry

Napa CA 94559

707.253.2111. 800.427.4124 Fax: 707.253.9264

www.winetrain.com

For full information see the Wine Train listing in our Napa section.

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