Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New way to the Napa Valley

New shuttle links San Francisco to the Napa Valley

The Napa Valley Wine Train and Platypus Tours have teamed up to offer a fast and easy way to travel from San Francisco to Napa Valley. The new, direct shuttle service creates an express link from the San Francisco ferry to downtown Napa; one round-trip a day runs between the Vallejo Ferry Terminal and the Napa Valley Wine Train station.

How it works: You depart from San Francisco's Ferry Building in the morning, take a ferry cruise into the Richmond and San Pablo Bays ending in Vallejo (BayLink buses and ferries leave San Francisco at 8:10 every morning). From the Vallejo Terminal, you catch the special shuttle to the Napa Valley Wine Train Station in downtown Napa (it's pretty centrally located). You arrive in downtown Napa by 9:30 AM. From there, you have lots of options, but of course, you have to include a trip on the wine train.

Details: You could take the Napa Valley Wine Train's lunch or winery tour package (departs daily at 10:30 am for lunch and winery tours, returning to the station at 2:30). Then take the rest of the afternoon to do some wine tasting, or shopping. Shuttle passengers have one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon to explore before getting back to the station to hop on the return bus at 4:30 PM to get back to the Vallejo ferry. That's enough time to walk to see Oxbow Public Market, the Hatt Building and some downtown Napa shops. Two bonuses: no traffic hassles, and no need for a designated driver.

Costs: Round-trip ferry prices range up to $26; buy tickets at the Ferry Terminal. Shuttle service costs $15 round-trip and is added to the price of your Wine Train package (for example, a ride on the Silverado Car costs $49.50 (lunch extra), plus $15 for the shuttle from the ferry). Platypus Tours runs the shuttle, but reservations are made by calling the Wine Train 24-hours in advance of your trip: 800/ 427-4124; visit winetrain.com/directions.

Photo credit: Trenton McManus.

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COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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