Famous for producing so many of the world's finest wines, Napa Valley, California is only 50 miles north of San Francisco. Getting there via Amtrak is particularly tricky. Amtrak's nearest stop is in Martinez (MTZ), 30 miles south, requiring a bus connection to complete the journey to downtown Napa. With an emphasis on an experience that features fine dining and premium wine tasting, a far more enjoyable option is to travel through the heart of wine country, glorious in all seasons, via the Napa Valley Wine Train, a scenic trip aboard a restored vintage carriage.
Napa Valley Wine Train
Take in the Napa Valley views of rolling hills covered with grapevines on a privately owned and operated vintage train. Choose the three- or six-hour itinerary to make a 36-mile loop from historic downtown Napa to the town of St. Helena and return. Chefs are onboard to prepare an elegantly presented lunch or dinner served to guests in a restored, gleaming 1917 Pullman Dining Car or in a 1952 Vista Dome carriage. A choice of four tours allows passengers to select their favorite Napa Valley wineries to tour from among such famous names as Charles Krug, Robert Mondavi, Grgich Hills, Beringer, Raymond Vineyards and Francis Ford Coppola's Inglenook.
Reserve through the Wine Train for a ferry from San Francisco to Vallejo. The ferry connects to the Wine Train's shuttle bus that takes you to its dedicated terminal in downtown Napa. A return service is also provided. On weekends, when the ferry doesn't operate, an executive coach makes the journey. Napa Valley Wine Train also offers overnight packages with 17 partner hotels, resorts and B&Bs in the Napa Wine Country area.
Getting to the Amtrak Stations
Amtrak does not have a San Francisco station. The two Bay Area Amtrak stations with passenger waiting rooms are at Jack London Square in Oakland (OKJ) and Emeryville (EMY), both across the bay from San Francisco. Several options reach the Amtrak station in Oakland from San Francisco. Drive across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge or take an Amtrak Thruway Connections bus departing curbside from four San Francisco locations: near the Hyatt Regency Hotel; Westfields Shopping Centre; Transbay Terminal; and Fisherman's Wharf at the Embarcadero entrance to Pier 39.
The Oakland station is also accessible via public transit; it's just over a half-mile walk from BART's Lake Merritt stop to the Oakland Amtrak station. Alternatively, take the San Francisco Bay Ferry from the Ferry Building pier to Alameda, then walk 12 minutes to the Oakland Amtrak station.
From San Francisco, the Emeryville Amtrak station is also accessible for cars via the Bay Bridge and via BART to MacArthur station.
Other Oakland Connections to Amtrak Trains
Connect to Amtrak at Oakland's Coliseum BART station from where it's a 3-minute walk to the Amtrak train stop at 700 73rd Street. For airline passengers, a BART shuttle runs every 6 minutes for the 8-minute journey from Oakland International Airport to the BART Coliseum station.
Martinez Amtrak Station
Amtrak is scheduled to arrive at Martinez within 40 to 45 minutes after departing from the Oakland or Emeryville stations. Amtrak's bus service operates only three times daily to Napa, so the wait can be long for a connecting bus that takes about one hour to Napa Soscol Gateway Transit Center.