19 Fabulous Issues To Do in Napa Valley, California

February 18, 2022


Napa Valley is a lot of fun, and that's not just the wine talking. But is there anything to do in Napa besides drinking a lot of really good wine? Well, yes! There's rugged mountains, steamy hot springs, rolling vineyards, hot air balloons, incredible food, and even a few spirits - both the drinks AND the ghosts! Here are all the best things to do in Napa.

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Napa Valley is plenty of enjoyable, and that’s not simply the wine speaking. Rugged mountains, steamy scorching springs, rolling vineyards, and 260 days of sunshine is as interesting for vacationers as it’s for vines; though I’m prepared to guess that we now have extra enjoyable!

However is there something to do in Napa in addition to ingesting plenty of actually good wine? Effectively, sure! Fortunate for us, rich California winemakers threw their “I’m so wealthy that I don’t know what to do with my money” cash into creating Napa Valley – however there are additionally some improbable budget-friendly hidden gems in Napa.

Like a glass of nice wine, discovering Napa Valley is all about stability. We’re fortunate to have Aubrey Terrazas, an Superior Sommelier and wine purchaser in San Francisco who has spent the higher a part of a decade visiting the Napa area, information us via the very best issues to do in Napa. (She additionally created a information to the best wineries in Napa for us!) Take it away, Aubrey!

Psst: Searching for extra California getaways? We’ve got a bunch! Browse them all or check out these posts:

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Sunrise mist over the vines in Napa Valley, California.
Dawn mist over the vines in Napa Valley, California. The distinction between Napa’s cool, foggy mornings and evenings and the warmth of the solar are what make Napa’s wine so good!

Napa Valley FAQ’s

Earlier than you propose your journey to Napa, right here are some things you must know!

Is it “Napa” or “Napa Valley?” Are they completely different?

The city of Napa is positioned inside the Napa Valley, a 30-mile lengthy stretch of valley, ringed by mountains.

Napa Valley takes its title from the largest metropolis within the space, Napa, and the city of Napa was named after the Napa River which runs via it.

The Napa Valley AVA (American Viticultural Space) consists of the cities of Carneros, Napa, St. Helena, Yountville, and Calistoga. It takes lower than an hour to get from one finish of Napa Valley to the opposite, so it’s a geographically small space.

However when most individuals say “Napa,” they’re usually referring to ALL of these areas and cities all through the Napa Valley – not simply Napa, town! So that you may hear a Bay Space native say one thing like “I’m visiting Napa this weekend, we’ll be staying in Calistoga.” Make sense?

In case you’re unsure whether or not somebody is referring to Napa the city or Napa the area, simply ask!

Oh, and to be completely clear, this put up is about issues to do in Napa Valley, NOT simply Napa the city.

Is the wine in Napa actually that good?

Napa is known for making actually good wine. And sure, it’s actually THAT good!

Napa Valley is ideally located to make a number of the world’s greatest wines, due to the mix of California sunshine and funky, foggy mornings. Mountains encompass the valley on each side: the Vaca Vary to the East and the Mayacamas to the West. Between these two mountain ranges, wineries and vineyards are sprinkled all through!

Napa was only a quiet, unknown California wine nation till the dramatic Judgment of Paris in 1976, when Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena shockingly defeated two glorious French wines in a blind-tasting competitors, formally positioning Napa because the New World’s most well-known tremendous wine area. On the time, wine professionals outdoors of France weren’t taken critically, so when California stole the present, it was a large upset.

The film Bottle Shock dives into the dramatic story, and the day that put Napa formally on the map without end!

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What’s the climate like in Napa?

Napa Valley is about 40 minutes east of Sonoma (a neighboring wine nation) and the Pacific Ocean, and its daytime temperatures climb a lot increased than foggy Coastal California. Daytime – particularly in the summertime – can get to over 100 levels, so put on one thing breathable and comfy!

However in case you’ll be staying in a single day or previous sundown, deliver heat layers. It’s a lot colder throughout the evening than it’s throughout the day – temperatures can plummet 20 levels inside hours.

I’m from Chicago, so I believed I had thick blood for chilly climate, however the chilly Pacific breeze is assured after sunset! You’ll be shivering in your sundress, so pack a change of garments and a heat sweater for the night.

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Issues to do in Napa

A man swimming laps in the pool of Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in Calistoga, California
Calistoga Spa Scorching Springs offer you gorgeous sun-soaked Vaca vary views within the morning mild (Photo Credit)

Soak in Pure Scorching Springs

What higher option to detox after a day of wine tasting than a soak in pure thermal springs? Soaking in scorching springs promotes well-being via cleansing, elevated metabolism and blood movement… plus it’s simply freakin’ enjoyable.

Napa’s heart of scorching springs and geothermal swimming pools is the city of Calistoga. The Wappo tribe, the realm’s unique Indigenous inhabitants, settled in Calistoga round 8,000 years in the past and believed that the new mineral water had therapeutic powers (which it does). They referred to as the land coo-lay-no-maock (“the oven place”).

However throughout the Gold Rush, Samuel Brannan, a Mormon settler hoping to show the realm right into a Mormon mecca a la Salt Lake City, established Napa’s northernmost city of Calistoga within the mid-Nineteenth century to draw vacationers to its pure scorching mineral springs. He additionally grew to become the richest man in California, tried to overthrow the Hawai’ian King, and led a gang of “vigilantes” to implement no matter he thought of against the law. He died broke and alone after his spouse, fed up together with his womanizing, violence, and infidelity, divorced him. Isn’t historical past fascinating??

At present, most of Calistoga’s pure scorching springs are positioned on the properties of inns and spas, so if scorching springs are a must-do, you’ll need to guide a spa therapy or an evening at one among these resorts.

Word that Throughout the summer time months it’s possible you’ll need to plan your soak after darkish (or in no way) because the city is hottest in Napa Valley (actually! It’s round 20 levels hotter throughout the day than Carneros).

There are a number of choices for warm springs in Calistoga:

  • Meadowlark Country House & Resort: In case you’re a free-spirited kind, you may desire this clothing-optional resort – welcome to Northern California! Whereas the opposite spas are usually extra lined, Meadowlark welcomes Calistoga’s sunny Mountain surroundings with shorter fences and a extra open format  (don’t fear, you’re effectively tucked away from the nightlife and wine tastings).  The shut proximity to the hills and bushes provides this resort a house-in-the-woods type of really feel. Oak bushes nestle across the ranch-style resort and pool deck, which makes it really feel extra personal. Along with their volcanically-charged geothermal springs, Meadowlark has a dry sauna and flagstone terraces for whole rest. Day passes are $50.
  • Calistoga Hot Springs & Spa: The resort property options a number of lined swimming pools, together with a 104-degree geothermal pool, an 80-degree lap pool, and numerous spa companies. The water is of course filtered by Napa’s alluvial soils, leaving hint components of minerals behind. You may keep in a single day, or pool passes are free with the reserving of any spa service.  From the swimming pools, you’ll be able to see the sun-soaked Vaca mountain vary, which is completely golden within the morning mild. Palm bushes line the deck, and a glass dome covers their geothermal pool, which helps lure the steam and at occasions provides a foggy, mysterious really feel. 
  • Indian Springs Calistoga: Indian Springs appears to be probably the most not too long ago renovated of the three spas, with fashionable and understated decor influenced by Mission-era property. In-built 1913, their Olympic-sized soak is the most important pure mineral pool in Napa Valley. The 17-acre property incorporates three thermal geysers and a lodge, with two-story white Spanish-style buildings that overlook a pond surrounded by palm bushes and non-native tropical vegetation. Their swimming pools are one of many few kid-friendly choices in Napa, so in case you’d desire one thing – um – quieter, you too can move the time at their smaller adult-only mineral pool. 

For just a few extra solutions, head over to this guide.

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kayaking down the napa river
You may see critters like otters whereas kayaking down the Napa River! (credit score: DowntownNapa)

Go Kayaking

The 55-mile Napa River affords glorious waters for a day of kayaking (or paddle boarding). The river extends from Mt. St. Helena to San Pablo Bay, switching from huge, open waters to slender, wooded areas lined with dogwood bushes.

As you paddle, you’ll be capable of see wildlife like otters, turtles, and native birds. Beavers are very lively right here as effectively, which fire up the pure (and innocent) algae (making the water a bit murky at occasions).

Oh, and right here’s a enjoyable river reality: After the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, they used the rocks from the underside of the Napa River to rebuild the city!

Take a two-hour guided kayak tour to be taught extra in regards to the space’s wildlife and historical past from an area. They will help you determine particular chook species, in addition to level out historic buildings broken by the 2014 earthquake.

hot air balloon over napa valley california
One of the best ways to nice a glimpse of Napa’s rolling vineyards is from wayyyyyy up above (Picture courtesy of Go to Napa Valley by Bob McClenahan)

Take a Scorching Air Balloon Journey

A part of Napa Valley’s attract is its majestic wine nation magnificence, and a scorching air balloon journey is the final word option to soak within the undulating hills and mountains, Californian-Mediterranean scrub and pine bushes, densely packed vineyards on each twist of the Valley, and splendid chateaux constructed by the musings of multi-millionaires. 

The balloon can really feel highly regarded, nevertheless it’s that scorching air that lightly lifts you off the bottom and gently floats you over wine nation. The floating sensation is extraordinarily peaceable and serene; the bodily sensation could be very smooth. 

Balloon rides are often early morning and embody pastries and low. Word that this isn’t precisely a budget-friendly possibility, particularly in case you’re attempting to be romantic: group excursions common $300 per particular person for a one-hour flight, and the value climbs rapidly for a non-public tour. However for an important day, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime exercise that’s effectively well worth the expense!

This hot air balloon ride takes off from Yountville and lasts for about an hour, and also you’ll find out about ballooning’s colourful historical past in addition to native highlights. You too can guide with native firms like Napa Valley Balloon Inc and Balloons Above the Valley.

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Go to Napa Valley Wineries

Wine tasting is probably going what introduced you to Napa Valley within the first place, proper? Even in case you’re not an enormous wine particular person, the sloping mountain views and historic châteaux make visiting Napa wineries important to your journey. Napa Valley famously produces a number of the world’s most iconic Cabernet Sauvignon, and you too can discover lush Chardonnays, horny Merlots, and spicy Zinfandels all through the valley. 

$30-50 is about a median value for a tasting, and sure, that’s per particular person. Napa is expensive! That mentioned, you’ll be able to often get this price waived by shopping for a bottle or two of wine. You too can typically discover two-for-one tasting deal coupons by stopping by the Customer’s Heart.

It’s best to go to the wineries by automobile, however in case you don’t have one (or don’t have a DD), there are many excursions, like this day trip from San Francisco that you could guide. Uber and Lyft can be found in Napa Valley, however simply give your self some cushion time, because it’s widespread to attend quarter-hour even from the extra simply accessible tasting rooms. 

I’ve highlighted my prime 5 “must-see” wineries, however you could find an entire listing in our Napa Valley Winery post! The wineries under are all comparatively straightforward to seek out close to Oakville, the center of the Valley.

  • Far Niente is named “Napa Valley’s Best Vineyard” with a storybook-style Chateau on the finish of a protracted, acacia-tree-lined drive. The property was inbuilt 1885, and was later renovated to its present glory. Full with a classic automobile assortment, a mirrored image pond, and luxurious bushes that flip golden within the fall, Far Niente‘s property is the making of Napa daydreams. The vineyard focuses on two varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. They’re identified to avoid wasting again vintages, so that is additionally a fantastic place to style older Napa – however be able to shell out some money for it!
  • Beringer Estate is likely one of the oldest wineries in Napa, and the historic Rhine-style chateau is value a go to in and of itself. The founder moved to California from Germany within the 1870s; the German affect on the property provides the property a storybook really feel. The ornate chateau may very well be straight out of Magnificence and the Beast, besides that it’s landscaped by California succulents and hydrangea! Stroll the cobblestone path across the manicured gardens or discover historical past within the wine caves. 
  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Napa might have by no means reached its status and not using a 1976 wine tasting the place Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars overwhelmingly outperformed First Growth Bordeaux and Burgundy in a blind tasting. The occasion, now dubbed “The Judgement of Paris,” turned the world’s consideration to the standard and potential on this unknown space in Northern California. At present the vineyard has expanded to incorporate an ultra-modern customer heart, crammed with paintings and bronze finishes that overlooks the vineyards so you’ll be able to expertise the great thing about nature in all seasons. Come get pleasure from a tasting inside or outdoors with gorgeous panoramic views of the vineyards. Stag’s Leap stays the epitome of high quality California Cabernet Sauvignon, made out of property fruit in state-of-the-art amenities.
  • Robert Mondavi is the modern-day father of Napa Valley and the person who traveled the world to champion its high quality. Throughout a time the place post-prohibition tastes typically favored candy wines, he centered on planting Cabernet vines with superior high quality. Consequently, his To-Kalon winery in Oakville is arguably probably the most well-known in all of Napa. Now led by a feminine winemaker, the wines proceed to be a standard-bearer for Napa greatness. The sunny ranch-style property wraps round a courtyard with hidden views of Oakville vineyards and affords tastings in a spread of types, from Cabernet Sauvignon to oaked Sauvignon Blanc. You may guide a tasting, a tour, or a eating expertise. The vineyard even affords concert events, pending seasonality (and pandemics). 
  • Opus One Winery is among the many most coveted wines globally and within the cellar of any critical wine collector. Owned by the Mondavi household (and simply throughout the road from the flagship vineyard), the venture is a brainchild of the household behind one of many 5 Bordeaux Châteaux to be awarded First Development standing (which is to say, they know their sh*t). The property vineyards are proper off Freeway 29. Each classic of their uncommon Cabernet flies off to allocations (pre-arranged agreements to promote the wine to particular collectors or eating places), however you’ll be able to style it by the glass with a tasting (by appointment solely, and also you’ll need to guide effectively prematurely).

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Celebration on a Rooftop

Relying on the time of yr you go to Napa Valley, the wineries may shut earlier than you’ll be able to catch the sundown.

However in case you’re staying within the city of Napa, Sky & Vine’s rooftop bar has breathtaking views of the Vaca Mountains and Oak Tree forest to look at the day sink into evening. 

This native favourite sits atop the Archer Hotel in downtown Napa, full with seating preparations for all group sizes and warmth lamps for the chilly nights. Take pleasure in a cocktail and bites whilst you play with their large Jenga set, or sit back and benefit from the gorgeous mountainside panorama.

Northern California is likely one of the furthest western factors that you could simply entry within the US, so the late afternoon mild right here is completely golden. On a transparent day, you’ll be able to sit again with one among their many on-tap cocktails (I vote for the Margarita) and catch the orange and pink sky play off the crevices within the rugged mountain terrain. They even have nice non-alcoholic drinks just like the “It’s Simply Alchemy” with seedlip spice, tamarind, orgeat, and lemon. 

Pleased Hour is 8-10pm, which incorporates specials on each meals and drinks. One traditional California chew is the Shishito peppers, however watch out—they are saying each 10 out 20 peppers are hella spicy. 

For extra rooftop bars in Napa, take a look at this list.

Olive oil tasting in Paso Robles, California.
Avoid wasting room for olive oil subsequent to the wine in your suitcase!

Go Olive Oil Tasting

Napa Valley’s Mediterranean local weather is ideal not just for rising grapes however for rising olives! As with wine tasting, you’ll be able to style via olive oils to find their nuances and taste. Additionally like wine tasting, you’ll need to take a bottle dwelling!

A number of suggestions for olive oil tasting: 

  • The three important phrases to explain olive oil are delicate, medium, and intense. 
  • Meals modifications the flavour of olive oil, so many tastings usually are not served with bread. 
  • Coughing is usually thought of an indication of excellent olive oil! That reveals its extra peppery character, which plenty of fanatics love.

Finest locations for olive oil tasting in Napa

  • Roundpond Estate has ripe, spherical Cabernets from Valley fruit. Their vineyard’s location is equally supreme for olive oil manufacturing! The Rutherford property could be very near Freeway 29, however feels extra secluded as you enter through their lengthy drive lined with palm bushes and vineyards. Most of their tastings are held on their expansive terrace with a view of the Vaca Vary. The tasting expertise features a stroll via their Italian and Spanish olive bushes and a full overview of olive oil production for $40. Their oils are usually extra conventional, with an emphasis on olive high quality. 
  • Longmeadow Ranch is simple to drop in with out an appointment for a $5 olive oil tasting. Yow will discover their olive oil tasting at their present store and café simply subsequent to their restaurant Farmstead, which is stylish and elevated informal, although it’s in an enormous blue barn. It’s a captivating and straightforward break from wine tasting, due to its St. Helena location and engaging menu choices (the restaurant additionally has a killer burger). They develop their olive bushes at their Anderson Valley location in Mendocino, so the flavors are usually extra peppery and refined than the Roundpond Property. 
  • Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co. is an area favourite that has made numerous connoisseur oils for practically a century. Their black truffle oil has an fascinating umami kick that makes a beautiful praise to pasta, and their blood orange oil is beautiful for a summer time salad. The tasting takes place in an Americana-perfect white barn with an American and Italian flag hanging from the window. The low-key ambiance is contrasted by the various luxurious Napa estates, however their high quality of product is nonetheless spectacular. 

Take the Napa Valley Wine Prepare

Napa Valley’s Historic Wine Train will deliver you from Napa to St. Helena and again on a calming, scenic 3-hour prepare journey. Whilst you get pleasure from a multi-course meal (with wine, in fact) you’ll watch vineyards and mountains roll by out the home windows. The rail line was initially inbuilt 1864 to deliver friends from downtown Napa to the resort city of Calistoga. The prepare itself has the type of really feel that you simply´d anticipate from using firstclass on the flip of the twentieth century: plush seats, white desk cloths, and Honduran mahogany paneling. 

In case you’re not explicit about which wineries you go to however desire to not drive, you’ll be able to guide an tour that features lunch and a go to to an iconic Napa Property. The preferred expertise is the Vista Dome, the place you’ll be able to get pleasure from a multi-course lunch or dinner with panoramic winery views. For extra leisure, guide the Homicide Thriller Dinner, the place the killer is hiding subtly behind their glass of Pinot Noir. 

All experiences include California-style delicacies and a glass of wine (or two). Word that this isn’t a celebration bus – the operators of the Wine Prepare will kick off rambunctious teams, leaving them stranded in Napa.

Store for Native Specialties

Napa is the most important city within the Valley. It’s small and really walkable, and during the last 180 years, it thrived as the middle of native commerce. Retailers from the early Napa buying and selling city constructed Victorian-style mansions across the native saloons and purchasing facilities (fortunately, the wealth is extra diversified now).

At present, issues are much less quaint and just a little extra upscale, however there are nonetheless loads of native specialties and treats to find on a stroll across the charming, historic downtown Napa. Simply go away some room in your suitcase for souvenirs!

Store for connoisseur merchandise in Napa

  • Oxbow Market is a riverside market and meals corridor. You may cease in for lunch from an area chef, then meander round sampling artisan sweets, espresso, and cheeses. 
  • Ritual Coffee roaster. Based in San Francisco in 2005, affords preciously roasted espresso to perk you up between tastings. Strive a cup and produce dwelling a bag of beans, or sip in your latte as you pattern a few of Anette’s Chocolates. 
  • The Olive Press. In case you didn’t make it to an olive oil tasting (see above), you’ll be able to take dwelling a bottle from The Olive Press – probably the most extremely awarded olive producer within the US! 
  • Anette’s Chocolates. Anette and her brother have been making native confections with the best components for over 25 years. Their well-known brittles and chocolate truffles make nice presents, or you will get a pattern present field with an assortment of Napa sweets. 
  • Whole Spice. In case you’re engaged on wine tasting, pay a go to to Whole Spice and scent the spices from all over the world (that is one thing sommeliers really do, by the best way). Think about how cool you’ll sound the subsequent time you’re sniffing your Cabernet…”Hmmm, I detect hints of curry and fenugreek!”

Native boutiques in Napa

Native boutique retailers line First Road in downtown Napa. Once you’re not exploring the wine-country stylish trend, you’ll be able to simply pop into an area artwork gallery or wine tasting. 

  • Macbella. A ladies’s boutique with an Italian-chic mixture of each European and American designers like Klaudia Karamandi and Aggi. That is the right place to choose up a tasteful costume for the French Laundry, or a meet the dad and mom evening.
  • Kalifornia Jean Bar. Right here you’ll be able to excellent your California informal look with curated denim, sweats, and tee shirts for women and men. In distinction to stylish Macbela, KJB has extra of a Tahoe-inspired outdoors-y vibe. 
  • Nostalgia of Napa. It’s straightforward to get misplaced exploring the native treasures, together with vintage furnishings and bar ware, clothes, and classic equipment.
  • Milo and Friends Pet Boutique. Don’t overlook the pup! Particularly after he was so affected person whilst you’ve been away all day ingesting. Milo & Associates is a (fancy) pet retailer that provides pure treats, California-themed toys (like this kayak), and trendy equipment like tye-dye leashes and bow ties. Instagram cats store right here, too.

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The colorful, outdoor facade of The Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California
The colourful, outside facade of The Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California (Photo Credit)

Take a Cooking Class

Napa Valley delicacies is the epitome of farm-to-table. The wealthy agriculture of California conjures up colourful, product-driven plates that can train any meat eater to like veggies.

The entry to the recent, scrumptious, regionally produced meals — and rich traders — attracts the world’s greatest culinary expertise to Northern California. So take a category from a chef to sharpen your knife abilities, make do-it-yourself pasta, and even learn to select the very best produce on the farmer’s market. 

  • Cooking with Julie: Julie Logue-Riordan is a non-public chef and cooking instructor of 25 years. After coaching underneath Grasp Cooks in France and dwelling overseas, she developed a global toolbelt to arrange numerous delicacies with native produce. Her lessons revolve round “cooking from the season.” This can be a must-have talent for anybody wanting to cut back their carbon footprint by purchasing regionally! Stroll across the farmer’s market and uncover the native heirloom varieties. The three-course menu will likely be impressed by what seems good on the market, reminiscent of Grilled Figs with Almond Picada and Prosciutto, Grilled Steak with Mediterranean Herb Rub and Arugula Salad, and Buttermilk and Mascarpone Ice Cream with Contemporary Peaches.
  • Culinary Institute of America: The (different) CIA is likely one of the most esteemed faculties for aspiring cooks. You may take a non-public class with one among their instructors in Napa. Relying on the size of your keep, additionally they supply “Boot Camps” and multi-day group lessons. You may take classes to leasrn easy methods to excellent flatbread, put together a dim sum brunch, and even style wine in underneath 90 seconds. They even present a partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, so that you experiment with new methods from movie star cooks!

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Be taught Napa Valley Historical past

Earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon took over the Valley with large agricultural gentrification, the Wappo tribe referred to as the realm dwelling for near 10,000 years. In reality, the Northern Californian paradise didn’t change into a part of the USA till the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Mexican Cession in 1848.

Be taught a newfound appreciation for Napa Valley’s dynamic historical past, from immigrant labor to wine mavericks that put Napa on the (wine) map on the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville. 

The museum’s colourful structure and native artwork are value a go to even for non-history buffs. They entice some noteworthy displays too, like not too long ago, a showcase of paintings from actress Lucy Liu

True to California kind, lots of their rotating displays spotlight popular culture, like their “Harmful Video games” exhibit the place you’ll be able to take a tour via the harmful and poisonous toys we used to play with as children, just like the Slip ‘n Slide or the gooey Creepy Crawlers. One other in style latest exhibit is the Tiki: Artwork of the Unique exhibit the place you’ll be able to brush up on Polynesian Pop historical past whilst you sip on a rum cocktail from their curated Tiki bar. 

A beer flight of 5 beers at Fieldwork Brewing Company in Berkeley and Napa, California
A craft beer flight is the right option to discover your new favourite beer! (Photo Credit)

Go Craft Beer Tasting

After a full day of tasting wine for Palate Club, are you aware what I need? B-E-E-R! Fortunately there’s a half-mile radius in downtown Napa with a number of craft breweries to cleanse the palate. 

  • Stone Brewing overlooks the Napa Valley within the historic brick Borrero Buildings. They spotlight native, natural merchandise for his or her eating menu, however I wouldn’t name it wholesome — they’re greatest identified for his or her BBQ. The smoky flavors are excellent with their hottest beer, the Stone IPA. Leashed canines are welcome for his or her outside patio, and repair canines are welcome indoors.
  • Fieldwork Brewing is positioned in Oxbow Public Market affords a rotating listing of draft beers and flights. This is a wonderful possibility for teams with numerous palates, as you get pleasure from their numerous craft beer choice with meals from any of the various stands in Oxbow. Personally, I like El Porteño Empanadas for a savory beer snack. Lots of their beers are impressed by the classics of Germany and Belgium, which are usually a bit much less hoppy and candy than American beers. I’m a fan of the Cobra Mai, a Maibock German Lager, which is a pale and hop-forward lager. 
  • Trade Brewing affords quite a lot of traditional pub meals with Jamaican delicacies from Vibrant Meals. Dedicated to the artisan technique, their declare is, “Craft is our Commerce. Beer is our Ardour.” Their hottest beer is the Bricklayer American Blonde, which is a pale and malty ale with a crisp end.

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Hiking path in the hills of Napa Valley near Angwin
Mountain climbing path within the hills of Napa Valley close to Angwin

Go Mountain climbing

Napa Valley is as a lot about its pure magnificence as it’s about its full-flavored Cabernets. The world’s standing as an Agricultural Protect means 1000’s of acres of scenic mountainside trails, Redwood alcoves, and numerous flora to discover. Listed below are a number of the prime hikes in Napa Valley:

  • Alston Park is a dog-friendly space with three miles of unobstructed hills bordered by Redwood Creek. The hike is beautiful and really open, however with little shade safety (which you’ll be able to witness by the matted dry grass on the paths). It feels extra prairie-like than the opposite hikes right here and pretty straightforward to do as a jog. Canine Commons is the off-leash space part within the higher space of the park, resulting in a shady canon and sprawling views of Napa. Learn extra about Napa’s Dog Owner guide.
  • Skyline Park has over 25 miles of trails for all ranges. The three.4 mile River to Ridge Trail meanders via quite a lot of panorama, from sunny oak bushes to grasslands and even a  Bay Laurel forest subsequent to a small lake. These prepared for a exercise can take the Rim Rock Trail from right here with a steep elevation change that results in rewarding panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tamalpais. The path parking begins at $5/day. 
  • Linda Falls is a hidden gem close to St. Helena in Howell Mountain. You’ll move one among Napa’s most numerous shows of Douglas fir, oaks, and the native yellow Mariposa lily on the 15-minute hike. Lizards are lively within the hotter months, although it’s extra widespread to catch the Black-tailed deer or the cute Desert cottontail rabbit. The cherry on prime is a 50-foot waterfall dubbed Linda Falls. Solely 20 minutes from Freeway 29, this hike is a wonderful possibility for a fast however rewarding escape from the tasting room bustle.

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A bartender at the old fashion bar of Napa Valley Distillery Tasting Salon in Napa, California
Napa Valley Distillery’s Oxbow Market sales space is an efficient place to examine them out in case you can’t make it to their precise distillery (Photo Credit)

Go to a Distillery

The Napa Valley Distillery affords tastings at their speakeasy-style Grand Tasting Saloon ($30). Their traditional copper alembic nonetheless influences their Previous-West allure right down to their Probation-era batched cocktails. You may tour the distillery or simply go straight to their 1300 sq ft saloon with Gold Rush-era decor. As the primary distillery in Napa after Prohibition, they host numerous rooms and vibes impressed by all of our favourite ingesting traits: tiki, Speakeasy-style artwork deco, and the Wild West. 

Though they provide Rum, Gin, and Brandy, they set themselves aside with their bottled cocktails. Strive their Negroni, which is a favourite cocktail within the Bay Space historically made with Campari, gin, and pink vermouth. Their quirky sensibility and love for historical past even pours into their ongoing occasions. You may tune in to find out about a special kind of Spirits throughout their Ghost Stories reside from the distillery on Thursdays. Talking of…

Go Ghost Looking

After all, a historic booze metropolis like Napa may have lingering spirits! Paranormal investigators Ellen MacFarlane and David Sisk are greater than faculty children with a spooky summer time job — they use their abilities of other-wordly communication to assist households and even regulation enforcement acquire clues into lacking individuals circumstances, demystify UFOs and life vitality theories, and advocate for spirit crossings for trapped souls. Count on not solely a freaky historical past lesson, however conversations with the spirits.

On this 90-minute strolling tour, you’ll discover native folklore and each the present and former Napa courthouse areas the place they used to conduct public hangings. With out making a gift of all of the surprises, your guides take you to numerous haunted areas in downtown Napa, together with websites of notorious murders such because the Fred Coombs murder-suicide (as in, the brother of Napa’s founder, Nathan Coombs).

Ellen and David try to contact the spirits utilizing dowsing rods or paranormal sensitivities. Chances are you’ll even get the prospect to talk to the legendary serial killer Billy Roe, who confessed to 26 murders after his arrest! The Napa Ghosts tour begins at 8pm and lasts 90 minutes.

Eat an Unbelievable Meal

The idyllic local weather of Northern California that attributes to its world-class wine additionally lends itself to a wealthy assortment of native merchandise year-round. And these native merchandise are in good fingers with a number of the prime cooks within the nation. The identical kind of particular person that’s interested in the area’s prestigious vineyards additionally often seeks out a top-notch eating expertise, so eating places of all budgets push the envelope for high quality. 

Here’s a listing of a number of the greatest eating places in Napa Valley. Since meals vary from $10-1000, I organized it by funds. 

  • Professional tip: Many individuals overlook to rearrange a journey dwelling after their meal and might find yourself ready as much as 45 minutes for a cab. In case you’re planning an evening at a vacation spot restaurant, ask your restaurant how lengthy the meal often takes and schedule an Uber or cab. The nicer eating places will typically supply this for you in case you ask at first of the meal. 

Price range-friendly eating places

  • The Pickled Pig in Calistoga has low-key farm to desk bites, and makes a speciality of, you guessed it, pork! Try their award-winning smoked wings or their Piggy Deluxe Burger with black garlic mayo and do-it-yourself dill pickle chips.
  • The Model Bakery which has a location in Napa, St. Helena, and Yountville is an artisanal bakery which makes a speciality of cookies, muffins, and breads. Strive their fan favourite the Morning Glory Muffin with apples, carrots, cinnamon, raisins and coconut or their English Muffins, which have been one among Oprah’s “Favourite Issues” in 2016!
  • The Station, which is positioned in an outdated fuel station, is a superb place to cease for natural espresso with grab-and-go bites. They’ve actually good cappuccinos in addition to some stable avocado toast, and a very cute outside patio to take a seat out again to get pleasure from your espresso and snacks!
  • Oxbow Public Market is a 40,000 sq. foot market that has over 20 native distributors and a riverside deck. Try El Porteño Empanadas, and take a look at the carne empanada with Grass-fed beef, onions, inexperienced olives, raisins, and cage free hard-boiled eggs, or cease by Hog Island Oyster Bar and take a look at some recent, California-coast native Hog Island Oysters, Manila Clams, and Tomales Bay Mussels!

Mid-priced eating places

  • Zuzu is a Spanish-inspired restaurant and tapas bar in downtown Napa overlooking the Napa River. Strive their Akaushi flat-iron steak with roasted jalapeno chimichurri, or the Tunisian brik pastry filled with Dungeness crab, natural egg, and inexperienced onions.
  • Boon-Fly Cafe is on the southern facet of the valley close to Carneros. Though the setting has an off-the-cuff roadhouse really feel, the farm-to-table delicacies takes a extra polished strategy to traditional American dishes like burgers, fried rooster, and porkchops. In case you make it in for his or her day by day brunch, the donuts are a should. 

Swankier eating places

  • Oenotri is a trendy restaurant within the coronary heart of Napa serving southern-Italian delicacies. They construct their rustic dishes from locally-sourced meals, so it is a place to get a  tremendous recent and scrumptious meal. Strive their Chef’s 6 to share with the desk, which incorporates house-made salumi with marinated olives, spiced nuts, pickled onion, and house-made crackers. If pasta is extra your factor, strive their gigli with pork ragu, tomato, garlic, onion, and parmigiano-reggiano.
  • Press is a swanky, fashionable steak-house with a world-class Napa Valley Wine listing, and the right place to have a flowery dinner in St. Helena. Try their truffle-glazed rooster with smoked bacon, salanova lettuce, sauce vin jaune, or their pan-seared scallops with honey tangerine, heart-grilled fennel, habanada broth. Actually you’ll be able to’t go unsuitable with something right here, and the educated employees will aid you pair your meal with a superb glass of wine. Most eating places in Napa may have a fantastic wine listing, however in case you’re able to geek out on again vintages, Press is a necessary go to!
Castello di Amorosa Tuscan inspired castle winery in Napa, California.
Castello di Amorosa is a vineyard modeled after a Thirteenth century Tuscan fortress, full with a torture chamber. For… accuracy, I assume? (Yep, accuracy.)

Go to a Fort

Some wineries you go to for the wine. Some you go to for the surroundings. And a few, you go to as a result of they’re so completely ridiculous you simply should see it for your self. Morbid curiosity, maybe?

Castello Di Amorosa is in that final class. Meant to be an genuine reproduction of a Thirteenth-century Tuscan fortress, the proprietor (who additionally owns V.Sattui vineyard) used greater than 1 million vintage bricks taken from Hapsburg palaces and imported handcrafted {hardware} from Italy. The fortress is sprawling and no expense has been spared, from the lake to the terraces and courtyards to the armory to the …er, torture chamber.

Fortuitously (or sadly, relying in your private preferences) it’s not a functioning torture chamber – it’s only for present. And since, according to the owner, actual Thirteenth-century Tuscan castles have torture chambers, so with a view to obtain true authenticity, Castello Di Amorosa has to have one, too.

Whether or not you chalk that as much as “individuals with an excessive amount of cash doing ridiculous issues” or you’ve gotten a deep appreciation of medieval replicas, you simply should go see it for your self. Ah, possibly that’s the true motive behind the torture chamber…

Discover Your Senses

Jean-Charles Boisset is a larger-than-life wine entrepreneur with roots in Burgundy and enterprise in Napa. He likes to push boundaries in every little thing he does, together with his Raymond Cellars vineyard. Right here, you’ll be able to expertise the “sensory wall” the place you’ll be able to really feel and scent all of the textures and smells that we use to explain wine. 

In case you get pleasant with the tasting room affiliate, you may even get to peek into their Crystal Cellar, which incorporates go-go lady mannequins and purple lights. Raymond additionally affords enjoyable experiences like “Winemaker for a Day” the place you’ll be able to mix your individual wines (even artist John Legend made his personal mix right here). After your tasting, you’ll be able to go to the property’s home peacock. Yep, there’s a peacock. 

One other of his wineries, Buena Vista, hosts a full light & sound show that walks you thru the historical past of winemaking (okay, it’s technically in Sonoma, however solely 25 minutes from the city of Napa).  Buena Vista was based in 1857 and can be full of historical past. After you immerse your self in lights, sounds, and Cabernet, go to their winemaking museum with instruments used for harvest and vinification that appear like historic torture gadgets. 

artwork on the napa art walk in Napa California
Art work is rarely tiring when doing the Napa Artwalk!

Go on an Artwork Stroll

Napa’s Art Walk is a rotating assortment of set up sculptures from regional artists scattered all through Downtown Napa. Town requires giant actual property tasks to donate 1% in direction of a public artwork fund, so town is bursting with free artwork installations. I like this feature as a result of you’ll be able to take in a bit of the wealthy native tradition and discover the city of Napa free of charge! Free is tough to come back by in Napa!

Each two years, town juries fee 10 sculptures to show round city. The newest assortment options seven artists from Western states with ten sculptures constructed with kinetic artwork—artwork outlined by motion or mild to create dimensions within the house, or that requires motion for the total results.

For the whole expertise, obtain the free Otocast app and lookup “Napa Artwalk” for a guided audio tour.

Watch reside music

Wine has a approach of constructing individuals dance, and fortunately the nightlife in Napa is flooded with reside music. The very first thing that you must know is that Napa Valley is dwelling to plenty of summer time music festivals, together with  Yountville Live in March, BottleRock Napa Valley in Could, Napa Valley Jazz Getaway in June, and Robert Mondavi Concert Series and Festival Napa Valley in July. 

In case you’re visiting outdoors of pageant season, listed below are a number of the greatest locations to catch reside music. 

  • Blue Note Napa is an intimate jazz bar & restaurant on the primary flooring of the Napa Valley Opera Home. Count on dim lights with a Greenwich Village vibe and traditional cocktails.
  • RH Yountville Wine Vault is a luxe two-story wine bar with cedar partitions and plush seating. They often supply reside music of their tasteful outside eating space that comes with artwork, design, and wine. Nevertheless, the one dancing you’ll be able to anticipate right here is watching the hearth pit glimmer off the chandeliers. 
  • Downtown Joe’s Napa affords a really no-fuss different to the stylish setting at RH Yountville. The American restaurant & brewery has river views, plastic chairs, and a judgement-free setting. You can take your mama dancing right here.

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Closeup of the welcome sign in Napa Valley, California
Welcome to Napa Valley! Napa is an hour north of San Francisco by automobile, however you too can take transit to get from San Francisco or Oakland to Napa.

Learn how to Get to Napa

The best option to get to Napa is to fly into both San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento and rent a car. Napa Valley is about an hour north of San Francisco and Oakland, and an hour west of Sacramento. 

You may rent a vehicle from the airport you fly into, or immediately in Napa. Word that California roads are sometimes winding, so in case you get automobile sick, go for a snug SUV reasonably than a sports activities automobile!

  • From Downtown San Francisco: In case you are staying downtown however HAVE to see the Golden Gate Bridge, take Freeway 101 on the best way North to Napa however I-80 on the best way again. This route will prevent from the $8.35 southbound Golden Gate bridge toll. You should definitely plan your route out of your lodge, as going downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge provides about Half-hour to your course. In case you’re not occupied with driving over the Golden Gate bridge, you’ll be able to take the Bay Bridge from downtown to get to I-80.
  • From Oakland: In case you plan to go on to Napa, it can save you 20-Half-hour by flying into Oakland and bypassing the jam-packed Bay Bridge and San Francisco site visitors. 
  • From Sacramento: In case you fly into Sacramento, your route will probably be I-80 W. The trail between Sacramento and Napa is environment friendly, however you’ll miss the coastal views of the Bay. 

Journey Tip: Remember the fact that the Bay Space is rated one of many worst areas for site visitors within the nation, so give your self loads of cushion time, particularly throughout rush hour (7-10 am or 4-7 pm). Be ready to get caught behind a tractor or bus and not using a passing lane, which might considerably stress check your schedule. 

If you wish to skip driving, there are alternatives to get from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Extranomical Tours and Gray Line San Francisco each have respected wine nation excursions that embody San Francisco pickup. Uber and Lyft will even get you there for round $120 a technique. 

You too can take a bus and prepare mixture via Amtrak to get from San Francisco to Napa Valley in 3-4 hours for round $40 spherical journey – that is undoubtedly the most cost effective possibility!

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The Napa Valley Wine Train on route in Napa, CA.
The Napa Valley Wine Prepare is an effective way to see Napa and really feel swanky AF. (Photo Credit)

Learn how to Get Round Napa

It’s undoubtedly best to get round Napa with a automobile – however in case you gained’t have one, otherwise you simply need to concentrate on having fun with the wine, you do have just a few choices.

  • Rent a Car: You may rent a vehicle from the airport you fly into, or immediately in Napa when you arrive. It’s difficult to get round Napa and not using a automobile, so draw straws and choose a Designated Driver (one other professional tip: make sure that everybody pitches in to get the DD a pleasant dinner on the finish of the day).
  • Journey Sharing Apps: Lyft is on the market in Napa Valley and begin round $15 for a 15-minute drive. Wineries may very well be 45 minutes away from each other, or simply up the road, so I recommend planning forward. In my expertise, it takes round 10 minutes for a Lyft to point out up, however anticipate longer for extra distant areas. In case you have appointments, plan with further time, as it’s possible you’ll want to attend on your journey to point out up in additional remoted areas.
  • Lease a Limo: In case you’re balling out or seeking to occasion, limo or occasion bus leases are one of the best ways to get round Napa Valley. Napa Shuttle Limousine offers customized packages relying in your itinerary. Limos begin at $99, relying on the corporate.
  • Rent a Driver: Corporations reminiscent of Designated Drivers Napa Sonoma supply native drivers. As a result of they drive your automobile, the price tends to be decrease than personal shuttles or excursions. Be certain your driver is licensed and insured by referencing the California PUC’s Transportation Carrier Lookup. Their title needs to be listed there if they’re licensed. 

Journey Tip: Most of those choices require you to pre-plan your itinerary. Many wineries require reservations, they usually can replenish rapidly throughout the busy season. Typically, I recommend making reservations, as you’ll be able to plan your route and also you gained’t waste time getting turned away if the tasting room is full. 

However In case you’re not explicit about the place you go and wish extra steerage from an area (and transportation as effectively), think about one among Napa’s many wine excursions!

Between the rows in a vineyard during sunset in Napa, CA.
Whilst you can’t keep within the vineyards, you’ll be able to keep by them!

The place to Keep in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is definitely a area that features several small towns, all of which generally have just a little walkable space and are near wineries. So earlier than you choose a spot to guide, take into consideration which a part of Napa Valley you need to base your self in: Napa, Yountville, Calistoga, or St. Helena.

Remember the fact that it takes anyplace from 35-90 minutes from higher Nappa Valley to decrease Napa Valley relying on site visitors, so it’s useful to think about which wineries you need to go to earlier than you guide your lodge to maintain your driving time down!

Napa, the most important metropolis, has fabulous boutique inns and loads of eating places – plus, it’s obtained a scenic river to go kayaking on. St. Helena and Yountville are charming and walkable cities, with phenomenal world-class eating places. However you may also think about staying in Calistoga, which has extra of a romantic-getaway vibe and a plethora of spas due to its pure geothermal scorching springs!

Listed below are my picks for the place to remain in Napa:

  • The gorgeous Archer Hotel in downtown Napa is a superb place to base your self for a romantic weekend getaway, proper downtown and inside strolling distance to wineries and retailers. The rooms are luxurious (take a look at that bathtub!) and the lodge contains a swanky rooftop bar that’s frequented by locals!
  • La Casita is a captivating little Spanish type bungalow positioned in Napa’s Previous City, strolling distance from all of downtown Napa, with a scorching tub and a cute yard patio.
  • In case you plan on visiting wine nation with a bunch (howdy, bachelorette occasion?) this stunning hill-side retreat with breathtaking 360’ views of Napa Valley in Calistoga is what Napa desires are made out of. Get up to mountain views, hang around on the sprawling decks with views of the rolling hills and vineyards, and sip wine by the beautiful hearth pit!

About Our Visitor Poster: Aubrey Terrazas is a wine author and Grasp Sommelier Candidate who has lived in San Francisco, Chicago, and Lyon, France. She is a Co-founder and wine purchaser at Palate Club. Aubrey additionally runs Terra Vine, a wine advertising and marketing company between the USA and Europe.


Which of those superb issues to do in Napa are you most enthusiastic about? Inform us within the feedback under

Psst: Planning extra boozy journey? We’ve got performed a number of analysis on this space, you’re welcome.

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Napa Valley is a lot of fun, and that's not just the wine talking. But is there anything to do in Napa besides drinking a lot of really good wine? Well, yes! There's rugged mountains, steamy hot springs, rolling vineyards, hot air balloons, incredible food, and even a few spirits - both the drinks AND the ghosts! Here are all the best things to do in Napa.

Our High Journey Suggestions & Assets

Listed below are our favourite journey suggestions & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra suggestions, take a look at our travel tips resource page or our guide to planning a trip.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Cash-saving suggestions: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a funds airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique inns or personal rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to guide inns (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to guide hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious opinions). For trip leases, we desire to guide utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher assist than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical monitor document. You too can guide trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our dwelling and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We all the time, all the time, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY recommend it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to seek out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which might be excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We guide all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely will we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card affords improbable journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automobile protection, which helps shield us on our travels. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis beneficial drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time suggest getting each vaccine beneficial by the CDC! You will get them at your major care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We guide our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine easy methods to get from place to put, and guide native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. After we guide a rental automobile, we use Kayak to match rental firms and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: At any time when we’re testing early or profiting from a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re working round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital data (like web site login particulars, financial institution data, and so on) secure, even if you’re related to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it enables you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO if you join!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we deliver on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!





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