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

However is there something to do in Napa moreover consuming loads of actually good wine? Properly, 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 implausible budget-friendly hidden gems in Napa.

Like a glass of nice wine, discovering Napa Valley is all about steadiness. 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 by the most effective 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 have now 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 need to know!

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

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

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

The Napa Valley AVA (American Viticultural Space) contains 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 sometimes referring to ALL of these areas and cities all through the Napa Valley – not simply Napa, town! So that you would possibly hear a Bay Space native say one thing like “I’m visiting Napa this weekend, we’ll be staying in Calistoga.” Make sense?

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

Oh, and to be completely clear, this submit 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 finest wines, due to the mix of California sunshine and funky, foggy mornings. Mountains encompass the valley on either 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 effective wine area. On the time, wine professionals outdoors of France weren’t taken severely, so when California stole the present, it was a enormous upset.

The film Bottle Shock dives into the dramatic story, and the day that put Napa formally on the map perpetually!

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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 in the course of the night time than it’s in the course of the day – temperatures can plummet 20 levels inside hours.

I’m from Chicago, so I assumed 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 gentle (Photo Credit)

Soak in Pure Scorching Springs

What higher technique to detox after a day of wine tasting than a soak in pure thermal springs? Soaking in sizzling springs promotes well-being by cleansing, elevated metabolism and blood circulate… plus it’s simply freakin’ stress-free.

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

However in the course of the Gold Rush, Samuel Brannan, a Mormon settler hoping to show the world 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 sizzling mineral springs. He additionally turned 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 a criminal offense. He died broke and alone after his spouse, fed up along with his womanizing, violence, and infidelity, divorced him. Isn’t historical past fascinating??

Right this moment, most of Calistoga’s pure sizzling springs are positioned on the properties of inns and spas, so if sizzling springs are a must-do, you’ll wish to guide a spa remedy or an evening at certainly one of these resorts.

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

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

  • Meadowlark Country House & Resort: In the event you’re a free-spirited kind, you would possibly favor this clothing-optional resort – welcome to Northern California! Whereas the opposite spas are typically extra lined, Meadowlark welcomes Calistoga’s sunny Mountain surroundings with shorter fences and a extra open structure  (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 form of really feel. Oak bushes nestle across the ranch-style resort and pool deck, which makes it really feel extra non-public. Along with their volcanically-charged geothermal springs, Meadowlark has a dry sauna and flagstone terraces for whole leisure. 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 varied 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 possibly can see the sun-soaked Vaca mountain vary, which is completely golden within the morning gentle. 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 essentially the most lately renovated of the three spas, with trendy and understated decor influenced by Mission-era property. In-built 1913, their Olympic-sized soak is the biggest 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 favor one thing – um – quieter, you can too go the time at their smaller adult-only mineral pool. 

For just a few extra strategies, 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 provides 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 have the ability to see wildlife like otters, turtles, and native birds. Beavers are very energetic 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 study extra concerning the space’s wildlife and historical past from a neighborhood. They can assist you establish 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 (Photograph courtesy of Go to Napa Valley by Bob McClenahan)

Take a Scorching Air Balloon Trip

A part of Napa Valley’s attract is its majestic wine nation magnificence, and a sizzling air balloon journey is the last word technique 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 extremely popular, but it surely’s that sizzling 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 mushy. 

Balloon rides are often early morning and embody pastries and occasional. Notice that this isn’t precisely a budget-friendly choice, particularly in case you’re attempting to be romantic: group excursions common $300 per particular person for a one-hour flight, and the worth 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. It’s also possible to 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 a giant 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 can too discover lush Chardonnays, horny Merlots, and spicy Zinfandels all through the valley. 

$30-50 is about a mean value for a tasting, and sure, that’s per particular person. Napa is expensive! That stated, you possibly can often get this charge waived by shopping for a bottle or two of wine. It’s also possible to typically discover two-for-one tasting deal coupons by stopping by the Customer’s Heart.

It’s best to go to the wineries by automotive, 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 high 5 “must-see” wineries, however you will discover a whole checklist in our Napa Valley Winery post! The wineries beneath are all comparatively simple to search out close to Oakville, the center of the Valley.

  • Far Niente is called “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 automotive assortment, a mirrored image pond, and plush 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 recognized to save lots of again vintages, so that is additionally an excellent 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 price 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 could possibly 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. Right this moment the vineyard has expanded to incorporate an ultra-modern customer heart, stuffed with paintings and bronze finishes that overlooks the vineyards so you possibly can expertise the great thing about nature in all seasons. Come take pleasure in a tasting inside or outdoors with gorgeous panoramic views of the vineyards. Stag’s Leap stays the epitome of high quality California Cabernet Sauvignon, created from property fruit in state-of-the-art services.
  • 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 usually favored candy wines, he targeted on planting Cabernet vines with superior high quality. Because of this, his To-Kalon winery in Oakville is arguably essentially 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 provides tastings in a spread of kinds, from Cabernet Sauvignon to oaked Sauvignon Blanc. You may guide a tasting, a tour, or a eating expertise. The vineyard even provides live shows, 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 possibly can style it by the glass with a tasting (by appointment solely, and also you’ll wish to guide effectively upfront).

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Get together on a Rooftop

Relying on the time of 12 months you go to Napa Valley, the wineries would possibly shut earlier than you possibly can 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 observe the day sink into night time. 

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 when you play with their large Jenga set, or chill 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 gentle right here is completely golden. On a transparent day, you possibly can sit again with certainly one of 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. 

Glad Hour is 8-10pm, which incorporates specials on each meals and drinks. One basic 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 possibly can style by olive oils to find their nuances and taste. Additionally like wine tasting, you’ll wish to take a bottle house!

A couple of ideas 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 are usually not served with bread. 
  • Coughing is commonly thought of an indication of excellent olive oil! That exhibits its extra peppery persona, which loads of lovers love.

Finest locations for olive oil tasting in Napa

  • Roundpond Estate has ripe, spherical Cabernets from Valley fruit. Their vineyard’s location is equally perfect 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 by their Italian and Spanish olive bushes and a full overview of olive oil production for $40. Their oils are typically extra conventional, with an emphasis on olive high quality. 
  • Longmeadow Ranch is straightforward to drop in with out an appointment for a $5 olive oil tasting. You could find 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 a giant blue barn. It’s a captivating and simple break from wine tasting, due to its St. Helena location and attractive 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 typically extra peppery and refined than the Roundpond Property. 
  • Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co. is a neighborhood favourite that has made varied gourmand oils for practically a century. Their black truffle oil has an attention-grabbing umami kick that makes a stunning praise to pasta, and their blood orange oil is gorgeous 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 numerous 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 practice journey. Whilst you take pleasure in 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 visitors from downtown Napa to the resort city of Calistoga. The practice itself has the form of really feel that you just´d count on from using firstclass on the flip of the twentieth century: plush seats, white desk cloths, and Honduran mahogany paneling. 

In the event you’re not explicit about which wineries you go to however favor to not drive, you possibly can guide an tour that features lunch and a go to to an iconic Napa Property. The most well-liked expertise is the Vista Dome, the place you possibly can take pleasure in 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). Notice 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 biggest 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 procuring facilities (fortunately, the wealth is extra diversified now).

Right this moment, issues are much less quaint and slightly extra upscale, however there are nonetheless loads of native specialties and treats to find on a stroll across the charming, historic downtown Napa. Simply depart some room in your suitcase for souvenirs!

Store for gourmand merchandise in Napa

  • Oxbow Market is a riverside market and meals corridor. You may cease in for lunch from a neighborhood chef, then meander round sampling artisan sweets, espresso, and cheeses. 
  • Ritual Coffee roaster. Based in San Francisco in 2005, provides preciously roasted espresso to perk you up between tastings. Strive a cup and produce house 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 possibly can take house a bottle from The Olive Press – essentially the most extremely awarded olive producer within the US! 
  • Anette’s Chocolates. Anette and her brother have been making native confections with the best substances for over 25 years. Their well-known brittles and chocolate truffles make nice items, or you may get a pattern present field with an assortment of Napa sweets. 
  • Whole Spice. In the event you’re engaged on wine tasting, pay a go to to Whole Spice and odor the spices from world wide (that is one thing sommeliers really do, by the best way). Think about how cool you’ll sound the following time you’re sniffing your Cabernet…”Hmmm, I detect hints of curry and fenugreek!”

Native boutiques in Napa

Native boutique outlets line First Avenue in downtown Napa. Once you’re not exploring the wine-country stylish trend, you possibly can simply pop into a neighborhood artwork gallery or wine tasting. 

  • Macbella. A girls’s boutique with an Italian-chic mixture of each European and American designers like Klaudia Karamandi and Aggi. That is the right place to select up a tasteful gown for the French Laundry, or a meet the mother and father night time.
  • Kalifornia Jean Bar. Right here you possibly can 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 simple 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 neglect the pup! Particularly after he was so affected person when you’ve been away all day consuming. Milo & Mates 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 evokes colourful, product-driven plates that can educate any meat eater to like veggies.

The entry to the recent, scrumptious, regionally produced meals — and rich buyers — attracts the world’s finest culinary expertise to Northern California. So take a category from a chef to sharpen your knife expertise, make do-it-yourself pasta, and even discover ways to pick the most effective produce on the farmer’s market. 

  • Cooking with Julie: Julie Logue-Riordan is a non-public chef and cooking trainer of 25 years. After coaching beneath Grasp Cooks in France and dwelling overseas, she developed a world toolbelt to arrange various delicacies with native produce. Her courses revolve round “cooking from the season.” It is a must-have talent for anybody wanting to scale back their carbon footprint by procuring regionally! Stroll across the farmer’s market and uncover the native heirloom varieties. The three-course menu shall be impressed by what seems to be good on the market, comparable to Grilled Figs with Almond Picada and Prosciutto, Grilled Steak with Mediterranean Herb Rub and Arugula Salad, and Buttermilk and Mascarpone Ice Cream with Recent 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 certainly one of their instructors in Napa. Relying on the size of your keep, in addition they supply “Boot Camps” and multi-day group courses. You may take classes to leasrn how one can excellent flatbread, put together a dim sum brunch, and even style wine in beneath 90 seconds. They even present a partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, so that you experiment with new strategies from superstar 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 world house for near 10,000 years. Actually, the Northern Californian paradise didn’t develop 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 price a go to even for non-history buffs. They appeal to some noteworthy displays too, like lately, 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 possibly can take a tour by 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 fashionable latest exhibit is the Tiki: Artwork of the Unique exhibit the place you possibly can brush up on Polynesian Pop historical past when 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 technique to discover your new favourite beer! (Photo Credit)

Go Craft Beer Tasting

After a full day of tasting wine for Palate Club, have you learnt 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 finest recognized for his or her BBQ. The smoky flavors are excellent with their hottest beer, the Stone IPA. Leashed canine are welcome for his or her outside patio, and repair canine are welcome indoors.
  • Fieldwork Brewing is positioned in Oxbow Public Market provides a rotating checklist of draft beers and flights. This is a superb choice for teams with various palates, as you take pleasure in their varied craft beer choice with meals from any of the numerous 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 typically 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 provides quite a lot of basic pub meals with Jamaican delicacies from Vibrant Meals. Dedicated to the artisan methodology, 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 realm’s standing as an Agricultural Protect means 1000’s of acres of scenic mountainside trails, Redwood alcoves, and various flora to discover. Listed here are a number of the high hikes in Napa Valley:

  • Alston Park is a dog-friendly space with three miles of unobstructed hills bordered by Redwood Creek. The hike is gorgeous and really open, however with little shade safety (which you’ll witness by the matted dry grass on the paths). It feels extra prairie-like than the opposite hikes right here and pretty simple 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 by 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 go certainly one of Napa’s most various shows of Douglas fir, oaks, and the native yellow Mariposa lily on the 15-minute hike. Lizards are energetic within the hotter months, although it’s extra widespread to catch the Black-tailed deer or the lovable Desert cottontail rabbit. The cherry on high is a 50-foot waterfall dubbed Linda Falls. Solely 20 minutes from Freeway 29, this hike is a superb choice 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 verify them out in case you can’t make it to their precise distillery (Photo Credit)

Go to a Distillery

The Napa Valley Distillery provides tastings at their speakeasy-style Grand Tasting Saloon ($30). Their basic copper alembic nonetheless influences their Previous-West attraction 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 varied rooms and vibes impressed by all of our favourite consuming tendencies: 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 crimson vermouth. Their quirky sensibility and love for historical past even pours into their ongoing occasions. You may tune in to find out about a unique kind of Spirits throughout their Ghost Stories dwell from the distillery on Thursdays. Talking of…

Go Ghost Searching

In fact, a historic booze metropolis like Napa can have lingering spirits! Paranormal investigators Ellen MacFarlane and David Sisk are greater than school children with a spooky summer time job — they use their expertise of other-wordly communication to assist households and even legislation enforcement achieve clues into lacking individuals circumstances, demystify UFOs and life vitality theories, and advocate for spirit crossings for trapped souls. Anticipate 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 freely giving all of the surprises, your guides take you to varied 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 possibility 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 Unimaginable 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 arms with a number of the high cooks within the nation. The identical kind of particular person that’s drawn to 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 checklist of a number of the finest eating places in Napa Valley. Since meals vary from $10-1000, I organized it by funds. 

  • Professional tip: Many individuals neglect to rearrange a journey house after their meal and may find yourself ready as much as 45 minutes for a cab. In the event 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 usually supply this for you in case you ask firstly 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 certainly one of Oprah’s “Favourite Issues” in 2016!
  • The Station, which is positioned in an previous gasoline station, is a superb place to cease for natural espresso with grab-and-go bites. They’ve actually good cappuccinos in addition to some strong avocado toast, and a very cute outside patio to take a seat out again to take pleasure in 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 aspect 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 method to basic American dishes like burgers, fried rooster, and porkchops. In the event 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 this can be 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, trendy steak-house with a world-class Napa Valley Wine checklist, and the right place to have a elaborate 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 possibly can’t go fallacious with something right here, and the educated employees will enable you to pair your meal with a wonderful glass of wine. Most eating places in Napa can have an excellent wine checklist, however in case you’re able to geek out on again vintages, Press is an important go to!
Castello di Amorosa Tuscan inspired castle winery in Napa, California.
Castello di Amorosa is a vineyard modeled after a Thirteenth century Tuscan citadel, full with a torture chamber. For… accuracy, I assume? (Yep, accuracy.)

Go to a Citadel

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 citadel, 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 citadel is sprawling and no expense has been spared, from the lake to the terraces and courtyards to the armory to the …er, torture chamber.

Thankfully (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 to be able 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 a deep appreciation of medieval replicas, you simply should go see it for your self. Ah, perhaps that’s the true purpose 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 all the pieces he does, together with his Raymond Cellars vineyard. Right here, you possibly can expertise the “sensory wall” the place you possibly can really feel and odor all of the textures and smells that we use to explain wine. 

In the event you get pleasant with the tasting room affiliate, you would possibly even get to peek into their Crystal Cellar, which incorporates go-go lady mannequins and purple lights. Raymond additionally provides enjoyable experiences like “Winemaker for a Day” the place you possibly can mix your individual wines (even artist John Legend made his personal mix right here). After your tasting, you possibly can 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 seem like historical torture gadgets. 

artwork on the napa art walk in Napa California
Art work isn’t 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. The town requires massive actual property tasks to donate 1% in direction of a public artwork fund, so town is bursting with free artwork installations. I like this selection as a result of you possibly can take in a chunk of the wealthy native tradition and discover the city of Napa free of charge! Free is tough to return 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 gentle to create dimensions within the house, or that requires motion for the total results.

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

Watch dwell music

Wine has a manner of constructing individuals dance, and fortuitously the nightlife in Napa is flooded with dwell music. The very first thing you want to know is that Napa Valley is house to a lot 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 the event you’re visiting outdoors of pageant season, listed here are a number of the finest locations to catch dwell music. 

  • Blue Note Napa is an intimate jazz bar & restaurant on the primary ground of the Napa Valley Opera Home. Anticipate dim lights with a Greenwich Village vibe and basic cocktails.
  • RH Yountville Wine Vault is a luxe two-story wine bar with cedar partitions and plush seating. They generally supply dwell music of their tasteful outside eating space that includes artwork, design, and wine. Nonetheless, the one dancing you possibly can count on right here is watching the fireplace pit glimmer off the chandeliers. 
  • Downtown Joe’s Napa provides 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 automotive, however you can too take transit to get from San Francisco or Oakland to Napa.

Find out how to Get to Napa

The simplest technique 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. Notice that California roads are sometimes winding, so in case you get automotive sick, go for a comfortable SUV moderately than a sports activities automotive!

  • 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. Remember to plan your route out of your lodge, as going downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge provides about Half-hour to your course. In the event you’re not eager about driving over the Golden Gate bridge, you possibly can take the Bay Bridge from downtown to get to I-80.
  • From Oakland: In the event 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 the event you fly into Sacramento, your route will doubtless 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 may 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 method. 

It’s also possible to take a bus and practice mixture by Amtrak to get from San Francisco to Napa Valley in 3-4 hours for round $40 spherical journey – that is positively the most cost effective choice!

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

Find out how to Get Round Napa

It’s positively best to get round Napa with a automotive – however in case you received’t have one, otherwise you simply wish 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 automotive, so draw straws and decide a Designated Driver (one other professional tip: ensure that everybody pitches in to get the DD a pleasant dinner on the finish of the day).
  • Trip Sharing Apps: Lyft is on the market in Napa Valley and begin round $15 for a 15-minute drive. Wineries could possibly 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 count on longer for extra distant areas. In case you have appointments, plan with additional time, as it’s possible you’ll want to attend on your journey to point out up in additional remoted areas.
  • Hire a Limo: In the event you’re balling out or seeking to get together, limo or get together bus leases are one of the simplest ways to get round Napa Valley. Napa Shuttle Limousine gives customized packages relying in your itinerary. Limos begin at $99, relying on the corporate.
  • Rent a Driver: Corporations comparable to Designated Drivers Napa Sonoma supply native drivers. As a result of they drive your automotive, the fee tends to be decrease than non-public shuttles or excursions. Ensure your driver is licensed and insured by referencing the California PUC’s Transportation Carrier Lookup. Their identify must 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 in the course of the busy season. Generally, I recommend making reservations, as you possibly can plan your route and also you received’t waste time getting turned away if the tasting room is full. 

However In the event you’re not explicit about the place you go and wish extra steerage from a neighborhood (and transportation as effectively), take into account certainly one of 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 possibly can keep by them!

The place to Keep in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is definitely a area that features several small towns, all of which usually have slightly walkable space and are near wineries. So earlier than you decide a spot to guide, take into consideration which a part of Napa Valley you wish 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 wish to go to earlier than you guide your lodge to maintain your driving time down!

Napa, the biggest metropolis, has fabulous boutique inns and loads of eating places – plus, it’s acquired 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 take into account staying in Calistoga, which has extra of a romantic-getaway vibe and a plethora of spas due to its pure geothermal sizzling springs!

Listed here 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 outlets. The rooms are luxurious (take a look at that bath!) 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 sizzling tub and a cute yard patio.
  • In the event you plan on visiting wine nation with a gaggle (good day, bachelorette get together?) this stunning hill-side retreat with breathtaking 360’ views of Napa Valley in Calistoga is what Napa desires are created from. Get up to mountain views, hang around on the sprawling decks with views of the rolling hills and vineyards, and sip wine by the attractive fireplace 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 company between the USA and Europe.


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

Psst: Planning extra boozy journey? We have now carried out a lot 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 & Sources

Listed here are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try 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 ideas: 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 non-public rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to guide inns (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to guide hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and glorious critiques). For trip leases, we favor to guide utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical monitor report. It’s also possible to guide trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our house 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 search out out why. We advocate 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 are 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 can we earn money again that we will spend on extra journey, however the card provides implausible journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automotive protection, which helps defend us on our travels. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis beneficial medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time advocate getting each vaccine beneficial by the CDC! You may get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get a neighborhood’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We guide our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine how one can get from place to position, and guide native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we will. After we guide a rental automotive, we use Kayak to check rental firms and discover the most effective deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Every time we’re testing early or benefiting 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 info (like web site login particulars, financial institution data, and many others) protected, even while you’re related to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it allows you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO while 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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