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 quite a lot 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 wager that we’ve got extra enjoyable!

However is there something to do in Napa apart from ingesting quite a lot 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 unbelievable 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 by 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: On the lookout 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 must know!

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

The city of Napa is situated 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 by 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 sometimes 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?

If you happen to’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 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 among the world’s greatest wines, due to the mixture 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 superb wine area. On the time, wine professionals outdoors of France weren’t taken significantly, 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 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 greater than foggy Coastal California. Daytime – particularly in the summertime – can get to over 100 levels, so put on one thing breathable and comfy!

However for those who’ll be staying in a single day or previous sundown, convey heat layers. It’s a lot colder in the course of the evening than it’s in the course of 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 Sizzling Springs provide you with gorgeous sun-soaked Vaca vary views within the morning gentle (Photo Credit)

Soak in Pure Sizzling Springs

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

Napa’s middle of scorching springs and geothermal swimming pools is the city of Calistoga. The Wappo tribe, the world’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 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 scorching 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 together with his womanizing, violence, and infidelity, divorced him. Isn’t historical past fascinating??

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

Observe that In the course of the summer season months you might need 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: If you happen to’re a free-spirited kind, you may want this clothing-optional resort – welcome to Northern California! Whereas the opposite spas are typically extra coated, Meadowlark welcomes Calistoga’s sunny Mountain surroundings with shorter fences and a extra open format  (don’t fear, you’re properly tucked away from the nightlife and wine tastings).  The shut proximity to the hills and timber offers this resort a house-in-the-woods form of really feel. Oak timber 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 leisure. Day passes are $50.
  • Calistoga Hot Springs & Spa: The resort property options a number of coated swimming pools, together with a 104-degree geothermal pool, an 80-degree lap pool, and varied spa providers. The water is of course filtered by Napa’s alluvial soils, leaving hint parts of minerals behind. You’ll be able to 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 gentle. Palm timber line the deck, and a glass dome covers their geothermal pool, which helps lure the steam and at instances offers a foggy, mysterious really feel. 
  • Indian Springs Calistoga: Indian Springs appears to be essentially the most lately renovated of the three spas, with fashionable and understated decor influenced by Mission-era property. Inbuilt 1913, their Olympic-sized soak is the most important pure mineral pool in Napa Valley. The 17-acre property accommodates three thermal geysers and a resort, with two-story white Spanish-style buildings that overlook a pond surrounded by palm timber and non-native tropical vegetation. Their swimming pools are one of many few kid-friendly choices in Napa, so for those who’d want one thing – um – quieter, you can too cross the time at their smaller adult-only mineral pool. 

For a number of extra options, head over to this guide.

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kayaking down the napa river
You’ll be able to see critters like otters whereas kayaking down the Napa River! (credit score: DowntownNapa)

Go Kayaking

The 55-mile Napa River presents 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 timber.

As you paddle, you’ll have the ability to see wildlife like otters, turtles, and native birds. Beavers are very lively right here as properly, which fire up the pure (and innocent) algae (making the water a bit murky at instances).

Oh, and right here’s a enjoyable river truth: 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 concerning the space’s wildlife and historical past from an area. They might help you determine particular hen species, in addition to level out historic buildings broken by the 2014 earthquake.

hot air balloon over napa valley california
One of the simplest 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 Sizzling Air Balloon Trip

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

The balloon can really feel extremely popular, however 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 may be very comfortable. 

Balloon rides are normally early morning and embrace pastries and low. Observe that this isn’t precisely a budget-friendly choice, particularly for those who’re making an attempt to be romantic: group excursions common $300 per individual 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 properly well worth the expense!

This hot air balloon ride takes off from Yountville and lasts for about an hour, and also you’ll study ballooning’s colourful historical past in addition to native highlights. You can too 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 for those who’re not a giant wine individual, the sloping mountain views and historic châteaux make visiting Napa wineries important to your journey. Napa Valley famously produces among the world’s most iconic Cabernet Sauvignon, and you can too discover lush Chardonnays, attractive Merlots, and spicy Zinfandels all through the valley. 

$30-50 is about a median worth for a tasting, and sure, that’s per individual. Napa is expensive! That stated, you’ll be able to normally get this charge waived by shopping for a bottle or two of wine. You can too typically discover two-for-one tasting deal coupons by stopping by the Customer’s Middle.

It’s best to go to the wineries by automobile, however for those who don’t have one (or don’t have a DD), there are many excursions, like this day trip from San Francisco that you may 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 yow will discover a whole listing in our Napa Valley Winery post! The wineries under are all comparatively simple to seek out close to Oakville, the guts of the Valley.

  • Far Niente is called “Napa Valley’s Best Vineyard” with a storybook-style Chateau on the finish of an extended, 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 plush timber 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 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 among 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 offers 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 could have by no means reached its status with out 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. In the present day the vineyard has expanded to incorporate an ultra-modern customer middle, stuffed with paintings and bronze finishes that overlooks the vineyards so you’ll be able to expertise the fantastic 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, made out of 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 typically favored candy wines, he targeted on planting Cabernet vines with superior high quality. Consequently, 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 presents tastings in a spread of types, from Cabernet Sauvignon to oaked Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll be able to guide a tasting, a tour, or a eating expertise. The vineyard even presents 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 mission 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 properly upfront).

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Celebration on a Rooftop

Relying on the time of 12 months you go to Napa Valley, the wineries may shut earlier than you’ll be able to catch the sundown.

However for those who’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 when you play with their big Jenga set, or chill and benefit from the gorgeous mountainside panorama.

Northern California is among the furthest western factors that you may simply entry within the US, so the late afternoon gentle right here is completely golden. On a transparent day, you’ll be able to 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. 

Pleased Hour is 8-10pm, which incorporates specials on each meals and drinks. One basic California chunk 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 by olive oils to find their nuances and taste. Additionally like wine tasting, you’ll need to take a bottle residence!

A number 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 usually are not served with bread. 
  • Coughing is usually thought of an indication of fine olive oil! That reveals its extra peppery character, which quite a lot of fans love.

Greatest locations for olive oil tasting in Napa

  • Roundpond Estate has ripe, spherical Cabernets from Valley fruit. Their vineyard’s location is equally ideally suited for olive oil manufacturing! The Rutherford property may be very near Freeway 29, however feels extra secluded as you enter through their lengthy drive lined with palm timber 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 timber 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 will discover their olive oil tasting at their present store and café simply subsequent to their restaurant Farmstead, which is stylish and elevated informal, even though it’s in a giant blue barn. It’s an enthralling 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 timber 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 an area 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 beautiful for a summer season salad. The tasting takes place in an Americana-perfect white barn with an American and Italian flag hanging from the window. The low-key environment 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 convey you from Napa to St. Helena and again on a soothing, scenic 3-hour prepare trip. 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 convey visitors from downtown Napa to the resort city of Calistoga. The prepare itself has the form of really feel that you just´d count on from driving first-class on the flip of the twentieth century: plush seats, white desk cloths, and Honduran mahogany paneling. 

If you happen to’re not specific about which wineries you go to however want to not drive, you’ll be able to 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’ll be able to 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). Observe 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 over the past 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).

In the present day, 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 go away some room in your suitcase for souvenirs!

Store for gourmand merchandise in Napa

  • Oxbow Market is a riverside market and meals corridor. You’ll be able to 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, presents preciously roasted espresso to perk you up between tastings. Strive a cup and convey residence 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 residence 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 will get a pattern present field with an assortment of Napa sweets. 
  • Whole Spice. If you happen to’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 way in which). 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 Avenue in downtown Napa. If 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 gown for the French Laundry, or a meet the mother and father 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 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 ingesting. Milo & Pals is a (fancy) pet retailer that gives 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 may train any meat eater to like veggies.

The entry to the contemporary, scrumptious, domestically 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 expertise, make selfmade pasta, and even discover ways to select the very best 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 below Grasp Cooks in France and residing overseas, she developed a global toolbelt to arrange numerous delicacies with native produce. Her lessons revolve round “cooking from the season.” It is a must-have ability for anybody wanting to scale back their carbon footprint by purchasing domestically! Stroll across the farmer’s market and uncover the native heirloom varieties. The three-course menu will likely be impressed by what appears good on the market, resembling 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 among the most esteemed colleges for aspiring cooks. You’ll be able to take a non-public class with certainly one of their instructors in Napa. Relying on the size of your keep, additionally they supply “Boot Camps” and multi-day group lessons. You’ll be able to take classes to leasrn how one can excellent flatbread, put together a dim sum brunch, and even style wine in below 90 seconds. They even present a partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, so that you experiment with new methods from celeb cooks!

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Study Napa Valley Historical past

Earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon took over the Valley with large agricultural gentrification, the Wappo tribe referred to as the world residence 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.

Study 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 reveals too, like lately, a showcase of paintings from actress Lucy Liu

True to California type, a lot of their rotating reveals spotlight popular culture, like their “Harmful Video games” exhibit the place you’ll be able to take a tour by the damaging and poisonous toys we used to play with as youngsters, just like the Slip ‘n Slide or the gooey Creepy Crawlers. One other fashionable current exhibit is the Tiki: Artwork of the Unique exhibit the place you’ll be able to 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 solution 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 situated in Oxbow Public Market presents a rotating listing of draft beers and flights. This is a superb choice for teams with numerous 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. A lot 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 presents a wide range 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
Climbing path within the hills of Napa Valley close to Angwin

Go 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 hundreds of acres of scenic mountainside trails, Redwood alcoves, and numerous flora to discover. Listed below are among 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 beautiful 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 a wide range of panorama, from sunny oak timber 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 cross certainly one of 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 lovely 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 effective place to examine them out for those who can’t make it to their precise distillery (Photo Credit)

Go to a Distillery

The Napa Valley Distillery presents tastings at their speakeasy-style Grand Tasting Saloon ($30). Their basic copper alembic nonetheless influences their Outdated-West appeal right down to their Probation-era batched cocktails. You’ll be able to 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 ingesting developments: 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’ll be able to tune in to study a special kind of Spirits throughout their Ghost Stories stay from the distillery on Thursdays. Talking of…

Go Ghost Looking

In fact, a historic booze metropolis like Napa can have lingering spirits! Paranormal investigators Ellen MacFarlane and David Sisk are greater than faculty youngsters with a spooky summer season job — they use their expertise of other-wordly communication to assist households and even legislation enforcement acquire clues into lacking individuals instances, demystify UFOs and life power 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 and contact the spirits utilizing dowsing rods or paranormal sensitivities. You might 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 palms with among the high cooks within the nation. The identical kind of individual that’s interested in the area’s prestigious vineyards additionally normally seeks out a top-notch eating expertise, so eating places of all budgets push the envelope for high quality. 

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

  • Professional tip: Many individuals neglect to rearrange a trip residence after their meal and may find yourself ready as much as 45 minutes for a cab. If you happen to’re planning an evening at a vacation spot restaurant, ask your restaurant how lengthy the meal normally takes and schedule an Uber or cab. The nicer eating places will typically supply this for you for those who 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 selfmade 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 situated 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 extremely 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 check out 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 check out some contemporary, 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 informal roadhouse really feel, the farm-to-table delicacies takes a extra polished method to basic American dishes like burgers, fried rooster, and porkchops. If you happen to make it in for his or her every 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 contemporary 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 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’ll be able to’t go mistaken with something right here, and the educated employees will show you how to pair your meal with a superb glass of wine. Most eating places in Napa can have an excellent wine listing, however for those who’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 citadel, full with a torture chamber. For… accuracy, I suppose? (Yep, accuracy.)

Go to a Fortress

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 must 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 as a way 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 must 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 all the things 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 odor all of the textures and smells that we use to explain wine. 

If you happen to get pleasant with the tasting room affiliate, you may even get to peek into their Crystal Cellar, which incorporates go-go woman mannequins and purple lights. Raymond additionally presents enjoyable experiences like “Winemaker for a Day” the place you’ll be able to mix your personal 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 historical 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. The town requires massive actual property tasks to donate 1% in the direction of a public artwork fund, so town is bursting with free artwork installations. I like this selection as a result of you’ll be able to soak up a bit of the wealthy native tradition and discover the city of Napa free of charge! Free is difficult 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 gentle to create dimensions within the area, or that requires motion for the total results.

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

Watch stay music

Wine has a method of creating individuals dance, and fortunately the nightlife in Napa is flooded with stay music. The very first thing you must know is that Napa Valley is residence to quite a lot of summer season music festivals, together with  Yountville Live in March, BottleRock Napa Valley in Might, Napa Valley Jazz Getaway in June, and Robert Mondavi Concert Series and Festival Napa Valley in July. 

If you happen to’re visiting outdoors of competition season, listed here are among the greatest locations to catch stay 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 stay music of their tasteful outside eating space that comes with artwork, design, and wine. Nevertheless, the one dancing you’ll be able to count on right here is watching the hearth pit glimmer off the chandeliers. 
  • Downtown Joe’s Napa presents a really no-fuss various to the stylish setting at RH Yountville. The American restaurant & brewery has river views, plastic chairs, and a judgement-free setting. You would 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 can too take transit to get from San Francisco or Oakland to Napa.

Methods to Get to Napa

The simplest solution 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’ll be able to rent a vehicle from the airport you fly into, or instantly in Napa. Observe that California roads are sometimes winding, so for those who get automobile sick, go for a comfortable SUV fairly than a sports activities automobile!

  • From Downtown San Francisco: If you’re staying downtown however HAVE to see the Golden Gate Bridge, take Freeway 101 on the way in which North to Napa however I-80 on the way in which again. This route will prevent from the $8.35 southbound Golden Gate bridge toll. Be sure you plan your route out of your resort, as going downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge provides about Half-hour to your course. If you happen to’re not all for driving over the Golden Gate bridge, you’ll be able to take the Bay Bridge from downtown to get to I-80.
  • From Oakland: If you happen to 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: If you happen to 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: Understand 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 with out a passing lane, which may considerably strain 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 embrace San Francisco pickup. Uber and Lyft will even get you there for round $120 a technique. 

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

Methods to Get Round Napa

It’s undoubtedly best to get round Napa with a automobile – however for those who received’t have one, otherwise you simply need to give attention to having fun with the wine, you do have a number of choices.

  • Rent a Car: You’ll be able to rent a vehicle from the airport you fly into, or instantly in Napa when you arrive. It’s difficult to get round Napa with out a automobile, 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 out there 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 counsel planning forward. In my expertise, it takes round 10 minutes for a Lyft to point out up, however count on longer for extra distant places. In case you have appointments, plan with further time, as you might want to attend to your trip to point out up in additional remoted places.
  • Hire a Limo: If you happen to’re balling out or trying to occasion, limo or occasion bus leases are the easiest way to get round Napa Valley. Napa Shuttle Limousine supplies customized packages relying in your itinerary. Limos begin at $99, relying on the corporate.
  • Rent a Driver: Corporations resembling Designated Drivers Napa Sonoma supply native drivers. As a result of they drive your automobile, the associated fee tends to be decrease than personal shuttles or excursions. Ensure your driver is licensed and insured by referencing the California PUC’s Transportation Carrier Lookup. Their title ought 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 in the course of the busy season. Basically, I counsel making reservations, as you’ll be able to plan your route and also you received’t waste time getting turned away if the tasting room is full. 

However If you happen to’re not specific about the place you go and need extra steering from an area (and transportation as properly), 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’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 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 need to base your self in: Napa, Yountville, Calistoga, or St. Helena.

Understand that it takes wherever from 35-90 minutes from higher Nappa Valley to decrease Napa Valley relying on site visitors, so it’s useful to consider which wineries you need to go to earlier than you guide your resort to maintain your driving time down!

Napa, the most important metropolis, has fabulous boutique resorts 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 take into account 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 (have a look at that bathtub!) and the resort encompasses a swanky rooftop bar that’s frequented by locals!
  • La Casita is an enthralling little Spanish model bungalow situated in Napa’s Outdated City, strolling distance from all of downtown Napa, with a scorching tub and a cute yard patio.
  • If you happen to 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 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 under

Psst: Planning extra boozy journey? We have now carried out plenty 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 Prime Journey Ideas & Sources

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & sources 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 normally keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique resorts or personal rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to guide resorts (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to guide hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and glorious opinions). For trip leases, we want 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 observe report. You can too guide trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our residence and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel 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 among 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 will we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card presents unbelievable 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 advisable medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times suggest getting each vaccine advisable 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 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 how one can get from place to position, 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 benefiting from an extended layover, we use LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating 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 information, and so on) secure, even while you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it helps you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO while you enroll!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we convey 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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