19 Fabulous Issues To Do in Napa Valley, California

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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.

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Napa Valley is a number 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 in addition to ingesting a number 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 improbable budget-friendly hidden gems in Napa.

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

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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 positioned inside 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 via 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, the 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 finest wines, due to the mix of California sunshine and funky, foggy mornings. Mountains encompass the valley on each side: the Vaca Vary to the East and the Mayacamas to the West. Between these two mountain ranges, wineries and vineyards are sprinkled all through!

Napa was only a quiet, unknown California wine nation till the dramatic Judgment of Paris in 1976, when Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena shockingly defeated two glorious French wines in a blind-tasting competitors, formally positioning Napa because the New World’s most well-known high-quality 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 ceaselessly!


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

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


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Issues to do in Napa

A man swimming laps in the pool of Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in Calistoga, California
Calistoga Spa Scorching Springs provide you with beautiful sun-soaked Vaca vary views within the morning mild (Picture Credit score)

Soak in Pure Scorching Springs

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

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

Right now, most of Calistoga’s pure scorching springs are positioned on the properties of lodges and spas, so if scorching springs are a must-do, you’ll need to e book a spa therapy or an evening at one in all these resorts.

Word that In the course of the summer season months you might need to plan your soak after darkish (or in no way) because the city is hottest in Napa Valley (actually! It’s round 20 levels hotter throughout the day than Carneros).

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

  • Meadowlark Nation Home & Resort: If you happen to’re a free-spirited sort, you may want this clothing-optional resort – welcome to Northern California! Whereas the opposite spas are usually extra coated, 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 type 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 complete rest. Day passes are $50.
  • Calistoga Scorching 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 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 may see the sun-soaked Vaca mountain vary, which is completely golden within the morning mild. Palm bushes line the deck, and a glass dome covers their geothermal pool, which helps entice the steam and at instances provides a foggy, mysterious really feel. 
  • Indian Springs Calistoga: Indian Springs appears to be essentially the most just lately renovated of the three spas, with fashionable and understated decor influenced by Mission-era property. In-built 1913, their Olympic-sized soak is the most important pure mineral pool in Napa Valley. The 17-acre property comprises three thermal geysers and a resort, 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 when you’d want one thing – um – quieter, you can even move the time at their smaller adult-only mineral pool. 

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


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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 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 slim, wooded areas lined with dogwood bushes.

As you paddle, you’ll be capable 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 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 town!

Take a two-hour guided kayak tour to study extra concerning the space’s wildlife and historical past from a neighborhood. They may also help you establish particular chicken species, in addition to level out historic buildings broken by the 2014 earthquake.

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

Take a Scorching Air Balloon Journey

A part of Napa Valley’s attract is its majestic wine nation magnificence, and a scorching air balloon journey is the final word method 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 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 mushy. 

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

This scorching air balloon journey takes off from Yountville and lasts for about an hour, and also you’ll find out about ballooning’s colourful historical past in addition to native highlights. You may also e book 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 when 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 among the world’s most iconic Cabernet Sauvignon, and you can even discover lush Chardonnays, attractive Merlots, and spicy Zinfandels all through the valley. 

$30-50 is about a mean worth for a tasting, and sure, that’s per particular person. Napa is costly! That mentioned, you may often get this charge waived by shopping for a bottle or two of wine. You may also 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 when you don’t have one (or don’t have a DD), there are many excursions, like today journey from San Francisco that you would be able to e book. Uber and Lyft can be found in Napa Valley, however simply give your self some cushion time, because it’s frequent 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 an entire record in our Napa Valley Vineyard put up! The wineries under are all comparatively straightforward to search out close to Oakville, the guts of the Valley.

  • Far Niente is named “Napa Valley’s Best Vineyard” with a storybook-style Chateau on the finish of a protracted, acacia-tree-lined drive. The property was inbuilt 1885, and was later renovated to its present glory. Full with a classic 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 identified to save lots of again vintages, so that is additionally an important place to style older Napa – however be able to shell out some money for it!
  • Beringer Property is without doubt one of the oldest wineries in Napa, and the historic Rhine-style chateau is value a go to in and of itself. The founder moved to California from Germany within the 1870s; the German affect on the property provides the property a storybook really feel. The ornate chateau 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 could have by no means reached its status and not using a 1976 wine tasting the place Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars overwhelmingly outperformed First Development 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 now the vineyard has expanded to incorporate an ultra-modern customer heart, crammed with paintings and bronze finishes that overlooks the vineyards so you may expertise the great thing about nature in all seasons. Come take pleasure in a tasting inside or outdoors with beautiful panoramic views of the vineyards. Stag’s Leap stays the epitome of high quality California Cabernet Sauvignon, comprised of property fruit in state-of-the-art amenities.
  • Robert Mondavi is the modern-day father of Napa Valley and the person who traveled the world to champion its high quality. Throughout a time the place post-prohibition tastes usually 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 variety of types, from Cabernet Sauvignon to oaked Sauvignon Blanc. You may e book a tasting, a tour, or a eating expertise. The vineyard even presents concert events, pending seasonality (and pandemics). 
  • Opus One Vineyard 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 may style it by the glass with a tasting (by appointment solely, and also you’ll need to e book effectively upfront).


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Get together on a Rooftop

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

However when 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 Lodge in downtown Napa, full with seating preparations for all group sizes and warmth lamps for the chilly nights. Get pleasure from a cocktail and bites whilst you play with their big Jenga set, or chill and benefit from the beautiful mountainside panorama.

Northern California is without doubt one of the furthest western factors that you would be able to simply entry within the US, so the late afternoon mild right here is completely golden. On a transparent day, you may sit again with one in all 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. 

Blissful 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, check out this record.

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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 may style via olive oils to find their nuances and taste. Additionally like wine tasting, you’ll need to take a bottle residence!

Just a few ideas for olive oil tasting: 

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

Finest locations for olive oil tasting in Napa

  • Roundpond Property has ripe, spherical Cabernets from Valley fruit. Their vineyard’s location is equally superb for olive oil manufacturing! The Rutherford property may be very near Freeway 29, however feels extra secluded as you enter by way of their lengthy drive lined with palm bushes and vineyards. Most of their tastings are held on their expansive terrace with a view of the Vaca Vary. The tasting expertise features a stroll via their Italian and Spanish olive bushes and a full overview of olive oil manufacturing for $40. Their oils are usually 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’ll find their olive oil tasting at their reward store and café simply subsequent to their restaurant Farmstead, which is stylish and elevated informal, even if 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 usually extra peppery and delicate than the Roundpond Property. 
  • Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co. is a neighborhood favourite that has made varied connoisseur 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 ambiance is contrasted by the numerous luxurious Napa estates, however their high quality of product is nonetheless spectacular. 

Take the Napa Valley Wine Practice

Napa Valley’s Historic Wine Practice will carry you from Napa to St. Helena and again on a soothing, 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 carry friends from downtown Napa to the resort city of Calistoga. The practice itself has the type of really feel that you just´d anticipate from using top quality on the flip of the twentieth century: plush seats, white desk cloths, and Honduran mahogany paneling. 

If you happen to’re not explicit about which wineries you go to however want to not drive, you may e book 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 may take pleasure in a multi-course lunch or dinner with panoramic winery views. For extra leisure, e book the Homicide Thriller Dinner, the place the killer is hiding subtly behind their glass of Pinot Noir. 

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

Store for Native Specialties

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

Right now, issues are much less quaint and a bit of 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 connoisseur 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 candies, espresso, and cheeses. 
  • Ritual Espresso roaster. Based in San Francisco in 2005, presents preciously roasted espresso to perk you up between tastings. Strive a cup and produce residence a bag of beans, or sip in your latte as you pattern a few of Anette’s Candies. 
  • The Olive Press. In case you didn’t make it to an olive oil tasting (see above), you may take residence a bottle from The Olive Press – essentially the most extremely awarded olive producer within the US! 
  • Anette’s Candies. 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 presents, or you will get a pattern reward field with an assortment of Napa sweets. 
  • Entire Spice. If you happen to’re engaged on wine tasting, pay a go to to Entire Spice and odor the spices from around the globe (that is one thing sommeliers truly 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 outlets line First Avenue in downtown Napa. If you’re not exploring the wine-country stylish style, you may 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 costume for the French Laundry, or a meet the mother and father night time.
  • Kalifornia Jean Bar. Right here you may good your California informal look with curated denim, sweats, and tee shirts for women and men. In distinction to stylish Macbela, KJB has extra of a Tahoe-inspired outdoors-y vibe. 
  • Nostalgia of Napa. It’s straightforward to get misplaced exploring the native treasures, together with vintage furnishings and bar ware, clothes, and classic equipment.
  • Milo and Associates Pet Boutique. Don’t neglect the pup! Particularly after he was so affected person whilst you’ve been away all day ingesting. Milo & Associates is a (fancy) pet retailer that provides pure treats, California-themed toys (like this kayak), and classy 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 (Picture Credit score)

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, regionally produced meals — and rich traders — attracts the world’s finest culinary expertise to Northern California. So take a category from a chef to sharpen your knife abilities, make home made pasta, and even learn to select the very best produce on the farmer’s market. 

  • Cooking with Julie: Julie Logue-Riordan is a personal chef and cooking instructor of 25 years. After coaching beneath Grasp Cooks in France and residing overseas, she developed a world toolbelt to arrange various delicacies with native produce. Her courses revolve round “cooking from the season.” This can be a must-have ability for anybody wanting to cut back their carbon footprint by buying regionally! Stroll across the farmer’s market and uncover the native heirloom varieties. The three-course menu will probably be impressed by what seems to be good on the market, similar to Grilled Figs with Almond Picada and Prosciutto, Grilled Steak with Mediterranean Herb Rub and Arugula Salad, and Buttermilk and Mascarpone Ice Cream with Contemporary Peaches.
  • Culinary Institute of America: The (different) CIA is without doubt one of the most esteemed colleges for aspiring cooks. You may take a personal class with one in all their instructors in Napa. Relying on the size of your keep, additionally they provide “Boot Camps” and multi-day group courses. You may take courses to leasrn the best way to good flatbread, put together a dim sum brunch, and even style wine in beneath 90 seconds. They even present a partnership with America’s Check Kitchen, so that you experiment with new methods from superstar cooks!


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Be taught Napa Valley Historical past

Earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon took over the Valley with huge agricultural gentrification, the Wappo tribe referred to as the world residence for near 10,000 years. The truth is, the Northern Californian paradise didn’t turn out to be a part of the USA till the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Mexican Cession in 1848.

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

The museum’s colourful structure and native artwork are value a go to even for non-history buffs. They entice some noteworthy reveals too, like just 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 may take a tour via 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 well-liked latest exhibit is the Tiki: Artwork of the Unique exhibit the place you may brush up on Polynesian Pop historical past whilst you sip on a rum cocktail from their curated Tiki bar. 

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

Go Craft Beer Tasting

After a full day of tasting wine for Palate Membership, 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 identified for his or her BBQ. The smoky flavors are good 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 presents a rotating record of draft beers and flights. This is a superb possibility 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 usually a bit much less hoppy and candy than American beers. I’m a fan of the Cobra Mai, a Maibock German Lager, which is a pale and hop-forward lager. 
  • Commerce Brewing presents a wide range of basic pub meals with Jamaican delicacies from Vibrant Meals. Dedicated to the artisan technique, their declare is, “Craft is our Commerce. Beer is our Ardour.” Their hottest beer is the Bricklayer American Blonde, which is a pale and malty ale with a crisp end.


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

Go Mountain climbing

Napa Valley is as a lot about its pure magnificence as it’s about its full-flavored Cabernets. The world’s standing as an Agricultural Protect means hundreds of acres of scenic mountainside trails, Redwood alcoves, and various 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 be able to witness by the matted dry grass on the paths). It feels extra prairie-like than the opposite hikes right here and pretty straightforward to do as a jog. Canine Commons is the off-leash space part within the higher space of the park, resulting in a shady canon and sprawling views of Napa. Learn extra about Napa’s Canine Proprietor information.
  • Skyline Park has over 25 miles of trails for all ranges. The three.4 mile River to Ridge Path meanders via a wide range 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 Path from right here with a steep elevation change that results in rewarding panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tamalpais. The path parking begins at $5/day. 
  • Linda Falls is a hidden gem close to St. Helena in Howell Mountain. You’ll move one in all 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 frequent 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 possibility for a fast however rewarding escape from the tasting room bustle.


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

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 allure right down to their Probation-era batched cocktails. You may tour the distillery or simply go straight to their 1300 sq ft saloon with Gold Rush-era decor. As the primary distillery in Napa after Prohibition, they host varied rooms and vibes impressed by all of our favourite ingesting 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 sort of Spirits throughout their Ghost Tales reside from the distillery on Thursdays. Talking of…

Go Ghost Searching

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

On this 90-minute strolling tour, you’ll discover native folklore and each the present and former Napa courthouse areas the place they used to conduct public hangings. With out gifting away 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 Unbelievable Meal

The idyllic local weather of Northern California that attributes to its world-class wine additionally lends itself to a wealthy assortment of native merchandise year-round. And these native merchandise are in good fingers with among the high cooks within the nation. The identical sort 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 record of among 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 residence after their meal and might 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 often takes and schedule an Uber or cab. The nicer eating places will usually provide this for you when you ask at first of the meal. 

Funds-friendly eating places

  • The Pickled Pig in Calistoga has low-key farm to desk bites, and focuses on, you guessed it, pork! Try their award-winning smoked wings or their Piggy Deluxe Burger with black garlic mayo and home made dill pickle chips.
  • The Mannequin Bakery which has a location in Napa, St. Helena, and Yountville is an artisanal bakery which focuses on cookies, muffins, and breads. Strive their fan favourite the Morning Glory Muffin with apples, carrots, cinnamon, raisins and coconut or their English Muffins, which had been one in all Oprah’s “Favourite Issues” in 2016!
  • The Station, which is positioned in an previous fuel station, is a superb place to cease for natural espresso with grab-and-go bites. They’ve actually good cappuccinos in addition to some strong avocado toast, and a very cute outside patio to sit down 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 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, attempt 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 record, and the right place to have a flowery dinner in St. Helena. Try their truffle-glazed rooster with smoked bacon, salanova lettuce, sauce vin jaune, or their pan-seared scallops with honey tangerine, heart-grilled fennel, habanada broth. Actually you may’t go flawed with something right here, and the educated workers will make it easier to pair your meal with a wonderful glass of wine. Most eating places in Napa could have an important wine record, however when you’re able to geek out on again vintages, Press is a necessary go to!
Castello di Amorosa Tuscan inspired castle winery in Napa, California.
Castello di Amorosa is a vineyard modeled after a Thirteenth century Tuscan fort, full with a torture chamber. For… accuracy, I suppose? (Yep, accuracy.)

Go to a Fort

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

Castello Di Amorosa is in that final class. Meant to be an genuine duplicate of a Thirteenth-century Tuscan fort, 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 fort is sprawling and no expense has been spared, from the lake to the terraces and courtyards to the armory to the …er, torture chamber.

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

Whether or not you chalk that as much as “folks with an excessive amount of cash doing ridiculous issues” or you’ve a deep appreciation of medieval replicas, you simply need to go see it for your self. Ah, possibly 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 every little thing he does, together with his Raymond Cellars vineyard. Right here, you may expertise the “sensory wall” the place you may 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 may mix your individual wines (even artist John Legend made his personal mix right here). After your tasting, you may go to the property’s home peacock. Yep, there’s a peacock. 

One other of his wineries, Buena Vista, hosts a full mild & sound present 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 also be filled with 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 historic 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 Artwork Stroll is a rotating assortment of set up sculptures from regional artists scattered all through Downtown Napa. Town requires giant actual property tasks to donate 1% in the direction of a public artwork fund, so the town is bursting with free artwork installations. I like this feature as a result of you may take up a chunk of the wealthy native tradition and discover the city of Napa free of charge! Free is tough to come back by in Napa!

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

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

Watch reside music

Wine has a approach of constructing folks dance, and by chance the nightlife in Napa is flooded with reside music. The very first thing it is advisable to know is that Napa Valley is residence to a lot of summer season music festivals, together with  Yountville Dwell in March, BottleRock Napa Valley in Might, Napa Valley Jazz Getaway in June, and Robert Mondavi Live performance Sequence and Pageant Napa Valley in July. 

If you happen to’re visiting outdoors of pageant season, listed below are among the finest locations to catch reside music. 

  • Blue Word Napa is an intimate jazz bar & restaurant on the primary ground of the Napa Valley Opera Home. Count on 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 often provide reside music of their tasteful outside eating space that includes artwork, design, and wine. Nonetheless, the one dancing you may anticipate right here is watching the hearth pit glimmer off the chandeliers. 
  • Downtown Joe’s Napa presents 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 could possibly 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 even take transit to get from San Francisco or Oakland to Napa.

Learn how to Get to Napa

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

You may lease a automobile from the airport you fly into, or straight in Napa. Word that California roads are sometimes winding, so when you get automotive sick, go for a snug SUV slightly 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 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. Make 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 may 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 possible 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 take a look at your schedule. 

If you wish to skip driving, there are alternatives to get from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Extranomical Excursions and Grey Line San Francisco each have respected wine nation excursions that embrace San Francisco pickup. Uber and Lyft may even get you there for round $120 a method. 

You may also take a bus and practice mixture via Amtrak to get from San Francisco to Napa Valley in 3-4 hours for round $40 spherical journey – that is undoubtedly the most affordable possibility!


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

Learn how to Get Round Napa

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

  • Lease a Automotive: You may lease a automobile from the airport you fly into, or straight 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).
  • Journey 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 anticipate longer for extra distant areas. When you’ve got appointments, plan with further time, as you might want to attend on your journey to point out up in additional remoted areas.
  • Lease a Limo: If you happen to’re balling out or trying to social gathering, limo or social gathering bus leases are one of the simplest ways 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 similar to Designated Drivers Napa Sonoma provide native drivers. As a result of they drive your automotive, the fee tends to be decrease than non-public shuttles or excursions. Ensure that your driver is licensed and insured by referencing the California PUC’s Transportation Service Lookup. Their identify needs to be listed there if they’re licensed. 

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

However If you happen to’re not explicit about the place you go and need extra steering from a neighborhood (and transportation as effectively), take into account one in all 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 may keep by them!

The place to Keep in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is definitely a area that features a number of small cities, all of which generally have a bit of walkable space and are near wineries. So earlier than you decide a spot to e book, take into consideration which a part of Napa Valley you need to base your self in: Napa, Yountville, Calistoga, or St. Helena.

Remember the fact that it takes 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 e book your resort to maintain your driving time down!

Napa, the most important metropolis, has fabulous boutique lodges and loads of eating places – plus, it’s bought 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 additionally 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 Lodge 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 (have a look at that bath!) and the resort incorporates a swanky rooftop bar that’s frequented by locals!
  • La Casita is a captivating little Spanish fashion bungalow positioned 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 (hey, bachelorette social gathering?) this beautiful hill-side retreat with breathtaking 360’ views of Napa Valley in Calistoga is what Napa desires are comprised 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 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 Membership. 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 now have carried out numerous analysis on this space, you’re welcome.

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Psst: Save this put up for afterward Pinterest!

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 journey ideas useful resource web page or our information to planning a visit.

  • 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 lodges or non-public rooms in hostels. We use Reserving.com to e book lodges (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious evaluations). For trip leases, we want to e book 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 file. You may also e book trip leases on Expedia and Motels.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 recommend it – go to our Journey Insurance coverage Information to search out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is without doubt one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which are good for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We e book all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely can we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card presents improbable 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. Be taught extra right here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC web site to analysis really useful medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times suggest getting each vaccine really useful 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 e book our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine the best way to get from place to position, and e book native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. Once we e book a rental automotive, we use Kayak to match rental firms and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Each time we’re trying out 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 data (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and many others) protected, even while you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it enables you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO while you enroll!
  • What to Pack: Listed below are the journey necessities that we carry on each journey. We even have packing lists for scorching climate, chilly climate, and plenty of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!


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