Napa Valley is a small area in the north of California, famed for its vineyards and wine production. If you’re a fan of a Cabernet Sauvignon you’ll no doubt have tasted the produce from the land.
And while Napa is famed for its wine production there’s a whole lot more to Napa Valley. So here I’ve listed a good mix of activities if you’re heading to Napa in collaboration with Napa Vacation Rentals.
1. Experience Napa Valley in the Autumn
When Autumn comes around, the grape vines turn a beautiful rust colour which sprawl out in the valleys. The different vine varieties turn a slightly different shade of rust making the scene a worthy sight. November is the best time to visit to witness this autumnal change.
2. Visit a winery
Picking a winery to visit in this region is hard. But it comes down to what kind of service you’d prefer. The boutique wineries for example tend to offer a more personalised service. Crocker & Starr is a winery that offers a more boutique experience. For a larger scale winery, Beringer has a fun and informative approach to their wine tours, and their beautiful grounds are worth the visit.
3. Visit a winery without drinking wine
Some of the winery’s are by appointment only, but many of them you can wander around without having to participate on a tour. It’s certainly worth visiting a couple of the architecturally stunning ones to soak up the ambience and enjoy their gardens. Darioush for example has the most spectacular grounds.
4. Visit Oxbow Market
This is the place to go for some delicious food, wine and ice-cream! Located next to the Napa river, you’ll be able to take in the Napa scenery while enjoying some of the best offerings from Napa suppliers. The produce sold is organic and/or sustainable.
5. Enjoy the Napa Art Walk
Every 18 months the outdoor art on display found in downtown Napa is changed. Enjoy taking a look at the different projects from a variety of artists.
6. Ride the Napa wine train
Take a leisurely ride on a restored luxury train through Napa’s fertile vineyards. With a variety of lunch or dinner packages it’s a great way to enjoy a more sedate look at Napa while of course indulging in a wine flight too.
7. Visit Calistoga
Calistoga is a small city in the Napa region that’s been built around the natural geothermal spas that exist there. It has a rustic 19th century rustic feel supposedly. While the thermal spas are famous, you shouldn’t visit Calistoga without also indulging in one of their mud baths!
8. Buy a wine tasting card
For $25 you can buy a wine tasting card in downtown Napa. With 12 tasting rooms you can wander (or stumble) from place to place trying out the variety of wine Napa grows. A great and inexpensive way to enjoy the Napa wine.
9. Eat at The French Laundry
You’ll need to make reservations to eat at this establishment, but it’s worth it. Thomas Keller is the only American chef to hold two three star Michelin awards.
10. Go to the Truffle Festival
If you’re a fan of Truffles, make sure to visit Napa in January when their truffle festival is in full swing.
11. Go to the wine crush
The wine crush happens when the grapes are ready. So it can be any time really between September and October. In 2015 the grapes were ready in July, so really it is quite difficult to pin point an exact time.
To physically stomp on the grapes yourself (like we did when we went to Provence) you should contact the Grgich Wine Estate.
12. Build your own blend
Judd’s Hill Winery offers the chance to blend your own wine. It can then be bottled into your own custom designed labelled bottle.
13. Visit Safari West
Go on safari and come face to face with some of Africa’s wildest animals. Climb aboard a canvas covered truck and go in search of giraffes and rhinoceros’.
14. Enjoy a hot air balloon flight
Soar above the Napa valley and see the beautiful vineyards from above.
15. Grab a seat at the Calistoga harvest table
Every year downtown Napa hosts the Calistoga harvest table which celebrates the plentiful harvest. A great way to get amongst the community spirit, enjoy the wonderful wine and eat a fabulous meal.
16. Enjoy Napa on horseback
Get in the stirrups whatever your horse riding ability and enjoy a trail through Napa on horseback.
17. Go fly fishing
Fly fishing is available all year in Napa. If you want to snag one of the largest rainbow trouts in the state, you’ll want to head to Off The Hook Fly Fishing.
18. Visit Old Faithful Geyser
A visit to see the old faithful geyser is a must if you’re in the area. This geyser has been declared one of three geysers in the world to be ‘faithful’ because of its regular eruptions. Make sure to enjoy the rainbows cast off from the spray.
19. Go for a hike
If you love beautiful views, head to the Robert Louis Stevenson state park and take a two mile hike (each way) to Table Rock. The views are beautiful and worth the moderately difficult terrain to get there.
Sometimes it’s better to leave the car at home and enjoy the freedom of getting on a bike. You can either join a tour or do a self guided tour yourself. The bike ride is on entirely flat ground with no traffic along the Napa Valley Vine Trail.