For wine enthusiasts, the highlight of a trip to Napa Valley is a wine tasting tour. But we always suggest an extra day or more so you can take in all the region has to offer. Here are some of our favorite suggestions!
Hot Air Balloon Rides
There is something quite surreal about a hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley. When you reach a certain height, the silence can be awesome and the views, well, spectacular! Besides the incredible wine growing landscape, the region boasts some natural beauty that is tough to beat.
Hot air balloons launch early in the morning, just after dawn while the wind is calm and temperatures are cool. Rides are usually and hour or so but can vary depending on conditions so you should plan on a total time of 3 to 4 hours. This includes check-in, balloon inflation, the flight, pack up after landing and time back to the launch site. Most balloons can accommodate 8 to 20 passengers and most offer specials for couples (very romantic!).
Here are some of our favorites:
Spa days may be the next most popular way to spend a day in the Napa Valley. What better way to unwind and relax, getting centered in spiritual well-being? There are many options available to visitors including massage, mud baths and mineral springs. In addition, visitors may want to treat themselves to a facial, gemstone treatments and more. Browse our favorites below and find out how best to achieve your zen!
Napa Valley is so much more than great wineries. For the shoppers among us, there is an incredible array of shopping destinations from outlets stores, to boutique shops to great market spaces. If you like shopping, set aside time to explore what the region has to offer.
The city of Napa features the Napa Premium Outlets which is a great place to find bargains on high end brands. In addition, shoppers will enjoy downtown Napa, First Street and the Oxbow Public Market with a great riverside deck to grab a bite.
Further north, check out downtown St. Helena with a very walkable downtown brimming with great shops and restaurants. You’ll fine lovely jewelry shops and boutique women’s clothing stores that will keep the ladies busy. And plenty of places to grab a bite and a beer for the guys if they want to do their own thing!
And don’t forget about Calistoga! Lincoln Ave is another great walkable downtown with a nice variety of shops, restaurant, cafes, tasting rooms and pubs.
Sometimes it’s nice to just walk around an area and take in local vibes. The weather in the Napa Valley lends itself to great walking tours. But be warned, the Napa Valley can get quite warm in the summer and early fall so dress accordingly. Still, there are some things you just need to see and do on foot.
Yountville features a wonderful Art Walk that features a magnificent array of sculptures that is surely worth the effort. You can print out a map and listen to an online audio tour for free!
The Rail Arts District in downtown Napa is another great art walk featuring inspirational murals from a number of artists. RAD Napa runs along two miles of the Napa Valley Vine Trail bike and pedestrian path and the Napa Valley Wine Train tracks.
Other “on foot” adventures include:
- Art and Clarity Adventures – guided photography adventure
- Charsaw Farms – a lavender farm offering lavender wreath and lavender oil making classes
- Paper Napan – offering a variety of guided walking tours in Napa
One of the nicest ways to explore Napa Valley without having to deal with traffic and parking is on bike. There are a lot of options for bike tours and a lot of bike paths that allow you to relax while riding. Like walking tours, you should be prepared for the weather depending on when you go. The region can get quite hot during the summer so bikers should plan accordingly.
There are many places to rent a bike including some hotels and lodgings. Many of the bike rental companies will deliver bikes to your location so you have choices in how you get your bike.
One of the best routes to explore on your own is the Napa Valley Vine Trail. This ever growing bike path will eventually stretch from Vallejo to Calistoga and there is currently a 12.5 mile stretch from south Napa to Yountville. As a result, bikers can get a 25 mile roundtrip adventure without dealing with any traffic. Of course, there are plenty of tour operators and rental companies that offer a variety of tour options, here are some of our favorites:
- Fat Tire Bike Rentals – E-bike rentals
- Getaway Adventures – offering a variety of tour and rental options
- Napa Valley Bike Tours – bike tours and rentals in Yountville
- Napa Valley Ebikes – E-bike rentals
Arts & Culture
Visitors from all over the world come here to taste incredible wines. However, they leave knowing that the Napa Valley is in fact, a feast for the senses. The tastes and aromas of fabulous wines are always a hit but the region also has an incredible natural beauty. And if that’s not enough, why not explore the abundance of art and and culture available? From galleries to art walks to film and live performance, visitors are thrilled to discover so much more in the area. Or indulge your senses at wineries that combine tasting and art exhibits. There are too many worthy places to list here, but we have some favorites to share!
- Art Gallery Napa Valley – Art Gallery in Napa
- di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art – Art Museum in Napa
- Festival Napa Valley – a collection of free performances in a variety of settings
- Napa Valley Performing Arts at Lincoln Theater – a variety of performances in a gorgeous venue
As we’ve mentioned several times in this article, the Napa Valley provides some breathtaking natural beauty. There are many ways to take it all in but perhaps none more intimate than hiking. Walk any of the great trails and take in the sights and fresh air. It’s a great way to center yourself and recharge the batteries!
- Robert Louis Stevenson State Park – the 5 mile kike to the top of Mt. St. Helena rewards hikers with stunning views
- Bothe-Napa Valley State Park – Gorgeous state park with an abundance of trails for kikes and bikes
- Moore Creek Park – regional park in St Helena
We’ve listed a number of favorite things to do in Napa Valley in this article and yet, it’s only the tip of the iceberg! If you plan to visit this region, be sure to allow some extra time to enjoy all the things the Napa Valley has to offer.