Napa Valley is a region in Napa County in north San Francisco, California. It is best known as one o the most famous wine regions in the world, and the culinary and wine scenes are features that attract many people to this area. However, this is not the only reason to visit this region, as there is a multitude of activities and attractions to enjoy. Regardless of whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a history lover, or someone looking to have a relaxing vacation, you will find plenty of things to see and do in this part of the world. To make the most out of your trip, you should plan your itinerary to ensure you do not miss anything. To help you with this, here are the 20 best things to do in Napa Valley for first-timers.
20. Soak in the Hot Springs in Calistoga
If you want to relax during your visit to Napa Valley, then Independent Travel Cats recommends visiting the hot springs in Calistoga. Visitors can sit and soak in the hot springs to get away from the stresses and strains of life. Surrounding the hot springs, there are many spas. A local specialty is being immersed in hot volcanic ash, although there are also mud baths, pools, and massages available. While you are there, you should visit the Old Faithful Geyser to see the eruptions of steam and water.
19. Enjoy Tours of Factories
Napa Valley produces many products other than wine, so there are some great factories that you can tour. If you are in the city of Fairfield, you will find a collection of factories near to each other that you should visit. On the same day, you can visit the candy maker Jelly Belly, the Anheuser-Busch brewery, and the olive oil producer SePay Groves Olive Oil. The highlight of each visit is the chance to sample the products.
18. Go to the Historic Hatt & Napa Mill
If you are interested in learning about the history and culture of Napa Valley, then there are several excellent attractions to visit. One of the best is the Historic Hatt and Napa Mill buildings. Visitors to this attraction will learn about the mining and agricultural history of the area. The old buildings are now also home to a hotel along with several restaurants and shops. You should also visit the Napa Valley Museum and Bale Grist-Mill, both of which are great places to learn about Napa Valley’s history.
17. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the best ways to admire the beauty of Napa Valley is from the air. It is possible to take hot air balloon tours over the valley to view the scenery from a bird’s eye perspective. It is only from this viewpoint that you can fully appreciate the sweeping landscapes. You can only go up in the right weather conditions, but if you get the chance, it is an activity worth considering. Take along your camera as there are some excellent opportunities to take photographs.
16. Watch a Performance at the Napa Valley Opera House
While many of the activities in Napa Valley involve spending time outdoors during the day, there are also indoor and evening activities to enjoy. One example is watching a performance at the Napa Valley Opera House. If you want to watch a performance, then you should check their schedule in advance to see what is on. The schedule includes various styles of performance throughout the year. It also makes sense to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
15. Explore Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
US News recommends a visit to Robert Louis Stevenson Park. It is famous for its untouched landscapes and wonderful views. If you enjoy spending time outdoors and hiking, then this is an activity to include in your vacation itinerary, as there is plenty of outdoor space to explore.
14. Visit the Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum
Compared to the many other wineries that are open to visitors in Napa Valley, the Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum offers something different. This is a good option for people who enjoy both fine wines and art. It has been certified as a sustainable winery by the California Wine Growing Alliance. This means that they have put special practices in places to make the winery sustainable, such as having a herd of goats for weed control. Like most wineries in the area, you can tour the vineyard and winery, and they offer wine tastings. However, it is the art collection that makes this winery stand out from others in the area.
13. Enjoy Fine Dining at TORC
The culinary scene is a huge part of a vacation in Napa Valley for many people. This part of the world is known for its wonderful produce, and the culinary scene focuses on the farm-to-table ethos to showcase the best the area has to offer. One restaurant to visit during your stay is TORC. This is a contemporary fine dining venue with executive chef Sean O’Toole at the helm. Like most restaurants in the area, it has a farm-to-table menu of globally-inspired dishes. There are meat, seafood, and vegetarian options available. A prix fixe menu is available with the option of wine pairings. The dining room boasts rustic-chic décor, and diners can see into the open-plan kitchen.
12. Stay at Auberge Du Soleil
If you are undecided about where to stay during your trip to Napa Valley, then you should consider Auberge Du Soleil. This is a gorgeous hotel set in beautiful surroundings with impressive views. It is the perfect place to stay if the culinary experience of Napa Valley is a priority to you as it has a Michelin-starred restaurant. Other features of the hotel include an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, a yoga pavilion, and a sculpture garden. There are also plenty of things to keep you entertained during your stay, including tennis courts and a fitness center.
11. Have Fun at Skyline Park
While the focus for many people visiting Napa Valley is food and drink, there are also lots of fun activities you can enjoy. A great place to visit to enjoy a range of recreational activities is Skyline Park. You can even camp within the park to get the best out of the experience as it has a campsite. Some of the recreational activities to enjoy at this park include hiking trails, horseback riding, cycling, disc golf, and archery. Another feature of Skyline Park is the Martha Walker Native Plants Garden, which is a pretty garden that is devoted to the native plants of California.
10. Stroll Around Oxbow Public Market
If you want to enjoy a little retail therapy during your trip, then you should head to Oxbow Public Market. This market is dedicated to promoting Californian brands, so it is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir of your trip. Another reason to visit is to enjoy food and drink. There are plenty of opportunities to sample the local produce, and there are several dining options within the market.
9. Get Close to American Canyon, Napa Valley
At the southern end of Napa Valley, you will find the American Canyon, and this is one of the best places in Napa Valley to enjoy the outdoors. A river runs through the canyon, and this is used for several outdoor activities. People also enjoy hiking in this area due to the beautiful surroundings. Within American Canyon, you will also find stables, a lake, wildlife preserves, and the Chardonnay Golf Club.
8. Go to the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
Those who are interested in art should make time in their vacation to visit the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. Unlike many art galleries that are in an urban setting, this art gallery is set in 217 acres of a former vineyard. There are several galleries that are part of the center, and there is also a sculpture park and a large lake. Many of the artworks on display in the exhibitions are by regional artists. The center also hosts various educational programs throughout the year.
7. See the Exhibits of the Napa County Historical Society
If you are interested in learning about the history of the area, then you should see the exhibits of the Napa County Historical Society. The base of this society is at the Goodman Library, where visitors can see a range of exhibits relating to the area, including scrapbooks, maps, books, manuscripts, blueprints, and publications. The society also hosts a range of events, tours, and exhibitions throughout the year.
6. Take a Tour of Hall Napa Valley
There are many outstanding vineyards to visit in Napa Valley, but one of the most beautiful is Hall Napa Valley. This is set against the backdrop of the stunning Mayacama Mountains. The winery is famous for its cabernet sauvignon, although they make many wines. Visitors can enjoy a glass of wine before beginning a tour of the vineyard and winery. Experienced tour guides deliver information about the history of the property and the wine production processes. After the tour, there is a wine tasting session.
5. Enjoy a Wine Immersion Experience in St. Helena
St. Helena is a town in Napa Valley, and it is known for its wine immersion experiences. This is where many people head to begin wine tours or to visit vineyards for wine tastings. St. Helena is also home to many of the best restaurants in the area. These restaurants focus on showcasing local produce in their dishes and they serve locally produced wines. There is also Crane Park, art galleries, and spas to visit in this town.
4. Visit Castello Di Amorosa
Castello Di Amorosa is one of the most stunning landmarks in the Napa Valley, and it is so much more than a castle. This Tuscan-style castle is set on a beautiful site by a stream that winds through the valley and against a backdrop of magnificent hills. Inside the castle, there are impressive rooms including a grand hall and the Grand Barrel Room. This castle is also a fine dining restaurant that is one of the best places to eat in Napa Valley and it is a wine tasting venue.
3. Wine and Dine at Round Pond Estate
Located in the Rutherford region of Napa Valley, Round Pond Estate is set on beautiful grounds with vineyards, orchards, and landscaped gardens. The estate hosts wine tastings, and there is also the opportunity to taste other locally produced products, such as artisan syrup, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. It is an excellent place to appreciate the quality of the produce from this area.
2. Do the Napa Art Walk
Although Napa Valley is known for its wine experiences, it is also a great area to visit if you are interested in art. One of the best ways to appreciate the diversity of art in the area is to join one of the Napa Art Walks. On these walks, you will visit some small art galleries, each of which has a different focus. You will also see award-winning sculptures as you travel around the area.
1. Take a Trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train
According to Vacation Idea, one of the best things to do in Napa Valley for first-timers is to take a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Passengers on this vintage train enjoy a unique dining experience as they dine on multiple meals and sample local wines as they travel along the 25-mile track through Napa Valley. The train has Pullman rail cars that are fitted with glass partitions, brass furnishings, and mahogany paneling. Passengers can enjoy the beautiful sights of the valley, and there is a stop-off to see the Napa Valley love Lock Bridge.
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Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn