Photo Source: Napa Valley Vintners
While wine tasting is the primary ambition for most people visiting Napa Valley, there are plenty of other things to do for those who aren’t necessarily fans of wine. If you’re looking for other ways to spend your time in Napa, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Some wineries offer interesting tours that not only relate to the importance of wine in the region, but provide some historical details as well. Beringer Winery’s building is a historical landmark, and the tour not only provides details about the winery’s operations, but also the building itself. Castello Amarosa is a recreation of an authentic Italian castle. Splurge for the tour that takes you throughout the castle, including past some of the ancient torture chamber equipment.
Home to a variety of five-star luxury resorts, there is no shortage of day spas in the Napa Valley. Rather than drink the wine, book a treatment where the wine goes on your body!
Some wineries don’t just showcase great wines; they have impressive art collections as well. Head up the hill to Clos Pegase to marvel at some of the more interesting sculptures in Napa Valley, or out to Artesa Winery, where resident artist Gordon Huether, known for his large-scale glass and sculpture installations around the country, continually creates new works for the winery.
There are art galleries all over, including some at the wineries themselves, such as Peju Winery where the second floor is devoted to art from local Bay Area artists. For a really unique experience, visit di Rosa in Napa, featuring over 200 acres of art. There are three separate galleries, a 35-acre lake and even a wildlife preserve.
If you head up to Calistoga, the area is renowned for its mineral hot springs. Some hotels and spas specialize in mud baths and other treatments involving the hot springs. If you are looking for something romantic, some offer couples mud baths and packages.
Not surprisingly, Napa Valley is a great destination for farmers markets. There are markets from as far north as Calistoga down to the city of Napa. Check dates and times, but you’ll find no shortage of options throughout the week.
Napa is home to a number of shopping opportunities. No matter whether you’re hoping for good discounts at the Napa Premium Outlets or food centric markets, the Napa Valley has them all. Some of the best markets are the Spice Islands Marketplace in St. Helena, V Marketplace in Yountville and Oxbow Market in downtown Napa. There is also a new artisan tea market called Creative-a-Tea in Napa as well.
Napa is home to a number of special events throughout the year. From concerts and music in the vineyard events to a county fair and a film festival, you’ll find pretty much any time of year is a good time to visit Napa.
Where there are great vineyards, there are great restaurants, and Napa Valley is no exception. You’ll find everything from gourmet tuna burgers at a roadside drive-in to Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred French Laundry. A number of renowned chefs have opened fine dining restaurants and casual eateries in the region.
Napa Valley is incredibly scenic, especially during fall harvest. Rent bikes, go hiking around the mountains and hills surrounding the valleys, or take a guided horseback ride through the vineyards. There is a river as well where you can go kayaking, canoeing, or even fly-fishing. Would you believe there is even a safari park?
Some great day trip opportunities include the Petrified Forest in Calistoga where you can wander the trail of redwood giants that are three million years old. The Old Faithful Geyser of California is also in Calistoga, while St. Helena is home to the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park that is powered by an old grist mill.
Although wine might be the main draw to the Napa Valley, it’s clear to see there is plenty to do even if you don’t drink or like wine at all.
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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