Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California Winery Travel
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Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California

Napa Valley is a beautiful city located in California, it reminds me of Fall all year round. The beautiful city is home to tons of beautiful Wine Vineyards and if you are a wine lover like myself, you will want to visit. Napa Valley can be a little overwhelming at first because there are so many different wine vineyards and delicious restaurants that it's hard to decide on what to do and where to go during your visit. Today I am going to be sharing with you some of the most popular places to go and things to do in Napa Valley that are absolute musts for making your trip unforgettable. We hope that this Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California post inspires you. 

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California

Napa Valley Top Wineries to Visit

Napa Valley is a world-renowned wine region, so picking the “top” wineries can be subjective and depend on your preferences. Napa Valley is a haven for wine enthusiasts, boasting over 400 wineries spread across its picturesque landscape. Choosing the “top” ones depends on your personal preferences, below are some highly-rated and unique wineries you won't want to miss.

  • Stag's Leap Wine Cellars: Renowned for their iconic Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, offering intimate tastings and vineyard tours. This iconic winery produces some of Napa's most sought-after Cabernet Sauvignons, known for their elegance and complexity. Their S.L.V. Estate Cab is a must-try. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars gained fame after their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon won the “Judgement of Paris” tasting. They offer tours and tastings showcasing their diverse range of wines.
  • Corison Winery: This winery is great to visit because it was created by Cathy Corison and she is well known for being such a successful female winemaker. Her selection is traditional Cabernet Sauvignon at the Corison Winery
  • Heitz Cellar: Heitz Cellar historic producer crafting elegant and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons, with tours showcasing their traditional winemaking methods. This historic winery crafts Cabernet Sauvignons that are both powerful and nuanced. Their Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a legend. This family-owned winery produces limited-production, high-quality wines, particularly known for their Cabernet Sauvignon. Their tasting room offers a personalized experience with knowledgeable staff.
  • Hanzell: If you are a white wine lover, this one's for you! Hanzell is a small vineyard that is very casual and laid back but they specialize in Northern California White Wines and they are phenomenal.
  • Shafer Vineyards: Known for their bold and expressive Cabernets, Shafer offers stunning vineyard views and a modern tasting room experience.
  • Beaulieu Vineyard: Founded in 1852, Beaulieu Vineyard is one of Napa Valley's oldest continuously operating wineries. They're known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and offer various tours and tastings.
  • Quintessa: Quintessa is an absolute must in my opinion. I love taking the tour of this vineyard solely to view the beautiful land that it sits on but their decadent selection of red wines is a bonus and that makes this a top spot for me.
  • Domaine Carneros: Domaine Carneros is a sparkling wine producer that boasts a beautiful chateau and breathtaking views of the valley. They offer a variety of tours and tastings, including a gondola ride to the top of their property along with a Michelin-starred restaurant for an unforgettable pairing.
  • Storybook Mountain: Storybrook Mountain is another one of my favorites because the view of the mountains is so beautiful to view while you are sipping on their delicious wine. They are most famous for their Zinfandel but everything there is delicious.
  • Chappellet: The Chappellet Winery sits high above the valley floor, offering stunning views and producing age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons with a distinctive character.
  • Auberge du Soleil: Enjoy panoramic valley vistas and delectable farm-to-table cuisine alongside their estate wines at this luxurious resort of Auberge du Soleil.
  • Nickel and Nickel: If you are looking for a more personal and intimate tour/tasting Nickel and Nickel is great to visit because they are by appointment only. You can make an appointment to tour the land just for a tasting, or both! They have a wide selection of wine including Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay all of which have a great flavor.
  • The Charter Oak: Chef Charlie Palmer's renowned The Charter Oak restaurant with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients offers stunning winery views and paired wine flights.
  • Opus One Winery: This collaboration between Napa's Robert Mondavi and Bordeaux's Château Mouton Rothschild is known for its stunning chateau and Bordeaux-style blend. Their winery tour is a must for architecture and wine lovers. The Opus One Winery stuns with its gravity-flow winery and unique tasting experiences.
  • Castello di Amorosa: Step into a Tuscan fairytale at this replica 13th-century castle at Castello di Amorosa, complete with secret passageways and stunning wine caves. This replica Tuscan castle is a must-see for architecture lovers. They offer tours and tastings of their wines, produced on-site. 
  • Chateau Montelena: The historic Chateau Montelena winery, famous for its 1973 Chardonnay victory in the Judgment of Paris, offers tours and tastings in its charming French chateau. This winery famously triumphed over French wines in the 1973 “Judgement of Paris” blind tasting, putting Napa Valley on the world map. Their Chardonnay is particularly renowned.
  • Inglenook: Discover the legendary wines of Napa Valley pioneer Gustave Niebaum at this historic estate, offering unique tours and tastings. Owned by Francis Ford Coppola, Inglenook offers a variety of experiences, from intimate tastings to tours of the historic property. Their wines are known for their quality and unique character.
  • Mayacamas Vineyards: Perched on the slopes of Mayacamas Mountain, this winery produces age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. The Mayacamas Vineyards mountaintop setting offers breathtaking views and a secluded atmosphere.
  • Schramsberg Vineyards: Immerse yourself in the world of sparkling wine with cave tours, tastings, and breathtaking hillside views at this iconic producer. Located high in the hills, in the caves of Mount Veeder, Schramsberg Vineyards are known for their exceptional sparkling wines and stunning views. Their tour takes you deep into the caves, offering a unique glimpse into their winemaking process. Their caves, used for aging their wines, are also worth exploring.
  • Caymus Vineyards: Family-owned and known for their bold and fruit-forward Cabernets, Caymus Vineyards offers a casual and fun-tasting experience in their redwood barn. This winery is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere and delicious wines. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is a favorite among many, and their tours offer a glimpse into their winemaking process. 
  • V. Sattui Winery: The family-owned V. Sattui Winery offers a relaxed atmosphere and delicious wines at reasonable prices. They have a beautiful picnic area and bocce courts, making it a great spot for a casual outing.
  • Beringer Vineyards: The historic Beringer winery offers a variety of tours and tastings to fit all budgets. Their Rhine House is a beautiful landmark and their grounds are perfect for exploring.
  • Cline Family Cellars: The family-run Cline Family Cellars winery produces high-quality wines at accessible prices. They offer a variety of tours and tastings, including a cave tour and a crush pad experience.
  • Diamond Creek Vineyards: Diamond Creek Vineyards winery focuses on single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons, each expressing the unique terroir of its specific plot. Their intimate tastings and knowledgeable staff offer a special experience.

PRO TIP: If you're planning to visit multiple wineries, consider purchasing a Napa Valley Wine Train ticket. The train travels through the valley, stopping at several wineries along the way. It's a great way to see the scenery and enjoy some wine tasting without having to drive.

Best Gifts for Wine Lovers

This is just a starting point, and Napa Valley has countless other gems waiting to be discovered. Do some research based on your interests and preferences, and don't hesitate to ask locals or winery staff for recommendations. Remember to book your tastings in advance, especially during peak season, and be prepared to savor the unique experiences that each Napa Valley winery offers!

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California

Best Restaurants in Napa Valley

  • Grace's Table: The charming Grace's Table eatery is a cheerful Napa bistro that offers a globally inspired menu from morning to night, plus a bar & wine list. A very popular cafe with outstanding food, Grace's Table offers some excellent dishes that go far beyond what you might expect in such a casual place. Outdoor seating. Vegan menu.
  • Bouchon: This amazing stop is a must if you are a fan of French cuisine. Bouchon Bistro is a casual bistro that is owned by Thomas Keller and all of the food here is incredible.
  • Gott's Roadside: Gott's Roadside is great for the family if you have brought the kids along. It has a diner feel but much better and higher quality eats. There are several locations and it is an absolute must for me if we are looking for a more casual and quick meal without compromising the quality of amazing food.
  • Press: If you are looking for a meal that is a bit more on the fancier side, that you can dress up and have a glamorous night for, Press Restuarant is a great place to go. You will be able to indulge in an amazing, high-quality Steak. I would even venture to say, probably the best steak you've ever had!
  • The French Laundry: Arguably the most famous restaurant in Napa, Chef Thomas Keller's French Laundry offers a multi-course tasting menu in an elegant, stone farmhouse setting.
  • The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil: Enjoy breathtaking valley views and upscale dishes with decadent flavors and stunning presentation at The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil.
  • Solbar at Solage Calistoga: This Michelin-starred Solbar at Solage Calistoga restaurant combines casual elegance with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.
  • La Toque: Chef Ken Frank's landmark La Toque restaurant is renowned for its award-winning wine list and innovative tasting menus.
  • Angèle Restaurant & Bar: This French bistro on the Napa Riverfront serves rustic classics like duck leg confit and escargot alongside craft cocktails and a charming atmosphere. Angèle Restaurant & Bar features upcoming culinary stars with a focus on global techniques and local ingredients.
  • Brix Restaurant: Enjoy stunning mountain views and a sprawling acreage while savoring California farm-to-table fare at Brix Restaurant.
  • TORC: TORC is a global farm-to-table restaurant featuring an open kitchen and airy space with stone walls, offering a contemporary dining experience.
  • Goose & Gander: The Goose & Gander gastropub offers a lively atmosphere and a menu of elevated pub fare with local ingredients.
  • Hog Island Oyster Co.: Indulge in fresh oysters and other seafood dishes in a lively setting at the Hog Island Oyster Co.
  • The Charter Oak: Chef Charlie Palmer's The Charter Oak restaurant offers a seasonally changing menu of California cuisine in a relaxed, modern space.
  • FARM at Carneros: The elegant FARM at Carneros restaurant focuses on farm-to-table dishes using seasonal ingredients from their gardens and nearby farms.
  • Addendum at Ad Hoc: Chef Thomas Keller's more casual concept, Addendum at Ad Hoc offers family-style meals and rotating menus based on seasonal availability.

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Tips for Dining Out

  • Consider your budget. Fine dining restaurants will naturally be more expensive than casual options.
  • Think about your location. Napa Valley is spread out, so choose restaurants that are convenient to your hotel or other planned activities.
  • Check the restaurant's website or call ahead to make reservations, especially during peak season.
  • Don't forget to factor in your dietary restrictions. Many restaurants offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley CaliforniaActivities

Napa Valley offers much more than just wine, with options for every taste and interest! Be sure to research specific events and activities happening during your visit, and always check availability and transportation options beforehand. The best things to do in Napa Valley depend on your interests and preferences. Don't be afraid to explore beyond the wineries and discover the hidden gems this captivating valley has to offer!

  • Napa Valley Balloons: If you want to get an overview of the beautiful lands, a great way to do so is through a Napa Valley Hot Air Balloon tour. Being up in a Hot Air Balloon is a truly magnificent experience and when you are visiting somewhere like Napa Valley, it is a great way to take in the beauty of nature and landscapes. Experience the vibrant Napa Valley Balloon Fiesta in September, with hundreds of colorful hot air balloons taking flight.
  • Napa Valley Spa: Spending time in Napa Valley makes you want to lay back and relax, a trip to the spa is the perfect way to do so. There are so many phenomenal day spas to choose from including Spa Solage and Golden Haven Hot Springs to name a couple of popular ones. Unwind and pamper yourself with a variety of massage and spa treatments offered at numerous resorts and spas throughout the valley.
  • Napa Valley Train: The Napa Valley Train lets you take a scenic train ride through the valley, enjoying wine tastings, gourmet meals, and breathtaking views. Journey through the valley aboard a vintage train, enjoying gourmet meals, wine tastings, and scenic views.
  • Napa Valley Gondola: Take a romantic gondola ride on Lake Napa, enjoying the serene ambiance, live music, and picturesque scenery.
  • Art Galleries: Browse local art galleries in towns like Yountville and St. Helena, admiring paintings, sculptures, and photography.
  • Stargazing: Escape the light pollution and enjoy the breathtaking night sky, filled with stars and constellations.
  • Shopping: Browse unique shops and boutiques in Napa Valley towns like Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga for artisan crafts, gourmet food items, and stylish clothing.
  • BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival: Music, food, and booze are all given equal representation at this five-day festival in the heart of Napa Valley. Music fans can enjoy acts ranging from Robert Plant to Snoop Dogg, while foodies and winos can indulge their palates on some of the finest food and beverages that Napa Valley has to offer at the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival. In addition to concerts, the festival features a lineup of celebrity chef and sommelier demos and competitions, making it a feast for all of the senses. California sunshine and consistently high temperatures don’t hurt either.
  • Hot springs: Soak in the mineral-rich waters of Calistoga's hot springs for ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation. Several resorts and spas offer luxurious spa treatments and soak experiences.
  • The Cameo Cinema: If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids in Napa Valley, a great place to visit is The Cameo Cinema. They always have a great selection of various movies and it is a great way to spend the day.
  • Kayaking & Paddleboarding: Glide along the Napa River, exploring the beauty of the waterway and spotting wildlife.
  • Explore Calistoga's Petrified Forest: Explore this otherworldly landscape of fossilized trees, remnants of an ancient forest millions of years old. Hike through this otherworldly landscape of petrified trees and volcanic formations. 
  • Marvel at the Old Faithful Geyser: Witness this natural geyser erupting every 45 minutes in Calistoga.
  • Napa Valley Outlets: Napa Valley Outlets consists of the Napa Premium Outlets which are located in California's premier wine-producing region, the beautiful Napa Valley. Napa Premium Outlets offers 50 stores to the most internationally recognizable designer fashion and brand name outlets, such as Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, to name a few. All feature savings of 25%-65% on stylish, current-season merchandise every day.
  • Hiking and biking: Explore miles of scenic trails through vineyards, redwood forests, and rolling hills. Popular options include Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, Skyline Wilderness Park, and the Napa Valley Vine Trail. Sign up for one of the fun Napa Valley Bike Tours.
  • Napa Valley Mud Bath: Indulge in a unique and therapeutic mud bath treatment at one of Calistoga's mud spas. Indulge in a unique experience at this iconic Calistoga spa, enjoying mud baths, mineral baths, and massages in a serene setting.
  • Horseback riding: Discover Napa Valley on horseback, traversing vineyards, and enjoying the fresh air. Several stables offer guided tours and trail rides.
  • Golfing:  Tee off at world-class courses like Silverado Resort and Golf Club or Vintner's Golf Club, offering stunning scenery and challenging layouts.
  • Culinary Institute of America: Tour the campus of the renowned Culinary Institute of America culinary school, take a cooking class, or enjoy a meal at one of their student-run restaurants.
  • Olive oil tasting: Discover the unique flavors of California olive oil at local oil mills and farms. Several offer tastings and tours of their groves and production facilities.
  • Napa Valley Food Truck Rally: Savor diverse cuisine from a variety of mobile vendors at this lively gathering held several times throughout the year.
  • Farmers markets: Find fresh, local produce, artisan crafts, and delicious snacks at various markets throughout the valley.
  • Ackerman Heritage House: Learn about the early settlers of the Napa Valley at the historic adobe ranch Ackerman Heritage House.
  • Napa Valley Museum: Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the valley through exhibits on winemaking, art, and local life. 
  • Sharpsteen Museum: Explore the history of Calistoga and the Hot Springs region through interactive exhibits and historical artifacts.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson Museum: Discover the life and work of this famous author who spent time in Napa Valley.
  • di Rosa Art Park: Explore a sprawling sculpture park amidst a serene lake and wildlife preserve, showcasing contemporary art installations. 

PRO TIP: Consider exploring nearby towns like Sonoma, Carmel-by-the-Sea, or Monterey for additional adventures and charming experiences.

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California

Best Time To Visit Napa Valley

The best time to go to Napa Valley is whenever it best suits your personal preferences and priorities.

Peak Season (August-October)

  • Pros: Warm weather, beautiful fall foliage, harvest season in full swing with exciting winery events and activities.
  • Cons: Higher prices for accommodations and tours, larger crowds, and potential for hot and humid days.

Shoulder Seasons (March-May & November)

  • Pros: Pleasant weather, fewer crowds, lower prices, stunning scenery with blooming flowers in spring or golden leaves in fall.
  • Cons: Some wineries may have limited hours or be closed during off-peak times, less festive atmosphere compared to peak season.

Off-Season (January-February & December)

  • Pros: Lowest prices, very few crowds, potential for cozy winter weekends with fireplaces and festive events.
  • Cons: Colder weather, some wineries may be closed, less outdoor activities available.

Factors to consider

  • Events: Do you want to attend any specific events like the Napa Valley Wine Auction or Bottle Rock Festival? These will determine the best time to visit.
  • Budget: Prices can fluctuate significantly depending on the season and demand. Off-season travel will be much cheaper than during peak season.
  • Activities: Consider the types of activities you're interested in, such as hiking, biking, swimming, or attending concerts. Some activities may be more enjoyable during certain weather conditions.

Weather in Napa Valley

Napa Valley enjoys a beautiful Mediterranean climate year-round, with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Below is a breakdown of the weather by season. 

  • Spring (March-May): Pleasant temperatures in the mid-60s to low 70s (°F) during the day, dropping to the 40s at night. Occasional rainfall brings out vibrant wildflowers.
  • Summer (June-August): Hot and sunny, with average highs in the mid-80s to low 90s (°F). Very little rain. Perfect for outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and wine tasting.
  • Fall (September-November): Warm days with highs in the low 80s (°F) transitioning to cooler evenings in the 50s. Beautiful fall foliage, especially in October. Harvest season brings a festive atmosphere to the valley.
  • Winter (December-February): Mildest winter in California, with average highs in the mid-50s (°F) and lows in the 30s. Occasional rain and a slight chance of frost. The tranquil atmosphere with fewer crowds.

Things to keep in mind

  • The weather can vary significantly depending on your location in Napa Valley. The southern region is generally warmer and drier than the northern region.
  • The temperature difference between day and night can be quite dramatic, so be sure to pack layers.
  • Napa Valley is susceptible to wildfires, especially during the hot, dry summer months. Be sure to check the air quality forecast before you visit.

Napa is a great place to visit if you love Wine but even if you don't, just visiting the area is a great time to do. There is more to do than visit Vineyards and drink wine and it is a great place for a romantic getaway or even a getaway with the whole family. The scenery is gorgeous and it truly is one of my favorite places to visit in the U.S. No matter what time of year you visit, Napa Valley has something to offer. With its stunning scenery, world-renowned wines, and charming towns, it's a truly special place. We hope that this Best Things to Do in Napa Valley California post inspires you. Happy travels!

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12 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Kerrie Mendoza

    I know Napa Valley is known for its amazing wineries, and I’d love to visit some. But, these activities, like the Cameo Cinema, would be a great experience.

  2. Monica Y

    We are going to be visiting this summer, so I am glad I found this post, so I can follow some of your ideas, this is what I love about your site, so much useful information

  3. My husband and I were just talking about maybe visiting her. I’m going to keep this in my tens so that I have it when we discuss it again. Looks like there’s a lot to do.

  4. Amy Desrosiers

    When I think of Napa Valley I think of lots of wine and good food! I would love to explore this area with my husband!

  5. Keikilani

    My sisters and I want to plan a girls trip to Napa Valley! It sounds like the perfect place to explore and relax.

  6. Napa Valley is a thing of legends. I can’t wait to go some time. It looks so cool.

  7. kristi

    Thanks for the suggestions, we are looking at a trip to Napa Valley so will keep this for reference.

  8. katrina kroeplin

    ive never been there but i so want to as it looks amazing.

  9. Ruth I

    I always think of wine when I hear of Napa Valley. Happy to know that there are other exciting activities to do there.

  10. Sarah

    Napa looks amazing! I’d love to go there one day. I really need a California trip and some yummy wine. 

  11. Pingback: Must Visit Wineries in Napa Valley California Wine Country

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