More than 60 of the BEST
Things to Do in Napa Valley
When it comes to things to do in Napa Valley, wine tasting is only the beginning! We’ve compiled a resource here to guide you to the very best experiences in Napa Valley.
Included in our extensive roundup below: More than a dozen free things to do in Napa Valley, more than 20 family-friendly activities and more than 40 things to do in Napa besides wine tasting.
Don’t leave Napa without slowing down to experience it by bike! Join a guided bike tour hosted by a knowledgeable local Tour Guide and visit local wineries for tastings. Custom private tour options are also available for both leisure groups and corporate team-building activities.
Enjoy a car-free bike path spanning 12.5 miles from southern Napa all the way to Yountville. The Vine Trail is a perfect outlet for visitors looking to bike for fitness, enjoying the local scenery or event visiting a couple of wineries. Napa Valley Bike Tours offers instant access to the Vine Trail from their two rental shops located in Napa and Yountville.
Learn More: Ride the Napa Valley Vine Trail
If you haven’t already seen the indie movie Bottleshock, definitely make plans to watch it before you visit Napa Valley. The film covers the early days of winemaking in Napa Valley leading up to the famed Judgment of Paris tasting that is largely credited with putting Napa Valley wines on the international stage. No doubt after watching the film, you’ll be inspired to visit some of the wineries that were involved is the historic tasting.
Experience a Napa Valley sunrise in a magical way you’ll never forget. Your experienced and knowledgeable pilot will act as your guide pointing out local points of interest and the valley’s extraordinary beauty. Enchantment, romance and excitement fill every colorful moment of this graceful adventure.
It’s hard to find a Napa Valley winery that doesn’t boast a beautiful view. Since the valley is a designated Agricultural Preserve (think “Wilderness Preserve”), the land here is protected from development that would mar its beauty and its foremost purpose (viniculture). So even wineries on the valley floor are surrounded by pristine vistas of vineyards framed by the Mayacamas and Vaca mountain ranges. That said, the view from these hillside wineries do take the breathtaking factor up a notch.
Strap on your flying helmet, climb up the wing and get snug in the open-air cockpit of a vintage biplane for a thrilling, nostalgic and ultra-romantic tour of wine country. Choose to tour the majestic vineyard landscape or opt for a flight south towards San Francisco with views of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Napa River beckons with more opportunities to get out on the water than ever before. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board or sign up for a guided tour that includes all the instruction you need for a day of fun out on the water. Paddle the restored tidal wetlands and experience Downtown Napa from the river!
Learn More: Napa Valley Paddle
Without a doubt, the crown jewel marking Downtown Napa’s recent renaissance is the Napa Riverfront. The inviting design and the waterfront promenade easily lend themselves for a late afternoon or post-dinner stroll. The beautiful building has attracted an eclectic mix of boutique shops and restaurants just waiting to be explored.
The naturally cool, humid environment of underground caves provides ideal conditions for aging and storing wines. The dimly lit, musty environs also hold an undeniable romance, making a cave tour & tasting high on the “must do” list while in Napa Valley. Keep in mind that cave temperatures vary little throughout the year – averaging 58-65 degrees – so take care to bring a light sweater for any winery experience that will include a tour of the caves.
Although Cabernet and Chardonnay and are the predominant varietals in Napa Valley, there are a handful of producers that specialize in wines with a certain sparkle. And if you’re used to reserving bubbles just for special occasions, a visit to these producers will enlighten you more relaxed serving suggestions, in case caviar isn’t among your pantry staples.
“Custom Crush” is the answer to how to make wine when your pockets aren’t quite deep enough to own your own winery. A custom crush facility is a bonded winery that allows other wine brands to make wine at their facility. A visit to a custom crush tasting room presents the opportunity to taste extremely limited production wines that are often rarely found outside of the Napa Valley. It’s great way to discover – and support – Napa’s burgeoning winemakers.
A few weeks after the frenzy of grape harvest, another harvest season begins in Napa Valley: olive harvest. Round Pond offers the only formal olive oil tasting in the Napa Valley; however, numerous olive oil producers have storefronts in the valley where visitors are invited to taste and learn what distinguishes a good quality oil from the mass-marketed impostors. A bottle of locally made olive oil also makes a great gift for any non-wine drinking friends back home, too.
Napa Porchfest is an annual music festival held in late-July in Downtown Napa. A sizeable section of Old Town Napa is cordoned off for the event where more than 50 local homeowners’ porches become impromptu stages for more than 100 bands performing rock, bluegrass, jazz, blues, folk, reggae and even classical. More than 2,500 attendees rove the festival on foot, by bike and even motorized Laz-Z-Boy recliners have been spotted in past years. It’s a music festival with homespun charm and tons of fun if you can make it!
Learn More: Napa Porchfest
When you realize the sport of bocce originated with the Greeks and the Romans, it makes sense why it feels so natural to play with a glass of wine in hand. The rules are simple and it’s easy to learn, making it a game beginners can learn to enjoy quickly. Contact wineries ahead; bocce court reservations may be required.
Along with its world-class food and wine, Napa Valley is also home to some of the best cycling routes in the world. So it’s no wonder why many so many charitable organizations choose to host fund-raising cycling events centered here. Every year, thousands of cyclists travel to the valley to participate in these events and collectively raise millions for charitable causes. With routes ranging from 20 to 100 miles, there’s a ride suited for participants of all levels.
With tasting fees at most Napa Valley wineries trending between $30-50, the days of free tastings may seem like a bygone era. However, there is a handful of wineries that still offers free tastings. It is the wineries’ prerogative to change their tasting fee policies, so double-check with individual wineries before you visit. Also note that some of these wineries require an appointment. Lastly, it may go without saying, but when you are personally hosted at a winery for a complimentary tasting it’s certainly good form to purchase a bottle or two per person.
The official wine of summer is so much more than just a pretty drink to match your manicure. Rosé pairs well with backyard barbecues and lazy afternoons at the park. It’s approachable and fun for wine newbies and still a compelling selection for wine aficionados reaching for something refreshing on hot summer afternoon. Here’s a roundup of Napa Valley Rosé producers worth checking out.
No need to worry about ghouls or goblins. The term “Ghost Winery” refers to a small handful of historic winery buildings in Napa Valley that pre-date the Prohibition Era, which reduced the number of wineries operating in California from more than 700 in 1920 to about 40 by the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
Go beyond the tasting room and play winemaker for a day. A blending experience is great way to deepen your understanding of the characteristics of unique varietals and how they play off one another to create a harmonious blend. And at Conn Creek Winery, you can taste Cabernets from each of Napa’s unique AVAs and create your own 100% Cab blend.
When Magrit Mondavi first saw the lawn at Robert Mondavi Winery, she turned to Bob and said, “Why don’t we do a concert?” In the five decades since that conversation, the winery has hosted legendary artists for its annual Summer Concert Series. The venue is truly perfect for an intimate night of music among the vineyards.
Learn More: Robert Mondavi Concert Series
Villa Ca’Toga is the residence of artist Carlo Marchiori. Tours are offered just once a week (on Saturdays) May through October. The eclectic property includes a sculpture courtyard, Roman Theater, Thai stupas, fountains and Greco-Roman ruins. The interior residence enchants with a main salone and six large rooms that each offer an interpretation of a different theme.
Learn More: Villa Ca’Toga
For a short ‘n’ sweet hike, take to the trails at Napa’s smaller local parks. Alston Park in northwest Napa has three miles of trails bordered by vineyards. In Browns Valley, Westwood Hills Park has three miles of trails through heavily wooded tree groves and grassy meadows. Skyline Park in east Napa has a network of 25 miles of trails, but the 2.5 mile trail to Lake Marie is perfect for shorter hike. Bothe State Park, tucked between St. Helena and Calistoga, has more than 10 miles of trails that are predominately shaded, making it a great option for summer hiking.
There is no better way to celebrate the bounty of Harvest in Calistoga than at a 1,000-foot-long dining table set up along Main Street (Lincoln Ave.) under a harvest moon. At least a dozen restaurants and more than three dozen wineries serve guests throughout the evening for a memorable night of food, wine and friends. Tickets for this one-night event, held annually in September, go on sale in July (tickets sell out within 24hrs, so plan ahead).
Learn More: Calistoga Harvest Table
It should come as no surprise that many people who are passionate about fine wines also have a passion for world-class art. At many Napa Valley wineries you’ll find inspiring seasonal exhibits and lovingly curated permanent collections in the form of sculpture gardens, photography exhibits, murals and paintings. Visit these wineries to find out why many consider wine and art the perfect pairing.
The inherit romance of wine country inspires many to choose Napa Valley as the place to get down on one knee and ask the ultimate question. And when you choose to propose at a winery, the memory of your life-changing moment will extend well beyond that day. The wine from that winery will always hold special significance. You can serve the wine at your wedding reception and enjoy it on your anniversary for many years to come.
It’s virtually guaranteed that after your first long day of wine tasting, come 4 o’clock or so, you’ll be looking for an afternoon pick-me-up. Thankfully, there are plenty of great places to get a decent jolt of caffeine throughout the valley. And a bag of local beans makes a fun gift for your coffee-loving friends back home.
Think Coachella… with wine. Held annually over the Memorial Day Weekend, the 3-day Bottlerock music festival features more than 80 bands playing on four music stages at an expansive venue. Concertgoers enjoy access to gourmet food from the Napa Valley’s finest chefs and restaurateurs and dozens of wine cabanas hosted by local vintners in addition to craft cocktail and beer vendors. Past headliners have included the Red Hot Chili Pepppers, No Doubt, Foo Fighters and Snoop Dogg.
Learn More: Bottlerock
No visit to Calistoga is complete without a traditional mud bath. The volcanic mud spa treatments and natural mineral pool soaks are a time-honored tradition, offered here since the 1860s. Often coupled with massage, traditional mud baths are touted for detoxifying the body, relieving joint and muscle pain and promoting relaxation.
After a long weekend of wine tasting, you’ll want to reserve your last morning in Napa for sleeping in and making plans to fortify yourself for the journey home with an epic brunch. A wide array of options has you covered from avocado toast to Eggs Benedict on fluffy homemade biscuits and even fried chicken and waffles – and it wouldn’t be a wine country brunch without a proper mimosa.
While only a handful of local wineries offer a composed chocolate & wine tasting experience (see Rutherford Ranch, Robert Mondavi Winery and Hess Collection for options), there’s no shortage of of artisan purveyors of fine chocolates in Napa Valley. Innovative truffle flavors such as Espellette Chili and Earl Grey will inspire you to create your own wine pairings.
Named one of the “Top 10 Marathons Worth Traveling for” by Forbes Magazine, the Napa Valley Marathon features a point-to-point course along the scenic Silverado Trail. A certified Boston-qualifier, the event also boasts a fairly small field (limited to 2,300 runners), which lends more of a small-town race feel compared to the major city marathons. Best of all, after the first six miles of rolling hills, the majority of the course is downhill to the finish. And of course, you can count on finding plenty of great wine and food to celebrate your accomplishment!
Learn More: Napa Valley Marathon
Enjoying a wine country picnic is a quintessential experience. Of course, it takes a little planning to pull it off – especially when you’re away from home. Fortunately, there are a great number of local resources for procuring a proper picnic feast. Note: If you plan to picnic at a winery, be sure to choose a winery that is permitted to allow picnicking and secure an appointment in advance of your visit.
When it comes to picnicking in Napa Valley, V Sattui Winery and its onsite deli is the undeniable hot spot. But if you’re looking for a winery with a picnic area that’s a little more low-key and off-the-radar, look no further than our favorites listed here. Note: Always call ahead; picnic areas are reserved for guests participating in a tasting and sometimes are reserved for wine club members only. Also note that V Sattui is the lone exception of a winery with a deli onsite. No other wineries sell food due to laws designed to protect the Agricultural Preserve, so plan ahead and BYO picnic provisions.
The main thrust of Yountville’s Washington Street stretches about one mile and is chock-full of top-rated restaurants, boutique shopping, wine tasting rooms and more than a dozen art sculptures to discover along the way. Veteran’s Memorial Park at the south end of town and Yountville Park at the north end both offer shaded picnic tables and grassy areas perfect for relaxing with a baguette and some cheese. Yountville Park also has a children’s playground.
Film buffs descend on wine country each November to attend the Napa Valley Film Festival: a convergence of film, food, and wine. More than 120 new independent films and studio sneak previews are presented in more than a dozen venues throughout the picturesque towns of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Attendees interact with more than 300 filmmakers at screenings and Q&As and enjoy afternoon wine tastings, culinary demonstrations, celebrity tributes, evening parties, VIP receptions and winemaker dinners, awards ceremonies, festival galas and more.
Learn More: Napa Valley Film Festival
Whether your taste for baked confections trends toward the sweet or the savory, Napa Valley is home to a wide array of artisan bakeries that will tantalize your tastebuds. These are the places to discover your new favorite morning pastry or grab a still-warm baguette before heading to a to a local park for a lazy afternoon.
It stands to reason since Napa Valley is such a popular destination for cycling, there’s also plenty of fun to be had on the backroads by motorcycle enthusiasts. Taking a tour through Pope Valley on a Harley should be on every passionate biker’s bucket list. Sage Canyon Road and Chiles-Pope Valley Road offer up epic banking turns that sweep past picturesque vineyard landscapes, babbling creeks and rustic barns. The journey will transport you back in time and allow a glimpse of what Napa Valley was like 40 years ago.
Directly across the street from the Michelin 3-star French Laundry restaurant, their three-acre culinary garden beckons visitors to walk in and explore the more than 50 organically farmed garden plots. The garden supplies produce for all three of Chef Thomas Keller’s three local restaurants.
Learn More: French Laundry Culinary Garden
A food & wine pairing experience is essential in taking your wine knowledge to the next level. Enjoy small bites or a sumptuous, multi-course meal especially prepared to accompany specific wines. It’s a revelatory experience, and no doubt you’ll be eager to apply what you learn to your own entertaining.
Sometimes you just don’t want the night to end. Whether it’s a girls night out on the town or a romantic date that calls for one last stop for an after-dinner drink, Napa Valley has a wide array of options to keep your evening going from sophisticated wine bars and cocktail lounges to classic no-frills dives.
Learn More: Cadet Beer + Wine Bar, Mercantile Social, Sky & Vine, Napkins, Bounty Hunter, Napa Palisades, Downtown Joe’s, Henry’s Bar, Pancha’s, Redd Wood, Ana’s Cantina, Goose & Gander, Susie’s Bar, Hydro Bar & Grill
Don’t make the mistake of writing off Castello di Amorosa as a mere “tourist trap.” The lengths that Dario Sattui went to in order have this authentically built 13th century inspired Tuscan castle to the valley are truly remarkable. It’s recommended to read about the history of the project to get a full appreciation before your visit. Even if all you do is make a pilgrimage to the parking lot, you can get a good view of the castle exterior, marvel at the craftsmanship and get some great photos.
Learn More: Castello di Amorosa
While in Napa, why not take the opportunity to heighten your culinary skills in a state-of-the-art kitchen under the tutelage of a professionally trained chef and with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients at your fingertips? Cooking classes are a romantic date activity, a fun social outing with girlfriends and great for team-building with professional colleagues.
At K. Laz Wine Colletion in Yountville, former Dean & DeLuca Wine Director and industry insider Kerrin Laz is able to make the most inaccessible, ultra-premium Napa Valley cult wines available for tastings by advanced appointment. This is the only place in Napa Valley – and possibly the country – where you can taste labels such as Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Hundred Acre, Dana Estates and more in one specially curated tasting flight.
Learn More: K. Laz Wine Collection
In Napa Valley there are possibly more unique architectural styles than there are are wine varietals. From traditional French, Spanish and Italian influences to modernist marvels and even subterranean structures that will defy your imagination. It’s hard to find a Napa Valley winery that doesn’t have interesting architecture of some kind, but listed here are some of the most compelling standouts.
There’s a reason St. Helena has earned a reputation as Napa Valley’s Main Street. From the charming electrolier street lamps to the beautiful historic downtown buildings dating back to the 19th and early 20th century, it’s easy to fall hard for this small town in the heart of Napa Valley. Of course, modern boutiques and restaurants keep today’s visitors entertained as they stroll down Main Street.
Journey back in time to the golden age of luxury rail travel and enjoy a sightseeing journey and exquisite multi-course dining experience unlike any other. The Wine Train’s collection of vintage Pullman railcars have been faithfully restored to museum-quality splendor with Honduran mahogany, brass accents, etched glass partitions and plush velveteen armchairs all true to the early 1900s.
Learn More: Napa Valley Wine Train
The end of October is a gorgeous time to visit Napa Valley. The frenzy of the Harvest Season is usually subsided and the fall colors are at their peak. If you find yourself in Napa Valley during Halloween, Castello Di Amoroso pulls out all the stops and hosts a decadent Halloween ball that should be on any ghoul or goblin’s bucket list. Tickets definitely sell out in advance, so plan ahead!
Learn More: Pagan Ball at Castello Di Amorosa
Indulge your culinary ambitions with exclusive events that invigorate both mind and palate. Held annually in the spring, the 5-day long Flavor! Napa Valley festival invites attendees to soak up inspiration from iconic chefs and winemakers while experiencing the best that Napa Valley has to offer through more than 20 events that include special dinners, classes and chef demos, wine tours and tastings and more.
Learn More: Flavor! Napa Valley
Cornerstone Gardens are an ever-changing series of gardens showcasing innovative designs from international and local landscape architects and designers. The gardens celebrate the connection between art, architecture and nature. Additionally, the adjacent Sunset Magazine test gardens highlight food production, the Sunset plant line, bee habitat, cut flowers and composting.
Learn More: Cornerstone Gardens
There’s an undefined percentage of Napa Valley visitors who are reluctantly dragged along on a trip to wine country to appease their wine-loving spouses. While everyone around them is sipping and swirling, they’re just dying for a cold beer. Fortunately, an increasing number of specialty breweries and pubs provide plenty of options for those who prefer a cold mug of suds over a glass of cult Cabernet.
Finding a winery in Napa Valley to fulfill your “I Love Lucy” grape-stomping fantasy can be tough. Most wineries only offer this experience over one or two weekends during the Harvest Season (mid-Aug through Oct), making it difficult to plan. However, Grgich Hills has embraced the grape stomping tradition and offers the experience daily throughout Harvest Season. Check their website for updates.
Learn More: Grgich Hills Estate
You wouldn’t expect to find craft-spirits in Napa Valley, but that’s the case at Napa Valley Distillery, where bottled cocktails and small-batch spirits are handcrafted. The highlight is the family’s signature Vintage Reserve vodka, which repurposes the sauvignon grapes to update a bar staple. Take a tour of the distillery for a back stage pass into the art of craft spirits production and tasting, then taste through a flight of award-winning locally made products.
Learn More: Napa Valley Distillery
Tucked amid the vineyards, the Di Rosa Preserve is home to a jaw-dropping collection of more than 2000 pieces of modern and contemporary art works in spaces both indoors and out. A 1/3-mile trail winds through a Sculpture Meadow with large-scale installations. At every turn, the 200-acre site offers views of landscaped, sculpture-dotted grounds and wide open spaces.
Learn More: Di Rosa Preserve
Visitors appreciate Calistoga for its distinctly laid-back, bohemian vibe. While the natural mineral springs and volcanic mud bath treatments are a primary draw to this historic town, you should definitely plan some time after your spa treatment to take a stroll along Lincoln Ave. to peruse the eclectic shops, art galleries, coffee shops and tasting rooms here.
Graze your way through a delicious array of vendors specializing in unique tacos, oysters, upscale burgers & shakes, wood-fired pizzas and more. Indoor and outdoor communal seating areas allow members of your party with diverse tastes to order from different vendors and still dine together.
Learn More: Oxbow Public Market
When you have limited time to spend but still want to see it all, a helicopter tour allows you to cover more ground – literally – in a short amount of time. Based out of the Santa Rosa airport (about 1 hour from Napa), you can choose from flights highlighting Sonoma or Napa Valley including flying over Castello di Amorosa and Sterling Vineyards.
Learn More: Helico Sonoma
Many people are surprised to learn there is great yearround fly fishing in and around Napa. Local outfitters host excursions on Putah Creek where you can fish for a variety of rainbow and steelhead trout as well as striper, smallmouth and largemouth bass. Experienced guides will provide all of the instruction and equipment needed for a successful day on the water whether you’re a novice or experienced.
When it comes to restaurants with breathtaking views in the Napa Valley, Auberge Du Soleil cannot be topped. And you don’t even have to dine at the fine-dining Restaurant at Auberge to partake of this extraordinary vista. The more casual Bar & Bistro adjacent to the restaurant also has a small terrace overlooking the valley. It’s strictly first come, first serve for the few coveted tables here and it’s one of the worst kept secrets in the valley, so go early.
Learn More: Auberge Du Soleil Bar & Bistro
Set your sights on the summit of Mt. St. Helena, Napa Valley’s tallest peak at 4,342 feet. Thankfully, nearly half of the climbing is be done by car as the trail head at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park is midway up the mountain. The 5-mile, 2000+’ climb to the summit is mostly 80% fire road and offers up stunning panoramic views of the valley below.
Learn More: Mt. St. Helena Hike
Go With a Guide: Active Wine Adventures
Live music lovers would do well to review Napa’s local concert venue calendars before setting their travel dates. An increasing number of venues is attracting a great lineup of musicians, comedians and other live performers to Downtown Napa. The venues are smaller and more intimate, making for an especially memorable experience.
The tried and true “Dinner-and-a-Movie” date doesn’t get any more romantic than St. Helena’s Cameo Cinema. The nostalgic theater has a more than 100-year history and has been lovingly renovated to retain its old-Hollywood vibe. The Cameo features an eclectic rotating mix of independent and studio films. Get there early to snag one of the coveted love seats toward the back of the theater and get cozy with your cutie.
Learn More: Cameo Cinema
Farm-to-table dining enthusiasts can take a step closer to the farm by visiting our local farmers markets. Meet the farmers, bakers and artisan vendors who produce the highest quality produce and food products here in the Napa Valley. It’s a great way to stray off the well-worn tourist path, hang with the locals and find locally made gifts.
Napa Valley is a magical place to visit during the holiday season. Yountville’s Festival of Lights, held annually the day after Thanksgiving, features gourmet food and wine tastings, Yuletide carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and photos with Santa all leading up to the dramatic tree and town lighting after dusk. And Calistoga’s Lighted Tractor Parade is a family-friendly tradition that’s been going on more than 20 years. We dare you to try to find a parade with a bigger dose of authentic small-town heart.
Just outside the posh and polished town of Yountville, you’ll come upon a handsome herd of local residents who couldn’t care less about the fine wines and dining just down the road. This band of Texas Longhorns usually hangs out along Yount Mill Road about a mile outside of town.
Learn More: The longhorns are close enough to town that you can easily “hoof it” there; or, rent bikes from Napa Valley Bike Tours & Rentals and enjoy a longer ride along the scenic and quiet Yount Mill Road.
At the northern end of Napa Valley, Calistoga’s Oat Hill Mine Trail follows 8.3 miles of an old stage couch route that originally served as a transportation route for mercury and cinnabar miners. Today, hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians can enjoy sweeping views of Napa Valley along the lower Oat Hill Mine Trail; the middle and upper sections of the trail cross striking volcanic formations.
Learn More: Oat Hill Mine Trail
Go With a Guide: Active Wine Adventures
Yountville Live is the ultimate luxury getaway event, featuring exclusive performances from some of today’s hottest recording artists, exquisite cuisines from world-class restaurants and award-winning chefs, and a unique variety of some of Napa Valley’s most celebrated wineries and the finest beers and spirits available. This annual weekend event – held in March – is the perfect combination of premium entertainment and epicurean experiences.
Learn More: Yountville Live