Use A Smartphone To Take Down Notes
Still, youll struggle to remember even if youre spitting a dozen alcoholic beverages a day later. You would still be confused if you preferred Brunello or Chianti Classico. Remembering the distinct taste and name of the bottle wont be difficult if you take notes.
One good tip is to using phones camera to document your favorite wines. But if you are uncertain about describing the taste, be straightforward by adding a plus or minus sign to the wine and wine producer.
Visit Wineries For Art And Architecture
Some Napa Valley wineries boast amazing art and architecture and others have gorgeous grounds and gardens. While a few require a tour or wine tasting even to enter, others are free to stroll outside. Touring some of the best Napa Valley wineries is a must when you visit!
Walking the bridges over Jade Lake at Chateau Montelena
The gorgeous Rhine House at Beringer Vineyards is a Victorian mansion built in 1884. Darioush makes you feel like you are visiting Persia. Castello di Amorosa takes you to Tuscany. Hall St. Helena showcases sculptures on its grounds.
The grounds of Chateau Montelena in Calistoga are made for strolling, with a Chinese garden complete with lake and red bridges.
Get A Sweet Treat At Bouchon Bakery
Youll almost always have to wait in line to get into Chef Thomas Kellers Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. But its totally worth the wait, if you love sweet baked treats!
Pecan tart from Bouchon Bakery in Yountville!
The delectable menu at Bouchon features different kinds of croissants, pastries, cookies, and macarons. Our favorites? The yuzu croissants and the fruit tarts in summer and pumpkin pie and pecan tarts during the holidays!
Seating is almost non-existent, so grab a sweet treat and coffee to go, or snag a seat on the bench outside to sit down and enjoy your spoils. Bouchon Bakerys bread is delicious too, so you might want to pick up a loaf to enjoy later.
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Day Trip To Sonoma And Sonoma County
One of the coolest things about comparing Napa Valley and Sonoma County is that, even though they are a stones throw away from each other, each area has its own completely unique feel. While Napa is the more established and higher-end of the two, Sonoma is the more spirited yet laid-back region. Its the largest county in wine country, and what youll find is that there are more intimate, family-run start-up wineries here. Things also tend to cost a lot less here than in the Napa Valley.
A few of my favorite spots to explore include Downtown Sonoma , Healdsburg , and Guerneville .
Gotts Roadside Napa Valley California
Whether you are a local or international tourist driving through Napa Valley, Gotts Roadside is the ideal place to relax for a snack, lunch, or even a chilling drink on a hot day. This burger joint has a way of giving hotdogs, onion rings, hand-spun shakes, and even cheese burgers that extra-special subtle taste that will leave you craving more.
Chinese chicken salads and crispy Ahi Poke Tacos are made using local ingredients, while California centric wines, such as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Anchor from San Francisco, add to the local American flavor.
933 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574
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Enhance Your Cooking Skills At Silverado Cooking School And The Culinary Institute Of America
Serious hands-on cooks will enjoy Silverado Cooking School, with classes teaching the important techniques like blanching and sautéing helmed by chef Malcolm de Sieyes. Located in a historic 1888 stone winery, the renowned Culinary Institute of America at Greystone gives food enthusiasts a front row seat of chefs-in-action demonstrations. Afterwards, shop at the on-site culinary store with unique tools like an avocado slicer and yeast thermometer. Chef Thomas Kellers Finesse Shop is perfect unique finds like the stunning porcelain KwangJuYo Lucy Bowls. Enjoy the spacious, local 40,000-square-foot Oxbow Public Market, packed with 24 artisan vendors like Napastak selling teas and jams and Whole Spice with a bevy of 300 rare, exotic spices.
Is Napa Fun For Non Wine Drinkers
Heres our list to activities to do in Napa Valley that arent related to wine tasting. Hiking, hot air ballooning, exploring local art, participating in fun factory tours, dining at world-class restaurants, and even relaxing in hot springs are just a few of the things you can do in Napa without drinking wine.
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Be Open To Trying Different Wines
Senior editor Tim Fish suggests trying the classics first and attempting new things. If you wish to sample the most prominent names, for example, Bordeaux first-growth wines, go there right away before the crowds form. When its less crowded, you may then try other new ones.
Getting out of your comfort zone is the advice of senior editor James Molesworth. There are so many spirits to choose from. But there will be several that will suit your palate.
In addition, you also have to prepare a list of must-visit wine producers. Your wine glass should be nearby. Be ready to taste various wines with fruity aromas or wines with higher alcohol content.
From a Chateau Haut-Brion, look at the other wineries pouring into the booth immediately. If youve never tried one before, now is your chance. After you have sampled a glass of Haut-Brion, try something new. You can try lighter wines with red fruit or dry wines too.
Senior editor James Laube says you must experience everything to discover your preferences. He enjoys the wines that appeal to him and likes vinos that appeal to others. Some like dry wines, while others like high acid ones. After all, you can better understand why you like certain wines.
He also suggests finishing the evening with a glass of sweet wine like Sauternes or Port. Either wine is an excellent palate cleanser. Laube also prefers Champagne, which he describes as the perfect palate cleanser.
Hot Air Balloon Ride Above The Vineyards
Okay, so I put one of the best things to do in Napa besides wine tasting first! Because, why not?!
Think youve got the best views of the vineyards from the ground? Think again. An early morning hot air balloon ride will have you wondering why youve never made the trip up here. Its downright magical, and you better believe me when I say that 5am wake up call will be worth it.
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Do I Have To Make A Reservation For A Wine Tasting
Due to COVID-19, most wineries now must have reservations for walk-in visitors.
But in some locations, appointments are mandatory even if youre a casual visitor. While making an appointment in every region may not be compulsory, its good to call first. You may also inquire about virtual tasting guidelines and liquid restrictions.
Ask about their walk-in policies for tastings and tours. Also, inquire about policies specifically on the weekends.
Art Galleries And Art Walks
The Napa Valley has so much fantastic art and walking venues to enjoy some public art in the region. If you love seeing local art to more international artists that are featured at the many fantastic galleries around the Napa Valley, then youll find so many wonderful and supportive galleries to explore here. Also, there are some nice wineries with an art focus and also walking trails with public art to enjoy around Napa. Check out this walking tour with the Napa Valley Art Walk here for more inspiration or these vineyard art focus sites and public venues here to also visit in the area. If you are into visiting local museums, theres a few fantastic places to visit around the Napa Valley to see local art, culture and historic collections. Check out this site here for information and details to visiting the museums in the area.
Heres a tour of the Napa Art Walk and current sculpture exhibits
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Hike Skyline Wilderness Park
Hiking the Skyline Wilderness Park is a must-try for adventurers yearning to explore nature and relax. Being a recreational destination, guests can escape the bustling city life and enjoy this park’s scenic places. Whether as a beginner or a professional, the trails at Skyline Park are convenient for all levels. Besides hiking at this outstanding park, explorers can also engage in horse riding, biking, or camping.
Visit The Di Rosa Museum
Recommended by Carole from Weekend Adventures Update
Art flourishes in the California Wine Country. One of my favorite stops in Napa is at the expansive 217-acre contemporary art museum and sculpture park known simply as di Rosa.
Make a reservation for a tour of the collection featuring more than 2,000 pieces by Northern California artists because otherwise, you will miss a lot.
The di Rosa Sculpture Garden
A tram delivers visitors from Gallery 1 by the parking lot to the main Gallery 2 located inside a converted tractor barn. From here, a guided tour is required to take a 1/3-mile loop walk through the Sculpture Meadow featuring large-scale outdoor sculptures.
This tour also includes seeing ancient oaks, a very old olive orchard , and a 35-acre lake. A nice plus is the vocal flock of beautiful peacocks that parades around the property.
The address for the di Rosa is 5200 Sonoma Highway.
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Top 10 Things To Do In Napa Valley
The beautiful Napa Valley, a short 90-minute drive north from San Francisco, is undoubtedly a well-sought and famous grape-growing region of world-class vineyards and wine production. The dreamy landscape of rolling hills, luxurious resorts, charming inns, stellar climate, renowned food, and, of course, wine make for an unbeatable destination. Instead of hopping from winery to winery, weve harvested a compilation of unexpected surprises from unique attractions, hands-on classes, wellness activities, hilltop, and misty forest views, and restaurants defying the Napa cuisine norm and non-vino bottle souvenirs.
Kate is a freelance writer based in New York. Shes the founder of the creative collaborative, From Your Desks. Shes a Contributing Editor at Fathom and her work has appeared in AFAR, Bon Appetit, Departures, Forbes, The Huffington Post and Refinery 29. She travels for the food. Follow Kate on Twitter: .
Things To Do In Napa And Sonoma Besides Drinking Wine
Napa and Sonoma are known as some of the most popular wine-growing regions in the world, but Californias most famous regions have so much more to offer than just wine tasting. The areas are also known for their breweries and distilleries, hiking trails, arts, music, and shopping.
One of the best ways to experience the northern California regions of Napa and Sonoma is by getting outside of the tasting rooms. While it is true that a majority of tourists come to the area primarily to enjoy the wine, many are pleasantly surprised to discover just how beautiful the environment is outside of the tasting rooms once the merlot has stopped flowing.
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Napa Valley Has Long Been Known For Its Picturesque Views Regional Cuisine And Remarkable Wine Selections
Ever since the first winery opened in the area in 1859, patrons have flocked to this popular destination to enjoy the sizzling summer weather and the panoramic views of the Mayacamas Mountains.
But much to the surprise of many, there are plenty more things to do in napa valley besides wine tasting.
Sure, the plethora of wines that are available to sample will make any trip extra gratifying. After all, theres nothing like watching the sunset from an outdoor patio while you savor the distinct flavors of our regional wines.
But too often, tourists experience Napa Valley with blinders on so focused on our acclaimed wineries that they overlook all of the other exciting, one-in-a-lifetimes experiences that can be found right at their fingertips.
So, we have decided to compile a few of our favorite things to do in Napa California, in hopes that more visitors will explore all our beautiful countryside has to offer.
Tour The Di Rosa Center For Contemporary Art
The art collector Rene di Rosa and his wife founded the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art so that the public could enjoy their 217-acre art park filled with more than 2,000 works. Comprising a sculpture meadow, two galleries, and a man-made 35-acre lake, the di Rosa Center features the artwork of more than 800 local artists.
The vast museum can be overwhelming to explore, so volunteers host 2-hour guided tours of the art park a tour is included in the price of your ticket . Tours take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Between April and October, you can take a self-guided walk around the property on weekends. You can also take in the property on horseback for about $145 per hour.
Whether you choose to take a tour or explore on your own, you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.
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Awesome Things To Do In Napa Besides Wineries
This post was originally written in September 2017 and updated in September 2021.
Any discerning enotourist or wine expert will likely be familiar with the high quality and abundance of wineries and vineyards in Napa, California. The name Napa Valley rings famous like other wine regions of the world! They may, however, be far less familiar with anything else to do in Napa.
Im not much of a drinker, so you might be wondering Why would she go to Napa, California? Thats wine country and you go there to drink. I was pleasantly surprised to learn all about all sorts of other interesting Napa happenings besides wine while traveling recently with DoNapa as part of a sponsored press trip.
Thankfully, the City of Napa has many wonderful experiences to offer a visitor outside of wine, wineries and vineyards! Unlike larger cities in California like San Diego or Palm Springs, Napa has a friendly an approachable flair to it. Maybe it is because of the resilient local community, that has dealt with major challenges like wild fires or flooding. Regardless of what it is, Napa is a place that feels nice to be in. From cool local artists to charming shopping boutiques, there is so much more to Napa than just wine.
Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride
Part of Napa Valleys allure is its majestic wine country beauty, and a hot air balloon ride is the ultimate way to soak in the undulating hills and mountains, Californian-Mediterranean scrub and pine trees, densely packed vineyards on every twist of the Valley, and luxurious chateaux built by the musings of multi-millionaires.
The balloon can feel very hot, but its that hot air that gently lifts you off the ground and gently floats you over wine country. The floating sensation is extremely peaceful and serene the physical sensation is very soft.
Balloon rides are usually early morning and include pastries and coffee. Note that this is not exactly a budget-friendly option, especially if youre trying to be romantic: group tours average $300 per person for a one-hour flight, and the price climbs quickly for a private tour. But for a special occasion, its a once-in-a-lifetime activity thats well worth the expense!
This hot air balloon ride takes off from Yountville and lasts for about an hour, and youll learn about balloonings colorful history as well as local highlights. You can also book with local companies like Napa Valley Balloon Inc and Balloons Above the Valley.
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Cambria Hotel Napa Valley
The Cambria Hotel Napa Valley, which opened in 2021, is perfectly located for all the best things to do in Napa besides wine. Located along the Silverado Trail, youre smack dab in the middle of the three golf courses mentioned above. Youre also right in between Skyline Wilderness Park and Westwood Hills, both great for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Best of all? Youre walking distance to downtown Napa and its world-class restaurants or activities on the river. Just over a mile away, you can pay a visit to the Culinary Institute of America at COPIA.
image credit: Cambria Hotels
In addition to the above, the Cambria Hotel Napa Valley is a short walk from plenty of different casual and fast-food restaurants like In N Out, Chipotle, MOD Pizza, Black Bear Diner, and The Habit Burger Grill. Just two minutes on foot, youll reach La Cheve Bakery and Brews where you can dine in or grab delicious, Mexican-inspired pastries to bring back to your room.
Pro Tip: The hotel offers great happy hour specials from 4-6, including draft beers from some of Napas local breweries. . In addition, their full-service restaurant, Mary Elizabeth, serves breakfast and dinner. A hot tub located off the outdoor dining patio is available to guests.
image credit: Cambria Hotels