No one can deny that Napa Valley in California is a globally acclaimed hotspot for wine and food enthusiasts. People often find themselves dedicating an entire week, if not more, solely to strolling through this charming valley, going from one vineyard tour to a tasting, and then repeating the cycle.
However, let’s not forget that Napa has a ton of other activities to offer beyond just wine. Whether you’re all about embracing the great outdoors with hikes and kayaking, immersing yourself in local art and history, or just kicking back and doing absolutely nothing, there’s something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Napa Valley
If you’re gearing up for a Napa Valley escapade, renowned for its picturesque vineyards and outstanding wineries, the realm of adventure extends far beyond the wine-centric domain.
Perhaps you’re not the biggest wine enthusiast or you’re simply in the mood for a different kind of thrill. Either way, Napa offers a plethora of outdoor activities beyond the wine scene. Let’s dive into some exciting options:
Get ready to witness Napa Valley’s breathtaking landscapes from a unique perspective – on horseback. Guided tours cater to all skill levels, providing a distinct way to traverse the region’s vineyards and panoramas. Many trail rides even throw in a wine tasting or lunch, making it the ideal outdoor pursuit to spice up your Napa Valley itinerary!
Hot air balloon rides
For those seeking Napa Valley adventures that don’t involve wine, floating high above in a hot air balloon is a stellar choice. Revel in unforgettable views of rolling hills, vineyards, and wildlife – an absolute must for anyone exploring this enchanting region.
Dive into the area’s beauty and history with a serene moonlight kayak tour, another top-notch activity for those steering clear of wine-related pursuits.
Launching from downtown Napa and employing stable inflatable kayaks, these tours allow you to glide along the tranquil Napa River, surrounded by vineyards and wildlife.
Learn about the region’s past from knowledgeable guides, including tales of early settlers and Prohibition-era bootleggers. It’s an ideal adventure for non-wine enthusiasts or those looking to venture beyond the vineyards, all while providing an unforgettable workout!
Escape the winery scene and find tranquility in Napa Valley’s lavender fields. Strolling through vibrant purple blooms offers a serene experience for everyone.
Guided tours provide insights into cultivation and harvesting, and most lavender farms let you cut your own bundles to take home. Don’t forget to explore the farm shops for locally sourced lavender products!
Explore the napa valley vine trail
Discover the beauty of Napa Valley without wine by embarking on the paved 47-mile Vine Trail. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just seeking a leisurely stroll, the Vine Trail ranks high among things to do in Napa beyond wine.
Revel in breathtaking views, explore charming cafes and bistros along the way, savor artisanal cheeses, and stumble upon lavender fields. As the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition continually opens new sections, the goal is to connect the entire valley, ultimately spanning from Calistoga to the Vallejo Ferry.
Culinary delights in napa valley
Even if the world of wine isn’t your forte, a visit to Napa Valley is a culinary adventure waiting to be savored. For those with discerning palates, Napa offers an array of gastronomic experiences sure to tantalize taste buds.
Dine at the culinary institute of America
Embark on a unique dining journey crafted by student chefs at Napa Valley’s esteemed Culinary Institute of America. After navigating the renowned rigorous program for two years, aspiring chefs showcase their skills during a seven-week stint at The Gatehouse.
Menus at the restaurant, which change frequently, are thoughtfully curated to highlight the chefs’ abilities and feature ultra-fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including produce from CIA’s onsite farms.
Indulge your love for food with an absolute must in Napa Valley – a food tour. With a myriad of options, from downtown walking tours to full-day seafood-focused excursions, you’ll sample the region’s best offerings, including seasonal produce, artisan cheeses, gourmet chocolates, and more.
Explore Napa’s diverse and scenic gastronomic scene, learning insider tips about not just the dishes but also local hot spots.
We recommend making a food tour one of your initial things to do in Napa besides wine to familiarize yourself with the area. This way, you can revisit any favorites for a full-fledged meal!
Go truffle hunting
Tick off a popular item on many foodie bucket lists by engaging in truffle hunting in Napa Valley. Held during the annual Napa Truffle Festival in January, this experience allows you to learn the intricacies of truffle hunting and partake in the hunt yourself.
Guided by trained dogs and seasoned foragers, explore the picturesque landscapes of wine country in search of these elusive delicacies. The thrill of uncovering a rare truffle is undoubtedly one of the best non-wine activities in Napa, catering to both food enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Even those unfamiliar with truffles will find this extraordinary adventure enjoyable.
The festival also features cooking lessons, truffle-focused lunches with wine pairings, truffle dog demonstrations, and more.
Oxbow public market
For a foodie’s paradise and one of the top things to do in Napa besides wine, look no further than the Oxbow Public Market.
This hub combines artisan vendors, top-notch restaurants, and diverse shops all under one roof. Whether you crave fresh coffee, scratch-baked goods, wood-fired pizza, or seafood, the market has you covered. Peruse gourmet products like locally produced olive oil, chocolate, and spices while enjoying events such as cooking demos and tastings.
Beyond the world of wine, Napa Valley offers a tapestry of cultural and historical experiences that cater to enthusiasts of history and the arts.
Ackerman heritage house
Step back in time at the 1889 Victorian mansion, the Ackerman Heritage House, which provides immersive experiences delving into Napa’s storied history. Explore the estate, partake in traditional afternoon tea socials, attend cooking classes, or savor seated lunches and brunches. With Ackerman Family Vineyards onsite, wine drinkers can indulge in pairings with their meals.
Ride the aerial tram at sterling vineyards
Embark on one of Napa Valley’s most popular and distinctive activities – riding the aerial tram at Sterling Vineyards. While the tram anticipates a return in Fall 2023 after sustaining damage in the 2020 Glass Fire, visitors can still enjoy wine tastings before or after this unique adventure.
The di rosa center for contemporary art
For art lovers, the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Carneros provides a cultural haven.
Explore the extensive collection of contemporary art, including outdoor sculptures and rotating exhibitions. The center’s curated displays offer insight into societal issues and cultural movements, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in diverse artistic expressions.
Downtown Napa’s Jarvis Conservatory, described as a “jewel of a theater and an acoustic marvel,” is a hidden gem for performing arts and cinema enthusiasts.
The intimate theater hosts a variety of events, including concerts, film screenings, theater productions, and ballet performances. The conservatory also emphasizes educational programs and community support.
Yountville art walk
Indulge in the Yountville Art Walk for an outdoor cultural experience.
This gallery features an array of works by local and international artists, from sculptures to paintings, enhancing the town’s charm with aesthetic beauty and cultural immersion.
EXPERIENCE THE UNEXPECTED IN NAPA VALLEY
Napa Valley is more than just wine, food, and spas. Explore the unexpected with these unique and captivating activities.
Explore calistoga’s petrified forest
Take a stroll through Calistoga’s Petrified Forest, a surprising gem in Napa Valley. Wander amidst ancient petrified redwood trees, transformed into stone over millions of years. Learn about the fascinating process of petrified wood formation through informative exhibits. The one-mile path offers an easy hike suitable for all ages, providing a unique encounter with Earth’s ancient giants.
Marvel at the old faithful geyser
In Calistoga, witness the mesmerizing eruptions of the Old Faithful Geyser every 30 minutes. While not as renowned as its Yellowstone counterpart, this natural wonder delights visitors with water shooting into the sky accompanied by a powerful burst of steam. Enjoy the picturesque surroundings with picnic areas and scenic walking trails.
Olive oil tasting
Diversify your palate with olive oil tasting in Napa Valley. Explore the world of exquisite oils produced in the region’s fertile grounds. Sample various flavors, guided by experts who unravel the nuances of olive oil types. Visit places like the Olive Press or Round Pond Estate for a delightful tasting experience, and discover how Napa’s olive oils rival its wines.
Take a romantic gondola ride
Indulge in romance with a gondola ride along the tranquil Napa River. Allow a professional gondolier to guide you through the picturesque scenery, creating a magical experience reminiscent of Venice.
Opt for additional offerings like wine tastings or themed cruises inspired by “The Haunting of Venice.” Immerse yourself in the beauty of Napa from a unique and enchanting perspective.
Ride the napa valley wine train
Embark on the vintage Napa Valley Wine Train for a distinctive exploration of wine country. While wine is an option, the train offers experiences without it. Choose from elegant journeys with lunch or afternoon tea, and consider special holiday rides like the Thanksgiving feast or Santa Train.
Revel in a multi-course meal featuring locally sourced ingredients while enjoying panoramic views of vineyards and landscapes. This unique adventure combines luxury travel, nostalgic history, and exceptional food for an unforgettable Napa Valley experience!