The Napa Valley may be primarily known for its world-class wine and gorgeous vineyards, but you can expect a lot more than just that! When you’re not sipping wine on a sunny veranda overlooking rolling vineyards, enjoy many health and wellness activities like hiking, cycling, and yoga. There are so many things to do in the Napa Valley! It’s a therapeutic kind of travel destination in California! Here’s how to get the most out of an active vacation in Napa.
Young travellers (like me) are swapping beaches and beverages for action-packed, fitness getaways. Results from a recent Hotels.com survey shows that 80% of 18 to 35 year old’s consider keeping fit one of the most important parts of their holiday experience. Millennial’s are looking for unusual holiday experiences and use exercise to meet new people (27%) and explore new places from an alternative perspective (32%).
Things to Know About the Napa Valley
North of San Fransisco, Napa Valley is home to seemingly endless award-winning wineries, beautiful scenery of lush vineyards, and Michelin-star restaurants.
The valley is easily accessed by car from San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and the Sacramento International Airport. It’s around a short, one-hour drive each!
Summer is the most popular time to visit Napa Valley, so expect a lot of traffic and congestion in the area. If you can manage it, try to visit during the week rather than at the weekend.
Another great time to visit Napa is during the harvest season, which is usually around late August to October. But keep in mind that this is another busy season with fruit trucks, vendors, and visitors all congesting the streets.
If you want the least amount of crowds and a bit more tranquillity, try to visit between November and April.
If you fly in and out of SFO, you will love that there are so many things to do in San Francisco airport to stay active!
Napa Valley Fun Facts
Win trivia night with these fun facts about Napa Valley!
- There are more than 450 wineries, spanning across the sheer 30 miles of Napa Valley.
- Napa County is made up of six charming towns: Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, and Calistoga.
- The first winery was established in Napa in 1859. However, the first commercial winery opened two years later in 1861. This one is still in operation! Visit the Charles Krug Winery to see the oldest operating winery in Napa Valley.
- Napa Valley’s dry Mediterranean climate is shared with only two percent of the planet.
- More than 36 different wine grape varieties are grown in Napa, which Cabernet and Chardonnay being grown the most.
Things to Do in the Napa Valley
An active vacation in Napa ensures plenty of entertainment, fun, and wellness! Enjoy the most of this popular destination. Here are some of the best things to do in the Napa Valley.
Hiking in Napa Valley
Stay active in Napa with a hike or two! The terrain is lush and full of gorgeous vistas and evergreen forests, so take advantage of it all. Whether you’re an avid hiker or not, it’s one of the best outdoor activities in the Napa Valley!
A favorite of mine is the Lake Hennessey Trail. Lake Hennessey is a gorgeous reservoir in the Vaca Mountains, east of St. Helena. The trail is spectacular for its wildflowers and beautiful vistas. Take in a sweeping view of the lake and surrounding hills for a perfect day of hiking in the Napa Valley.
Also, check out Bothe-Napa Valley State Park for some of the best hiking in Napa Valley! Have an early morning and enjoy 10 miles of trails, wild swimming, camping, picnicking, and more. Lovely coastal redwood forests and Douglas firs fill much of the terrain here, and it’s easily one of the best places for day hikes.
There are numerous more scenic hikes to get active and enjoy hiking in Napa Valley, so take your pick! The trail system is great, but don’t forget to pack plenty of water.
Relax at a Spa
Take a break from your active vacation in Napa to unwind at a spa! I went away to the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and it was incredible. The place is in a gorgeous area of Calistoga and they have a full spa with geothermal mineral pools and a volcanic ash mud bath. Plus, the staff are very welcoming, and the entire place is a total mood!
Not only did I feel amazingly clean after my treatment, but my skin felt so soft and my body felt great! Plus, I indulged in my very first mud bath using volcanic ash. At first thought, a mud bath sounds odd, but now I can’t wait until I have the chance to do another one.
There are quite a few spas in the area offering all sorts of ways to unwind. There are luxury pools, massage treatments, exercise rooms, and spa packages to enjoy. Going to the spa is easily one of the top things to do in the Napa Valley.
Bowling and Drinks in The Evening
When the sun goes down, head to the Crush Lounge attached to the Meritage Resort & Spa (where I stayed!) for some fun-filled bowling in a cool cocktail bar! It was a great place to switch things up and enjoy other activities in the Napa Valley in one of the most unique ways.
Another reason to visit the Crush Lounge is to try their Boozy Milkshakes. Thick and boozy sweetness is the perfect combo!
The prices include bowling shoes and a ball, so you don’t need to bring anything. Save your suitcase space for pretty sun hats and bottles of wine!
Yoga in Napa Valley
Another one of the great benefits of staying at the Meritage Resort & Spa is all the awesome activities they have going on. One of the best ways to stay active in Napa? Join a yoga session! We got to do a small and amazing yoga class in the gorgeous wine cave at the resort. The ambiance of the wine cave with its elegant chandeliers definitely set the mood for a truly zen yoga buzz.
If you don’t stay at the Meritage Resort & Spa and where you’re staying doesn’t offer yoga classes, don’t fret! You can still get active in Napa at a yoga studio. Check out studios like Napa Valley Yoga Center in the city of Napa or Hot Yoga Calistoga in Calistoga.
Enjoy an active vacation in Napa with some morning yoga! Your body will love you for it!
Visit a Vineyard
Obviously, no trip to the Napa Valley is complete without visiting a vineyard or two (and doing a wine tasting!). With more than 450 wineries, it can be a tough decision to decide where to go. Visit a tasting room, wander lush vineyards, and bask in gorgeous vistas.
If you only visit one vineyard in Napa Valley, make it Sterling Vineyards. It’s one of the best things to do in the Napa Valley for its aerial tram offering a beautiful view of surrounding vineyards. Beyond just the cool cable car ride, the estate itself is lovely and they have a tasty variety of wines to sample or purchase.
Stony Hill Vineyard
One of the most beautiful wineries in Napa Valley, Stony Hill Vineyard is one of the most respected white wine producers. They specialize in Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc. Another bonus is that the winery is Certified Organic and the vineyard itself is gorgeously picturesque. Taste wine and enjoy the experience of this beautiful vineyard.
Far Niente Winery
Far Niente Winery looks like it could have been pulled from a fairytale with its beautiful Chateau stone walls covered in ivy and its acacia-tree-lined driveway. They focus on two staples: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. They’re also known to collect Napa vintage wines, so indulge if you can!
Napa Valley Bike Tours, Biking in Napa
Easily one of the best outdoor activities in the Napa Valley, a scenic bike tour is a must! Cycle alongside the road and pass gorgeous estate after estate, rolling hills of lush vineyards, and feel the delightful breeze of northern California run through your hair. It’s a perfect way to spend the afternoon in the great outdoors.
A self-guided tour with Napa Valley Bike Tours is such a fun way to better get to know the valley and see it from a new perspective. Driving is great and all, but there is something special about going back to the basics and riding a bike!
Cycle at your own pace, pick a couple of nearby vineyards to explore, and even have lunch along the way. Napa Valley Bikes Tours make it so easy! You’ll quickly feel like a local biking in Napa Valley. We had the best time, and the weather was perfect! This is one of the bestyear round outdoor activities in the Napa Valley.
Other Napa Activities to Check Out
- Visit historic buildings
- The Napa Valley Wine Train
- Head to the Napa General Store located on Main Street
- The Napa Valley Vine Trail
- Take a hot air balloon ride, which is the best way to see the area
- Check out the Napa Art Walk
- Get outside to visit some picnic areas and take in the beautiful views
- Go to Skyline Wilderness Park
- Take a scenic drive around the Town of Napa
- Go olive oil tasting
- Visit the Napa Valley Opera House
- Experience some culinary demonstrations
- Visit the Napa Valley Museum
- Stop by Castello di Amorosa, a medieval-style Tuscan castle winery in the town of Calistoga
Where to Stay in Napa Valley
I couldn’t recommend the Meritage Resort & Spa enough! The staff welcomes you in like family, making you feel more than welcome in California’s Wine Country. It’s located in the Napa Valley area and is gorgeously surrounded by vineyards. The architecture of the resort reminisces Tuscany, and I was not mad about it!
This Napa resort’s location makes it the perfect place for vineyard hopping and enjoying the best things to do in the Napa Valley! Plus, there’s a gorgeous outdoor pool to catch some sun and revel in the views. Be sure to check out the underground estate wine cave when you visit. You can have dinner down there and even do a morning yoga class!
The rooms, spa, and common areas are also very well done! I would definitely come back here on another trip to Napa Valley! There is no better way to unwind after a long, active day in the sun.
Watch my Napa Valley Active Vacation Vlog
You can watch my Napa trip vlog in YouTube for better quality with all the outdoor activities in the Napa Valley or below.
Where to Eat in Napa Valley
Barrel House Tavern
In beautiful Sausalito, the Barrel House Tavern serves up American dishes and cocktails in an] restored ferry terminal. How cool is that! It’s a perfect lunch spot as it has great views of the water and surrounding areas, a variety of delicious sandwiches, out-of-this-world garlic fries, and yummy drinks!
Oxbow Public Market
A focus on sustainability while using locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce, the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa is one of the best places to eat in Napa Valley! Plus, it’s right next to the Napa River and the area boasts lots of natural beauty. Inside you’ll find an assortment of shops and restaurants. There’s a bakery at the Oxbow Market serving up delicious treats, a wood-fried pizza place, an oyster bar, and a taco joint. And that’s still not all! Grab food at the market to take to enjoy on your outdoor activities in the Napa Valley.
Siena at Meritage Resort & Spa
Another delicious spot for locally sourced cuisine, on-site at Meritage Resort & Spa there is an authentic Italian restaurant called Siena. Pair a glass of wine with pasta, pizza, or salad. However, from December 1, Siena will be transitioning into Olive & Hay, a Napa restaurant for farm-fresh food.
For some of the BEST food you will ever have, you have got to have dinner at Don Giovanni. I had homemade pasta, and it was incredible and mouth-wateringly delicious. I’m still thinking about it! Plus, like much of Napa Valley, the restaurant uses sustainably farmed, local fruits and vegetables, and all organic meats. From delicious pastas, classic salads using high quality ingredients, seafood dishes, pizza, and of course Italian desserts, this place is incredible. If you only have one dinner night out, I can’t recommend Don Giovanni enough.
Sam’s Social Club
After a day of outdoor activities in the Napa Valley, go for fine comfort food in a beautiful area of Calistoga, Sam’s Social Club is a must! The venue is beautifully done with unique murals scattering the walls. Come here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and indulge in tasty sandwiches, huge salads, pizzas, burgers, and more.
I had such a fun, active trip with Hotels.com. We managed to pack a lot into our time there and got outside to enjoy the Napa Valley with a run, hike and bike ride. I enjoy seeing the place I am traveling in many ways. In addition, the foodie in me was giddy with all of the exceptional dining experiences. There were so many options to fit with my diet constraints and it was great knowing so many options were locally sourced. I will definitely be back to Napa again.
An active vacation in Napa Valley is a trip of a lifetime! Not only is it one of the world’s most famous wine regions, but it’s full of luxurious experiences, scenic drives, gorgeous scenery, and lots of fresh air! Whether you go hiking in Napa or relax at a spa or resort, there are so many ways to stay active in Napa and feel alive in this special part of California wine country!
This blog post about an active vacation in Napa is brought you in collaboration with Hotels.com . Thank you for supporting the brands that support me.