Napa Valley: Beyond the Tasting Rooms (Part 1)

Yes, we go to California’s Napa Valley for the wine. But those tasting rooms can get pretty packed during the summer months, and every so often, we need a break from the elbow bumping.

Fortunately, there’s more to the Napa Valley than wine. Lots more. Today, tomorrow and Wednesday, we’ll share a few ideas to help you fill in that idle time between sips…

  • Take a mud bath.

    The up-valley town of Calistoga and mud have a long history. Mud baths—said to relax muscles, sooth aches, improve circulation and smooth the skin—have been drawing relaxation-focused visitors ever since Sam Brannan reined in the thermal springs at the foot of Mount St. Helena and opened his Calistoga Hot Springs Resort in the 1860s

    Spa after spa followed, and today there are more than a dozen. That makes Calistoga the most spa-ified town in the West.

  • Go on a picnic.

    Many wineries have picnic tables, but there also are a handful of parks in the valley that offer a respite from the throngs of tourists at the tasting rooms.

    Oakville Grocery’s historic and beloved flagship store in Oakville was founded in 1881, and has been serving locals and visitors ever since. For decades, it has been a must-stop destination for food, wine, picnic provisions and gifts. All of its food can be taken to-go, or enjoyed on its picnic grounds.

    But if it’s a park you prefer, head for Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, where you can work up an appetite on the hiking or biking trails before sitting down for your picnic in a picturesque setting.

  • Take a ride in a balloon.

    If you’ve been to Napa Valley, you’ve probably seen those colorful hot-air balloons hovering above the vineyards during the early morning hours.

    Balloons Above the Valley has experienced, friendly pilots who will provide you with an incredible birds’ eye view. Each ride includes pre-flight café and pastry service, and a post-landing Champagne brunch.

Here are a few links to help you begin planning your trip…

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log, Wine Tips
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