Yes, there’s wine. But there’s so much more.


Napa Valley, just an hour north of San Francisco, has the kind of pastoral beauty rarely seen outside of Tuscany. With its rolling hills and endless wineries — no less than 430 — it’s easy to pass a perfect three-day weekend navigating the small towns and vineyards.

What to do in Napa if you’re a first time visitor? Head to the Charles Krug Winery in the small town of St. Helena. It’s the county’s oldest winery, and its best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon — the most commonly known of the region’s three dozen varieties. At the Pope Valley Winery, meanwhile, you can even go glamping.

For dinner, head to the charming village of Yountville, which was transformed into a culinary capital when Don and Sally Schmitt opened French Laundry in the late 1970s. In addition to this three Michelin star restaurant, visitors have their pick of high-end restaurants. Collectively, there are more Michelin stars in Napa than in any other North American city.

After you sleep off your feast of whatever is locally grown, wake up to watch the sunrise from an outdoor patio (like the garden patio at the Goose & Gander public house, in St. Helena). You can also watch the morning mist rolling through the twin valleys while soaring high above Napa in a hot air balloon.

One of the most fun things to do in Napa is to enjoy a bike ride. With the new Napa valley Vine Trail, you can cycle from Vallejo Valley to Calistoga. Visitors may also enjoy a steamboat ride, which once ferried passengers from San Francisco to the wine region. For something a bit speedier, board the Napa Valley Wine Train. It’s the best way to enjoy the scenery.

If all this sounds a bit exhausting, make sure to pencil in time for a bit of relaxation on your Napa trip. Visit Calistoga Hot Springs for a soothing soak in the natural mineral pools, which were discovered in the 1800’s. A handful of other resorts, including Napa Soda Springs, have popped up around the healing pools.