Exploring Napa, California

Napa California, the Heart of Wine Country

Napa is a city in California that is nestled right in the heart of wine country. With a mild, Mediterranean climate, Napa is the ultimate place for outdoor activities, sightseeing in comfort, and, of course, tasting local wine. Although it is just 50 miles away from San Fransisco, it feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Napa, California, use this guide to make sure your itinerary is packed with fun adventures as well as scenery.

Getting to Napa California

Getting to Napa, California

If you’re traveling by private aircraft, then you can land at the Napa County Airport. Most visitors, however, will arrive by car. For those coming from outside of the state, the easiest way to get to Napa is to fly into the San Fransisco International Airport. From there, the drive up to Napa is about 90 minutes long.

There are also buses that head to Napa from both the Oakland and San Fransisco Airports. For shorter getaways where you don’t need a private vehicle, these can be a fantastic option. Another unusual but scenic way to get to Napa is by boat. From San Francisco, you can take the Vallejo Baylink Ferry to get to nearby Vallejo. From Vallejo, it’s just a short bus ride into Napa. The ferry ride is just an hour, but it is a fun and inexpensive way to start your trip.

What to Pack For Your Trip

Napa boasts a comfortable climate, but evenings are often chilly. Be sure to bring along a lightweight jacket whatever the season. Although there are plenty of upscale wineries to explore, keep in mind that you might be on your feet for hours. Therefore, comfortable shoes are a must. Another insider tip is to bring along some wet wipes. When you transition from a bike ride to a winery, it’s nice to freshen up a little. Finally, consider bringing along some wine protector sleeves. These can help keep any wine purchases secure when you travel home.

If you’re just planning a short trip, the perfect softside luggage option might be the Swissgear 7760 19″ Expandable Carry On Spinner Luggage in Purple. The large internal compartment boasts ample storage space as well as compression straps, and the two deep front pockets are ideal if you’re looking for organization features. Eight 360-degree spinner wheels, a retractable handle and plush top and side handles ensure you can pick up or navigate around the airport in a hurry. If you’ve got a preference for hard case luggage, they are also great for short trips as well.

Getting Active in Napa

While Napa is the ideal place to unwind, relax and indulge, there are also countless opportunities to stay active. In fact, the environment lends itself to getting outdoors and enjoying the scenery, and there is no end to the recreation options in the area. If you’re an avid hiker, there are miles of trails to stroll on, and Westwood Hills Park is a great place to start. Many wineries also allow visitors to walk through the vines on their own. Cycling is also wildly popular, and you can rent bikes or even electric bikes to cover more ground and you explore the region.

Many visitors are drawn to the idea of horseback riding in Napa. Truly, there are few things more romantic or picturesque than riding through a vineyard on the back of a horse. The best choice for horseback riding is to book a guided tour. You’ll also be able to tee off at more than a half dozen golf courses in Napa. Finally, the truly adventurous might enjoy kayaking in Napa, and kayak or canoe rentals are readily available.

Napa Attractions

Top Attractions in Napa

Napa is home to a number of spectacular natural attractions as well as some local cultural attractions. Of course, visiting wineries is a big draw for many visitors. If you want to try out lots of local wines at one spot, head to the Napa Town Center where you can sip wines from more than 40 local wineries. After a few winery trips, a fun activity can be to check out the Seguin Moreau Napa Cooperage, where skilled local craftsmen make barrels one by one in the traditional manner.

If you need some pampering after all the activity of Napa, then check out the Mais Oui Spa Train. This is a unique experience because the spa itself is housed in a 1929 Luxury Pullman Railcar.

A great way to see a lot of Napa at once is by riding the Downtown Trolley. The trolley makes 14 stops around town, many of them at the most popular attractions. Stop at the Napa Premium Outlets to do some souvenir shopping, the Wine Train for an iconic experience that takes you all the way to St. Helena with a gourmet dinner or the Napa Firefighters Museum. An unexpected but delightful attraction right in town is the Labyrinth at the Methodist Church. The church is home to a replica of the famous labyrinth found in Chartres Cathedral in France.

Where to Dine and Drink in Napa

It should come as no surprise that wine is the drink of choice in Napa. You’ll have a staggering number of vintages to try, but be sure to head out to at least one of the local wineries so you can sip wine right by the vines. Some of the top spots to enjoy a wine tasting in Napa include Artesa Winery, Domaine Carneros and the Hess Collection, which even boasts an art gallery along with amazing wines.

Of course, there is plenty of spectacular food in Napa to accompany all that wine. Head to Main Street for a variety of restaurants that range from charming hamburger stands and hole-in-the-wall Asian fare to lively microbreweries and upscale fusion cuisine with wine pairings. For something memorable, if budget isn’t an issue, try out FARM at The Carneros Inn. You can dine outdoors around fire pits and headers as you indulge in farm-to-table cuisine and an extensive list of local wines. After dinner, make your way to Sweetie Pie on Main Street, a well-known spot for delicious desserts.

Napa Local Events

Napa’s Most Interesting Local Events

There truly is no bad time of year to travel to Napa. However, there are some annual festivals and events that you might want to attend. If you’re a serious foodie, then Napa Restaurant Week is an exciting chance to dine at the best local restaurants at a reduced price. If you gravitate more toward the active vacations, then you could time your trip with the Napa Valley Marathon, which takes place each March.

Summer is all about music in Napa, and the Festival Napa Valley held in July is a 10-day event packed with music, dance and wine tasting. There are also a few summer concert series, such as Napa Valley Nights and the St. Helena Concert Series, that provide live music to locals and residents alike.

Exploring Napa

Exploring the Greater Napa Valley

Napa is a single town within the greater Napa Valley. If you have a few days to explore, then make the most of it by venturing out and seeing what this incredible area has to offer. Head to Calistoga in Napa Valley if you want to see the Old Faithful Geyser, which erupts every 10 minutes. Calistoga is also home to great hiking at the Petrified Forest as well as amazing spas, hot springs and mud baths.

For birdwatching, head to Yountville at the incredible Napa River Ecological Reserve. Nearby, in St. Helena, you can enjoy more than a dozen wineries, many of which have restaurants and large vineyards.

If you plan a day trip to one of these Napa Valley destinations, pack the essentials with the Swissgear 3576 Artz Laptop Backpack. It boasts a unique silhouette and vintage style, but it offers all the modern features you’d expect from a laptop backpack. There is a main compartment complete with a padded laptop sleeve, twin water bottle pockets and a front zippered pocket for maximum organization. It can even be carried as a tote bag, making it perfect for getting through airport security or touring a winery.

Whether you’re packing up your softside luggage for a long trip to California or you’re searching for a fun weekend getaway, Napa is the ideal destination. It has something to offer for everyone, and the culture, cuisine and scenery truly are unparalleled.

Author: Joseph Daniels