1. Let’s Get This Out Of The Way: Yes, If You Love Wine, This Is Heaven
Source: Flickr user Mark
It’s amazing that 391 wineries fit into one valley, but they somehow do. Picking a favorite winery is like picking your favorite child, but there are definitely some must sees, including Artesa Vineyard and Bravante Vineyard. Also, for those who like the bubbly, check out Domaine Carneros.
2. We Also Hold Beer Extremely Near And Dear
Source: Flickr user Jeb Bjerke
If you somehow manage to get your fill of wine and want to try something different, Napa Valley is home to some great breweries. Bear Republic Brewing, for instance, is known for its Racer 5 India Pale Ale. This tasty brew will have you "hopping" up and down for more. Be sure to grab a bite to eat while you're there, as the food is just as delicious!
3. Your Taste Buds Will Never Grow Tired Of Our Michelin Starred Eateries
Source: Flickr user Avi Paz
Napa is a haven of Michelin starred restaurants. It has two three-star restaurants: French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood. Three Michelin stars means those restaurants are worth a plane ticket and hotel stay just to consume their heavenly food. There are also five one-star restaurants: Auberge du Soleil, Bouchon, La Toque, Solbar, and Terra.
4. There Are Chefs, Then There’s The Iron Chef
Source: Flickr user star5112
Internationally renowned restaurateur and former “Iron Chef” star Masaharu Morimoto also has his very own eatery in Napa simply called Morimoto. For the true Iron Diner, we recommend the Morimoto Omakase, a seven course tasting menu that spans three hours.
5. The Trails Here Are More Inspiring Than Any Workout Video
Source: Flickr user Passerine
Work off all of that high-calorie wine and food by hitting Napa’s hiking trails. Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is filled with beautiful redwoods, and with 2,000 acres of forests and rivers, it’s easy to forget how close you are to the hustle and bustle of San Francisco.
6. Oh That? It’s Just Some Guy’s Frickin’ Actual Castle
Source: Flickr user Jim G
Vinters can be a bit eccentric, and Dario Satturi proved this when he built a castle to serve as his winery. This landmark, Castello di Amoros, features everything from a moat and drawbridge to a torture chamber. No, that’s not a typo.
7. See What Kind Of Gardener Medusa Would Make
Source: Flickr user Thom Watson
Are you tired of all the same-y state parks and forests other places have to offer? Well, how about one that looks like a gorgon caught it in her petrifying stare? Calistoga’s Petrified Forest features acres of eye-popping prehistoric plant life forever preserved by a volcanic eruption more than three million years ago. It’s stone cold amazing.
8. Cheap Date? Have A Picnic With Majestic Views Instead
Source: Flickr user Aidan Morgan
Napa has gorgeous views that’ll make you think you’re in Tuscany. Head to Oxbow Public Market or Oakville Groceries to pick up local cheeses, olives, and—of course—wine, then hike up into the hills for a picnic. It also saves your wallet from a $300 meal and the views are priceless.
9. Evolve From Wine Snob To Wine & Art Snob
Source: Flickr user jayRaz
Many wineries display large sculptures and often house their own galleries. The Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum may be one of the more distinguished ones. If you like the intimacy of independent art venues, check out Di Rosa and Quent Cordair Fine Art gallery.
10. Or Become A Theater Snob
Source: Flickr user Jasperdo
Napa is home to two retro theaters: the Uptown Theater and the Napa Valley Opera House. The Uptown Theater is a converted old Hollywood cinema that now hosts everyone from Ani DiFranco to Los Lonely Boys to David Sedaris. The Napa Valley Opera House is home to City Winery which stages both concerts and stand-up comedy.
11. What Goes Great With Wine? Hint: The Answer Isn’t “Cheese”
Source: Flickr user Take the Cake
It’s chocolate—but not just any chocolate. Hit up Anette's Chocolate Factory for some microbrew beer brittle and wine truffles, or you can try a pink champagne cupcake at Sift Cupcake and Dessert Bar.
12. You Can Follow Up Your Sugar High By Literally Getting High
Source: Flickr user Daniel Yoo
With four different ride providers in the valley, it’s not uncommon to look skyward and see hot air balloons dotting your view on any given day. It’s also a great way to check out all the majestic scenery we’ve been talking about from a whole new perspective.
13. A True Wino Buys In Bulk
Source: Flickr user Ward Kadel
If you live in Napa and like wine—c’mon, you live in Napa!—you need to belong to a wine club. Most wineries have their own, and there’s no special initiation beyond the swipe of your Visa.
With it, you get bottles of wine and/or discounts. Sonoma State University’s wine business class researched and analyzed a list of 30 wine clubs, and determined the top three based on variety, cost, and benefits and the winners were: Mumm Napa, Benziger, and St. Supéry Vineyards & Wineries.
14. The Real Fountain Of Youth Is In Calistoga
Source: Flickr user Jim G
If a day soaking in the most amazing mineral water you can imagine sounds like heaven, check out Golden Haven Hot Springs. You’ll come out so soft and relaxed by the naturally heated, nutrient rich water, regular baths will be ruined forever.
15. The Wineries Have Really Gone To The Dogs
Source: Flickr user Bev Sykes
It seems you can’t have a winery without a canine mascot; they’re great for greeting guests and chasing away the rabbits. Some dogs become just as famous as their wineries, and their celebrity has landed a few of them in the book “Winery Dogs”. If your pooch isn’t quite ready for stardom, many wineries allow you to at least bring them along to tastings.
16. Feed Your Brain More Than Fermented Grape Juice
Source: Napa Bookmin Facebook
For those who value knowledge more than fine wine, there’s Napa Bookmine. This mainstay of the area has 24,893 used and new books as well as hard to find volumes. They also cultivate learning with writing classes and poetry boot camps.
17. You’re Encouraged To Get Day Drunk
Source: Flickr user Kate à la Mode
Most wineries open around 11:00 a.m. and close by 6:00 p.m. Even though this might sound like a major buzz kill, it’s meant to reduce drunk driving and there are plenty of restaurants that serve well past 6 o’clock. If you’re really in the mood for wine and arrived late to the party, try John Anthony Vineyards. They skirted the trend and are actually open ‘til 10:00 p.m.
18. You Can Choo-Choos A Favorite Vino On The Wine Train
Source: Flickr user Jim G
Can’t arrange for a designated driver? There’s always the Napa Valley Wine Train. This three hour excursion runs through the five major towns that make up Napa Valley while riders enjoy a day of drinking. The winery stops change every day, so you can ride all week and never have the same wine twice (but you will get really drunk).
19. Just A Spoonful Of Oil Helps The Alcohol Stay Down
Source: Flickr user donireewalker
Bear with us on this one: Before you go wine tasting, hit up the local olive oil tasting and the fat in the oil will help prevent hangovers. Olives require the same climate as grapes to grow, so it shouldn't be too surprising that where there are wine tastings, there are also oil tastings. There are even venues that specialize olive oil tastings, such as Napa Valley Olive Oil and The Olive Press.
20. In This Case, Cricket Noises Are Far From Boring
Source: Flickr user Gone-Walkabout
While Napa gives of a very Italian vibe, our local sports have a distinctly British influence.
Rugby and cricket are both big here, and the Napa Valley Cricket Club even hosts teams from all around the world, usually starting off its season in April with its very own “World Series”.
21. Sidewalk Chalk Has Been Turned Into A Bona Fide Artform
Source: Napa’s Riverfront
The Annual Riverfront Chalk Festival showcases chalk drawings by professional and amateur artists, with youngsters vying for a chance to win cash prizes for their work. In addition to the art on the sidewalk, there are also numerous booths to peruse and shops to browse along the Napa Riverfront.
Feature image source: Flickr user The Q