Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss in California’s Wine Valley? Our guide to the best things to do in Napa Valley is just what you need!
World-famous for its sprawling vineyards that produce many renowned wines, Napa Valley, California, is more than just a getaway for wine lovers.
There are a boisterous amount of things to do in Napa Valley, California’s premier wine country. From olive oil tasting to horseback riding, hiking to soaking in natural hot springs, Napa Valley is a paradise of luxury and outdoor refreshment to rejuvenate and energize away from the hustle and bustle of life.
So whether you desire to sink back and relax in hot springs or sip on an aromatic glass of wine surrounded by sprawling vineyards, Napa Valley is the place to do it.
With a location around 1 hour away from both Sacramento and San Francisco, it’s super easy to visit Napa Valley as a day trip from either city.
Or you can spend a few days there and really soak in the beauty of this gorgeous area in Northern California!
Check out our list of the top things to do in Napa Valley, California to prepare for the trip of a lifetime!
With vineyards galore and plenty of other fun activities, Napa Valley is the perfect getaway!
Table of Contents
The Best Things to Do in Napa Valley, California
Are you scouring the internet for what to do in Napa Valley? Then, our curated list of the top things to do in Napa Valley can save you time and effort.
Our list has the most popular Napa Valley activities and unique hidden gems, such as exploring downtown Napa, kayaking down the Napa River, or riding in a hot air balloon.
And of course, there’s wine tasting! If you’re visiting Napa for wine, wine, and more wine, be sure to try the local Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and more at the various estates and vineyards.
Check out our ultimate list of the best things to do in California for more ideas around the state!
1) Explore Downtown Napa
Full of stylish tasting rooms, upscale boutiques, and restaurants sourcing their ingredients locally, downtown Napa is an invigorating part of Napa Valley that should not be bypassed!
Enjoy strolling along First Street Napa, expanding across three city blocks. Visitors can relish quality retail therapy by shopping at local boutiques or international stores like Lululemon and Free People.
The local stores in downtown Napa, which include multi-generational natives, are notorious for utilizing unique stylings and concepts derived from the west coast.
Savor the crafted cocktails at Sky & Vine or browse stalls hosted by local food vendors at the Napa Farmers Market hosted every Saturday. Grab a bite to eat at Oxbow Public Market or peer at art deco in the Uptown Theatre.
Or for a fun night out, visit Blue Note Napa. This live music jazz club offers great food and enticing music, so be sure to swing by Blue Note Napa while exploring downtown.
Or venture into the wilderness around wine country with this guided kayaking tour that departs right from downtown Napa!
Kayakers will have the opportunity to glide down the Napa River and learn about Napa Valley history from their local guide.
2) Peer Into The Area’s Past At The Napa County Historical Society
A non-circulation research library open to the public, the Napa County Historical Society’s mission is to discover and preserve history.
In the Napa County Historical Society, visitors can peer at exhibits, join an informative lecture, and participate in a dedicated event where research and history come alive!
The Napa County Historical Society is prevalently focused on Napa County’s history and the people that have lived there, intertwining exhibits and educational points to bring forth the importance of Napa County’s role in California and world history.
As a library, research center, and museum, guests can peer into Napa Valley’s past through the Napa County Historical Society!
- Address: 1219 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 3 pm Tuesday – Thursday, 10 am – 5 pm Friday & Saturday
- Cost: Free
3) Sink Back Into Luxury At The O’Brien Estate Winery
Out of all the Napa Valley wineries and top things to do in Napa Valley, O’Brien Estate Winery is by far one of the best!
The 33-acre winery is family-run, showcasing stunning vineyards and vistas available to the public through reservations only.
At this winery, the vineyards are where the winery’s grapes are exclusively sourced for their local wines. And the exclusivity only continues, as the wines made at the O’Brien Estate Winery are sold explicitly to members and prospective members that visit the winery!
This aspect of taking time to snag a reservation to the O’Brien Estate Winery and visit makes for a unique experience surrounded by the prosperous vineyards backdropped by the Mayacamas Mountains.
- Address: 1200 Orchard Ave, Napa, CA 94558, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm
4) Soar Over The Valley On A Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the best things to do in Napa Valley is taking a hot air balloon ride and soar over the stunning vineyards and landscapes of the San Francisco Bay Area.
A trip on a hot air balloon proves to be one of the most touted activities in Napa Valley. Most hot air balloon rides take off early morning for calmer weather conditions so visitors can bask in the sunrise lighting up the valley.
As a passenger, you can enjoy breathtaking sights above as the hot air balloon soars over Napa Valley’s vineyards.
A balloon ride is the best way to see Napa’s beautiful scenery!
5) Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train
A restored historic train, the Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the top things to do in Napa Valley!
An iconic attraction in Napa Valley, the train’s vintage Pullman rail cars have been restored so you can sink back into luxury as a passenger and experience how people used to travel back in the day.
The rail cars feature engraved partitions, stunning brass accents, plush armchairs, and Honduran mahogany paneling. These spectacular designs are paired with delicious wines and gourmet food for an exceptional fine-dining experience.
And throughout these memorable moments, bask in the impeccable views as the Napa Valley Wine Train chugs along from St. Helena and back while stopping at renowned wineries on the trip!
Read More: Spending some time in San Francisco? Here is our ultimate 3-day itinerary to the Golden City.
6) Learn About Art, Culture, & History At The Napa Valley Museum
Dedicated to showcasing exhibitions on culture, history, fine art, and the environment of Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Museum is located in the historic town of Yountville.
A trip to the Napa Valley Museum presents a three-part cultural experience using three separate galleries: the Main Gallery, Spotlight Gallery, and History Gallery.
The Main Gallery showcases world premieres, West Coast, and major exhibitions. The Spotlight Gallery is where emerging regional artists and other significant pinpoints of the local culture are presented.
Finally, the History Gallery introduced catered selections that personify Napa Valley’s history using the Napa Valley Museum’s permanent collection.
The Napa Valley Museum welcomes all ages to learn more about the region’s art, culture, and history with hands-on exhibits and family-friendly activities to participate in!
- Address: 55 Presidents Cir, Yountville, CA 94599, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Wednesday – Sunday
- Cost: $15
7) Go Olive Oil Tasting
Napa Valley is known for more than its delicious grapes that are masterfully crafted into world-renowned wines. Within the thriving lands of Napa Valley, olives are grown and made into appetizing olive oils!
The ideal Mediterranean climate in Napa Valley is perfect for growing olives. Like wine tastings, joining an olive oil tasting is an experience where you can try diverse flavors and aromas.
Throughout the experience, the olive oil is often served on its own or paired with small bites to increase flavor and sharpen the palate.
Consider a private guided tour of the estate’s olive grove with a tasting at Round Pond Estate.
Or, if you forget to schedule an appointment in advance, check out Long Meadow Ranch for tastings at the farm ranch, though if you do have time, make an appointment to see the ranch in the Mayacamas Mountains for a round of wine and olive oil!
8) Visit the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
Renowned for its extensive collection of Northern Californian artists, the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art’s permanent collection awaits exploration!
Boasting more than 1600 renowned art pieces, the museum hosts pieces from reputed artists such as Tony Labat, Jay DeFeo, and Bruce Conner.
Using education programs, contemporary exhibitions, and its outstanding permanent collection, the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is dedicated to inspiring curiosity and creativity with high-class features.
On the grounds of 217 picturesque acres, there are eye-catching sculpture gardens, a sprawling 35-acre lake, and many more galleries to ponder.
If you need a break from wine tasting, check out the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in Napa!
- Address: 5200 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, CA 94559, United States
- Hours: 11 am – 4 pm Friday – Sunday
- Cost: $20
Read next: The 25 Best Things To Do In Northern California
9) Learn How To Fish With Napa Valley Fly Guides
Whether a beginner or a seasoned angler, join a venture with Napa Valley Fly Guides on a fishing trip through the Northern California rivers.
This company takes beginner and experienced anglers, locals, and tourists on a memorable adventure to the area’s top rivers for outstanding catches, including Putah Creek, Napa River, and the Lower Fork of the Yuba River.
Then, lure in native Rainbow Trout in Snow Mountain Lake Berryessa National Monument for fresh catches while exploring Napa Valley beyond the vineyards the area is widely known for.
Lake Berryessa is the largest lake in Napa County and is great for fishing.
10) Stroll Through The Impeccable Napa Art Walk
Presented to enrich the quality of life in downtown Napa, the Napa Art Walk is where tourists and locals can stroll and learn about exemplary sculptures designed by artists in the local region.
For example, in 2021, the Napa Art Walk dedicated its “Play!” exhibition, displaying ten hand-picked sculptures selected by a jury of top professionals in the art world.
The art utilized light, movement, and kinetic art to create an interactive experience full of dimensions and symbolic displays. This display will remain until two years have passed, and a new exhibit will be showcased for two years.
On the OtoCast app, visitors to the Napa Art Walk can participate in audio tours through downtown Napa for a deeper understanding of the art pieces from the mouths of the artists!
11) Cruise Napa Valley Bike Tours
Specializing in guided bike tours, self-guided tours, and bike rentals, Napa Valley Bike Tours provides you with an epic day of exploring wine country on two wheels!
Whether choosing a half-day, full-day, or wine and brews cruise, Napa Valley Bike Tours has a day of adventure in store. No matter which option you pick, you get a full-day e-bike rental to enjoy.
Depending on the selection, there’s either one or two winery visits on the bike tour or a combination of winery and brewery. The full-day tour and wine and brews cruise come with a picnic lunch by Bouchon Bakery for a unique experience touted as one of the best things to do in Napa Valley.
Or, consider this open-air trolley wine-tasting tour. The tour travels through Napa Valley by a cable car trolley, visiting three premier wineries with an expert guide explaining the depth behind viticulture, wine production, and the region’s history.
12) Scour The Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum
It all began with the founder of the Hess art collection, Donald Hess, who purchased a painting. Hess bought the painting, intending for the artwork to be used as a decor item for his new home. A friend later informed Hess that the painting was, to everyone’s surprise, a Picasso!
Soon after, Hess began collecting art, building the collection, and establishing connections with living artists to develop a deeper understanding of what goes on in the explicit process of creating art.
The Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum allows visitors to explore the art pieces Hess has collected, including ones from artists Hess met over the years and befriended.
The establishment includes a winery on Mount Veeder, where guests can join a guided tour of the collection and a wine tasting of the estate’s exclusive wines.
- Address: 4411 Redwood Rd, Napa, CA 94558, United States
- Hours/Cost: Visit the website for tour info
13) Taste The Best Cabernet Sauvignon At Round Pond Estate
Notorious for its Cabernet Sauvignon, within the Rutherford District of Napa Valley, is the renowned Round Pond Estate. However, this established estate is known for more than its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.
Prosperous vineyards, orchards, gardens, and olive trees thrive on the grounds. The olive trees are hand-harvested, with three Spanish and five Italian varieties of olives grown, to create extra virgin olive oils with unique flavors. Head to the tasting rooms for delicious food, oil, and wine pairings to try.
Guests to the Round Pond Estate can take their pick of premium experiences, including a tour of the estate’s culinary and wine-making procurements.
- Address: 875 Rutherford Rd, Rutherford, CA 94573, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Wednesday – Sunday
- Cost: Find wine-tasting prices on the website
Napa Valley is home to some of the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon wine!
14) Watch A Performance At The Napa Valley Opera House
This iconic opera house is an incredible landmark in downtown Napa. Found within the historic Napa Valley Opera House is the JaM Cellars Ballroom, a spectacularly-designed venue designated for top-class music and performing arts where world-class artists perform.
The opera house was built in downtown Napa in 1879, as shown by its eye-catching restored gold and red exterior. And with its restoration and upgrades, performances of top-notch jazz, rock, country, and pop artists are often held here.
Iconic artists like Willie Nelson, Jack London, and Wynton Marsalis have all performed at the Napa Valley Opera House, where you can see top performers and artists showcase their skills!
- Address: 1030 Main St, Napa, CA 94559, United States
15) Shop, Eat, & Drink At The Oxbow Public Market
A boisterous marketplace in downtown Napa, the Oxbow Public Market hosts many quality food vendors and features, local produce, a scenic riverside deck, and much more!
A trendy restaurant, Hog Island Oyster Bar at the Oxbow Public Market has continued to attract locals and tourists for its dedication to sourcing ingredients locally and organically.
With Hog Island Oyster Bar’s sustainably grown great oysters, you can expect the freshest seafood experience.
The Oxbow Public Market supports vendors, artisans, and purveyors dedicated to sustainable agriculture and promoting local harvest. So take your pick of artisan cafes, organic produce, and diverse food vendors for the freshest treats at the Oxbow Public Market.
Grab some fresh produce and gourmet appetizers and make yourself a picnic lunch, or sit down at one of the amazing restaurants. Foodies can’t miss this place while exploring downtown Napa!
Heading to the California state capital next? Here is our list of the best things to do in Sacramento!
16) Adventure Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Containing the farthest inland coast redwoods in any of California’s state parks, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is a tranquil retreat where locals and tourists go camping, swim, hike, picnic, and horseback ride.
This park has many popular trails, including Coyote Peak Trail, a 4.7-mile loop perfect for running, hiking, and birding.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is teeming with towering redwoods, trickling creeks, and breathtaking scenery perfect for an outdoor adventure, with more than 10 miles worth of hiking trails available for exploration.
There are areas available at the park for overnight stays in private cabins, campsites, and yurts with access to the outdoor swimming pool.
- Address: 3801 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515, United States
- Hours: 8 am – 8 pm
- Cost: Free
17) Step Back In Time At The Castello Di Amorosa
A 14th-century winery, the Castello Di Amorosa is one of the unique things to do in Napa Valley!
The medieval-style Tuscan castle winery offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience. Open to visitors by reservation only, the Castello Di Amorosa provides a multitude of tours and tastings to choose from, which are all paired with complimentary tastings of five wines from their established wine menu.
With seated and standing wine-tasting opportunities, guests can adventure the castle on the two main levels, including access to the Truncated tower, Great Hall, Courtyard, Chapel, Knights Hall, and Main Tasting Room.
Reserve an estate tour and wine tasting at the Castello Di Amorosa for a guided and educational experience through Castello Di Amorosa’s torture chamber, production area, armory, underground cellars, tasting rooms, and Grand Barrel Room.
- Address: 4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm
Short on time? Visit the castle and other Napa highlights on a day trip from San Francisco!
Castello Di Amorosa is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Northern California!
18) Savor The Works Of The Iconic Author At The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum is where bibliophiles can find the world’s largest collection of accessible books and features of the iconic author.
Opened in 1969, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum was the dream and hard work of one of the most notable bibliophiles in America, Norman H. Strouse.
He became a quick collector of Stevenson’s work after reading The Silverado Squatters, and after Strouse’s retirement, he established the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.
The museum is dedicated to Stevenson’s works and life, using a continuously growing collection that includes Strouse’s collection of Stevensoniana.
- Address: 490 Library Ln, St Helena, CA 94574, United States
- Hours: 12 pm – 4 pm Tuesday – Saturday
- Cost: Free
19) Soak In The Natural Hot Springs
Between sipping wine and olive oil, riding through Napa Valley by bike, and exploring downtown Napa, check out the hot springs in Calistoga.
This city in Napa Valley is notorious for its hot springs and natural mineral water that has been transformed into an area of luxury and relaxation with upscale resorts, exotic spas, and rejuvenating massages.
One of the most popular springs in the city is Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, located a block from Main Street in Upper Napa Valley. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs boasts four geothermal baths and custom soaks in the spa surrounded by the scenic Napa Valley.
- Address: 1006 Washington St, Calistoga, CA 94515, United States
- Hours/Cost: Find more info on the website!
Heading south? Check out our list of the best things to do in Los Angeles!
20) Sip Wine At An Oakville Winery
A part of the Napa Valley wine country, Oakville may be small, but it presents some of the best wineries found in Napa Valley.
A visit to Oakville will take you on a journey, a step back in time with the town’s historic architecture and atmosphere, paired with exceptional wineries, cute boutiques, trendy cafes, upscale shops, and fine-dining restaurants.
There are a ton of great wineries in Oakville to choose from. One is Ghost Block Estate Wine, which can be found directly across from the famous Oakville Grocery.
The tasting room exudes intimacy in a casual setting where guests can taste unique wines grown and produced on the family’s estate.
21) Hit The Wetlands Edge Trails To Explore The Marshlands
Wetlands Edge Park, part of the Napa River and Bay Trail, traverses along the Napa-Sonoma Marsh shore.
The trails are open for visitors to adventure the Napa River and marshland for spectacular bird-watching, kayaking, and canoeing opportunities.
The park is a local favorite for family outings, great for viewing the sunset or sunrise, scenic walks, and active bike rides. Green Island Road and Wetlands Edge Road are the two entrances that open up to Wetlands Edge Trail.
At the Green Island Road entrance is a canoe and kayak launch ramp for visitors to hit the water to explore the park.
Where to Stay in Napa Valley, California
Now that you know the best things to do in Napa Valley, let’s check out the top places to stay during your vacation!
Best Cheap Hotel in Napa Valley
An affordable stay, Motel 6 Napa, CA, boasts a convenient location near many of the top things to do in Napa Valley, less than three miles from the Napa Valley Wine Train. Guests are offered complimentary coffee, WiFi, parking, and seasonal access to the outdoor pool!
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Napa Valley
Settled on the banks of the tranquil Napa River, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Napa Valley is a mile from some of the best Napa Valley attractions, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train and the highlights of downtown Napa.
Enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning, parking, WiFi, an indoor pool, and a hot tub during your stay!
Best Luxury Hotel in Napa Valley
A luxury hotel set on a sprawling countryside of 27 acres, Carneros Resort and Spa, is under an hour’s drive from the bustling city of San Francisco.
The hotel features contemporary cottages paired with French doors, private patios, indoor and outdoor showers, and heated bathroom floors for a one-of-a-kind stay in the magnificent Napa Valley.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!
Appeared first on: nomadasaurus.com