No visit to the San Francisco Bay Area is complete without a visit to Wine Country an hour or so
north. Napa Valley boasts numerous highly walkable town centers, a geyser, shopping, and even
a wine train. Here are the best places to visit in the region.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Dave Ungar
Downtown Napa & Oxbow Public Market Napa Valley Welcome Center
While transportation is required to explore the sprawl of Napa Valley’s 30-by-5 miles, Downtown Napa presents opportunities for a walkable adventure on both sides of the Napa River. First Street Napa is the heart of downtown shopping, dining, and wine tasting. Oxbow Public Market has an outstanding collection of local food and drink purveyors under one roof in a riverside location with an outdoor deck. Historic Napa Mill has more to explore. Take a gondola ride to see more from the water, rent a bike to ride the Napa Valley Vine Trail starting at Oxbow. visitnapavalley.com, donapa.com
Napa Valley Wine Train
Skip the traffic jams; sip on sparkling wine instead. A white tablecloth gourmet multi-course lunch (or dinner) is served in an elegant vintage domed rail carriage that gently chugs through Napa Valley, stopping at classic wineries for tours and tastings. The scenic 36-mile journey goes from Downtown Napa to St. Helena and back, passing charming towns and 33 legacy wineries such as Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug, Grgich Hills Estate, and Domaine Chandon. Choose a tour from two hours to six hours at different times of day, seven days a week. winetrain.com
Old Faithful Geyser
In Calistoga where hot springs bubble under the surface, Old Faithful Geyser is one of the state’s most photographed places. Powered by natural geothermal pressure of a subterranean volcano located just two miles from downtown, rainbows form in the misty spray that faithfully erupts up to a height of 60 feet every 15 to 30 minutes. Children love it. Learn how geysers work at the Geology Museum, have lunch in the picnic grounds, visit the petting zoo to see llamas, horned sheep, and mountain goats. The geyser site is open every day, but there is an admission charge. oldfaithfulgeyser.com
California is already home to some of the tallest trees man has ever seen as well as the largest petrified trees in the world. Located near Calistoga in Napa Valley, the Petrified Forest is an attraction like no other. For those who don’t know, petrified wood is fossilized wood formed by volcanic ash and wet sediment saturating the wood, which results in slow decay and leaves an almost extraterrestrial but beautiful look to it. Napa’s Petrified Forest is worth visiting if you enjoy hiking, are looking for dog-friendly attractions, and want to enjoy the great outdoors. It is advised to plan ahead and arrive before 4pm to finish the trail before closing. petrifiedforest.org
Napa Valley Museum
55 Presidents Cir, Yountville
Tourists worldwide visit Napa Valley year-round for its world-class wines and wineries. However, you don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to visit. There are many attractions within the wine country that are just as exciting as clinking wine glasses. Immerse yourself in the art, history, and culture at the Napa Valley Museum. Located between St. Helena and Napa, this museum offers exhibits showcasing art from the local community and beyond. The museum is a three-part cultural experience that will enrich your creative side. The historic town of Yountville is also home to a few famous attractions like famed Michelin-star restaurants, The French Laundry and Bouchon. So, if you get hungry after your museum trip, they’re worth trying out. napavalleymuseum.org
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