Napa has a variety of things to do that go beyond enjoying world-renowned wine and decadent craft beer. As one of the oldest cities in California, it has been a place for gold miners, celebrities, and any adult looking for a good time to come and play.
The name Napa comes from a Nappan Indian Village and translates to “Fairy Valley”. True to it’s name, Napa Valley is a magical place for people to indulge their fantasies. It’s rich history of entertaining a wide variety of people continues today and is constantly evolving.
So while you may come for the amazing wine, here are our top 10 things to do beyond the booze in Napa…
Solve a Mystery
Crime and Punishment, Death of a Gangster, or Wizarding World? The Napa Valley Wine Train will have you guessing who done it on their Murder Mystery experiences on board their dinner train. Their vintage train sets the stage as you search for a killer. Of course, you’ll also enjoy three gourmet courses of fine California cuisine as you solve a murder on the side.
Get your team together and start looking for clues at the new Grape Escape Room. A successful escape will require you to uncover hidden clues, crack codes and solve challenging puzzles. Each “aha” moment will bring you closer to completing your mission.
View Napa’s Public Art
As we note in “Napa Art: it’s for all of us“, the city has a long, rich history in the arts. And that continues today as Napa’s Mayor was presented with the 2020 Public Leadership in the Arts Award.
With the Rail Arts District, Napa Art Walk, and Napa Lighted Arts Festival, the city continues to be enriched and enhanced by incorporating the arts in its community fabric. You can enjoy the public art on your own or join a guided tour with Paper Napan Walkabouts. Our RAD Napa Walkabout features hip street art and the Downtown Napa Walkabout features unique sculptures.
Hike through the Hills
Given Napa is a “Fairy Valley”, there are obviously plenty of hills to climb with magical scenery to take in. Not far from downtown, there are plenty of hikes to get in your steps and get close to nature.
The closest to the city center is Westwood Hills. This heavily wooded park provides three miles of trails through beautiful oak trees that lands you at an expansive view of the city.
Or perhaps your pooch needs a play. If that’s the case, then head over to Alston Park where you can find Canine Commons, a popular off-leash dog area. This park offers 157 acres of unobstructed rolling hills with sweeping views of the valley.
If you want to really feel away from it all but still stay close to city center, then check out Skyline Wilderness Park. This park offers hiking, biking & equestrian trails, camp sites and a native plant garden.
Row the Napa River
The Napa River is what put the city on the map…literally. Laid out in 1847, the original town was a natural location since it was at the uppermost point of river navigation. Thus, a change in transportation was required and created a natural trade and transportation center.
And there are a few ways you can experiences this piece of history. First, you can navigate it with your own vessel by launching at Kennedy Park Boat Launch. However, know that the river is tidal so be careful to not get caught rowing the wrong direction at the wrong time.
Second, you can have an adventure with Napa Valley Paddle. They provide guided trips of the Napa River that are perfect for those new to paddling, as well as unguided trips that are ideal for adventurers that want to create their own experience and choose which routes to take.
If you’re looking for something truly unique, take ride on an authentic Venetian gondola. Napa Valley Gondola provides sightseeing cruises that are perfect for couples or small groups. You can sip wine, listen to songs, and relax as you cruise the Napa River.
Experience North Bay X Games
Does extreme sports and Napa sound like an oxymoron? Guess again! Like we said, there is something for everyone. So if you like to get your heart pumping or just like to watch others go big, there are several options for you.
First, North Bay BMX provides a fun, safe and first rate BMX facility for the community and all others that wish to visit. Napa native and Olympian Donny Robinson, is a co-founder that you can often find coaching a clinic at the track.
Second, grab your skateboard and get to riding. The Napa Skatepark at Kennedy Park is 30,000 square feet, making it one of the largest in the Bay Area. The park includes ramps, bowls, benches as well urban elements such as rails and stairs. It’s open to bicycles and scooters in addition to skateboards, creating an inviting place for novice and advanced skaters. Or you can have some fun right downtown at the smaller Downtown Napa Skate Park.
Or maybe you like rock climbing? Napa can’t offer El Capitan, but you can still practice your skills at Rockzilla. They offer over 64 top rope walls, an amphitheater for experienced climbers and several chimneys…a little something for everyone!
Cook Like a Pro
Not only can can you enjoy a meal from a Michelin star chef, you can also learn to cook like one! You may not become Thomas Keller, but you can learn a few skills to impress your friends.
At the Silverado Cooking School, you can join professionally trained chefs for an interactive, hands-on epicurean adventure. You will cook with seasonal produce harvested from their farm that day, paired with the best ingredients from around Napa Valley.
Or you can have a culinary adventure at the CIA at Copia. Dubbed a “foodie wonderland”, here you can take a class, dine in their restaurant, explore their shop, or delight in the beauty of their expansive outdoor garden.
Replenish with Retail Therapy
If you are the shopping kind, then the city of Napa is for you. With a variety of boutiques, markets and brand name retail, you can find something that will fix any shopaholics craving.
For the foodies, there are a few places to indulge. First, you can check out the Napa Farmer’s Market. Their mission is to support local farmers and provide a place for the community to purchase farm-fresh, sustainably grown produce, specialty foods and artisan goods. If you are looking to stock your kitchen with items to inspire your inner chef, then Shackford’s Kitchen Store will have what you need.
For boutique retail shopping, there are a couple locations around town to partake. First St. Napa was recently named a must-visit destination in 2021 by the San Francisco Examiner. It is home to countless new boutiques and global retailers right in the heart of downtown. Napa’s Riverfront is also conveniently located in the heart of downtown and home to a variety of boutique shopping options.
If you like a good deal, then head over to the Napa Premium Outlets. Here you can enjoy shopping well-known labels such as Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Michael Kors and more.
Escape to the Spa
As a place to indulge and escape from the world, Napa is top-rated. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are plenty of options to enjoy an afternoon relaxing at a spa.
Do you love foot reflexology? Then check out Golden Island Massage & Day Spa. Or perhaps after a long weekend of wine tasting, detox may be in order. BarJea’s Body Therapy provide infrared detoxification procedures that will have you feeling like new. Maybe floating to unwind is more your thing? At True REST Float Spa you can effortlessly float on water for profound relaxation and better sleep.
Hop on Two Wheels
Whether you want to cruise around town, go exploring up valley, or looking to get some exercise, Napa is a bike friendly community.
If you want to explore the valley, the Napa Valley Vine Trail is a great option. This trail can take you from South Napa all the way up to Yountville. Along the way you can experience the city, the art of RAD Napa, and the views of legendary vineyards. Eventually, you will be able to take this trail from the Vallejo ferry station all the way up to Calistoga without ever getting in a car.
If you want to cruise around town on your own, there are plenty of locations to pick up a bicycle. Most hotels will provide their own, but you can also rent bikes by the hour from self-serve kiosks located around town. You can also rent for multi-day use from bike shops like Napa Valley Bike Shop or Napa Valley Velo.
Listen to the Music
If you read “Napa concerts that rock the Valley”, then you know there are several options to enjoy live music. From big name multi-day outdoor concerts like BottleRock to local musicians playing at Napa Porchfest, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Beyond the annual concert series, there are also several venues around town that represent a variety of genres. You can catch dinner and a live jazz show at Blue Note Napa. You can also head over to Jam Cellars Studio for weekly live-music JaMSessions or the Jam Cellars Ballroom where you can enjoy a variety of live music, local bands, and concerts.
So whether you’re a thrill seeker, budding chef, music aficionado or just like to have a good time, Napa is the place for you. We hope to see you around town soon!