25 Unforgettable Things to Do in Napa Besides Wine
Wondering about things to do in Napa besides wine? Whether you’re not a wine drinker or you simply want to experience a different side of wine country, you’ll find everything you need in this guide. We rounded up over 25 unique ideas, with things for every interest and budget.
There’s no disputing that California’s Napa Valley is a world renowned wine and food destination. Visitors can, and often do, spend a week or more solely sipping and eating their way through the picturesque valley, hopping from vineyard tour to tasting and back again.
However, there are many, many other things to do in Napa besides wine.
This comprehensive guide presents 25 options for Napa Valley things to do besides wine, covering outdoor exploration, cultural enrichment, indulgent experiences, and more.
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If you do like wine and you’re simply looking for some non-wine-related activities, we highly recommend getting the Priority Wine Pass. It’s especially helpful for first-time visitors to Napa Valley, as it includes complimentary or deeply discounted tastings at over 400 wineries!
Jump ahead to:
- Napa Valley Things to do Besides Wine: Outdoor Activities
- Foodie Things to do in Napa Besides Wine
- Things to do in Napa Besides Wine: Culture and History
- Indulge in Some Rest & Relaxation
- Luxury Things to do in Napa Besides Wine
- Unique Experiences in Napa Valley
Napa Valley Things to do Besides Wine: Outdoor Activities
If you’re planning a trip to Napa Valley, famous for its stunning vineyards and exceptional wineries, there’s plenty to discover beyond the world of vino.
Maybe you’re not the biggest fan of wine, or you’re simply looking for a different kind of adventure. Either way, there are plenty of outdoor things to do in Napa besides wine.
1. Horseback Riding
Experience Napa Valley’s stunning landscapes from a different perspective with horseback riding.
Guided tours cater to all skill and experience levels, offering a unique way to explore the region’s vineyards and vistas. Many trail rides also offer a wine tasting or even lunch. It’s the perfect outdoor activity to add to your Napa Valley itinerary!
2. Hot Air Balloon Rides
One of the best Napa Valley things to do besides wine is soar overhead in a hot air balloon. Experience breathtaking, unforgettable views of rolling hills, vineyards, and wildlife. It’s an absolute must-do activity for anyone visiting this enchanting region
3. Kayak Tours
Experiencing the area’s beauty and history on a peaceful moonlight kayak tour is another of the best things to do in Napa besides wine. These tours launch from downtown Napa and utilize inflatable kayaks, so they’re plenty stable.
Glide along the calm waters of the Napa River, surrounded by vineyards and wildlife. Learn about the region’s past from a knowledgeable guide, including stories of early settlers and Prohibition-era bootleggers.
This adventure is perfect for non-wine drinkers or anyone looking to explore beyond the vineyards. Plus, it gives you a great and unforgettable workout!
4. Lavender Fields
The lavender fields in Napa Valley are a peaceful (and picturesque!) escape from the wineries.
Walking through vibrant purple blooms is a calming activity for all. Guided tours offer insight into cultivation and harvesting, and most Napa lavender farms allow you to cut your own bundles to take home. Don’t miss the farm shops for locally sourced lavender products!
5. Explore the Napa Valley Vine Trail
Explore Napa Valley’s beauty without wine by embarking on the paved 47-mile Vine Trail.
Whether you’re a serious cyclist or just looking for a relaxing walk, the Vine Trail is one of the best things to do in Napa besides wine, offering breathtaking views and memorable, small-town stops.
Stop at charming cafes and bistros along the way, sample artisanal cheeses, and discover lavender fields. The Vine Trail takes you through some of California’s most scenic landscapes.
Note that the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition continuously opens new sections of the trail. The goal is for the “trail system to connect the entire Napa Valley,” and it will eventually span from Calistoga to the Vallejo Ferry.
Foodie Things to do in Napa Besides Wine
Even if you’re not much of a wine lover, it’s worth visiting Napa Valley. It’s an incredible destination for foodies, in particular. Napa offers a variety of culinary experiences sure to satisfy your taste buds.
6. Dine at the Culinary Institute of America
Student chefs at Napa Valley’s renowned Culinary Institute of America offer a unique dining experience. After two years of working through the notoriously rigorous program, aspiring chefs spend seven weeks cooking at The Gatehouse.
The restaurant’s carefully curated menus change frequently, designed to showcase the chefs’ skills while also using ultra-fresh, local ingredients. In fact, the restaurant sources much of its produce from CIA’s own onsite farms.
Truthfully, you can’t go wrong eating anywhere in the area. However, for food enthusiasts, the Gatehouse is one of the most memorable things to do in Napa besides wine.
7. Eat Your Way Through Napa on a Food Tour
If you love food (and who doesn’t?!), a food tour in Napa Valley is an absolute must. There’s a huge variety of tours, ranging from walking tours downtown to all-day tours with a focus on seafood.
You’ll sample the best of everything the region is so well-known for: seasonal produce, artisan cheeses, gourmet chocolates, and other specialties. And, you’ll do it while exploring Napa’s diverse and scenic gastronomic scene!
During your tour, you’ll learn insider tips, not just about the dishes, but also about local hot spots.
We highly recommend booking a food tour as one of your first things to do in Napa besides wine, so that you get a literal lay of the land. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to go back to anywhere you loved for a full meal.
8. Go Truffle Hunting
Truffle hunting tops many foodie bucket lists all over the world. And it just so happens that they grow well in Napa Valley.
As part of the annual Napa Truffle Festival in January, you can learn everything there is to know about truffle hunting — and experience it yourself. With the help of trained dogs and experienced foragers, you’ll search for these elusive delicacies in the picturesque landscapes of wine country.
The thrill of uncovering one of these rare treasures is easily one of the best things to do in Napa besides wine, whether you’re a foodie or nature lover.
Honestly, even people who barely know what a truffle is will enjoy this extraordinary experience!
Other events at the festival include cooking lessons, truffle-focused lunches with wine pairing, truffle dog demonstrations, and more.
9. Oxbow Public Market
The Oxbow Public Market is the definition of a foodie’s paradise — and one of the top things to do in Napa besides wine.
You’ll find artisan vendors, top-tier restaurants, and shops all in one place. Enjoy fresh coffee, scratch-baked goods, wood-fired pizza, or seafood while browsing gourmet products like locally produced olive oil, chocolate, and spices.
The market also frequently hosts events like cooking demos and tastings.
Things to do in Napa Besides Wine: Culture and History
There are many Napa Valley things to do besides wine that focus on the region’s rich historical legacy and artistic heritage. Whether you have a passion for history or the arts, you’ll find a range of culturally immersive experiences in this stunning area.
10. Ackerman Heritage House
This 1889 Victorian mansion offers a range of immersive experiences that dive into Napa’s rich history.
At the Ackerman Heritage House, some of the things to do in Napa besides wine include touring the impressive estate, attending traditional afternoon tea socials, taking cooking classes, or indulging in seated lunches or brunches.
Ackerman Family Vineyards is also onsite, so not to worry, wine drinkers — you can enjoy pairings with your meal.
11. Ride the Aerial Tram at Sterling Vineyards
By far, one of the most popular and unique things to do in Napa Valley is ride the aerial tram at Sterling Vineyards.
NOTE: the aerial tram, and much of Sterling Vineyards itself, sustained significant damage in the 2020 Glass Fire. The tram unfortunately had to be replaced. The winery anticipates tram rides returning in Fall 2023, so keep an eye on their website and socials for updates.
Of course, you can also enjoy a tasting before or after your adventure on the aerial tram.
12. The Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
A short drive from Napa proper, the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Carneros offers a unique cultural experience for art lovers.
Viewing the vast collection of contemporary art, including sculptures in the outdoor gallery and rotating exhibitions inside, is one of the best Napa Valley things to do besides wine.
Inviting visitors to wholly immerse themselves in artistic expression, the center’s curators showcase the rich diversity of contemporary art forms. Thoughtfully curated displays provide unique insight into societal issues and cultural movements.
13. Jarvis Conservatory
Described as “a jewel of a theater and an acoustic marvel,” the Jarvis Conservatory in downtown Napa is a hidden gem offering a mix of performing arts and cinema.
The intimate theater hosts a variety of events, including concerts, film screenings, theater productions, ballet performances, and more. Jarvis Conservatory also offers educational programs for aspiring artists, and emphasizes supporting the community’s Hispanic roots.
14. Yountville Art Walk
Looking for things to do in Napa besides wine that will get you outside and have a dose of culture? Indulge in the delightful Yountville art walk.
This outdoor gallery showcases an eclectic mix of works from both local and international artists. From sculptures to paintings, the art installations add aesthetic beauty and cultural immersion to the charming town.
Indulge in Some Rest & Relaxation
For those seeking a peaceful experience in this beautiful slice of wine country, there are many opportunities for a little R&R. Here are some of the best things to do in Napa besides wine that will leave you feeling rested and refreshed.
15. Soak in a Hot Spring
Beyond the vineyards, Napa Valley has a number of rejuvenating mineral hot springs. These naturally heated waters are believed to have healing properties for both the body and mind.
They offer everything you need for complete relaxation, including indoor and outdoor pools, spa treatments, and private tubs. Take a break from winery tours, hiking, and biking, and indulge in some self-care.
16. Experience a Mud Bath
If you want truly unforgettable Napa Valley things to do besides wine, indulge in a luxurious mud bath in Calistoga. Noticing a bit of a theme with Calistoga? The small town is known for its natural geothermal springs.
Another splurge-worthy Napa Valley hot springs resort, Golden Haven, offers incredible mud bath treatments.
The volcanic ash and mineral-rich water detoxify and leave your skin feeling baby-soft. Relax wrapped in warm blankets for 20 minutes before washing the mud off in warm showers. Golden Haven also has mineral pools and steam rooms for additional relaxation.
17. Practice Yoga
Find inner peace and relaxation in Napa (without the help of wine!) at one of its tranquil yoga studios or retreat centers. Choose from indoor or outdoor classes among vineyards or under ancient oak trees, as well as Vinyasa, Yin, Hatha, or Kundalini practices.
To really double down on your om, unwind at a hot springs resort or get a spa treatment, too.
Luxury Things to do in Napa Besides Wine
If you enjoy luxury travel and the finer things in life, Napa Valley is the perfect destination. With exquisite culinary experiences, world-class shopping, and lavish retreats, there are plenty of ways to indulge in Napa that go far beyond wine.
18. Dine at The French Laundry
In foodie haven Yountville, it’s no understatement to say that The French Laundry has a cult-like following. Some (okay, many) even say renowned chef Thomas Keller put Napa on the map as a food destination.
The 3-Michelin-starred restaurant offers solely an ever-changing nine-course prix fixe menu, and it comes with an unexpectedly “luxurious” price tag — $390 per person, plus wine pairings.
Reservations are challenging to secure, becoming available two months in advance and selling out sometimes within minutes. However, dining here is an unforgettable experience worth the effort, for both the exceptional cuisine and impeccable service equally.
Whether you’re a food enthusiast or savor a memorable luxury experience, The French Laundry is easily one of the best things to do in Napa besides wine.
19. Get Some Luxury Retail Therapy
Napa’s wine and food scenes may overshadow, well, literally everything else, but don’t be so quick to dismiss the shopping here. Keeping with the local atmosphere, Napa shops and boutiques are small, with unique, expertly curated offerings. Here are some of the best.
- Forty Five Ten (Yountville): Goop calls this boutique ‘exceptional,’ offering high-end labels including Proenza Schouler, Marni, and Rochas
- Martin Showroom (St. Helena): Shop everything from coffee table books and knick-knacks to large furniture from coveted interior designer Erin Martin, right on adorable Main Street
- The Fifth Avenue Club Napa Valley (Napa): A by-appointment-only personalized shopping and styling service, on the grounds of Stanly Ranch, an Auberge Resorts Collection
20. Lounge Poolside in a Private Cabana
All summer long and well into fall, one of the best Napa Valley things to do besides wine is simply relax — poolside.
At some of Napa’s finest resorts, you can rent a private luxury cabana, even if you’re not a guest. One such example is Grand Reserve at The Meritage Resort.
Choose from two adults-only pools or one family-friendly pool, all of which are heated to 80° year-round.
Offerings cater to a wide range of travelers and groups, including a fire pit cabana with seating for 12, whimsical themed cabanas, and romantic cabanas for couples. Amenities vary depending on the cabana, but generally include wi-fi, complimentary beverages, and personalized service.
Prices start at around $200 for the day for visitors not staying at the resort.
Luxury Hotels in Napa Valley
- Harvest Inn, St. Helena – Charming, dog-friendly boutique hotel that’s also decidedly chic, sitting on a vineyard and offering two pools and a spa
Alila Napa Valley, a Hyatt Resort, St. Helena – Sleek, modern hotel within walking distance of downtown, overlooking Beringer Vineyards
Bardessono Hotel and Spa, Yountville – Widely considered THE place to stay in Yountville, with tons of perks including loaner bikes and valet parking. Plus, it’s LEED Platinum certified.
- Rancho Caymus Inn, Rutherford – One-of-a-kind historic hotel with a lovely stone terrace, complimentary parking, daily breakfast, and wine and cheese tastings
Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley, Calistoga – Nestled on the grounds of Elusa Winery, with fireplaces, private terraces, onsite hiking trails, two pools, and a spa
Unique Experiences in Napa Valley
There are plenty of unique and interesting things to do in Napa Valley besides wine, food, or spas.
21. Explore Calistoga’s Petrified Forest
Wandering through Calistoga’s Petrified Forest is perhaps among the most unexpected Napa Valley things to do besides wine.
A must-see for history and nature enthusiasts alike, you can walk among ancient petrified redwood trees, essentially transformed into stone over millions of years. These were once some of the largest trees on Earth!
The one-mile path is easy-going, suitable for kiddos and beginner hikers. Educational exhibits offer insights into the formation process of petrified wood, which is actually pretty fascinating.
As a bonus, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any sort of ‘crowd’ here!
22. Marvel at the Old Faithful Geyser
Another Calistoga gem (anyone noticing a theme here?), the Old Faithful Geyser is a natural wonder that never fails to captivate visitors.
It may not be as famous as its namesake counterpart in Yellowstone, but it’s one of the most iconic things to do in Napa besides wine!
Every 30 minutes, water shoots up into the sky, accompanied by a powerful gush of steam. Aside from its eruptions, the surrounding grounds have picnic areas and beautiful walking trails.
23. Olive Oil Tasting
Locals will tell you there’s another type of tasting that’s a must in Napa Valley. Just like wine, the fertile region produces some of the world’s finest oils, due to the unique climate and soil.
You can sample various flavors and learn about the production process while experts guide you through the subtle differences between types.
24. Take a Romantic Gondola Ride
A scenic gondola ride right through Napa is an absolute must for a romantic, magical experience.
Relax as a professional gondolier glides through the tranquil Napa River and immerse yourself in the valley’s beauty from a unique perspective. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Venice!
Choose from a variety of gondola experiences, including optional wine tastings or a themed cruise based on the movie, “The Haunting of Venice”.
25. Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train
The vintage Napa Valley Wine Train offers a truly memorable way to explore wine country. And while “wine” is in its name, you can enjoy a ride sans vino!
Choose from several elegant experiences, including lunch or afternoon tea. There are also holiday rides, like the Thanksgiving feast and the Santa Train.
Many rides offer a multi-course meal with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Eat well while taking in breathtaking views of rolling vineyards and picturesque landscapes.
One of the most unique things to do in Napa besides wine, this unforgettable experience combines luxury travel, a dose of nostalgic history, and excellent food, guaranteeing everyone can have a great time.