The Napa Valley is synonymous with wine and romantic getaways.
Simply mention the region and watch as imagery of vast vineyards and rolling hills are quickly conjured.
Yet parts of the valley – specifically downtown Napa California – are being redefined by offering innovative ways (this is the Bay Area after all) to experience the area’s unique wine and food culture.
From wine tours by kayak to a wine bar serving barbecue, there are plenty of options for thirsty travelers looking for non-traditional adventures in wine country.
If you’re planning a trip to Napa or are simply looking for a fun way to exercise those daydreams, a great starting point is DoNapa.com. The site offers an interactive map and the ability to create customized itineraries.
Let’s say you’re getting into town on a Friday afternoon or evening. Since this is wine country and there’s no better way to start off a trip than with a glass of world-class wine regardless, a great way to welcome the weekend is to stop into one of the 12 wine tasting rooms within walking distance of downtown Napa.
1313 Main offers a happy hour from 3-6 pm with select glasses of wines at half price, and the wine bar also features delicious small plates.
We’d also recommend picking up a Taste Napa Downtown card. Accepted at 12 locations, the card costs $25 and will get you tastings at all 12 wine tasting rooms.
Following your initial foray into downtown Napa’s wine scene, take a walk through the historic neighborhoods in the surrounding area.
You can pick up a walking tour map at the Napa Valley Welcome Center, and the city actually features more pre-1906 buildings than anywhere else in the Bay Area.
While downtown Napa has a growing list of late night options, Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ offers a great option for grabbing a late dinner and is open until midnight. A local mainstay and some of the best casual dining in Napa, the wine bar and restaurant was opened by Mark Pope in 1994.
Bounty Hunter may be all about the barbecue, but they also offer flights of wine and whiskey specially designed to complement your order of brisket, ribs or pulled pork (possibly a sampler of all three). For more information, check out this great article by SF Gate.
With no trip to California being complete without a little outdoors adventure, there are lots of companies offering great wine, food and adventure.
While Napa Valley Adventure Tours offers everything from bike tours to hiking trips, a great way to experience the region is through one of the company’s guided kayak tours on the Napa River.
Depending on your level of experience and appetite for adrenaline, there are three distinct levels from easy to challenging.
If you are traveling with a group, Napa Valley Adventure Tours offers discounts for groups of six or more. Discount in hand, you may want to spend a bit more to tackle the “Savor the Experience” wine tour by bicycle.
This package includes barrel tastings of a $50 value (all tastings included), a gourmet picnic lunch, visits to three wineries and some great exercise.
After your previous day spent tackling the adventurous side of wine country, the perfect way to end your trip is by heading to one of Napa’s famous spas, hopping on the Napa Valley Wine Train or hiring a hot-air balloon tour.
The train tracks were originally built in the 1860s to bring guests to Calistoga’s hot spring resorts, so there is a definite historic feel to the train ride. Meanwhile the tour takes around three hours and includes lunch or dinner with prices starting at $99.
Make sure to check with the hotel where you are staying for specials as many have packages to bring down the costs of spa trips or hot air balloon rides.
This post was brought to you by the Napa Downtown Association.