Napa is a beautiful city north of Vallejo that lies between Sonoma and Fairfield. Napa is considered the heart of California’s ‘wine country’ because of its many wineries and vineyards — in fact, it is almost impossible to pass through Napa without seeing a vineyard. However, there’s more to Napa than wine tastings — so here is a guide to the top things to do and see while in the area.
The Napa Valley Wine Train is probably one of the more touristic attractions in Napa, but it’s still a wonderful experience. This historic train has been restored so it can offer a scenic tour of Napa while also serving American cuisine on board. The wine train makes stops at various wineries so that guests can visit different tours. This train offers day tours, romantic night tours, holiday tours, and even murder mystery tours — you can find them all here.
Napa Valley Paddle provides paddle-boarding tours along the calm Napa River — no previous experience is required. The Living River Tour starts where fresh water and salt water mix in the Napa River, and guests will continue to paddle upstream to view downtown Napa, move under four bridges, and more. There are three different locations customers can choose to paddle from depending on what they like. At the end, Napa Valley Paddle shuttles customers back to the start. With over 2,000 customers and four seasons of paddle-board tours under its belt, Napa Valley Paddle is experienced, entertaining, and safe.
Balloons Above the Valley is a hot air balloon ride above Napa Valley which offers a unique view of the beautiful vineyards below. Before the ride, guests can enjoy a cafe and pastry service, and after the journey, they can celebrate with a champagne brunch where they can discuss their experience. The hot air balloons used by Balloons Above the Valley are the biggest in America.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail is essentially a 47 mile walking and biking trail, but it has yet to be fully built. The Napa Valley Vine Trail stretches across Napa Valley from Vallejo (south of Napa) to Calistoga (north of Napa). Although the full trail is not complete, there are sections of it that can be enjoyed in the city of Napa.
Open daily from 9am to 7pm (later for restaurants), the Oxbow Public Market is a free market in downtown Napa that sells everything from organic produce to fish to olive oil and cheese. However, the Oxbow Public Market is more than just a market — customers can browse through furniture and other collectables, listen to live music, eat at local restaurants, watch cooking demos, and participate in wine and beer tastings.
For locals or families traveling with children, Playground Fantastico is a perfect spot to spend an afternoon. Built in 2002 by the Napa Valley Education Foundation, this fantastic playground has a castle theme with several play houses, musical instruments, a sand pit with animal statues, a wooden fort, and a climbing wall. There are picnic tables nearby and two sides to the playground — one for younger kids and one for older kids. The San Francisco Chronicle rated Playground Fantastico as one of the ‘Best Playgrounds in the Bay Area.’
Located in downtown Napa, the Napa Valley Opera House is a historic landmark built in 1879. The opera house is a non-profit performing arts center that provides theatrical entertainment in an intimate and comfortable setting. The opera house also allows other organizations to use the space for events, like concerts, plays, educational school programs, and lectures.
Cannolly Ranch is an educational farm that teaches children about farm life, animals, sustainability, healthy foods, and the wonders of nature. Over 5,000 students visit each year from school programs, camps, and field trips. Cannolly Ranch also holds single day and night events, like their family day program perfect for young children. On the first Wednesday of each month, the ranch is open to anyone who wants to come in and enjoy the great outdoors.
The 850-acre Skyline Wilderness Park is great for hiking, biking, camping and horseback riding, and you can also stroll through the native plant garden that houses over 25 miles of trails. There are picnic and barbecue areas, camping locations, and an RV park. There is a cover charge to access the park, which is full of wildlife like deer and turkeys. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed.