Fall Weekend Guide to Napa Valley
The weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing into beautiful shades of red and orange and wine country is calling. Fall is one of the best seasons to plan a weekend trip to see all that Napa Valley has to offer. This area has hundreds of wineries that attract millions of visitors each year. Still, this region of California has more to offer than wine. There are plenty of outdoor adventures, relaxing spas and shopping areas to make for a busy trip.
Visitors to Napa Valley can leave the car behind and try an alternate way of getting around. The Calistoga Bike Shop offers both rentals and tours of the area. People looking to go on their own adventure can look to the shop for advice on which places to check out. Rentals start at $28, and helmets, locks and rack bags are included. Ride through Sonoma County on horseback for a unique way of experiencing the natural features of the area. Stables pair riders with gentle horses for trips all year long. One option is riding through wine grapes, apple trees and towering oak groves at Rollin F Ranch. Or people can take the seaside route, riding past the sand dunes along the Sonoma coastline.
People can get a taste of history while traveling through the region on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The rail cars on the train have been restored to their original glory dating back to the early 1900s. Couples can plan trips with an intimate dinner as the stars shine overhead. Or people can put their sleuth caps on and solve the murder mystery dinner. The Santa Train is also a family favorite. Leave the ground behind altogether and tour Napa Valley through a hot air balloon ride. Imagine rising up above the vineyards as the fog clears and the sun rises just over the hills. If this sounds like a perfect start to the day, then make a reservation for this unique tour. Many companies offer champagne mimosas and breakfast after the trip as well.
Take a night and enjoy live music or a film on the big screen. Silos Jazz Club is an intimate space where visitors can listen to rock and blues while sipping local wines. This venue has performances nearly every night. Upcoming acts include the Second Street Band, jazz pianist Mike Greensill and surf rocker John Wheeler. The Cameo Cinema is an elegant theatre that shows both independent and studio-released films. This theatre dates back to 1913, and it has since seen serious upgrades both in 1996 and in 2009. Visitors rave about the theatre’s sound system and seriously cheap popcorn.
Those looking for heart-pumping action should head to the Sonoma Raceway for NASCAR. This track hosts one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, which takes place on a road course. Other events at the raceway include the Verizon IndyCar series, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series and motorcycle races by the American Federation of Motorcyclists. Video game enthusiasts might recognize the track. The track first appeared in “NASCAR Racing” in 1994 and has since shown up in several other racing games.
At least a half-day of the weekend trip in Napa Valley should be dedicated to a quick Sacramento trip. Just an hour’s drive away, the city dates back to the rough and tumble Gold Rush era. Visit Old Sacramento for a taste of history from the Wild West. Sacramento is the capital of California, and people can explore the origins of the state at the stunning State Capitol Museum. The city is hugged by two rivers, the Sacramento and American River. Visitors can rent a kayak or grab a fishing pole and enjoy a nice day on the water. Great weather makes going to the Drive-In theatre a great activity all year long. Catching a movie there won’t break the bank either, tickets are priced at $7.95 for adults and $1.25 for kids ages 5-11.
Relax after a long day at one of the various spas in Napa Valley. Dr. Wilkinson’s is a hot springs resort that has helped Californians unwind since 1952. Their signature service is the mud bath. The mud is mixed with volcanic ash and lavender, and it cleanses the skin while visitors sit back with cucumbers to cool the eyes. Mud baths end with a 30 to 60 minute massage by their expert staff.
Try some of California’s freshest produce at Oxbow Public Market. This 40,000 square foot area has a mix of food vendors and cafes along with an outdoor deck that provides views of the nearby Napa River. Indulge the sweet tooth at Anette’s Chocolates. Enjoy a freshly baked loaf of bread from The Model Bakery. Or sort through the hundreds of spices at Whole Spice to find the perfect accent to a meal.
Come for the wine and stay for the adventure for a memorable weekend in Napa Valley.
Source: Jeremy Alderman