Napa Valley activities are basically wine tours, but you can do more than just having standard visits to one or a couple of wineries and venturing among the endless rows of vineyards.
Napa Valley is a viticultural/vinicultural area in the state of California that’s known around the world. Because of its scenic countryside charm, mild Mediterranean climate, rich winery history and culture, great food and of course great wines, tourists from the United States and many parts of the world flock there especially during the summer months. But really, any time is a great time in the Wine Country, and each season brings unique activities that are guaranteed to be included in your “memory bank,” so to speak.
Especially if you’re a first-timer, the best way to start is to go to downtown Napa. The city is situated on the banks of the Napa River; it is postcard pretty and is definitely walkable. You may start your wine education by sampling the wines there, kayaking on the Napa River, stroll along the beautiful Napa Riverfront after a sumptuous dinner, attending jazz music performances or plays, or shopping and dining at the Oxbow Public Market. If you’re lucky, you may also encounter the Napa Art Walk where you can encounter art installations at several points of the city — it’s like a vast outdoor art exhibit. These art installations are actually evaluated by a jury of professional artists.
Aside from downtown Napa, there are a lot of other cities in town in the Napa County that offer their own brand of charm. Explore the stretch of Washington Street in Yountville which is known for its restaurants and boutiques. Go to the famous farmer’s market in Calistoga and St. Helena and browse and buy good quality organic produce and artisan products that you can take home. If you’re tired from the shopping and sight-seeing, relax and unplug by trying out to the famous mineral springs, volcanic mud baths, and several spas.
Napa Valley is a protected agricultural area — which means that any development that would ruin the region’s natural beauty and wine industry is considered a legal no-no there. That’s why even the wineries themselves are surrounded by lush vineyards, thickets, and groves flanked by the verdant hills and the mountains. From the city, go out and explore the countryside — there are lots of fun things to do! You can bike amidst the vineyards, take a hike at any of Napa’s several natural parks and hiking trails, go fishing for rainbow trout on Putah Creek, or go there during the grapes harvest season and participate in the grape stomping tradition which brings loads of fun!
Do you want wineries with a (spectacular) view? There are several hilltop wineries that provide excellent vantage points to view and admire the vineyard-laced fields and valleys. No matter where you are standing from — a roof deck, a terrace, a cable car, even inside a helicopter or a hot air balloon — Napa is a natural wonder everywhere you look.
Speaking of a hot air balloon, it is a great way to either start or cap your Napa Valley holiday. Enjoy the uninterrupted views of the neat rows of grapevines, rolling hills and deep valleys that greet the morning sun. Toast flutes with your friends, loved ones and other guests as you gently hover over the beautiful fields and valleys.
You may have seen the colorful hot air balloons and maybe you also wished that you could ride in one of them. However, such leisure used to be generally (and notoriously) known as too expensive, and that only the wealthy could afford it.
Well, this is no longer the case these days because there are several hot air balloon operators in Napa that offer competitive packages for guests who are even traveling on a budget.
However, Balloons Above the Valley (BATV) does not only provide the unique experience of flying over the gorgeous Napa Valley landscape in a hot air balloon — although that’s the journey that every guest awaits!
Even in the most basic BATV package, guests will still enjoy a pre-flight breakfast and a post-flight Michelin-awarded champagne brunch in addition to the one-hour hot air balloon journey. More comprehensive packages offer any of the following: wine tours and a limo bus transportation which will take you to the wineries (there’s even a limo service that will pick you up from San Francisco), olive oil tasting, and a picnic lunch at a beautiful garden situated at one of the vineyards, as well as optional shopping and additional sightseeing.
BATV would also happily oblige to requests for in-flight photos or champagne flutes. You probably don’t want to miss the chance to take souvenir pictures of the gorgeous Napa countryside and raise a toast with your friends as you celebrate the highest peak (literally too) of the good life in the Napa Valley.
Whether you’re a first time tourist in the Wine Country or have visited it several times, it’s never too late to try a BATV hot air balloon ride and include it to your list of Napa Valley activities. See it for yourself! Who knows, once you’ve tried BATV, it’s a sure thing that you’d like to fly with us again!