California and wine go together like… well, cheese and wine. And since Napa is synonymous with California wine country, that seems to be where most tourists flock to taste vino. Located about an hour inland from the beautiful Bodega Bay, the Napa Valley is worth a day trip or a weekend detour for anyone on a beach vacation.
There is no shortage of things to do in Napa, and those things go way beyond wine. Nature lovers can head to Alston Park, which has numerous hiking and biking trails, or Westwood Hills Park, where the scenic views go on for miles.
For a beautiful hike that leads to a stunning waterfall, head to the Zim Zim Creek trail. Take Berryessa to Knoxville Road, turn right at the 128/121 intersection (staying on 128), turn right onto Berryessa/Knoxville Road when you come to the Turtle Rock bar, and continue past the lake over Pope Creek and Putah Creek into the mountains. The trail provides easy hiking, but depending on the time of year, you may need to wade across the creek.
But even if you’d rather stay close to town, Napa has plenty to offer. At the Napa Premium Outlets, you’ll find discounts on brands like Cole Haan and Calvin Klein. The downtown speciality shops are also worth exploring, especially if you enjoy handmade gifts, spices and local cheeses.
The dining scene in Napa is excellent. From the modern and casual Napa Valley Burger Company to the upscale Celadon, you’ll find a variety of locally sourced food and ethnic fare. PRESS Restaurant, pictured above, is located in the nearby St. Helena and has a reputation for pairing the best meat entrees with the finest California wines.
Of course, wine tasting is the main appeal of Napa… and even if you don’t think you’re a wine person, you should taste it here. The local wineries vary greatly in production, flavor and pricing, so you’re almost certain to find something you enjoy.
Several wine tours are offered in the Napa Valley, allowing you to leave the driving to someone else. The popular Napa Valley Wine Trolley, which is a motorized replica of an 1890s San Francisco cable car, is always a favorite. The six hour tour includes visits to four wineries, water and soft drinks, a gourmet lunch, and a ride through some of Northern California’s most gorgeous scenery. The $99 fee includes everything except your driver’s gratuity and the tasting fees.
If you’re in Napa for a vacation and have a day to spend on the coast, here’s a list of suggested beaches near Napa.