26 Unique Things to Do in Napa Valley (Besides Wine)

If you thought Napa Valley was just about drinking wine, think again! Even though it’s famous for producing some of the best vino on the planet, this beloved region has so much more to offer.

From hiking to exploring historic landmarks, here are 26 things that will make your visit to Napa Valley one for the books.

Ready for a wild ride? Sharpen your exploratory skills; this is bound to be an epic adventure.

1. Olive Oil Tasting

While wine may be the star of the show in Napa Valley, the region is also known for its high-quality olive oil.

Many of the wineries in Napa Valley also produce their own olive oil, and you can taste it for yourself at places like Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Company.

Sample a variety of artisanal oils and learn about the production process in a fun and educational tour.

Linguine clams at Bistro Don Giovanni Napa Valley
Linguine clams Photo by Bistro Don Giovanni Napa Valley

2. Bistro Don Giovanni

Craving authentic Italian eats? Don’t miss out on Bistro Don Giovanni. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be transported to a charming and cozy Italian bistro that feels like it could be right in the heart of Tuscany.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with rustic wood accents and soft lighting that creates a romantic ambiance.

And the food? Oh, the food! It’s simply divine. The menu is full of classic Italian dishes made with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients.

Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty pasta dish, a perfectly cooked steak, or a light and refreshing salad, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings.

Don’t forget about the wine though; Napa Valley is known for its world-class wines, and Bistro Don Giovanni’s extensive wine list features some of the best local vintages around.

3. Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

The great Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Wine is bottled poetry”, and this rings especially true in Napa Valley.

Named after this famous author who once lived in the area, this park offers hiking trails with breathtaking views. Make sure you pack a picnic to while away the afternoon!

Whatever your pleasure, visiting this park certainly won’t leave you feeling like you missed out on life’s sweet nectars – even without the wine.

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4. Kayak Down the Napa River

Trade your glass of red for an oar and head out for a kayak tour on the Napa River with a local guide.

Your adventure down this majestic water flow will take you past vineyards, wildlife and sparkling views as far as the eye can see.

Learn about the area’s ecology, admire its abundant beauty, and evidence of human settlement from way back when – interesting stuff for all levels of history buffs.

So don’t let Napa just be about wine; wake up all your senses with this kayak tour!

Napa River History Kayak Tour
Napa River History Kayak Tour by Viator

5. Napa Valley Museum

At the Napa Valley Museum, step back in time and take a walk through some of the most fascinating exhibitions about local Native American life and culture.

Or if your sights are set on something more contemporary, check out their rotating displays of sculpture, painting, and photography from both local artists and international talent.

No matter what type of art or culture floats your boat, you’ll find it here.

And don’t forget about their ever-changing lineup of special events – from music to auctions – you’ll never be bored!

6. The Petrified Forest

If you’ve already had your fill of sipping Sauvignon Blanc, lace up your pair of walking shoes and head to the Petrified Forest – essentially a fossilized museum open for leisurely strolls.

Rocks that used to be towering redwood trees from millions of years ago are now quite literally petrified pieces of art.

So if you’re looking for something different, take an awe-inspiring walk through history instead!

two Girls enjoying horseback riding
horseback riding

7. Horseback Ride Through Vineyards

You don’t need to be a horse whisperer to take in the breathtaking views of Napa Valley; all you need to do is jump in the saddle and let Napa Valley Trail Rides take care of the rest.

Whether you’re an equestrian or have never been near a horse before, you’ll feel totally comfortable letting one of their gentle and well-trained horses show you around the vineyards.

Get ready to kick up some dust along some of the prettiest trails that Northern California has to offer.

Believe us, it’s worth paying that extra buck for the unique experience of a lifetime!

8. The French Laundry

From the classic French cuisine to the charming building dating back to 1900, The French Laundry is a true delight for any food connoisseur.

Located on the National Register of Historic Places, it offers diners luxurious delights with its three Michelin star rating.

But it doesn’t just end there! During the summertime, you can dine in their gorgeous courtyard.

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9. Attend the Napa Valley Film Festival

Take a break from your home movies and join film fanatics from around the world for a special event at the Napa Valley Film Festival.

Held annually in November, it’s an amazing way to quench your cinematic thirst with screenings, panel discussions, and other exclusive events in one of the most beautiful spots in California.

Mingle with aspiring directors and artists, get insight from experienced industry professionals, and sample some of Napa’s renowned wines – you’ll walk away more cultured (and more refreshed) than ever before!

10. Take a Scenic Drive on The Silverado Trail

The Silverado Trail is the ultimate way to take in the beauty of Napa Valley. Take a leisurely drive along rolling hills cloaked in vineyards and bask in glorious sunshine.

Feel free to swing by any of the charming towns along the route for something delicious to eat or a bottle of local wine.

Once back on the road, you can keep your eyes peeled for those unbeatable views that will show why this region is so renowned for its stunning scenery.

Take it from us – a scenic drive down the Silverado Trail really is something that has to be seen to be believed!

11. Take a Dip in the Calistoga Hot Springs

There’s nothing quite like soaking away one’s woes in the natural hot springs of Calistoga.

Whether you’re looking for a tranquil time of solitude or a fun group getaway to unwind, a short dip in these waters can make you feel brand new!

These mineral-rich waters are said to have healing properties, and there are plenty of spas and resorts in the area where you can soak in comfort, for example, Calistoga Spa Hot Springs.

12. di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art

For a unique experience, visit the Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, which features a collection of over 1600 works by Bay Area artists.

Situated on a picturesque 217-acre lot with winding paths through the sculpture gardens, getting lost in the beauty of art can’t help but happen here.

Whether you come alone or with a party, taking an outdoor tour surrounded by some eye-catching works – perhaps even thought-provoking – is sure to stir up some unique emotions.

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13. Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train

What better way to take a trip down memory lane than with a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train!

This one-of-a-kind vintage train provides guests with an enviable experience, combining delectable regional cuisine, local wines, and breathtaking beauty.

Every single one of the vintage Pullman cars have been lovingly restored – a reminder that some things are worth preserving for generations to come.

14. Hike Mt. Saint Helena

For those looking for adventure and jaw-dropping views, head to the top of Mount Saint Helena.

This difficult hike is worth the effort; keep your eyes peeled along the way, and you may even spot the site of literary history in your wanderings; Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Silverado Squatters in a cabin near here in 1880!

Sadly, you won’t find the cabin these days, as it has since been taken down.

When you do reach that peak, prepare for panoramic views of the valley, taking in landmarks like Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais.

15. Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

Immerse yourself in the world of food and wine at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

With its beautiful historic buildings and picturesque grounds, this place oozes style. And its impressive culinary offerings only add to the charm.

Cook up a storm with one of their cooking classes, explore the art of wine pairing while dining at The Gatehouse Restaurant or just soak in the atmosphere.

It’s no wonder why the CIA has become an oasis for those looking to dive into the world’s most delicious dishes and drinks.

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16. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Enjoy the grandeur of Napa Valley from a whole new angle with a hot air balloon ride at sunrise!

While still in the comforting embrace of morning mist, drift above picturesque vineyards and take in the stunning scenery as the sunlight reflects between rows of endless green.

It’s an experience like no other that promises to transform any ordinary morning into an adventure filled with awe and amazement!

hot air balloons over napa valley
hot air balloons over napa valley

17. Bike Tour of Napa Valley

Pedaling through the gorgeous landscape of Napa Valley definitely beats sitting in traffic.

With a variety of guided bike tours to choose from, you can really take a load off, explore the area on two wheels, and even get some exercise along the way!

For the free-spirited, rent an e-bike and explore on your own instead.

18. Shop & Dine in Downtown Napa

The best way to tap into the distinct magic of Downtown Napa is to explore it on foot. Enjoy its unique vibe while you browse through eclectic shops, sample gourmet dishes at some of the city’s renowned restaurants, and even drop in at one or two of the inviting tasting rooms.

But that’s not all! A leisurely stroll by the riverfront can help recharge the spirit, or why not check out a show at Uptown Theatre?

And don’t forget to swing by the famous farmers market for locally-grown goodies and delicacies. Downtown Napa will leave you feeling inspired and refreshed – all in one day!

19. Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa is a must-see! This 13th-century Tuscan castle looks like it was plucked out of Europe and perfectly located in Napa Valley.

Feel like royalty on a guided tour to explore its impressive architecture and wine cellars. You’ll be amazed by the intricate details and craftsmanship that went into its construction.

Whether you’re a history buff or a wine connoisseur, this must-visit landmark should definitely be on your itinerary!

20. Stroll Through Yountville Art Walk

On a sunny California day, there’s no better way to pass some time than with a leisurely stroll through the Yountville Art Walk.

Take in the beauty of the Napa Valley landscape and get lost in the wondrous creations put forth by local artists.

Statues, drawings, sculptures and installations abound, adding kaleidoscope colors to any postcard-worthy photo ops.

21. Hike the Oat Hill Mine Trail

If you’re looking for an adventurous way to take in the beauty of Napa Valley, take a hike on the Oat Hill Mine Trail.

As well as being great for getting some exercise, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to enjoy nature in all its glory.

Just remember that this isn’t your usual Sunday stroll – this trail is challenging, with rugged terrain to traverse.

But hey, it’s a small price to pay for unbeatable views of the valley below! So lace up your hiking boots and get ready to appreciate those stunning sights.

22. Visit Napa Valley Distillery

Don’t just take in the views; take in the tastes with a stop at Napa Valley Distillery.

This distillery is home to some of the finest spirits you’ll ever sample, from its award-winning gin and whiskey to its irresistible brandy.

And taking one of their guided tours means you can have an insider look of how these amazing liquors get crafted before you enjoy a few glasses for yourself!

Old Faithful Geyser of California
Old Faithful Geyser of California

23. Old Faithful Geyser of California

The Old Faithful Geyser of California is one of the greatest natural wonders in the world and those who are lucky enough to witness this mighty phenomenon will be thoroughly impressed.

Every thirty minutes, the geyser erupts and sends a jet of boiling hot water up into the air with seemingly endless energy.

There are plenty of other attractions and activities on the property as well – stop by the petting zoo or explore the gardens nearby!

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24. Watch a Show at Uptown Theatre

Looking for an evening of entertainment that has stood the test of time? Uptown Theatre in Napa is a historic theater, beautifully restored to its former glory, and offers a rich selection of concerts and events that promises a night you won’t soon forget.

From world-renowned musical acts to other spectacular performances, the Uptown is sure to enchant.

25. Go for a Mud Bath

Indian Springs has to be one of the most interesting tourist destinations in California.

Their one-of-a-kind mineral baths and mud baths are made from 100 percent pure volcanic ash, sourced directly from their own vein of ash located on the property.

Choose from a classic mud bath if you are feeling daring, or for something simpler, try a soothing mineral water soak.

26. Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

For history buffs and those who are just plain curious, Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park is the perfect destination for experiencing the days of old.

This beautifully preserved mill offers tours and demonstrations of the historic milling process, and there are plenty of hiking trails and picnic areas to enjoy.

This park offers some of the most beautiful natural surroundings and an opportunity to experience a part of the nation’s unique heritage – all at the same time.