Napa Valley - AttractionGuide

Napa Valley

Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Napa Valley-area attractions. Grape expectations are part of daily reality at the northeastern tip of San Francisco Bay, roughly an hour's drive north of San Francisco. Napa Valley, largest of Napa County's many valleys, is some 30 miles long and up to five miles wide, with five incorporated cities: Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, Napa and, anchoring the southern end, American Canyon. Angwin, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Rutherford and Oakville also have post offices. Original inhabitants were the Wappo Native Americans, settled in long before the Spanish arrived. In 1831, some 10,000 lived in the valley, and while most fell victim to cholera, small pox and skirmishes with white men, some Wappos survive today in Napa Valley. Post gold-rush San Francisco prosperity created huge demand for wine, and by 1891 more than 600 vineyards dotted Napa Valley. Yet after surviving the depression and ravages of the disease phylloxera, Prohibition came close to making a clean sweep. Prune and walnut orchards were planted as replacements for all but a few vineyards that hung on producing medicinal elixirs or sacramental wine for religious occasions. Now, the grape is again a force to be recognized, with more than 200 wineries throughout the county, along with a requisite number of restaurants and other attractions of infinite year around appeal.

Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Napa Valley Metropolitan Area, with links to more details when available.

American Canyon
As Napa County's newest and second largest city, American Canyon serves as a gateway to the valley for arrivals from East Bay.
Bale Grist Mill
This historic grist mill, known as the Bale Mill, was erected in 1846 by Dr. B.T. Bale. The restored flour mill was dedicated in 1925.
Highway 29 at 3369 Northwest St. Helena Highway.
Calistoga, the only town around with an appreciable nightlife, is the spa capital of Napa Valley, with plenty of opportunity to loll around in mud. Legend has it that Calistoga was named by town founder Sam Brannan, who intended it to become the “Saratoga of California” referring to the spa in New York State, yet after a few libations coined it “the Calistoga of Sarafornia.”
Calistoga Balloons
Calistoga Balloons schedules flights at the Northern end of the Napa Valley on a regular basis. More rural in nature, the Calistoga area offers the most pristine vineyards of this less traveled part of Napa Valley.
1811 Aurora. (707) 942-5754
Charles Krug Winery & More
Founded in 1861 by Charles Krug (1825-1892), this is the oldest operating winery in Napa Valley.
Krug Ranch, 2800 Main Street. St. Helena.
Cross Roads
Connecting the north/south Highway 29 with the Silverado Trail are three major crossroads, Youngville Cross Road, Oakville Cross Road, and Rutherford Cross, each providing access to wineries, splendid homes and equally splendid views.
Culinary Arts Intrigue
Napa Valley spills over with culinary growth opportunities and many wineries have opened private kitchens, cellars, and vintner homes and other venues to spread enthusiasm. By the start of its 2003 third season, Forbes Magazine had labeled the Beringer Master Series as the “fantasy camp” for food and wine aficionados. The Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant's Greystone Experience includes daily cooking demonstrations in the Debaun Theater, a 48-seat demonstration kitchen focusing on techniques oriented toward the home cook while providing glimpses into the world of professional chefs. The COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & The Arts explores American innovations and investigating food and drink, and offers programs, classes, exhibits and demonstrations.
Beringer Master Series On Food & Wine, 1000 Pratt Avenue, St. Helena. (707) 967-4451
Culinary Institute of America, 2555 Main Street, St. Helena. (707) 967-4451
COPIA, 500 First Street, Napa. (707) 259-1600
Highway 29
As the main road up the valley center, Highway 29 winds through all the valley towns and past some of the most famous wineries and restaurants. From Napa to St. Helena, it also parallels the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Lake Berryessa
Before 1957, Lake Berryessa was Monticello Valley. Then, Monticello Dam was finished to form one of California's largest man-made lakes, about 25 miles long and three miles wide, with nearly 170 miles of shoreline. Campgrounds and picnic areas are plentiful and anglers can try their luck for bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill, and catfish.
Whereas cattle and lumber were economic mainstays of the Gold Rush era, wine and tourism now reign supreme at this city with a population of roughly 60,000, also serving as the Napa County seat. Napa was founded in 1848 by Nathan Coombs.
Napa Valley Museum
Special, changing exhibits represent a diverse range of subjects from fine arts to history to natural sciences along with permanent exhibits tracing cultural and environmental heritage of the valley.
55 Presidents Circle. (707) 944-0500
Napa Valley Wine Train
Rail enthusiasts can choose among a champagne brunch, gourmet lunch or full-course dinner with a complete wine experience while on journeys through the heart of Napa Valley picturesque vineyards. The 1915-1917 Pullman lounge, dining and wine tasting cars, embellished by hand-rubbed Honduran mahogany, polished brass, and grape-motif etched glass, provide a backdrop worthy of culinary extravagance accompanying the wines.
1275 McKinstry Street, Napa. (707) 253-2111
Boasting its own post office, Oakville is best known for proximity to local vineyards including the Robert Mondavi Winery, and the Oakville Grocery, on the National Registry of Historic Places, with an extensive wine stock, and a full line of specialty cheeses, charcuterie meats and smoked fish, local produce, fresh pastries, and rustic hearth breads.
Oakville Grocery, 7856 St. Helena Highway. (707) 944-8802
Old Faithful Geyser of California
With Mount St. Helena and the Palisades mountains as backdrops, Old Faithful Geyser of California puts on its show on a yearly average of every 30 minutes, day and night. Barometric pressure, the moon, tides and earthly tectonic stresses determine eruptions and geyser height, typically about 60 feet high. Depending on the sun, rainbows can appear. A geothermal exhibit hall, picnic areas and gift shop round out the experience, with private moonlight viewing available for groups of 50 or more.
1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga. (707) 942-6463
Petrified Forest
Geologists call this attraction one of the world's finest examples of a pliocene fossil forest. The forest has been privately owned since its first proprietor, a Swede nicknamed “Petrified Charlie” started excavating in 1871. Robert Louis Stevenson in Silverado Squatters described him as: “[A] brave old white-faced Swede [having] wandered this way ... And taken up his acres ... All alone, bent double with sciatica....” Charlie told Stevenson how he had first chanced upon such oddity: “I was cleaning up the pasture ... when I found ... a great redwood, seven feet in diameter, that lay on its side, hollow heart, clinging lumps of bark, all changed into grey stone, with veins of quartz between what had been layers of wood.” Walking tours of 20 minutes include the Pit, Queen (with an oak growing out of it), Monarch, Stevenson (the best display of growth rings) and new excavation.
4100 Petrified Forest Road. (707) 942-6667
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
In 1880, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, spent his honeymoon here. Nothing remains of his cabin, although the site is identified on the trail to the summit of Mount St. Helena. On clear days, Mount Shasta can be glimpsed, 192 miles away.
Highway 29, seven miles north of Calistoga. (707) 942-4575
Unincorporated Rutherford is best known for its two major wineries Beaulieu Vineyard and Niebaum-Coppola (formerly known as Inglenook.)
Safari West Wildlife Preserve and Tent Camp
Not a zoo and not a drive-through park, Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife sanctuary providing the spirit of Africa in the heart of wine country with guided open-air vehicle and walking tours, along with options for dining and “bed, breakfast, and a giraffe” tent lodging.
Calistoga. (707) 579-2551
Founded in 1862 by Jacob Schram, this was the first hillside winery of the Napa Valley. Robert Louis Stevenson visited here in 1880, devoting a chapter of his Silverado Squatters to Schramsberg and its wines. The original house and winery have been preserved.
At the end of Schramsberg Road on Highway 29, 3.1 miles south of Calistoga.
Silverado Trail
Stretching along the valley's east side with frequent rewarding views, SilveradoTrail skirts most of the towns, passing by fewer wineries, with less traffic moving at a faster clip. The name comes from a history of transporting quicksilver (mercury) from mines in northern Napa County to gold fields elsewhere for use in separating ore. The Trail also led to the Silverado silver mine on Mount St. Helena. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his Silverado Squatters, made famous the ghost mining town of Silverado, once located between Calistoga and Middletown, on the shoulder of Mt. St. Helena.
Spa Options
Spa relaxation opportunity abounds in Napa Valley, most certainly in Calistoga where Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort has three mineral pools and mid-week stress-stopper packages. Other options include Calistoga Oasis Spa, specializing in spa treatments for couples with ancient volcanic ash baths. Amadeus Spa at the Napa Valley Marriott offers grape seed scrubs along with a Signature Chardonnay and Cabernet Massage. Golden Haven Spa has private mud baths for couples, while the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs features separate men's and women's bath houses and four mineral water pools.
Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort, Calistoga. (707) 942-4102
Calistoga Oasis Spa, (707) 942-2122
Napa Valley Marriott – Amadeus Spa, Napa. (707) 254-3330
Golden Haven Spa, Calistoga. (707) 942-6793.
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, Calistoga. (707) 942-6269
St. Helena
As a high-profile center of the Napa Valley Wine industry St. Helena's main drag, Main Street, is lined with designer boutiques and great restaurants.
Winery Touring & Tasting
Opportunities for winery touring and tasting stretch on and on in Napa Valley, where many wineries have tasting rooms, some complimentary and others for a per person charge of $4 or $5 on up. Domaine Carneros by Taittinger offers complimentary guided tours daily. The family-owned V. Sattui Winery has tree-shaded picnic grounds and a gourmet cheese shop. Mumm Cuvee Napa offers a stroll through photo galleries. Sterling Vineyards offers a tour highlighted by a tramway offering great views. Sutter Home/Trinchero Family Estates offers a complete tasting of its popular varietals.
Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, 1240 Duhig Road, Napa. (707) 257-0101
Mumm Cuvee Napa, 8445 Silverado trail, Rutherford. (707) 967-7700
V. Sattui Winery, 1111 White Lane Street, Helena. (707) 963-7774
Sterling Vineyards, 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga. (707) 942-3344
Sutter/Trinchero Family Estates, 277 St. Helena Highway South, St. Helena. (707) 963-3104
Wines of Napa Valley
Climate and soil have put Napa Valley on the map as one of the great wine growing regions. Long famed for growing Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, it was then discovered that southern reaches of the valley near San Francisco Bay were ideal for nurturing grapes of Burgundy including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Old Italian grapes are regaining popularity for producing wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and Dolcetto. Apart from the globally known names like Beringer, Charles Krug, and Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley also yields eye-catchers like Frog's Leap Winery, Hollywood & Vine, Inc., OnThEdge Winery and X Winery.
Yount Blockhouse
California State Historic Landmark 564 marks the site of the no longer existing log blockhouse built in 1836 by Napa County pioneer George Calvert Yount. Nearby was his adobe house, built in 1837, and across the bridge his grist and saw mills, erected before 1845. Born in North Carolina in 1794, Young was a trapper, rancher, and miller. He died in Yountville in 1865.
Northeast corner of Cook Road and Yount Mill Road, 1 mile north of Yountville.
Named for George Yount, the first American settler in Napa Valley, this community's desire to be called a village upon incorporation was thwarted by the State of California, which didn't allow for villages. But that hasn't kept this town with a population of about 3,000 from having a village atmosphere, with plenty of shops, restaurants and lodging.
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Napa Valley: A view of the welcome sing/train for the Napa Valley Wine Country area