10 Things to Do on a Summer Vacation in Napa Valley

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Northern California isn’t a place where you’ll find an unattractive time of year, but summertime is when this part of the world truly shines. If your travels take you to Napa Valley during the warmer months, pack appropriately: be sure to bring a hat, some sunscreen, a trusty pair of shades, and most of all, a taste for adventure. Here are some favorites the locals swear by, and visitors have come to love.

Relax By the Lake

Image Source: Yelp

Lake Berryessa
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 13 reviews

Located in the northeast corner of Napa Valley, the Lake Berryessa reservoir provides both power and water to the region. It’s also an excellent destination for watersports, boating, swimming, picnicking, and just relaxing on the beach. Multiple resorts with marinas dot the shoreline of the 20,000-acre lake, providing boat rentals, accommodations, and dining. If you’re looking to cool off with a swim during your summer vacation in Napa Valley, Lake Berryessa is an ideal locale.

Insider tip: For a summer vacation to remember, book a houseboat on scenic Lake Berryessa and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Calistoga Concerts in The Park

pioneer park
Image Source: Yelp

Pioneer Park
1308 Cedar Street,
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-2838
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 9 reviews

Calistoga is a little town at the north end of the Napa Valley, famous for its volcanic hot springs, wine, and small town vibe. If you find yourself there on a Thursday evening this summer, make sure to check out the weekly concert series in Pioneer Park, right on the Napa River. Bring a blanket and a picnic, and FYI, adult beverages are permitted–the concert series actually offers wine from a different local winery every week.

Insider tip: Vermeil Wine and Tasting Room, a local favorite, is steps from the park, so you can stop in and pick up a bottle of local (and rare) Charbono to accompany the concert.

All Aboard for Wine Tasting

Image Source: Yelp

Napa Valley Wine Train
1275 McKinstry St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 253-2111
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 2,110 reviews

The Wine Train is a Napa Valley institution. How else could you take in the sunset over the rolling hills covered with vines, enjoy a gourmet dinner, and stop for a few winery tours, all while shuttled around in a luxurious restored early 20th century railcar? Book a winery tour, a dining journey, or even an all inclusive vacation–without a car: there are packages that start and end in San Francisco.

Insider tip: The $15 corkage fee for outside wines brought on the train is waived if you purchase another bottle on the train.

Take a Dive

Image Source: Yelp

Indian Springs Calistoga
1712 Lincoln Ave
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4913
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 984 reviews

Indian Springs Calistoga is named after the geyser-heated hot springs that feed the relaxing and luxurious pool. And, while this Olympic sized natural wonder is the main draw at Indian Springs Calistoga, the 17-acre grounds have much more to offer: you can enjoy spa treatments, play a game of shuffleboard, explore the meticulously maintained gardens, or take a meal at Sam’s Social Club, the full-service Mission-Revival-Style bar and restaurant on site.

Insider tip: Borrow a complimentary bicycle from the resort and explore Calistoga, as well as nearby wineries like Arroyo Winery or Kenefick Ranch Winery.

Classic Burgers

Image Source: Yelp

Gott’s Roadside
933 Main St
St Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-3486
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 848 reviews

If you’re working up an appetite driving from winery to winery, and you find yourself in St. Helena, don’t miss Gott’s Roadside. This burger joint has been around since 1949, and has been designated an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. The Niman Ranch 100% antibiotic- and hormone-free burgers are not to be missed, and neither are the shakes. If you don’t make it to the original, Gott’s has expanded to the Oxbow Market in Napa, and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, but don’t expect the lines to be shorter at either spot.

Insider tip: No time to wait in the (sometimes very long) line? Order online, pick up your burger, and head to nearby Crane Park for a picnic in the shade.

Wine Tasting in Town


The most bang for your buck (in terms of wine tastings in all of Napa Valley) can be found right in downtown Napa. Do Napa lets you experience eight different tasting rooms, and with the Taste Downtown Napa card, you can stop by any of the participating tasting rooms for a first taste that will only cost you $10.

Insider tip: Plan your wine crawl around dinner at Bounty Hunter Wine & Smokin’ BBQ. Not only do they offer 400 wines, they also boast a large selection of rare bourbon, rye, and scotch.

Thomas Keller’s Yountville Empire

Image Source: Bouchon

The French Laundry is a world-renowned, three Michelin Star-rated restaurant, but it’s not the only Thomas Keller establishment in unincorporated Yountville. There’s also the family-dinner-themed Ad Hoc for more casual fare including exceptional fried chicken, and the even-more casual Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon Bistro, where you can find French diner classics like moules frites and Escargot Ala Bourgoing. There’s even Addendum, a part of Ad Hoc, that offers boxed lunches to go, for all your winery picnic needs.

Insider tip: If you want the complete foodie experience, plan Saturday breakfast at Bouchon Bakery, a casual lunch at Bouchon Bistro, a lavish dinner at the French Laundry, then a long, languid brunch at Ad Hoc on Sunday.

See Napa From Above

Image Source: Yelp, Flickr

Balloons Above the Valley
603 California Blvd
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 253-2222
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 556 reviews

What better way to get a view of Napa Valley than from a hot air balloon? Experience a balloon tour and Champagne brunch, or a balloon and winery tour for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. No worries if anyone in your party doesn’t enjoy heights: there’s a ‘chase’ option, where they can participate in any tour or brunch festivities, from the comfort of solid ground.

Insider tip: These balloon tours start early at the Napa Valley Marriott, so book a room there to get more sleep and take advantage of complimentary coffee, tea, and pastries before embarking,

A Foodie Shopping Spree

Image Source: Yelp

Oxbow Public Market
610 & 644 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 226-6529
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 571 reviews

Oxbow Public Market is a true culinary destination. If you want to check out the best bites Napa has to offer, then Oxbow has you covered with gourmet tacos at C Casa, classic burgers at Gott’s, charcuterie from The Fatted Calf, Three Twins Ice Cream, Hog Island Oyster Company, and more. It’s all in one place, under one roof, so you can wander, sample, and enjoy the bounty that Napa has to offer.

Insider tip: Don’t miss the Tuesday Locals’ Night specials, especially the one at Hog Island Oyster Company: they offer half-price chef’s choice oysters grown in nearby Tomales Bay, served only until 7 p.m.

Serenity in Wine Country

Image Source: Yelp

Bothe Napa Valley State Park
3801 St Helena Hwy
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4575
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 76 reviews

Located between Calistoga and St. Helena, Bothe Napa State Park offers serene redwood groves and scenic hilltop views. Short hikes range from easy, flat loops along Ritchey Creek, to strenuous climbs to the top of Coyote Peak for a view of Mount Saint Helena. There’s even a spring-fed pool nearby to relax in afterwards.

Insider tip: Madrigal Winery is literally across the road from the park, so stop in to stock up on picnic supplies.

There are endless things to do in Napa Valley, but if you’re visiting during the summer get outside and explore all it has to offer.

WineCountry Staff


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