Things to Do in Napa that I Haven't Already Done?
April 30, 2012 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I've got an extra day and a half in Yountville/Napa Valley this weekend; what should I do? Bonus if it's not wine tasting--or at least not the wine tastings I've already done a dozen times.

I'll be in Napa Valley for a bike ride this weekend, and I've got a day and a half or so unscheduled. What should I do with it? I won't want to drink before the ride, so I'm mostly interested in things that aren't wine-tasting--dining*, interesting shopping, farmers' markets, spa-type things, other cool stuff to check out. I'll have some time after the ride, too, though (and a designated driver), so if there's a winery you really love and think is worth checking out, please do suggest it. I live in the Bay Area and have been to all the big ones on the main drag with visiting relatives countless times.

*Already on the schedule: dinner at Ad Hoc, a stop by Bouchon, maybe a visit to Etoile at Domaine Chandon.
posted by rhiannonstone to Travel & Transportation around Yountville, CA (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you have the budget for a balloon ride? They launch every morning in Napa. We did one on our honeymoon and it was a blast. So calm... until we landed.

They leave early, around sunrise, so you can knock it off and still have the rest of the day.
posted by bondcliff at 8:43 AM on April 30, 2012

The Di Rosa Preserve is a great art collection to wander - it's private, so you have to make an appointment, but it's definitely worth doing a tour. Mostly California artists, but there are often terrific visiting exhibitions, and the property is gorgeous.
posted by judith at 8:57 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some quick thoughts:
If you're a hiker, there are some lovely trails in the area. A balloon ride is a great idea, just don't party too hard the night before. Lunch at the bistro at Auberge du Soleil has one of the most amazing views of the valley anywhere. There are several Cinco de Mayo events going on, among other things although a lot of it is wine-centric. Mud baths in Calistoga are a unique experience. Cornerstone in Sonoma has fun shops and great garden installations.

Personally, I don't care for the Di Rosa collection. I find it too amateurish, but that's just me.
posted by Gusaroo at 10:09 AM on April 30, 2012

Best answer: The Oxbow Public Market in Napa pushed all our foodie/locavore/organic/fusion buttons. On a 1.5-day trip, we had lunch there twice. If you've been to the SF Ferry Building, it's similar.
posted by kurumi at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, I like the "new" downtown Napa a lot -- they've done a bunch of development in the past couple of years. Perhaps a yoga class at Ubuntu and a stroll around the Oxbow? (I have eaten delicious vegetarian food at Ubuntu in the past, but under a previous chef.) Or a paddle on the Napa River?

Or Calistoga: Mud baths are a swell idea (Indian Springs is another place to do the mineral pool/spa thing). You might get some giggles up there from the geyser, which is slightly lame, but hey, a geyser. Also: fainting goats. And if you've never done a tasting at Schramsberg (spendy, requires reservation) I think it's worth it.
posted by purpleclover at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2012

Best answer: Get a sandwich at Guigni's Deli in St. Helena. Do not forgo the Guigni Juice.

I haven't been, but everyone I know who's toured Sattui's Castle says it's awesome.
posted by Jawn at 12:16 PM on April 30, 2012

A bit of a drive outside of Napa, but I went to Harbin Hot Springs this weekend and it was pretty awesome. Gorgeous location, and very relaxing so long as you have a high tolerance for hippie types.
posted by psycheslamp at 2:31 PM on April 30, 2012

Best answer: I know I'm late to answer, but I was looking around at what is going on up here this weekend and found a couple things!!

This week the farmer's markets in the valley are opening up! So, for Napa that means Saturday morning, in the Oxbow's parking lot. Also in Napa this weekend is a walking tour of some downtown Napa historic (?) mansions along the river. I just read about this in the local paper, but I have no idea what it will be like. It is a few dollars to join the tour, but seems like it might be interesting, though at 10 am on Saturday that might be peak biking time!

St. Helena has a farmer's market on Friday. I definitely second Guigni's for a sandwich! If deli isn't your style, Sunshine Foods has all sorts of lunch stuff and is half a block south of Guigni's. Lyman Park is a couple blocks north from Guigni's and is very nice to sit there and eat your sandwich. The tables are at the back of the shady park, just walk down the path and you'll find them. The tables just aren't very visible from Main Street.

St. Helena has a few blocks of shopping and several new tasting rooms. The Clif Bar people have a tasting room at the southern end of town called Velo Vino, which is a tasting room where "..the passions of cycling and wine are celebrated and blended." So that might be interesting, if you come up to St. Helena.

The Coffee Caboose has the best coffee and tea north of the Ritual Coffee at the Oxbow, and you mentioned you'll be in Yountville! Get food at Bouchon Bakery, but coffee at the caboose!
posted by Swisstine at 5:30 PM on May 2, 2012

Response by poster: I forgot to ask specifically about coffee, so thank you, Swisstine! That's the most useful info. :)

All these suggestions are great, thanks! A balloon ride sounds awesome and I've got the budget, but not the ability to convince my partner, sadly. There will definitely be a trip to the Oxbow Public Market, and maybe a visit to Schramberg and Velo Vino, too.

Keep 'em coming!
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:27 PM on May 4, 2012

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