If you are going to Napa Valley or planning on going in the future, these are my top three Napa Valley must-do’s. The below three are such amazing and unique experiences. They help make your trip more memorable. And they actually don’t involve a drop of wine (though it is an option). All of the companies below are who we booked our excursions through. Personally, I had a great experience at each of them. They had friendly staff, great customer service and the overall experience was exceptional. So, scroll down for pics and tips of my top three non-wine related must-see’s in Napa Valley. Oh, also- if you are interested in seeing my complete day by day itinerary, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward to you. My itinerary was based off of a friend’s who travelled there, so it’s a great starting template for planning your Napa trip.
top: express (tee style in black, tank in white) | jeans: zara (similar here) | shoes: BP (on sale!)
1- Hot Air Balloon Ride
Such a unique experience. If you’re scared of heights, you should be ok with this one. The ride is smooth and very safe. The views are breathtaking and will over shadow any heights anxiety you may have. Def opt for the brunch package with this one. Brunch is at Oxbow Market; includes champagne and guac, and is so delish. When arriving in the am, they also give you coffee and pastries from the Model Bakery. We booked this package with Balloons Above the Valley.
jacket: bcbgeneration (sold out) similar here
2- Horseback Riding
This was my pick. I’ve always wanted to ride a horse and decided to book this. The Shadybrook Estate and Rapp Ranch is sprawled on a gorgeous landscape with its own vines, tasting room and stables (riding boots included). The ride lasts about a half hour and requires no prior riding experience. The guide is friendly and snaps your photos also. We chose the riding and tasting package. We enjoyed a five wine tasting over a charcuterie spread and amazing views of the mountains. I ended up purchasing the Chardonnay. Booked through Napa Valley Trail Rides.
top: express (from outlet) similar here | earrings: ettika
3- Wine Train Tour
This train ride is like traveling back through time. Each couple gets their own booth and table. Food is brought out in 4 intervals and is prepared right there on the train. We chose the Estate Tour which stopped at Chandon (yes the famous one), Hall and Inglenook (owned by Francis Ford Coppola). The whole experience is relaxing, stress free and lets you take in all there is to see in Napa without having to worry about driving, making reservations and paying for tastings. Booked package through Napa Valley Train Tours.
I forgot to include the below photos in yesterday’s post. This is the fountain scenario played out in just three photos, that happened at the last stop on the winery tour. Pic 1: fountain from inside the winery. Pic 2: obligatory outfit pic. Pic 3: backing up trying to fit the entire building in one photo. Pic 4: not pictured. Completely drenched in fountain. 😂
Other Napa Valley must-see recommendations:
1. Oxbow Market: the most unique indoor market. Places to eat breakfast as early as 6am, a chocolate store, an olive oil store, a cheese store and a restaurant dedicated to osyters to name a few. If you need coffee, like good coffee, every am like we do, go to Ritual. Even their most basic coffee is so good. The menu can be confusing, esp if you’re just looking for a medium black coffee, so don’t feel weird to ask the barista like we did.
2. Pride Winery: this winery dates back almost 25 years and sits high up on the mountains- like we lost service and may drive off a cliff high up. The wine is good and so is the tour.
3. Sterling Winery: another mountain winery. This one you can only get to by gondola. The basic tour/tasting takes you throughout the winery ending on their outdoor deck that gives the best views of the mountains and vineyards.
4. Costello di Amorosa: a tourists must-see. The owner invested 40 million to replicate an ancient castle and every detail from the doors to the walls are exact replicas. The hour and forty-five minute walking tour is worth it, but is exhausting. A tasting is included at the end- we ended up buying a few bottles from here since it isn’t sold anywhere else.
5. St Helena Bistro: right outside of Napa we found this small hidden gem last minute. It sits on the Main Street of the town that’s lined with shops and restaurants. The food here is so good!
For lodging we stayed at the Napa Valley Marriot Resort and Spa.
Hope you enjoyed! If you’re interested in my full Napa/SF itinerary email me at email@example.com and I will pass it along. If you have any Napa visiting tips I missed, feel free to comment below and let me know. Thanks!