Choose from 22 Fun Things to Do in Napa Sonoma
Ensconced amid manicured gardens and a tasting room dotted with sculpture, paintings, and photography, Domaine Chandon is Napa Valley's showcase for sparkling wine. But the bubbly is not all you’ll taste; Domain Chandon also produces fine still wines, including Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
Tastings are a special event at Domaine Chandon. In the Tasting Lounge - with its breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside - guests linger around the bar, a cocktail table, or shaded patio table in modern, stylish setting to taste wines by flight, glass, or bottle.
Domaine Chandon is located in Yountville, about 15 minutes north of Napa on Highway 29. The winery is also part of the Silverado Trail, thus the area is dotted with many wineries. Yountville is worth exploring, as well, and has some of the finest restaurants in all of Napa Valley.
- Fort Ross is a must for history buffs visiting Sonoma County.
- Dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly. Mornings are often foggy and damp, afternoons are often clear and sunny, and a breeze is almost constant.
- Wear sturdy walking shoes for exploring the park’s buildings, beaches, and windswept bluffs.
- There is no food available at Fort Ross State Historic Park but drinking water is available. Facilities are available at the visitor center.
- The park’s buildings are not accessible to wheelchair users, but some picnic areas, trails, and beaches are.
All Napa Valley Wine Train tours depart from downtown Napa along the Napa Valley Wine Train rail line, but some tour packages include a roundtrip transfer from San Francisco or Vallejo. Opt for a train trip with a gourmet lunch or dinner tour to either bask in the sun or watch it set through the windows or from the deck of vintage Pullman railcars elegantly restored with brass accents, Honduran mahogany, and etched glass partitions. All wine tours include a multiple-course gourmet meal freshly prepared on board but vary in their winery tour options. Gourmands might prefer to ride continuously for three hours for an uninterrupted train dining journey, while wine enthusiasts may choose a five-hour option that stops at tasting rooms of famous wineries along the way.
- The wine train ride is a perfect romantic excursion for travelers 21 and up.
- Dress for heat or wind (depending on the time of year) if you plan to enjoy sitting on the deck.
- Bring proper photo identification for wine tastings.
- Dressing up is recommended, but many opt for more casual attire.
Those with access to a car will find the drive to historic Napa relatively easy from anywhere in the Bay Area. The drive from San Francisco to Napa is about 52 miles (84 km); as with most major metropolitan areas, leave plenty of time to account for unforeseen traffic. Those without access to a car may want to consider renting one for the day or opting for a tour that includes round-trip transportation from San Francisco or Vallejo, as public transportation options to Napa are severely limited.
When to Get There
The oldest continually operating winery in Napa Valley, Beringer Winery sits on a regal estate and produces a flavorful selection of wines, including special reserve vintages, both of which you can taste in one of their tasting rooms.
In the Old Winery Tasting Room, you can sample light to medium-bodied wines, fruit driven in flavor. Reds, whites, and semi-sweet wines are all worth trying. At the Reserve Tasting Bar, inside the historic Rhine House Mansion, you can sample a tasting menu of four reserve and limited production wines. White Zinfandel is Beringer Winery's most popular wine, but they also produce a tasty Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.
Beringer Vineyards is located in St. Helena, just south of Calistoga in Napa Valley on Highway 29. As part of the Silverado Trail, Beringer Vineyards is surrounded by other wineries and such nearby attractions as Calistoga, Old Faithful Geyser, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park.
- The castle and winery is a must-see for wine lovers and architecture buffs.
- Strollers, selfie sticks, and drones are not allowed on the property.
- Winery tours and tastings often sell out on weekends and holidays, so it’s a good idea to book ahead.
- Children are welcome at the winery, and the entrance fee for minors includes a cup of grape juice and access to a coloring table in the Knight’s Hall tasting room.
- Wear comfortable shoes and expect to walk or stand for about an hour during the tour.
- The winery is fully ADA compliant, with an elevator to all levels on the wine tour.
A welcoming, yet exclusive vibe pervades the V. Sattui Winery. Exclusive, in that its award-winning wines are only available at the vineyard, welcoming in that the surrounds and tasting room is warm an inviting, and is one of the most enjoyable wineries to visit in Napa Valley.
V. Sattui Winery is a large winery, with an emphasis on its stone tasting room. Red wines on the tasting menu include Merlots, Cabernets, and Zinfandels; white wines to be sampled include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and a Rhone-style blend of Marsanne and Viognier. Next to the tasting room are a gift shop, a cheese shop, and a large gourmet food store. You can buy a bottle wine and food and have a picnic outside on the shaded picnic grounds. A perfect stop during a day of wine tasting.
V. Sattui Winery is located in St. Helena, along the Highway 29, about 30 minutes from Napa. The winery is a midway point on the Silverado Trail, so you have many nearby wineries to visit.
Owned by former champion race car driver Mario Andretti, Andretti Winery is a showcase for the owner's love and appreciation for fine, food-friendly wines. Together with winemaker Bob Pepi, Andretti has produced outstanding wines, with a focus on wines that pair well with food.
The winery itself resembles a Tuscan-style villa, with bright yellowish orange structures, fountains, and beautiful gardens surrounding the primary tasting area. The relaxed tasting room is shrine to Andretti, with racing photos and assorted memorabilia. Pull a seat up at the L-shaped bar and taste the latest vintages.
Andretti Winery produces wines from some of the best vineyards in California, including such flavorful reds as Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir. White vintages include Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay. The winery also produces a variety of special wines, as well.
Andretti Winery is located in Napa's Oak Knoll District, which lies between Highway 29 and Silverado Trail. From either route, take Oak Knoll Road to Big Ranch Road. Head south on Big Ranch Road; the winery will be on your left. Andretti Winery is a 15-minute drive from Napa.
- Ideal for those short on time to visit Northern California's wine country, Oxbow Public Market yields a bevy of tastes and experiences (Hog Island Oyster Bar is a must), and plenty of opportunities to purchase locally produced, packable, unique gifts.
- Comfortable walking shoes, a good hat, sunscreen, and refillable water bottle are advisable at any time of year and a must when sitting at Oxbow Market's scenic outdoor deck.
- From seated restaurants to walk-up counters, oysters and wine to cupcakes, there’s something here for everyone to eat and drink.
- The Russian River is a must-see for nature, wine, and food lovers.
- Travelers embarking on kayak or canoe trips should come prepared with sun protection, swimsuits, towels, and water shoes.
- Most kayaking, canoeing, and wine tours are not suitable for small children.