The Napa Valley has a long and illustrious history of being one of the best destinations for wine, hospitality and dining in the world. But if you’re only going for the wine, you will be missing out on the rest of what makes this valley so special. From the arts scene and festivals to the nightlife and organic farms, there are a plethora of ways to spend a week in Napa Valley.
Get your festival on
There are a number of superb festivals in Napa Valley, so it’s worth trying to coincide your trip with one of them – the most prominent being Festival Napa Valley. In its 13th season, the annual event pairs world-class performers such as Seal and the Blackburn Music Academy Orchestra with culinary and wine pursuits.
The Pebble Beach Food and Wine Weekend is a great introduction to culinary and wine pursuits and a fantastic way to expand your palate while meeting new people. Held in a stunning coastline location, the festival is well-known as the West Coast’s premier food and wine event.
Film buffs will love the Napa Valley Film Festival, where it’s possible to see screenings of over 100 new independent films as well as sneak previews of prestigious studio films. Music fans should check out Bottlerock for acts such as Imagine Dragons, Pharrell Williams and Mumford & Sons.
Paint the town red
Napa Valley is well known for its wine, but it also has a great nightlife scene. Whether you love dancing, live shows or casinos, there is something to suit every type of evening you can imagine. If you’re looking for a sedate evening after a long day of wine tasting, head over to the 100-year-old Cameo Cinema to catch the latest movie release, or watch a live performance at the restored art deco Uptown Theatre.
For those evenings when only dancing will do, check out JaM Cellars in downtown Napa, which offers a classic vinyl collection, live music, vintage art and a state-of-the-art sound system. Cadet Wine Bar is another great option for night owls, as it is open until 2 am at the weekends. To add some serious glamour to your night out, head over to the sleek and shiny Graton Resort and Casino. This $800 million complex opened in late 2013 and offers more than 140 casino games, ideal for those who haven’t yet found their style as it provides plenty of options in a sumptuous environment.
Explore the art scene
Napa Valley is home to a wealth of art, local talent and creative endeavours. Check out the Rail Arts District Napa (RAD NAPA), a free outdoor contemporary art museum showcasing public art such as sculptures, landscaping, murals and parks. There a number of walks that you can join to take in the striking murals and artistic creations, simply follow the Napa Valley Vine Trail bike and pedestrian path and the Napa Valley Wine Train tracks to take it all in.
There are also several art museums worth paying a visit to, such as the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, the Sharpsteen Museum in Calistoga and the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in St. Helena.
Get a taste for the local produce
Sure, Napa Valley is filled with vineyards, but it is also home to an array of working farms and gardens along with over 125 restaurants. With eleven Michelin stars, Napa Valley has the highest per capita concentration of any wine region in the world. Enjoy an evening of fine dining at The French Laundry in Yountville, or The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena before checking out Chef Thomas Teller’s famous organic farm.
You can also pick up a few cooking skills of your own during your stay by attending one of the many culinary classes in the area. The Village Food and Wine Center offers classes for all levels using the freshest local ingredients and wine, while The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is a great place for baking and cooking enthusiasts to push their interests to the next level.
As you can see, there is so much to explore in this beautiful valley that you may find that you have to make several trips!