Sipping, tasting and eating your way through the valley really is hard to beat. Though sometimes, you even need a break from a day of wineries to escape a little further from daily life. This week, we will take a look at a few options to get away from the tasting room and see some of the most beautiful scenery that mother nature has to offer.
Bale Grist Mill State Park is just a short drive from our door steps at Whitehall Lane. The mill itself was built in 1846 and still stands as one of the largest waterwheels in the country. This glimpse into century old rural life is still operating so you can take home organic wheat flour, cornmeal or polenta.
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park offers a rugged departure from the valley floor. A five mile hike takes you to the top of Mt. St. Helena and views of most of the San Francisco Bay Area. On a good clear day you can see the top of Mt. Shasta, a staggering 192 miles away.
One of the valley’s greatest natural treasures lies just outside of Calistoga in the Petrified Forest. Redwood trees, perhaps millions of years old, were buried under volcanic ash and turned to stone over the millennia. It’s a truly unique glimpse into a world long gone.
Local Lakes and Waterways
Lake Berryessa is a reservoir built in the 50s to supply the valley with consistent water for agricultural use. It’s a great stop to escape for a day and view the wide range of wildlife in the surrounding mountains, drop in a line to catch rainbow trout, bass and bluegill or simply jump in and cool off from the summer heat.
The Napa and Russian Rivers feed fresh water through the valleys and each offer their own experiences. Swimming, fishing and bird and wildlife watching can easily take up a whole day as you explore the rivers and their tributaries. A drive up the Silverado Trail will take you from streams to wide rivers within a few hours time.
Local Art and Culture
The Napa Art Walk features rotating outdoor art pieces from regional artists. In June of this year, they started a new two year theme of “Metamorphosis” that will be the guiding muse of the various pieces. You can grab a brochure here, and head off on your self guided tour through the heart of downtown Napa. Break up the viewing with a few stops for wine and snacks along the way to make a day of it.
The lure of Napa not only draws winemakers and oenophiles, but world renowned artists as well. A short trip north of the winery will land you in Calistoga, where you can find Ca’Toga. An estate crafted by the hands of Carlo Marchiori to showcase his Renaissance inspired artworks, sculptures and architecture. It is truly an escape to the old world with the indoor and outdoor galleries covering five acres of artistic expression.
For evening entertainment, there are two local theatres that we absolutely love to visit. The Cameo Cinema recently celebrated their 100th anniversary with a remodel. You can find feature films as well as documentaries and local productions inside Cameo, which is still owned by the original family. Secondly, the Uptown Theatre in Napa features live music including everything from local to national acts. Uptown also recently had a renovation of their seventy plus year old theatre, creating the perfect live music venue for locals and tourists.
Whatever your desire, the valley has something to offer you. Perhaps the best part is the world class wines you can enjoy throughout every step of your visit!