Explore Wine Country Like A Local
Springtime in wine country generates so much excitement. With warmer, longer days on the horizon, visitors and locals alike are eager to get outdoors.
Ever wonder how us locals spend our nights and weekends? Sure, we like our occasional wine tasting, but we also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. Here’s a few of our favorite places and pastimes to check out on your next trip to wine country. Plus, that glass of wine tastes even better after a hike, relaxing over a picnic or listening to live music.
Napa Valley is home to California’s most famous wineries and restaurants, but there are also a wide variety of parks, trails and hidden gems for those who venture off the beaten path.
The 8.3 mile Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga is a great place to find solitude and take in some of the most stunning views in Napa Valley. It’s a good hike up, so bring plenty of water and a snack. We recommend starting this hike first thing in the morning as there is limited shade. You’ll be ready for some wine after this one.
Napa City Nights is an outdoor summer music series on Friday nights along the downtown Napa waterfront. It’s also a great way to transition into the evening after a day of wine tasting. The best part? You can pack your own picnic. The tiered lawn seating gives everyone a great view in this very casual atmosphere.
A true local favorite. The St. Helena Farmer’s Market on Friday mornings runs from May to October. If you get there when it opens (7:30 a.m. - early but totally doable if you’re jetlagged), you can peruse around with some of the valley’s top chefs as they shop. Grab breakfast and a cup of coffee and watch interesting cooking demonstrations.
Over the western hills of Napa Valley lies the beautiful Sonoma county. This expansive and geographically diverse region is known for its laid-back vibe, charming country stores and world class cycling.
Grab a picnic blanket, bottle of wine and get to Healdsburg Plaza early for the Tuesday Night Summer Concert Series from May 30-August 29, 6-8 p.m. This is a very popular locals activity, so when we say get there early we mean it.
Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville along the Russian River features sandy beaches and calm waters most of the year. Johnson’s Beach is off the beaten path and can be cold on foggy days, so bring a jacket and pack a lunch. You can even rent pedal boats and kayaks if you’re feeling extra adventurous.
The Barlow is a 12-acre outdoor market featuring Sonoma-only food, wine, beer, spirits and crafts. As an added bonus, the campus is dog-friendly and the organic landscaping is edible. It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring this great area, totally worth a visit.
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