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10 Unique Things to Do in Napa Valley Besides Wine

discover unique things to do in napa valley besides wine like watching the sunset on the river

Some areas of the world are inextricably linked to wine. Champagne, France; Tuscany, Italy; Marlborough, New Zealand; and yes, Napa Valley, California are certainly among them. But if you’re traveling to Northern California’s wine country, you might be wondering if there are any unique things to do in Napa Valley besides wine. It turns out, there are plenty of things to do in Napa Valley that don't involve the glorious grape. From live music to outdoor adventure, non-drinkers as well as wine lovers who just need a break from tasting can make the most of the region’s other offerings. Read on for our complete guide. 

The 10 Best Things to Do in Napa Valley (Besides Wine)

1. Visit a World-Class Spa

No trip to Napa Valley is complete without a rejuvenating spa visit. Check out Dr. Wilkinson's in Calistoga which is renowned for luxurious, healing mud baths. Interestingly the mud is rumored to be originally sourced from nearby Fagan Preserve, boasting a rich deposit of 'cabernet mud' top soil naturally filtered by wetlands for centuries.

Or take the plunge into wellness by booking a day pass to Stanly Ranch. This Auberge Resort features premium amenities and accommodations including a comprehensive wellness center, a luxury spa, and a full hydrotherapy circuit complete with a cold plunge and hyperbaric chamber. It’s the perfect place to detox after a few days of indulging, or a great place to recover from intensive athletic training.


2. Check Out Oxbow Public Market

Feeling peckish? Oxbow Public Market is a food lover's dream come true. It is also a fabulous choice as a dining destination if you happen to be traveling with a group who are hungry for different things. The sprawling market features some of Napa Valley’s most beloved culinary vendors from chocolatiers and bakers to fresh sushi, mouthwatering pizzas, and delicious deli options. The Market is also a great spot to pick up foodie souvenirs like olive oils and spices. 


3. Visit Connolly Ranch

If you’re looking for one of the best things in Napa Valley to do with kids, Connolly Ranch should be at the top of your list. This working ranch offers immersive, nature-based education for children including summer camps, Saturday camps, and Sunday Farm Open Houses that allow families to experience the farm, visit the animals, and spend time in nature together. 


4. Bike the Napa Valley Vine Trail

Need to stretch your legs a bit? Why not rent some bikes and explore part (or ALL, if you’re ambitious) of the Napa Valley Vine Trail? Slated to eventually stretch 47 miles from Vallejo to Calistoga, the Vine Trail offers residents and visitors a unique way to experience the beauty and diversity of Napa Valley. Check the trail’s website for construction updates and trail highlights.


5. Hike Wetlands Edge Park

Another unique thing to do in Napa Valley is to explore Wetlands Edge Park. This multi-use area is part of the Napa River and Bay Trail and offers visitors a chance to get some exercise while birdwatching or enjoying sunrise or sunset. It is located in American Canyon and follows the Napa-Sonoma marsh shoreline.


6. Roam the Rail Arts District in Downtown Napa

This stretch of downtown Napa has been recently revitalized and reclaimed by artists. Napa RAD is a free outdoor contemporary art museum and arts district stretching from the Oxbow District 2 miles north along the Napa Valley Vine Trail. With abundant public art exhibits including colorful murals and the ‘Terracotta Corridor’ of giant clay sculptures, it’s an inspiring place to take a stroll and a great place for photography.


7. Attend an Outdoor Concert or Festival

Another unique way to experience Napa Valley is at one of its many outdoor concerts and festivals. From the annual BottleRock Music Festival which kicks off summer to the Festival Napa Valley summer concert series at various venues to Napa Valley Film Festival, which takes place every spring, there are myriad ways to find inspiring entertainment outdoors.


8. Paddle the Napa River

One of the best things to do in Napa Valley besides wine is to paddle the Napa River. Never been on a kayak or paddleboard before? No problem. You can rent kayaks or paddleboards, book guided tours, and even take lessons through Napa Valley Paddle. Their expert guides will set you up for success and they offer several exciting excursions in the greater Napa Valley area too!


9. Take a Cooking Class at CIA at Copia

Want to dive deeper into traditional Indian cooking or brush up on your baking skills before the holidays? The Culinary Institute of America’s location at Copia in Napa Valley offers single-day and multi-day classes in specific culinary regions as well as specific cooking techniques. It’s hands-down one of the most unique things to do in Napa Valley.


10. Dine Alfresco at Napa Yard in Oxbow Gardens

A craft brewery and distillery, Napa Yard also features top-notch farm-to-table food and an unparalleled location along the Napa River. Surrounded by 3.5 acres of gardens and designated event spaces including a stage, pavilion, and multiple places to grab a drink, it’s a beautiful and family-friendly spot to grab a bite.


From spending time in nature to immersing yourself in Napa’s lively arts scene, there are plenty of unique things to do in Napa Valley, even if wine isn’t your thing. This beautiful region boasts mild-year-round weather and a stunning natural environment, perfectly suited to spending time outdoors whether you are paddling the river, soaking in a hot spring, or strolling the farmers market. 

At Napa Valley Paddle, we help visitors and locals experience Napa a bit differently – from the water. With rentals, guided and self-guided trips, and paddling instruction, we offer paddlers of all ages and experience levels a way to get to know the waterways in and around Napa Valley. If you’re seeking a unique Napa Valley experience, you can learn more about us right here.