There is a popular misconception that the wine country tour is meant only for people fond of tasting wine. Nothing can be farther from truth. There are a lot of wondrous things one can enjoy on a wine country tour - apart from tasting wine. We list below ten exciting things you can do while touring the wine country - though we are not attempting to rank them.
A SAFARI TOUR: Safari west situated between Calistoga and Santa Rosa is spread over 400 acres of land and home to nearly 350 species of animals. The sojourn will last for more than two hours and you will be escorted by local naturalists. You will go round largely traveling in an open-air safari vehicle, and partly on foot.
HOT AIR BALLOON: Most hot air balloon rides in Napa are offered before dawn because of the optimal air currents and favorable atmospheric conditions. There are many companies operating hot balloon rides and some even offer brunches and/or wines. The ride is terribly exciting and nobody going on a wine country tour should miss this.
SHOPPING: Shopping opportunities abound in the Napa Valley and you can start your shopping expedition from downtown area of Napa, and go up all the way north to Calistoga. To obtain a complete shopping experience, visit Downtown Napa, the Hatt Market in Napa, Southern Yountville, including Vintage 1870 Shops, Grapevine Wreath Company in Rutherford, Olive Oil Shop at the corner of Rt. 29 and Rutherford Rd in St. Helena and Ca' Toga Galleria in Calistoga.
CYCLING: Going around on a bicycle is an exciting experience in the Napa Valley - particularly during early mornings and early evenings when the temperatures is pleasant. Even in the middle of the day, the dry heat is quite conducive to cycling. There are organizers who will arrange for tours that combine biking and wine tasting - if you are not able to plan your own schedule.
MUDBATHS & SPAS: There are some hotels and country clubs in the Napa Valley that offer mud baths and spas. But most people prefer a spa in Calistoga, a town founded in the 1860's and known for its volcanic ash and peat-moss mud and mineral baths. Calistoga is located near natural mineral and mud springs and hot water geysers, thus making it the ideal spot to enjoy mud baths and spend time in spas.
GLIDING: Have the experience of a lifetime by riding gently and silently through the air in a glider. Check with Crazy Creek Gliders who earlier operated out of Calistoga has now moved about 20 - 30 minutes north to Middletown for expanded space to park more planes.
MARINE WORLD: Visit Vallejo, about an hour from mid Valley, where you will find Six Flags Marine World that combines wildlife park, an oceanarium and theme park. Your wine country will not be complete without a visit to this place.
GOLF: There are a few golf courses in the Napa Valley and players addicted to golf will not be required to forget golf while on a wine tour. One can find one 18 hole public course in Napa, and two other 9 holes public courses - one in Yountville and one in Calistoga. There are also private links - 18 holes at both Silverado and Chardonnay Country Clubs, and 9 holes at Meadowood country club.
NAPA WATERS: Napa River Adventure offers a variety of watercraft that allows all visitors to experience the sparkling waters of Napa River. There are regular scheduled cruises on an electric, luxury riverboat that provide the opportunity to tourists to relax in comfort on a guided tour. You will instantly fall in love with the majestic mountains, and learn about wildlife such as the blue heron, the osprey, the egret, and the kingfisher.
FESTIVALS: Throughout the year there are innumerable festivals celebrating many things other than wine. There are also several shows, concerts, and arts demonstrations. For instance, you can attend the Napa Valley Dog Show, Zarzuela Opera Festival, Napa Chef's Market, Wine Country Film Festival, Music Festival for Health, Bluegrass jams, Micro-Brew Fest, Mustard Festival, Memorial Weekend Sprint Car Races, Silverado Parade and Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival.