Everyone knows that Napa Valley, California, is wine country. But let’s be fair: it’s not all vineyards and tasting rooms, or hints of fresh strawberry and plum. Assume you’re in the Napa area, but drinking is not on the menu. From detox to pregnancy to teetotalism to designated driver there’s still good reason to pencil in a trip to these parts, even if you don’t care two hoots for food and wine pairings. True, many local outfitters might offer wine tasting bike tours, wine tasting train tours, wine tasting kayak tours, wine tasting walks and tasting room “crawls”. But take off those rosé glasses and get a grip: there’s plenty to like about this place, stick sober.
For starters, you could plot a long day at the spa. Since the early 1860’s, Calistoga, California attracted quite the following for its steamy mineral hot springs and mud baths. But the tradition of health spas doesn’t end in Calistoga; towns like St. Helena and Napa both can lay claim to a share of the massage and soak business. Seeking alternative therapy? Hit up high-end boutiques in St Helena or eclectic shops in Calistoga before retiring the credit card.
Thus relaxed, refreshed and dressed, plan to spend some time communing with mother nature (and away from summer traffic). Consider a stroll through Bale Grist Mill and Bothe-Napa Valley State Parks, or a more strenuous slog to the top of Mount St Helena, where your sweat equity will earn you panoramic views of this pretty stretch of California. There are also a handful of cultural sights to consider as you cruise the valley. Try the Silverado Museum in St. Helena (with an emphasis on Robert Louis Stevenson), or the Sharpsteen Museum in Calistoga and the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville for more on the history and people of the region. Art lovers will definitely want to plan for a stop at the di Rosa Preserve, where there’s always an intriguing selection of works by Bay Area artists on display (open Weds-Fri).
And finally, though you may not be sampling the areas finest beverages, that’s no reason to neglect your palate. Napa Valley, California, has acquired quite the reputation for gourmet food - fine dining even if you chose to pair it with a glass of organic sparkling Calistoga juice. No whining - or wining - necessary.