The Emerald Valley: 72 Hours of Food & Adventure in Napa Valley, Winter/Spring Edition

When Napa transforms into The Emerald Valley: outdoor adventure, food and fun this winter & spring.

Most people think of Napa Valley as miles of vineyards surrounded by golden hills, but during California’s rainy season the state turns a vibrant green and the whole Valley feels more akin to a dreamy Irish fairytale than the sun-drenched Mediterranean. Here is one way to take in all that the Valley has to offer, from hiking, biking, dining and of course: wine.

Day 1

Arriving in Napa check in to the idyllic Harvest Inn, nestled amongst towering redwoods and surrounded by vineyards, the English-Tudor style collection of lodges features two pools, a spa, and Chef Charlie Palmer's new signature restaurant, Harvest Table.

After you have checked in dropped off your bags head to Enjoy Napa Valley to kayak the Napa River. This stretch of one of California's largest Central Coast Range rivers winds straight through the heart of the town of Napa. A relaxed paddle gives you the chance to see Napa from a whole new perspective, while learning about its history and wildlife along the way from one of Enjoy Napa Valley's local (and hilarious) guides.

After working up a hearty appetite, stretch your sea legs and head for an unforgetable dinner at the Michelin starred Auberge du Soleil. Auberge was founded 35 years ago and became Napa Valley’s first fine dining restaurant with food to match its unparalleled sweeping views of the valley.

Day 2

Wake up early and cruise over to the marketplace at Dean and Deluca . Sip some espresso and choose a baked pastry to for some trail fuel. Pick up some lunch there as well: Dean and Deluca’s marketplace and cafe doubles as a gourmet prepared food provider.

After picking up lunch head to the Oat Hill Mine Trail located in Calistoga, just a short 15 minute drive away.Hike to the summit of Bald Hill, located in Robert Louis Stevenson state park. A nice and easy out-and-back about three miles long, that will put you right in the heart of the lust, verdant foggy hills overlooking the valley. There are numerous side trails that lead to overlooks (and benches). Take your time to wander and explore.

After your hike start back towards the town of Napa but stop in St. Helena for some window shopping. Of note is the beautiful Caldwell Snyder Art Gallery, representing artists like Ross Penhall and Deladier Almeida.

Then head back towards the town of Napa with a brief stop at the "Welcome to Napa Valley Sign" for photos (naturally) and then head to Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ. In addition to great BBQ they have a 18 page (seriously) wine list that includes pairings. One of those "only in Napa" experiences.

Day 3

Have breakfast at any of the cafes in downtown Napa and then head to Yountville. While there you can peruse the famous French Laundry Gardens before you heading over to Napa Valley Bike Tours to pick up bikes to ride the ever-expanding Napa Valley Wine Trail. The trail is an ongoing project by the Napa Valley Vine Coalition that aims to one day connect the entire Valley, allowing stops at vineyards along the way while winding underneath gorgeous valley oaks.


For lunch treat yourself to some refined French country dining at Angele, located in a 1890's ship chandlery now known as the Hatt Building. Their shaded outdoor patio gives a great view of the lively Napa riverfront and their wine pairings are extensive.

Finally, mix it up and snag a room in downtown Napa at the lifestyle boutique hotel, Andaz. Dining options abound but whatever you do don't miss a cocktail on their fantastic roof bar.

Day 4

Check out of Andaz and for breakfast head to Silverado Market and Bakery for some of the freshest breakfast fare found in Napa. They source their food from local farmers, artisans, and purveyors so the menu changes seasonally.

Then head over to Napa Valley's own Petrified Forest. This easy trail leads you back in time to view fallen redwood trees that were petrified and preserved by volcanic activity some 3 million years ago. The Naturalist Educator provides daily interpretive tours or you can visit alone.

For lunch head over the Oxbow Public Market, which has virtually endless options from local restaurants to farmstands, from tacos to raw oysters.

The rainy season in Napa lasts from roughly the end of October to mid-April. Sunny days in the 60s and 70s are common, so even a short weekend trip can have all the moody melodrama of the pacific northwest one day and then sunshine and perfection the next. Enjoy!

Published: October 6, 2017

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