Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Wine Country To Do: 50 Things to Do in Napa and Sonoma Before You Die

Photograph by Erin Kunkel

A Wine Country escape is a prized ritual in Northern California. Tastings are a given, but add in the hiking, biking, spas, and hot springs, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We’ve narrowed down the possibilities and divided them evenly by county: The first 23 activities are dedicated to Napa, the second half is all about Sonoma. Choose your own adventure, just be sure to stay safe on the roads (or up in the air, or on the river, as the case may be).

NAPA 

1. Sample some of Wine Country’s best cocktailsMeadowood Restaurant Bar (St. Helena) 

2. Steep in a mud bath. Golden Haven Hot Springs (Calistoga)

3. Attend the Halloween Pagan Ball. Castello di Amorosa (Calistoga) 

4. Fire up your quads with chef Michael Chiarello and his fellow chef-cum-pro-cycling buddies. Bottega Gran Fondo (Yountville) 

5. Gape at the panoramic vista of Napa during a hike. Skyline Park (Napa) 

6. Get a taste of Coombsville, Napa’s newest appellation. Farella Vineyards, Meteor Vineyard, and Sciandri Family Vineyards (Coombsville) 

7. Play your air guitar. Bottlerock Music Festival (Napa) 

8. Lounge in a private cabana. Clos Du Val (Rutherford) 

9. Get scooped at Three Twins Ice Cream. Oxbow Public Market (Napa) 

10. Splurge on the $445 tasting menu (with wine pairings, bien sûr). The French Laundry (Yountville)

11. Explore the hidden enclave of art galleries. St. Helena (St. Helena) 

12. Catch a gratis concert on a summer night. Downtown Napa (Napa) 

13. Greet the sunrise with a hot-air balloon ride. Napa Valley Aloft (Yountville) 

14. Take a wine-tasting classCIA at Greystone (St. Helena) 

15. Don your birthday suit. Harbin Hot Springs (Middletown) 

16. Marvel at the epic valley view at sunset. The Terrace at Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford) 

17. Just once, hop aboard the Napa Wine Train(Napa) 

18. Sip bubbly in historic caves by gothic candlelight. Schramsberg Vineyards (Calistoga) 

19. Take a postharvest drive in November as the vine leaves change color. The Silverado Trail (Napa) 

20. Book a tasting in the Chandelier Room inside the caves. Hall Wines (Rutherford)

21. Tour a contemporary art museum. Hess Collection (Napa)

22. Picnic on the patio under 100-year-old olive trees. Silverado Vineyards (Yountville) 

23. Partake in an I Love Lucy–style grape stomp. Various wineries (Napa) 

SONOMA 

24. Spend an afternoon picking Golden Delicious and Fuji apples. Gabriel Farm (Sebastopol) 

25. Explore tide pools and then grab a cup of chowder. Spud Point Crab Company (Bodega Bay) 

26. Eat, drink, and listen to live tunes with the locals. Tuesdays in the Plaza (Healdsburg)

27. Rent a boat and cruise. Lake Sonoma (Geyserville) 

28. Take a beekeeping, shrub-making, or butchery class. Shed (Healdsburg) 

29. Zip-line through the redwoods. Sonoma Canopy Tours (Occidental) 

30. Hit the track in a sports car. Simraceway (Sonoma)

31. Lounge poolside. Francis Ford Coppola Winery (Healdsburg) 

32. Bubble up after a hike at Armstrong Redwoods. Korbel (Guerneville) 

33. Stay sustainable. h2hotel (Healdsburg) 

34. Partake in the annual Lazy Bear tube ride. Russian River (Guerneville) 

35. Watch the goats clear grass. Hamel Family Wines (Sonoma) 

36. Get a hot cedar mulch immersion treatment in a Japanese tea garden. Osmosis (Freestone) 

37. Investigate Bordeaux-style winemaking. Dry Creek Vineyard (Healdsburg) 

38. Learn to make cheese. Achadinha Cheese Company (Petaluma) 

39. Rub elbows with Top Chef hosts at the annual Pigs & Pinot. Hotel Healdsburg (Healdsburg) 

40. Get your show tune fix with Broadway Under the Stars. Jack London State Park (Glen Ellen) 

41. Be transported to Victorian times. Madrona Manor (Healdsburg) 

42. Take your dog for a horse-drawn vineyard tour. Landmark Vineyards (Kenwood) 

43. Indulge in a three-course food-and-wine pairing inside the Bubble Room. J Vineyards & Winery (Healdsburg)

44. Awaken the child within on a rope swing. Scribe (Sonoma) 

45. Get up close to seals, otters, and sea lions. Goat Rock Beach (Jenner) 

46. Make s’mores. Farmhouse Inn (Forestville) 

47. Visit tulip and daffodil gardens in spring. Ferrari Carano (Healdsburg) 

48. Run wild with cheetahs, rhinos, and giraffes. Safari West (Santa Rosa) 

49. Book a private tasting where the wine is curiously made using all of the grape skins. A. Rafanelli (Healdsburg) 

50. Sit in the Big Blue Chair. Cornerstone Sonoma (Sonoma) 

Ravenous? Look out for the Big Eat, Wine Country Edition coming soon! 

This article was published in 7x7's September 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.