Sure, you go to Napa Valley for the wine tasting, but in between pours, explore the many green spaces of the area that provide the perfect opportunity to picnic, hike, or just take in the history and lush landscape. Here’s a rundown of Napa Valley state and city parks that beckon.
Most people don’t associate coast redwoods with the warm climate of Napa Valley, but Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is home to rare, impressive clutches of these California giants of the plant world. Now spanning nearly 2,000 acres, the park has been a treasure since it was established in 1960, and offers year-round camping, picnicking, hiking, BYOH (bring your own horse) riding, and seasonal swimming in a spring-fed pool. For an overnight adventure, reserve a campsite or cozy yurt, offering you more time to explore the park’s historic features, such as a pioneer cemetery, the site of Napa Valley’s first Methodist church, and a Native American plant garden.
You’re within walking distance of the Bale Grist Mill Historic Park, a fascinating example of 1846 ingenuity, where millers used (and still use) water-wheel-powered pulleys and grinding stones to craft artisanal organic flours, cornmeal, and polenta that you can buy at an onsite store (open weekends year-round).
The city-run Alston Park is another secret gem, covering 157 acres in the remote rolling hills of northwest Napa. Three miles of meandering creek and wildflower-lined trails lead equestrians, mountain bikers, hikers, and dog-walkers (leash required) to an upper area known as Canine Commons, a popular off-leash dog area.
For another scenic walk, set out on the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which is slated to span 47 continuous miles from the Vallejo ferry terminal to Calistoga when it is completed; you can view a map showing how much of the trail is already open. Its picturesque route runs mostly parallel to Highway 29, and along a stretch of Highway 37 into Vallejo.
Downtown Napa is home to Fuller Park, a spacious and lush park with several playgrounds, BBQ grills, picnic tables, and bathrooms. Across the river from Fuller Park and extending southward along it is Kennedy Park, where you’ll find many of the same amenities, as well as ball fields, a skate park, BMX courses, and fishing spots.