Most Napa Valley visitors know and appreciate the world-famous wine region’s iconic attractions: The wineries along Highway 29. Oxbow Public Market. The French Laundry. The tasting rooms in downtown Napa that have earned it the moniker “the Tasting Room Capital of the World.” But even those who think of Napa as their home away from home often overlook the destination’s lesser-known treasures. We’re talking secret waterfalls, remote mountaintop vineyards, and under-the-radar restaurants. Why hit the same places every time when you can have new adventures? Here are 14 great ways to discover—or rediscover—the Napa Valley.
La Cheve Bakery and Brews, Napa
Housed in Napa’s historic Old Adobe and named for a Mexican slang term for beer, La Cheve Bakery and Brews puts as much heart into its local craft beer selection as bakery matriarch Momma Juana puts into her incredible, scratch-made Mexican pastries. (Try the daily pastry-and-beer matchup!) The café also offers flavorful tortas and tacos, plus house-made brews and a compact wine list that highlights local Hispanic winemakers.
Garden Bar + Café, St. Helena
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch is a popular spot for farm-fresh Napa Valley cuisine, but the ranch’s Garden Bar + Café remains a little-known oasis. Relax at a table under the giant blue spruce tree and savor Stumptown coffee and breakfast sandwiches, or stop in for an evening drink paired with a ranch-to-table snack.
Local Q 707, Calistoga
After gaining a following at the Calistoga Farmers Market, Local Q 707 set up shop in early 2020 at the former Mary’s Home Plate Café site. Due to shelter-in-place restrictions, the restaurant is currently only open for take-out (check the website for updates), but what better souvenir to take along for the ride than slow-smoked tri-tip, St. Louis-style ribs, and brisket sandwiches?
Lounge Bar & Patio, Yountville
For great cocktails in a stylish setting, head for the Lounge Bar & Patio at Lucy Restaurant + Bar, inside the upscale Bardessono hotel. Chic and contemporary, the indoor-outdoor space opens out onto a serene patio and garden with a reflecting pool. Fittingly, the expertly crafted cocktails are named for episodes of I Love Lucy.
Black Sears, Angwin
Black Sears is the highest vineyard on Howell Mountain, offering magnificent views of the vineyards and forests below. Impressive as they are, the remote mountain vistas are only half the fun. Book a visit and you’ll be treated to an intimate tour of the vineyard, winery, and caves, plus samples of the Sears family’s mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel.
St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery, Napa
Can’t decide if you’d rather have a beer or a glass of wine? You can have both at St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery. Located in Napa’s Rail Arts District, the urban winery-brewery’s charming Greenhouse Tasting Room is surrounded by a leafy garden where guests can kick back and sample winemaker-brewmaster Elaine St. Clair’s nuanced wines and malt-forward brews with garden-inspired small bites.
RiverPointe Napa Valley, Napa
Just a five-minute drive from Downtown Napa, the RiverPointe Napa Valley tiny-home resort is a fun and affordable alternative to a traditional hotel. It features well-appointed studios and one-room cottages in adorable tiny homes, plus unexpected amenities like mini decks and a resort pool.
Napa Valley Olive Oil Company, St. Helena
This off-the-beaten-path institution has been operating in the same spot—inside an old barn on a St. Helena back street—since 1931. The Italian grocery and olive oil purveyor sells picnic-worthy cured meats, cheeses, and breads, along with 20 varieties of locally grown oils, each made with a different blend of olives.
Linda Falls, Angwin
This waterfall is one of Napa Valley’s best-kept natural secrets. Set within the 177-acre Linda Falls preserve, the hike to the falls is a fairly easy 1.3-mile loop that showcases more than 130 species of native plants. It’s a lovely walk any time of year, but the falls are at their most impressive—rushing over the rocks for a 50-foot drop—during the winter rainy season.
French Laundry Culinary Garden, Yountville
You may not be able to score a table at the renowned French Laundry, but anyone can take a free tour of the restaurant’s Culinary Garden just across the street—no reservations necessary. Grab a garden map at the entrance and stroll among the lovingly manicured rows of vegetables, poke around inside the greenhouse, and visit the resident chickens.
The Village, Napa
Located inside the Vista Collina resort, The Village is a self-contained destination for sipping, sampling, and shopping. The complex includes tasting rooms for eight local boutique wineries and the Napa Smith Brewery, along with an artisan market, a Food & Wine Center with a cooking school, and a massive lawn for lounging.
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Gordon Huether Studio, Napa
The Gordon Huether Studio is home to the artist’s 15,000-square-foot design studio and the Hay Barn Gallery, featuring a revolving exhibition of Huether's fine art and works from guest artists. Crafted from glass, salvaged materials, and steel, Huether’s large-scale art installations are fabricated in Napa and displayed throughout the world.
V Marketplace, Yountville
V Marketplace is the coolest place in the valley to get your shop on. The indoor marketplace, housed within the 137-year-old Groezinger Winery complex, hosts a variety of upscale boutiques and art galleries, including the fabulous Kollar Chocolates, creators of European-inspired artisan chocolates.