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7 simple things to do in the wine country

The California wine country is most definitely a wonderful spot to sit and stay awhile. 
From rolling vineyard views, to stately old world style architecture and the beauty of that
 lush Napa Valley surrounded by gorgeous mountains. 

Last week, I was in Calistoga for a couple of days at a favorite inn and this week a few days on location in Sonoma for a photo shoot with Balsam Hill. 

Though the lush valley and vineyards is pretty much in my backyard 
it is always a treat to indulge in a couple of days in the wine country to relax, explore and
 just soak it all in.

Though there are so many things to do in the Napa Valley area- today it is all about 
inexpensive and nearly free things to do when in the wine country. 
Because you don't have to spend  a ton to experience so much of this California beauty.

From trains to grapes to brunch with a view...
here are 7 things you can do in the wine country without breaking the bank.

Castello di Amorosa

A castle perched atop a hill in St. Helena- Castello di Amorosa is an incredible spot to stop.
Take a step back in time (though it is actually a newer winery) and spend a little time at this castle  exploring and tasting and simply relaxing.

Whether you are tasting wine inside this amazing winery- or just exploring and saying hello to the farm animals-  it is a stop you won't want to miss. 

The Napa Valley Wine Train

If you would rather hop on a train and sip on wine and enjoy a meal while the train chugs on through the wine country - take a ride on the Wine Train.  Though it isn't free- you can ride fairly inexpensively depending on the experience you are after.

courtesy of

They offer several special packages- dinner, murder mystery and exclusive tours- depending on how much you want to spend you can choose something that fits your budget.

courtesy of

Grab a seat near a window and enjoy sipping wine while relaxing.
And you can also step outside onto the little perch areas of the train for fresh air 
while soaking up that view.

Auberge du Soleil

A most charming hotel, spa and restaurant perched on the side of a hill - Auberge du Soleil is a perfect spot to stop and enjoy breakfast or brunch.  Request a front row spot on the outdoor patio if the weather is beautiful - it offers an incredible view of the Napa Valley.  

courtesy of Auberge Resorts

When you are done eating-and relaxing- walk the paths that wind through the property for quiet inspiration.

Picnic at a winery

Most of the wineries have beautiful picnic areas where you can set up for a romantic spot for two or for a fun family style lunch.  Pack a blanket and pick up sandwiches and enjoy relaxing in the wine country with a vineyard view.

Ride a bike 

There was that time I filled my bike basket up with flowers for a special photo shoot- and rode down a country rode surrounded by vineyard rows and breathtaking views. I pretty much felt like I was in a movie at the time, but riding a bike through the wine country is an amazing thing to do- with or without flowers in your basket. 

Most of the hotels will offer bicycles that you can use- or if you are local-
 pack your own and find a spot to ride through the vineyards and side roads.

Take a drive 

A most simple idea- but really one that I highly recommend. 
Just hop in your car and start driving.

The Napa Valley is in between 2 rows of mountains and you can drive on both sides to really take in the whole amazing views. Start on the Silverado trail side- and head up to Calistoga and then back on down on the St. Helena side. It is a beautiful drive with lots of amazing wineries, and charming little nooks and crannies to stop at along the way. 

And I highly recommend any season in the Napa Valley. 

From lush green in the spring and summer to burst of color in the fall to misty moody winters- 
it is beautiful all year long.


There are a ton of things to in the wine country. Hiking trails galore, mud baths, and lots of resorts to stay in and enjoy. One of my favorite things is to simply wander. In Calistoga, I love the old houses. 

On the roads less traveled, it is all about the barns. 

And of course, the vineyard views around every corner.

No matter what you like to do while in the wine country-
there are a ton of spots to explore and to enjoy.

Up next in the travel diaries-
 more about the Sonoma Valley area.

Happy Friday Favorites everyone.


  1. I'm fascinated by how similar the countryside looks to the wine country where I live in the south of France. Lots of the same free/budget things to do, too!

  2. This place is so pretty, Courtney. I'll be looking forward to seeing more from your travel diaries. Thanks for sharing.... have a great weekend!

  3. Every thing looked so fresh and crisp. especially that beautiful house.
    thanks for the tour.

  4. Gorgeous country! Is that your bike? The color looks familiar -- so feminine, especially with the gorgeous flowers. Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Thank you for the tour of Napa, gorgeous! There is a pretty little place called Ojai near where I used to live in southern California. My daughter knows a winemaker in southern Arizona ( an area where the elevation and temps are optimal), it takes so many years to learn, grow grapes and then the weather can play a role too.
    Southern California got hit hard with storms Friday with so much rain and wind.
    I always enjoy reading your posts,
    Kathleen in Az