Unique Things to Do in San Francisco & Napa Valley

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So you’re not a wine lover (hey, it happens). Believe it or not, there’s plenty to do in San Francisco and the Napa Valley besides comparing Pinots and Merlots. Here are a few of our favorite things:

Get down and dirty. The Napa Valley soil isn’t just good for growing grapes. At the valley’s north end, in Calistoga, the high volcanic ash content is combined with water, peat, and natural minerals to create therapeutic mud baths that have attracted visitors for the past century. Calistoga’s main drag, Lincoln Avenue, is full of spas that offer a variety of mud treatments.

Just take a hike. San Francisco and the Napa Valley are surrounded by great hikable terrain. Get a full valley view from Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. Or explore the 24-miles of trails along the SF Presidio.

Get some altitude. If you’d like a truly spectacular memory of wine country, your best option is to see it at sunrise from a graceful, floating hot-air balloon. Several companies offer airborne adventures throughout the valley, including Napa Valley Aloft and Napa Valley Balloons.

Put a spin on it. Hopping on your own set of wheels is a great way to see the city or valley – whether you’re going for a long, ambitious ride or just carrying picnic supplies to a nearby park. The Napa Valley Vine Trail is building a 47-mile walking & biking trail system to physically, artistically, and culturally connect the entire Napa Valley. Currently, 12 miles from Napa to Yountville are complete. 

Get Your Game On. There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. Order lunch on the patio at Solbar and play a game of bocce ball. Or for a more urban environment, check out these 7 bars in San Francisco where you can drink and play. 

Indulge in some Culture. World-class aquariums, interactive science exhibits and some of the country’s most diverse art collections make San Francisco’s museums a must for any visitor. But it’s not just the collections that are magnificent; there’s also critically acclaimed architecture and some of the most breathtaking vistas in the city that make San Francisco’s museums worth the visit. 

Head to the water. They don't call it the City by the Bay for nothing. Surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco is a city best explored by boat. And yes, Napa Valley has watersports too. The Napa River is increasingly populated with small boats, kayaks, and paddleboards, available for rental.

Enjoy a view. It’s hard to find a place in the San Francisco or the Napa Valley where there isn’t a great view, whether it’s a field of mustard on the side of the highway or a spectacular cloud-scape coming over a ridge. There are so many places to get a fresh perspective and a stunning shot of the Golen Gate Bridge, and Napa Valley in the spring does not disappoint with all its natural beauty. 

Eat Your Heart Out. It should come as no surprise that, in one of the world’s renowned food and wine meccas, there are plenty of opportunities to learn how to cook – from a single day class to a longer culinary retreat, check out the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. If you prefer not to get your hands dirty and leave it to the experts, check out San Francisco's most unique dining experiences.