By Lisa Adams Walter
With the onset of summer, it certainly feels that it is indeed time to get away! School is out, mask mandates have mostly been lifted and COVID-19 cases are waning in many areas. Some of us might be itching to get out and about and experience something other than our repetitive, everyday tasks. Welcome to SUMMERTIME! The time to refresh our outlook, bodies, souls and minds.
Living in the Napa Valley, we all have already arrived at a world-class destination. Every day, visitors from around the world join us to experience the food, wine, art, culture, beauty, climate, nature and history of our region.
We all know that the Napa Valley is not an inexpensive place to visit, or to live. If you are already here, however, why not take advantage of some of the nearby attractions and vacay at home with a summertime staycation?
My suggestion is to create an itinerary for the staycation of your dreams, one that best suits you and those with whom you spend your most-treasured and valuable time. Here are some, mostly affordable and easily accessible, ideas. A bonus is that you will save loads of money on travel expenses such as accommodations, transportation, long-term parking and gas!
Get a taste of the history of the valley. There is no better place to begin a dive into local history than the Napa County Historical Society (physically located in the fittingly historic Goodman Library building on First Street in Napa). They operate a research library and exhibit space focused upon the local history of the entire county and even offer some guided walking tours. Stops for this staycation could include museums, as well as historical points of interest.
Napa County Historical Society (Napa) - NapaHistory.org
Napa Valley Museum, Permanent History Gallery (Yountville) - NapaValleyMuseum.org
Old Bale Grist Mill (St. Helena) - Parks.ca.gov
Sharpsteen Museum (Calistoga) - SharpsteenMuseum.org
Craving falafel, authentic rustic Italian food, gourmet Chinese dumplings, or sushi? Take a trip around the world with your taste buds, while experiencing global flavors that dot the Napa Valley. Food trucks are parked all over, as well as a wide array of restaurants that focus upon ethnic cuisine. The Clif Family Food Truck in St. Helena offers a rotating menu of different foods from around the world, and in June alone a number of interesting menus will be served including Thai and Singaporean food. Other suggestions for this staycation follow.
Clif Family Street Food Truck (St. Helena) - Cliffamily.com/events
Sushi Mambo (Calistoga) - NapaSushi.com
Ciccio (Yountville) - CiccioNapaValley.com
Empress M (Napa) - EmpressM.us
Small World (Napa) - SmallWorldRestaurant.com
Get Out and About
When the weather warms up, with our relatively mild and temperate climate, there is nothing better than getting out and moving about. I recommend checking out the scenery and vistas, many are free (other than your own physical contributions) and range from simple walks through towns to river rides, lakeside hangouts and opportunities to fish or kayak, to pleasant trails, rock climbing, mountain biking and challenging hikes. In the Napa Valley, we have it all.
Mount St. Helena Hike - Robert Louis
Stevenson State Park (Calistoga) - NapaOutdoors.org/parks/robert-louis-stevenson-state-park
Westwood Hills Park (Napa) - CityOfNapa.org/facility/details/westwoodhillspark-77
Paddleboarding Napa River (Napa) - NapaValleyPaddle.com
Vine Trail (Bike or walk much of the Valley) - VineTrail.org
Lake Hennessy (Oakville) - CityOfNapa.org/580/Lake-Hennessey-Boating-Fishing
Lake Berryessa (Berryessa) - Usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa
There are many things for me, that are romantic. I will forever dream of a secluded villa in Tuscany, from which I can meander into town to gather fresh ingredients from the local farmers and makers, then spend the late morning writing and the afternoon exploring, before returning to that intimate place to prepare a sumptuous meal for the one I love. Do something like that, but do it at home. Locally we have several farmers markets, from which one can prepare a fresh picnic, then plan an afternoon activity such as a massage, river ride or movie matinee (the Cameo even has permanent and cozy theater love seats!).
Picnics - Spots exist all across the valley.
(Napa and St. Helena) - GreenhausSpa.com and HealthSpaNapaValley.com
Napa River Gondola Ride (Napa) - NapaValleyGondola.com
Cameo Cinema (St. Helena) - CameoCinema.com
Napa, St. Helena and Calistoga NapaFarmersMarket.org, CalistogaFarmersMarket.org and StHelenaFarmersMkt.org
Art and Literature
For many of us, we have to read, research, stay up-to-date and learn things for work or school. Therefore, it can be a treat to take new things in visually or through literature; to learn more about things that may spark an idea, enrich our lives, or open our hearts and minds to an entirely new area of interest. Accessible collections in museums, as well as art scattered about preserves or in town, may fuel curiosity, creativity and calm.
Libraries and Museums
Napa County Libraries (American Canyon, Napa, Yountville and Calistoga) - CountyOfNapa.org/606/Visit
Bookmine (Napa and St. Helena) - NapaBookmine.com
Napa Valley Museum (Yountville) - NapaValleyMuseum.org
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (St. Helena) - StevensonMuseum.org
Napa Valley Wine Library (St. Helena) - NapaWineLibrary.com
di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art Preserve (Napa) - DiRosaArt.org
Yountville Art Walk (Yountville) -
Let’s Play at a Park Per Day
As I recall, one of the greatest challenges of summer for our family, was keeping the little ones entertained. Summer camps and classes are one solution, but often we want to spend time with those tiny tykes too. Planning a week’s worth of park and playground visits, would be a fun way to keep the littles busy. Add some scavenger hunts, or the chance to draw or record a memory from each park (yay for smart phones!), then chronicle your family’s personal “week of play,” ultimately creating a treasured hand-drawn or video memory that can be reflected upon for years to come.
Crane Park (St. Helena) - CityOfStHelena.org/parksrec/page/crane-park
Fuller Park (Napa) - CityOfNapa.org/facilities/facility/details/Fuller-Park-27
Yountville Parks (Yountville) - TownOfYountville.com/departments-services/public-works/parks
Playground Fantastico (Napa) - CityOfNapa.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/Playground-Fantastico59
Pioneer Park Playground (Calistoga) - VisitCalistoga.com/directory/pioneer-park/
Pet-Friendly Expedition When planning a vacation, it’s always a challenge to include the pets. So, why not bring them along while staycationing at home? Many restaurants are pet-friendly in outdoor spaces. In addition, there are several paths, play areas and trails appropriate for a leashed pooch.
Alston Park (Napa) - CityOfNapa.org/facilities/facility/details/Alston-Park-30
Yountville Town Walk (Yountville) - Yountville.com/blog/dog-friendly-yountville
Kennedy Park (Napa) - CityOfNapa.org/facilities/facility/details/Kennedy-Park-28
Vine Trail (Valley-Wide) - VineTrail.org
Seven-Day Live Music Festival
Live music, for me, is the soul of collective community experience. When COVID-19 hit the world, the absence of live performance was horrific. Thankfully, the opportunities to listen to and experience live music have returned. Check out these websites for venues across the valley. Nearly every day, there is a spot (winery tasting room, hotel bar or lobby, restaurant, night club, theater or public park) in the Napa Valley offering tunes. Check them out and rock on!
Friday Night Napa City Nights (Napa) - NapaCityNights.com
Sunday Yountville Music in the Park (Yountville) - TownOfYountville.com/about/calendar
Blue Note Napa / Blue Note Series at Charles Krug Winery (Napa and St. Helena) - BlueNoteNapa.com
Uptown Theatre (Napa) - UptownTheatreNapa.com
Oxbow River Stage (Napa) - OxbowRiverStage.com
Feast it Forward (Napa) - FeastItForward.com