We love wine, but sometimes you just want to try something different. Napa and Sonoma Counties may be famous for their award-winning vineyards, but there’s so much more to do and see in California Wine Country if you know where to look.
Did you know that region is booming with breweries or that the best meal of your vacation might be the one you prepare yourself? Here are six things you didn’t know about California Wine Country:
- The region is booming with breweries. Move over San Diego! Napa and Sonoma are home to dozens of new microbreweries. Try the classic IPA at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma or the legendary Pliny the Elder double IPA at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa.
- Weekdays are the best days to visit. You’ll find fewer crowds in the tasting rooms and enjoy weekday deals on wine, food, transportation, and activities. Resorts are often cheaper, too, including our home-like accommodations only minutes from the vineyards.
- You don’t have to spend a lot to eat out. Sure, you could splurge on a $295 chef’s tasting menu at The French Laundry. But budget travelers will be just as happy (if not more so) with down-to-earth eateries like Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena and La Luna Market & Taqueria in Rutherford.
- You don’t have to eat out at all. Both Napa and Sonoma have incredible farmers markets. The Napa Farmers Market is open May through October, while the one in Sonoma is a year-round affair. Pick up super fresh ingredients from local vendors. Then head back to your resort to prepare your own three-course dinner.
- Wineries aren’t the only thing you can tour. Meander through the gardens at Russian River Rose Company in Healdsburg or play with baby goats at Redwood Hill Farm. Check the websites for tour dates and special events.
- Wine Country has a hippie side. Take a day trip to Calistoga on the northern side of Napa. This funky community is best known for its mineral hot springs, which will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated. Many of the resorts here offer day use passes starting at only $25.