Day Trips From Central California

Summary: Napa Valley, located in Northern California, is known for its picturesque vineyards and incredible wineries. However, there is more to Napa Valley than just wine. Visitors can take day trips to explore the area’s scenic beauty, charming towns, and outdoor activities.

1. Explore Calistoga

Calistoga is a small town located in the northern part of Napa Valley. It has a charming downtown area filled with unique shops, cafes, and art galleries. Visitors can also find hot springs, mud baths, and spas in Calistoga. Additionally, the town is surrounded by beautiful hiking trails and natural parks. A visit to Calistoga can be a great way to unwind and relax away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One popular attraction in Calistoga is the Old Faithful Geyser of California. This geyser erupts approximately every 30 minutes and can reach up to 60 feet in height. Visitors can also enjoy petting zoo with alpacas, goats, and other farm animals. Another must-visit destination is the Castello di Amorosa, which is an impressive castle-like winery offering guided tours and tastings.

In addition to these attractions, Calistoga also hosts several events throughout the year, including the Calistoga Wine Experience, Harvest Table, and Lighted Tractor Parade. These events attract visitors from all over the world and celebrate the region’s agriculture and wine heritage.

2. Visit Lake Berryessa

Lake Berryessa is a man-made lake located east of Napa Valley. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and is known for its fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities. Visitors can rent boats, kayaks, and jet skis to explore the lake’s crystal-clear waters or hike the many trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

In addition to water activities and hiking, Lake Berryessa also has several picnic areas and campgrounds for visitors who want to stay overnight. Fishing is also a common activity at the lake. Popular fish include rainbow trout, bass, and catfish. Visitors can either fish from the shore or rent a boat and venture out to deeper waters for a more challenging catch.

Lake Berryessa is also home to one of the most unique structures in the world – the Monticello Dam Morning Glory Spillway. This spillway, also known as the “Glory Hole,” is a giant funnel-shaped hole in the dam that was designed to drain excess water during heavy rainstorms.

3. Spend a day in San Francisco

While San Francisco is not technically in Napa Valley, it is just a short drive away and makes for a great day trip destination. San Francisco is known for its stunning architecture, diverse neighborhoods, and iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.

Visitors can explore the city’s many attractions, including its famous museums, art galleries, and parks. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum are two popular options for art lovers while Golden Gate Park offers beautiful green spaces and gardens that are perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.

If you’re a foodie, San Francisco has a lot to offer. From world-renowned restaurants like the Michelin-starred Benu and Atelier Crenn to classic seafood spots like Fisherman’s Wharf, visitors are sure to find something to satisfy their taste buds. And, of course, no visit to San Francisco is complete without indulging in some Ghirardelli chocolate or sourdough bread.

4. Napa Valley Balloon Rides

Napa Valley Balloon Rides offer visitors a unique way to experience the region’s beauty. The balloon ride takes approximately one hour and offers breathtaking views of the vineyards, rolling hills, and mountains that make up Napa Valley. Visitors can choose from several different packages that include a champagne brunch upon landing and guided tours of local wineries.

The balloon rides take place in the early morning so visitors can witness the sunrise from high above the valley. The balloons are flown by experienced pilots who provide a safe and enjoyable ride for guests. Napa Valley Balloon Rides is a great option for couples looking for a romantic activity or for families who want to experience something new together.

Advance reservations are required for this activity, so be sure to book your spot ahead of time.

5. Explore Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest is a unique geological wonder located in the eastern part of Napa Valley. It is home to several petrified trees that are over 3 million years old, as well as other interesting rock formations. Visitors can explore the area via several hiking trails that are suitable for all levels of fitness.

In addition to the petrified trees, Petrified Forest also has a museum and visitor center that provides educational exhibits on the geology of the region and its history. Visitors can learn about fossils, the formation of the earth, and much more.

Petrified Forest is a great option for families or individuals interested in natural history and outdoor adventures. Bring comfortable shoes and plenty of water, and prepare to be amazed at the geological wonders that await you.


Napa Valley offers more than just wine tasting. Visitors can take day trips to explore the many attractions and outdoor activities that the region has to offer. From hiking in Calistoga to experiencing a hot air balloon ride above Napa Valley, there is something for everyone. A visit to San Francisco is also a great way to round out your Napa Valley experience. Plan your day trip today and experience all that this beautiful region has to offer.

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