Kayak the Napa River

Quick and Easy Holiday Getaways to Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Country

Geyserville sign

It’s that time of year when you don’t have the time to get away, but in many cases you need it or will enjoy it the most. So think close home. In the Sn Francisco Bay Area we’re lucky enough to have many quick and easy getaway options, but Sonoma and Napa wine country stand out among the favorites.

downtown Geyserville

Geyserville is about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sonoma County. It often takes a back seat to more bustling Healdsburg, but if slowing down is really what you’re looking for, come here. Downtown Geyserville is tiny and it probably doesn’t look that different today than it did a century ago. There’s one stop sign whose neighbors include a couple great restaurants, some tasting rooms and a few shops.

Sculpture Trail

Be sure to check out the Sculpture Trail. The year-round exhibit changes every May and has more than a dozen pieces to see in Geyserville. Some are in public areas, others in front yards.

If you decide you need some more action, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is just a quick drive to the other side of Highway 101. Do some wine tasting, enjoy all the Hollywood memorabilia or grab a bite to eat at Rustic Francis’s Favorites.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

If something new is on your wish list, check out Geyserville’s new Virginia Dare Winery, also by Francis Ford Coppola. Virginia Dare was the first child born in the ill-fated Virginia Colony, which was established in 1587 and found long-deserted in 1590. According to Coppola, Virginia Dare Winery is about the people, places and stories that relate to early American winemaking.

Kayak the Napa River

But let’s not forget about Napa County. Downtown Napa is one of my favorite spots in wine country. There are two dozen tasting rooms in downtown Napa, but this is a stretch that visitors rarely see, so how about making a splash in the Napa River while you’re in town? The Napa River is a tidal influenced river, so kayaking schedules and launch locations can vary from day to day. There are a few different companies out there, but I’ve seen rates from $70 to $85.

I went out with Kayak Napa Valley. Guided excursions last about three hours. They also lead Napa River cleanup days at a special rate.

Napa ARTWalk

Once you’re back on dry land you can walk around downtown Napa and do some wine tasting, but take the time to stop and enjoy the Napa Art Walk as you make your way. Even better download the free smartphone app and it will guide you through town to see the 14 pieces by artists from six western states. This is the fourth exhibition since the program began in 2009, there’s no theme but many fun pieces that will make you smile.

And stay tuned.. The Culinary Institute of America has purchased the former Copia building next to Oxbow Public Market. So more food and wine coming soon. You’ll just need to plan a return trip.

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