Wine tasting and downtown Napa go hand in hand. With tasting rooms scattered throughout town, you can park the car and wander from one sipping spot to the next. Think of all the exercise you can get. Old favorites, hard-to-find varietals and new finds are waiting just around the corner. At $15, the Downtown Napa Wine tasting Card gets you half-price tastings at eight downtown tasting rooms including names like JaM Cellars, John Anthony Vineyards, Vintage Sweet Shoppe, and Napa General Store. You don't have to visit all of them on the stay day or even the same month. The card is good for the year. The participating tasting rooms change every year, so there's always a new spot to discover and sip.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Park the car and use the Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card to sip your way through eight tasting rooms all within walking distance.
Dana's expert tip: Don't try to hit all eight tasting rooms in one day. The card is good for all year, so just plan on coming back for another romantic getaway.
Get to know the nooks and crannies of Napa's downtown area, and stretch your legs, on the self-guided Napa Art Walk. The program began in 2009 and the sixth exhibition, 'Sense of Place,' is currently on display. It features eight artists from five Western states and runs through 2021. Just wander through town and you'll come across many of the sulptures. Maybe even put your Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card to good use as you go? If you want to be organized, free, printed maps are available at the Napa Valley Welcome Center at 600 Main Street. All of the sculptures are for sale, in case you come across something you want to take home. Ten percent of sales made during the exhibition support future Napa Art Walk displays.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Featuring works by eight artists from five Western states, the Napa Art Walk is a fun way to explore downtown Napa.
Dana's expert tip: Download the free Napa Art Walk audio tour on Otocast. Many of the art descriptions have been recorded by the sculpture artists themselves.
Skyline Wilderness Park is popular with local hikers and visitors, but it isn't uncommon to go for stretches without seeing another person. (But keep your eyes open for critters like deer, geese and wild turkeys.) The park has almost a dozen trails to choose from, so you can opt a leisurely stroll, or break a sweat. A hiker day pass costs $5. Don't be shy and ask questions when you arrive. Park staff are happy to suggest a trail depending on how much time you have to spend, and how much you want to elevate your heart rate. Be sure to bring plenty of water.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Less than 10 minutes from downtown Napa, you'll feel like you've left the city for the country.
Dana's expert tip: Pack wisely for your time on the trail. Snacks, water and a camera are all good things to carry.
The Uptown Theatre is a downtown Napa landmark. Ask any local and they'll have a story to share about an outing to the theatre. Opened in the summer of 1937, it has seen everything from vaudeville to movie screens. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard used to frequent the theater on trips north from Hollywood. In 2000, a local resident and businessman George Altamura bought the old movie house. Along with restoring the theatre's glory and grandeur, with the help of friends like Francis Ford Coppola, he invested in a state of the art sound system, and the Uptown Theatre opened its stage to live performances. The distance from the last row to the stage is less than 100 feet, so there isn't a bad seat in the house.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Impressive inside and out, the Uptown Theatre attracts musical talent the likes of Boz Scaggs, The Beach Boys, Chris Isaak, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
Dana's expert tip: You can avoid extra fees by buying tickets at the box office and sometimes theatre employees will bring you inside so you can see exactly where your seats will be.
Blue Note Napa is located in the heart of downtown Napa, on the first floor of the historic 19th century Napa Valley Opera House. Seating less than 150 folks, there isn't a bad seat in the house. There's live entertainment numerous nights a week provided by world-renown artists from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. It can vary from show to show, but seating at booths, tables, and the bar is typically sold on a general admission first-come, first-seated basis. (Depending on the size of your group, you may be seated at a communal table with other patrons.) Along with a full bar, Blue Note Napa offers a tasty dinner and bites menu.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: A fun, casual, jazzy stop that's walkable from anywhere in downtown Napa. You can't go wrong.
Dana's expert tip: Blue Note Napa is closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
Getting a meal on the go is a romantic experience when you are dining on the Napa Valley Wine Train. When you first board, it's the restored Pullman rail cars that will wow you. The train looks and feels like something out of an old movie. Decorated with Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass and plush armchairs, don't be surprised if you just seem to gravitate to a window seat. Sip wine and enjoy lunch or dinner while rolling through some of Napa Valley's most scenic stretches. All meals are prepared on the train. Along with two engines, the Napa Valley Wine Train has three kitchens.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: An antique train, gourmet meals, and scenic wine country stretches make the Napa Valley Wine Train a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.
Dana's expert tip: Don't spend the entire ride at a table. Wandering around is the best way to see the train and the always changing Napa Valley view.
A visit to Calistoga isn't complete without getting dirty. The mud bath is a tradition of sorts at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort. It's a secret family recipe, mixed with Calistoga's famous warm mineral water. Don't worry, when you're finished, you'll feel energized and be squeaky clean. Add in a couples massage and you'll be ready to take on all the wine Napa Valley has to pour. Dr. Wilkinson's has been owned and run by the same family since it was founded in 1952. The resort offers an assortment of lodging options if you decide to spend the night.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort has been helping guests get muddy and relax for more than 60 years.
Dana's expert tip: Go for the "The Works." Originally coined by Dr. Wilkinson, it includes the must-do mud bath, mineral whirlpool bath, steam room, blanket wrap and massage.
Book a couple's massage, and maybe even a mud bath, but don't forget your swimsuit. A limited number of daily passes are available for spa guests, so be sure to ask when you book your treatment. Indian Springs Calistoga has two swimming pools. More for soaking than swimming, the Main Pool is an Olympic-sized mineral pool. The newer pool is smaller, intimate, and for adults only. Both pools, fed with thermal water from the property's geysers, run from 92 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the season. The pools are complimentary for guests staying at the resort. Pool passes are $25 Monday through Thursday for all spa guests who book a 50-minute service. On Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, a daily pool pass for spa guests costs $50.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The pools stay open until midnight. What's not to like about soaking and floating under the Napa Valley's starry skies?
Dana's expert tip: One dip in the mineral pool and you'll forget all that ails you. If it's too hot during the day, take a night time dip.
Bubbles and romance go hand in hand at Schramsberg Vineyards. The second oldest winery in Napa Valley, tastings and tours of the historic caves are by appointment only and are limited to groups of eight. The cave tunnels are dimly lit with numerous well-placed candles and can hold up to three million bottles of wine and bubbles. Tastings include generous pours - allow at least 90 minutes for the tour and tasting. Founded in 1862, the winery is a state historical landmark. The Blanc de Blancs was served for President Nixon's 1972 "Toast to Peace" with China's Premier Zhou Enlai.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The 125-year-old caves at Schramsberg Vineyards total a mile in length and can hold up to three million bottles of wine.
Dana's expert tip: Reservations are required. Reserve 2 to 3 weeks in advance to avoid disappointment.
You have to get up long before the crack of dawn, but watching wine country wake up from the basket of a hot air balloon is worth getting out of bed early. Coffee and light bites are waiting when you check-in for your flight at Vintner's Golf Club in Yountville. Seeing the balloon inflate, and come to life is exciting, but the real fun starts at liftoff. Scenic flights last about an hour. After touchdown, the pilot and passengers toast the adventure with a glass of sparkling wine. No bags of any kind are allowed on balloon rides but don't forget your camera.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Floating over Northern California boasts a view of wine country you can't get any other way.
Dana's expert tip: Wear layers, the temperature can vary during your flight. Don't forget a hat!