Little known fact: The Napa Valley extends south of the city of Napa, where the town of American Canyon plays a key role in the local wine industry with warehouses, cooperages (barrel makers), label producers, and other businesses critical to Napa’s global reputation for fine wine. American Canyon is to Napa what Brooklyn is to Manhattan – an up-and-coming community a few years behind its older, more established sibling. As such, American Canyon is a more affordable option to the high-end hotels and restaurants farther “up valley,” so it’s great if you’re on a budget or traveling with kids.

At about five square miles, the city is beautifully located between the Napa River, the foothills of the Sulfur Springs Mountains, Solano County to the south and Napa County to the north. It offers great views from its hills facing the wetlands to the west, and is a key junction in the regional trails system, with three major trails crossing through town. Here are a few recommendations to optimize your visit.

Stay. Don’t expect quaint B&Bs around here. Your choices are several mid-priced hotels: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Spring Hill Suites by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, and Doubletree by Hilton.

Eat. Try Table 29 Bistro & Bar, the Junction Brewery & Grill, or Ristorante La Strada. There are also a lot of ethnic restaurants and familiar fast-food options.

Taste. Visit Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. American Canyon is also conveniently close to the south Napa area, home to lots of next-generation wineries and tastings rooms – check out the South Napa Wine Experience and the Crusher Wine District. Including Holman  Cellars, Trinitas Cellars, The Wine Foundry, and Humanitas Wines.

Play. Considering it’s still fairly rustic in the tourism department, American Canyon is well endowed with outdoor recreational activities. There are wonderful trails for hiking, biking, or bird-watching – try Newell Open Space Preserve, Wetlands Open Space & Napa River Bay Trail, and Lynch Canyon Open Space. Or take South Napa Junction Road east, where you’ll find the crumbling ruins of an old cement plant – excellent for kids to romp and explore. The nearby Chardonnay Golf Club features 18 holes surrounded by vineyards, lakes, and wildlife preserves. And Marshall’s Bee Farm makes organic honey in a wide range of flavors – you can take a tour or even a bee-keeping workshop.

If there’s still time left, you can always hop on Highway 29 to visit the rest of the Napa Valley – the city of Napa is less than ten miles away.