Yes, Napa Valley is one of the most luxurious luxury destinations in the world. That doesn’t mean everything here costs a pretty penny. The truth is that Napa County boasts a host of destinations and activities that are totally free.
Here are our top 10 free things to do:
Visit the Napa Valley Welcome Center
The Napa Valley Welcome Center, located in downtown Napa, not only has expert staff to help you plan their itinerary, but they often have intel on the best deals in Napa Valley. Be sure to check it out during your trip to get the latest information on where to visit and the inside scoop on free (or nearly free) events and activities. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a “popup” event day you’ll be treated to a sample of wine, a bite of food, or a giveaway item from Napa Valley wineries, restaurants, hotels, and activities.
Take a hike
Napa Valley is known for its spectacular vistas, and there are plenty of hikes up and down the valley that let visitors soak in the views. A few of our favorites places to take to the trails include Skyline Wilderness Park, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, and Bothe-Napa Valley State Park.
Browse the farmers’ markets
Weekend visitors can take in the Napa Farmers’ Market on Saturdays (also Tuesdays in April – October), which is the county’s largest and regularly boasts more than 100 vendors, artisans, and purveyors. In the summer on Fridays, St. Helena’s Farmers Market is located in the beautiful Crane Park, while the Calistoga Farmers’ Market is open year-round on Saturday mornings.
Insider Tip: go before 9 a.m. to score the best treats and avoid long lines.
Explore Napa Valley’s art scene
Each town in Napa Valley has its own distinct take on art. The Rail Arts District (RAD) Napa in downtown Napa makes the most of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, while Yountville’s 40 outdoor works of art are woven throughout the small town. Jessel Gallery on Silverado Trail offers the opportunity to view stunning artworks inspired by Napa Valley, and visitors can even catch local artists at work.
Bike or walk the Vine Trail
The Napa Valley Vine Trail, which currently runs from downtown Napa to Yountville, goes straight through the heart of Napa Valley. The trail is open to bikes and pedestrians (or anyone not on a motor vehicle), ensuring a safe and comfortable ride even for less confident cyclists.
Get your groove on with live music
Napa Valley is quickly becoming known as a can’t miss destination for live music. While festivals like BottleRock Napa Valley can make a dent in your pocketbook, you can also find free music experiences up and down the valley. Many restaurants, hotels, and wine tasting rooms have free local live music. In the summertime, the City of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga all host free concerts for locals and visitors alike – so pack a picnic and pull up a patch of grass to enjoy.
Visit during Cabernet Season
The winter months, which Napa Valley locals call Cabernet Season, feature free local events that you can’t catch any other time of year. Visitors can celebrate in the holiday season at St. Helena’s Wine Barrel Tree Lighting, or watch the tractors go by at the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade. Come January, the Napa Lighted Art Festival in downtown Napa is a can’t miss and pairs perfectly with a hot chocolate.
Discover the Oxbow Commons
Oxbow Public Market is on the top of every must-see in downtown Napa list, so be sure to stop by to peruse the stalls from local merchants and vendors, and pick up a souvenir for friends and family back home. Then, head next door to the Culinary Institute of America at Copia to see the culinary gardens before heading inside to view the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum, an homage to the founder of Williams-Sonoma.
Stop at the Sign
The iconic Welcome to the Napa Valley signs – both are located on Highway 29, one is near Oakville and the other is “up valley” in Calistoga – were Instagram-worthy before Instagram was even a thing.
Insider Tip: go during Napa Valley’s golden hour to capture the best light!