Lake Berryessa shimmers just east of the Napa Valley, a 45-minute drive through gorgeous countryside from Rutherford — and it's well worth the trip. One of the largest bodies of fresh water in California, it offers boating, water skiing, wake-boarding, tubing and other fast-paced water sports, plus quiet coves for kayaking, swimming and fishing. In the summer, the water can reach 75 degrees — the perfect cool-down after a hike or a stroll through sun-drenched vineyards. Pleasure Cove Marina offers boat launching, boat and jet ski rentals, houseboat rentals and boat gasoline, as well as camping options.
Bounded by the Cedar Rough Wilderness and the Putah State Wildlife Area, Lake Berryessa in the Napa Valley offers amazing hiking and biking (combine that with the lake, and you've got a natural triathlon training ground!) The lake has a 165-mile shoreline, dotted with picnic grounds, marinas and prime spots for bird-watching and wildlife-viewing (among the most popular things to do at Lake Berryessa). The 304-feet-tall Monticello Dam, which formed the lake in 1957, is a must-see, especially when the water is high and spilling into the Glory Hole, a bell-mouth spillway set into the lake like a giant funnel.
A visit to the lake is even better when combined with a bit of wine-tasting along the way. Wineries near Lake Berryessa include Moss Creek Winery, Somerston Estate, and Brown Estate Winery. Pair your favorite bottles with a picnic lunch by the lake at Smittle Creek Park, Oak Shores Park or Capell Cove Public Launch. All are free entry and include picnic sites with grills and restrooms.
Four campgrounds on the lake offer scenic accommodations for both tents and RVs. Or rent a houseboat (the largest sleep 12), explore all day, cook dinner on-board, and let the lake rock you gently to sleep. Check out Markley Cove Resort and Pleasure Cove Resort.
Read the Visit Napa Valley Blog Post on "8 Things to do at Lake Berryessa"