Crime Against Tourists in Mexico

Napa Valley Without The Wine

I'm not much of a drinker, maybe once a month if at all. During my last Napa visit I did't have a pleasant experience with a group of friends. I found my self wandering in the wineries gift shop, perusing cookbooks and exploring vineyard vinegars and grape juice to pass the time. I've often considered visiting Napa Valley again, but should I even bother if I'm not interested in the wine?

Napa Valley California

First, I love good food. I've found that there are many amazing restaurants in the Napa Valley; some that take months to get it. That would be Thomas Keller's French Laundry and Bouchon. You must make reservations well in advance. Another high end choice is Bistro Jeanty. But if you're me and plan short notice driving trips, try Keller's newest restaurant, the family style Ad Hoc.

Other restaurants and food attractions worth exploring are Ubuntu, situated in a sleek yoga studio or snacking at the Oxbow Public Market and check out the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts. The center, also known as Copia offers cooking classes, garden tours, films and concerts. The last entre on my trip may be the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone Campus in St. Helena because they offer cooking demonstrations for $15 during week.

Second, I enjoy a good spa. Napa Valley is loaded with spa opportunities nestled in small towns and boutique hotels. I have to check out the Indian Springs Resort and Spa because their claim to fame is that there are "the oldest continually operating spa in California", serving up ancient mud baths. I'd also check out the Spa at The Carneros Inn. This luxurious resorts spa offers unique treatments such as a Warm Goat Butter Massage or a Grape Seed Guava Body Scrub.

Third, I wanted to check out the shopping. So while all the wine enthusiasts are swirling, sipping and spitting; I'll be shopping and spending! The town of St. Helena, eight miles southeast of Calistoga, catches my eye. I'll check out some high end shoes stores, boutiques and art galleries. A local interior designer has a shop, Martin Showroom, with sculptures, lamps and house wares. If the Napa Valley Wineries can ship heavy cases of expensive wine, I'm sure this store owner can ship a heavy mirror for my dining room!

Lastly, you must decide where to stay during my non-winery tour. Since I'm not spending money on wine, maybe I'll select the Auberge du Soleil in Rutherfod. I've been warned that is a bit expensive; however the views from the hill top location and hotel amenities must be amazing. For something a bit less pricey, I'll look into the Indian Springs Resort and Spa in Calistoga. Its rooms and cottages starting at $255 offer retro styling and the property is a short walk restaurants. Finally, to be in heart of Napa and save some money, I may try the 106 room River Terrace Inn. Well appointed rooms start at $179 per night.

 Update 8/28/2008 - I've received a suggestion that non-drinkers might also enjoy the Silverado Trail. The trail runs along the east side of the valley and bypasses most of the towns and large wineries. This "road less traveled" runs between Calistoga and Napa and is home a few smaller boutique wineries and much less traffic. It is a great road for running, biking, or hiking. This site / video will give you an idea of what the road is like: Silverado Trail Wineries Assoc.