Ten free or $10 and under things to do in the Napa Valley from food to wine and outside the box
1. FREE. Visit di Rosa Preserve– 217 rolling acres in the Carneros region with more than 2000 art exhibits by by over 900 Northern California artists—including Robert Arneson, Robert Bechtle and Nathan Oliveira – are shown in three expansive galleries and stone winery house. Rolling meadows, a 35-acre lake, and ancient olive groves are the setting for outdoor sculptures.
Four tours are offered daily Tuesday through Friday, and two tours on Saturday (Wednesday admission is free and tours are discounted). di Rosa’s Gatehouse Gallery featuring highlights of the collection and rotating exhibits is free of charge and open to drop-in visitors on weekdays. Reservations recommended. 5200 Carneros Highway 121, Napa. Phone: 707-226-5991
2. $10. Go to Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga at the northern end of the valley which is renowned for its hot springs, and a regularly erupting geyser called — you guessed it — “Old Faithful”. You’ll want to tread lightly; the area near the geyser is also home to a herd of Tennessee fainting goats, a quirky breed with a nervous-system disorder that causes them to keel over (harmlessly and temporarily) when startled. oldfaithfulgeyser.com, $10 adults, $3 kids 6–12. 1299 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga. Phone: 707-942-6463
3. $10. Trek through the Petrified Forest which geologists claim is one of the finest examples of a Pliocene fossil forest in the world. The park itself is privately owned and has been since its first proprietor started excavating the large petrified trees in 1871. The author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about it in his book Silverado Squatters. Main Trail admission for adults $10, kids under 6 free. 4100 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga. Phone: 707-942-6667
4. $3. Sharpsteen Museum. In addition to its many historical exhibits, the Museum uses dioramas to depict Calistoga during its period as the elegant 1860s Hot Springs resort. The Museum, a project of Ben Sharpsteen, an Academy Award-winning animator, producer and director for Walt Disney Studios, also includes Disney memorabilia including one of his Oscars, and antique autos. A donation of $3 for adults is suggested. Children under 12 free. 1311 Washington St, Calistoga. Phone: 707-942-5911
5. FREE. Napa ARTwalk – This summer, the City of Napa and Arts Council Napa Valley launched the new Napa ARTwalk program in downtown Napa. This juried collection of ten sculptures, selected with the theme of “Celebrating the Napa River”, will be on view for one year, Napa ARTwalk brochures with maps are available throughout downtown and visitors can enjoy a self-guided audio tour, allowing guests to interact independently with each sculpture. You can also cast a vote for your favorite piece. To learn more about Napa ARTwalk, visit www.napaartwalk.org .
6. $10. Check outThe Culinary Institute of America at Greystone which just opened Spice Islands Marketplace dedicated to food and wine lovers the latest selection of cookbooks, kitchen tools, top of the line cookware and more. Inside the store, the new 16-seat Flavor Bar provides short interactive tasting experiences for the public including: “Chocolate Tastings” – where participants learn how chocolate is made and have the opportunity to taste cacao in its various stages, and compare chocolates from around the world; “Taste Like a Chef: Calibrate Your Palate” – a session to explore the sweet, sour, bitter and salty areas of one’s palate to learn how chefs balance ingredients and make food flavors “pop” in a dish. Flavor Bar experiences will continue to be added, including tastings of super premium olive oils at a new Oleoteca. The current Flavor Bar sessions run approximately 15 minutes at various times of the day, and cost $10 per person. For more information visit www.ciachef.edu .
7. Free street Fair on the first Friday night of the month from now to October, visitors can head to Main Street St. Helena for “Cheers! St. Helena” street fair from 6 to 9 p.m., where more than 50 Napa Valley wineries are pouring in over 50 locations. Attending CHEERS! is free, and wine tickets to taste top Napa Valley Wines are available for purchase from $5 per person for a single taste to $35 per person for a nightly pass to taste everywhere. It’s a great way to see all the shops and galleries in St. Helena while sampling some of the Napa Valley’s best wines. For guests cycling from their hotels, there’s even a free bike valet! There’s always free on-street parking For more information call (707) 963-8011 or visit http://www.cheerssthelena.com .
8. Free. The sixteenth annual Thursday night Napa Chef’s Market summer season happens from 5 to 9 PM . on First Street in Downtown Napa. Free and open to the public, this outdoor food, wine and entertainment extravaganza features food and wine tastings from Napa Valley restaurants and wineries, cooking demonstrations by Napa’s acclaimed chefs, dozens of food vendors, produce from 25 of the region’s top farmers, three music stages plus one just for kids, and a city block of children’s entertainment. For more information, call (707) 257-0322 or visit http://www.napadowntown.com/chefs-market1.htm
9. Free. The Calistoga Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from now through October, 8:30 AM. to noon at Sharpsteen Museum Plaza. Themed market activities this year include a Stone(ful) Fruit Creations in August, Shoot-the-Market from May through September and Pumpkin Carving this October. Visitors enjoy fresh, locally grown seasonal produce, colorful cut-flowers and nursery-grown ornamental plants, gourmet and pre-packaged food, Mediterranean deli items, olive oils, vinegars, fresh seafood, smoked salmon, Thai food and bakery delights, as well as savory breakfast treats from Home Plate Cafe and JoLe. Crafts and gift items are available, as well as live music from various local artists. For more information, visit http://www.calistogafarmersmarket.org.
10. Okay this one cost $20 but well worth mentioning. The annual Napa Downtown Wine Tasting Card provides for admission to 14 tasting rooms located downtown within walking distance of each other. The $20 card allows the consumer to enjoy ten-cent tastings at those rooms. For more information or to purchase a card visit www.NapaDowntown.com.
The verdant, wine rich Napa Valley houses the founders of America’s fine wine industry – legendary entrepreneurs who showed the world that the art of winemaking had crossed continents. The word Napa stands for ‘Land of Plenty’, the original meaning given to the region by its first inhabitants, the Wappo Indians.
The Valley itself is one of the rarest and most precious agricultural preserves on earth – a place that moves in perfect synchrony with the seasons. Voted the World’s #1 Food & Wine Destination in the recent 2010 TripAdvisor® Travelers’ Choice® Awards, The Napa Valley is Internationally recognized as one of only nine “Great Wine Capitals” and is prized for its natural beauty, phenomenal culinary scene, world-class accommodations, robust arts scene, and one-of-a-kind wellness experiences including the region’s famed spas, mud baths and natural geo-thermal springs. For more information about The Napa Valley visit www.LegendaryNapaValley.com .