About Napa County
Napa County is one of California’s original counties, established in 1850 around the time the Golden State earned its statehood. It has always been a coveted place to live for a number of reasons including its proximity to large cities such as San Francisco and Sacramento, its very temperate climate, and the sheer beauty of the area. Investing in Napa County real estate has always been a good bet as home prices here continue to rise on a regular basis
Wine tasting and tours are, of course, the premiere tourist activities in Napa County. The excellent wine region makes the valley the second most popular tourist attraction in the state, after Disneyland. Napa Valley weddings are quite popular as well, as hundreds of couples travel here each year to be married at one of the grand mansions located at Napa Valley’s many wineries or at a pristine B&B surrounded by breathtaking Napa County scenery.
Resorts like Shell Vacations Club are also popular options for weddings, honeymoons, and vacations. When visiting the many voluptuous vineyards here you'll be awed by the incredible beauty and richness of the area. There are literally dozens and dozens of wineries to explore providing you with a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
But there’s much more to Napa County than just nice weather and succulent grapes. The county is full of interesting towns, lovely natural attractions, and enough activities to keep visitors of all ages busy for days.
Napa County begins just above the city of Vallejo in the south, bordering Solano County. A trip up Highway 29 North from San Francisco will put the visitor in close proximity to most of the county’s towns and attractions.
The first city you’ll reach is American Canyon, the second-largest city in Napa County and considered the gateway to the Napa Valley. This pretty town of about 10,000 was incorporated in 1992 and is surrounded by the Napa River on one side and wetlands and wilderness preserves on the others.
The city of Napa, the county seat, is located north of American Canyon and is the county’s largest city, with a population of about 75,000. Compared to some other cities in the county, Napa is quite old, having been incorporated in 1872. It was largely built by both the gold rush and the silver rush and was a thriving city throughout that era. Now, in the 20th century, it’s the business and financial center of the county and home to a large percentage of the county’s residents. If you find yourself spending some time in the city, there’s plenty to do. Visit Alston Park, where you can hike, bicycle, or horseback ride on the three acres of pristine trails; or head to 10-acre Fuller Park, located at the edge of Old Town, for a fun picnic.
The picturesque village of Yountville is the next major town on Highway 29. Calling itself “the essence of the Napa Valley,” Yountville is home to a number of wineries, a handful of museums, and several other attractions. Savvy travelers know that one of Yountville’s premier attractions is the gourmet restaurant French Laundry, considered one of the finest dining experiences in the entire U.S. Yountville lodging includes a number of quaint B&Bs for an overnight stay. Pretty Yountville Park offers lots of playground equipment for the kids and plenty of picnic space. It’s a popular landing place for Napa balloon rides, too. The town is also home to the Napa Valley Museum, which outlines the artistic, cultural, and environmental history of the county.
Wine lovers will enjoy making their way north of Yountville and visiting some small Napa Valley wine towns like Oakville and Rutherford. The Oakville/Rutherford region features several wine tasting opportunities, including the Robert Mondavi winery. as well as a few art galleries displaying fine regional works, good Napa County restaurants, and a talented community theater.
The northern town of St. Helena is home to the Beringer Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in California. You’ll also find excellent Napa Valley restaurants here, including the one at the Culinary Institute of America. Nearby Deer Park, a town of about 1,500, is also home to a few vineyards of its own.
While in St. Helena, make a visit to the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, site of an old-water powered grist mill that was once the social center of the area, as settlers gathered there to grind corn and wheat. Take the trail from Bale Grist Mill to neighboring Bothe Napa Valley State Park, where you can swim, hike, camp, or picnic.
The northernmost towns in Napa County include Calistoga and Angwin. The former is famous not only for its fine Napa Valley wines but also for its soothing hot springs and spas. It’s also a popular place to grab a Napa balloon ride.
Travel off Highway 29 for a look at Lake Berryessa. Located in the eastern portion of the county, it’s Napa’s largest lake. Fishing and boating are quite popular here. Also off-the-beaten-track, and just a short drive from the town of Angwin, is Pope Valley, home to a handful of excellent wineries and well worth a visit.
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