The Napanista Holiday List (Part 2): Experiences to Share
In my last blog post, I introduced the Napanista Holiday List 2018, featuring items for everyone on your list, to wrap and put under the tree. I am the first to admit that it is super fun to give a gift and even more fun be a recipient of a gift; tearing off that wrapping can be so satisfying. The big drawback is you end up with a lot of STUFF over time (and lots of waste from all the wrapping paper; 4 million tons of gift wrap a year end up in a landfill...) Our two-week evacuation during the Thomas fire, made me realize that we just don't need so much STUFF! Experiences though...these can be shared with friends and loves ones, create lasting memories, and Instagrammable moments!
So here are 10 giftable experiences that are Napanista Approved!
1. Electric Bike Ride with Lunch in Yountville;
We did this for my birthday and it was so much fun! First, we picked up our bikes at Pedego, in downtown Napa. For $85 you can have the bike for the entire day. They provide you with a map and the fully charged bike. Within a few blocks, you are on the well protected and maintained Vine Trail, which will someday (hopefully) be a 47-mile bike path connecting Vallejo to Calistoga! On your way to Yountville, you pass the cool art murals, vineyards, and some notable wineries. It's smooth sailing and you will arrive in Yountville 45 minutes to an hour from your starting point. Recommended lunch spots: Restoration Hardware, Redd Wood, Southside, or Bistro Jeanty. If you wanted to extend your day, you could stop at a wine tasting on the way back...an easy one on the bike path is Laird Family Estate (by appointment only). Or stop by the cozy greenhouse of St. Claire Brown Winery, the only female-owned and run winery/brewery in Napa. Another option is to drop your bike for a $10 fee at the Yountville bike shop, and just Uber to a winery on your way home.
2. A gondola ride on the Napa River -
Check this out: Sean O'Malley, the Irish Gondolier on the Napa river! Who needs Venice! You could gift this to your special someone and follow up with a nice frothy beer at Stone Brewing to watch the sunset, or maybe a wine tasting at Blackbird. At $60, the 30-minute ride for two won't break the budget!
3. Tickets to The Napa Valley Film Festival 2019
This is a gift that seems far off, but this way you may actually block the calendar for it, and you can take advantage of the holiday sale on now, and get invited to preview events My advice is to go all in! Clear the schedule now, put your vacay request in for those dates, and defend it like a goalie with a World Cup final on the line. I blogged extensively about the film festival in November...trust me, it's awesome, but if you are not sure, check it out here!
4. Skeet Shooting at Wing and Barrel
If you are trying to win your man's love, take him here! We went here for an auction lot, and I had never ever shot a gun. I actually had a fun time and hit a few of those "thingy majigs" myself! Get this now before the super expensive club is built and they make it impossible for the public to afford!
5. A themed photo shoot in Napa, using all the notable spots as your canvas
This could be for one special person or an entire family. It's fun for everyone to get dressed up, do the "matchy matchy" outfits, and make yourselves beautiful for the camera. Napa is such a magical backdrop for photos...we have the best light and colors! As a start, check out these local artists, Christophe Genty Photography
6. Custom blending, be a winemaker and create your own wine!
I know it sounds a little touristy, but this is a lot of fun. Many options are out there in Napa, but my favorites for this are Judd's Hill This one is casual and fun but also professional and educational. You will actually end up with a really good bottle that you can be proud of (or four, or six). Another option is to choose one of the Wine Maker for A Day packages offered by the wineries under the stewardship of Jean Charles Boisset. He just has a magic touch for making things fun, and the wine is always reliably delicious. At Raymond, and you will wear silver robes in a futuristic lab setting....while at Buena Vista Winery, you will don bonnets or capes and be transported back to the mid 1800s's. After you have made your creation, you can give them a .jpg or photo to create your own label.
7. Kayaking or Paddleboarding on the Napa River
We now have a beautiful setup and lovely pier, and these activities are easy to access...its a way to get a little exercise and see Napa from a very different perspective! I know this is not exactly a winter activity, but give your loved one a paddling or kayaking certificate now, and start making plans for Spring!
8. The Wine Train
I absolutely love the Napa Wine Train...first of all, it feels like stepping back in time when you enter the perfectly maintained old railroad cars. The views are spectacular, and you can really enjoy them without having to worry about driving, and the food is quite decent. What I really love about it though, is the quality time you can spend with your friends or family. Everyone is stuck together, with no escape! I would do it every month if I could.
9. A Cooking Class or Food and Wine Pairing
If your special someone loves food and wine you have it pretty easy in Napa! Still, there are some unique experiences out there that you might want to check out. For the bacon lover: check out classes offered by The Fatted Calf, likeThe Butcher's Happy Hour or a class onSalumi making! These are popular classes and fill up fast, so snag a spot here!
There are plenty of amazing food pairings now being offered all over the valley, with amazing chefs. Here are just a few that have the highest accolades and are on my list to try: Robert Sinskey's Chef's Table, Peju's Farm to Table Luncheon, and The Bountiful Table at Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
10. Sign up for Crossfit Together! What do you have to lose?
There are lots of ways to get fit and have fun together, but since I love Crossfit, and drank the Kool-Aid many years ago, of course, let me try to convince you to join the cult as well! Many people are intimated by Crossfit, imagining it to be only for people who are already fit or super intense bodybuilder types, so they don't even take that first step. In fact, Crossfit has something for everyone and all the workouts and movements can be scaled for all ages and all fitness levels. Why is it so popular? It's fun and never boring! Think of it this way: what have you got to lose? Try it and see what it's all about! Check out the deals going on here at Wine Country Crossfit and I will see you there!