“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.”
- St. Augustine
Traveling nourishes the mind and soul. It broadens your horizons and builds a well-rounded approach to life, allowing you to relax, unwind and find a renewed sense of self outside of your daily routine.
The holiday season is a wonderful reminder to pause and spend some quality time with those who you hold near and dear. In a world that can be overwhelmed with commodities, we often forget that experiences are what truly makes the holiday season memorable. Traveling to a new destination with loved ones and immersing yourselves in unique, fun and cultural experiences is one of the best ways to spend precious time together and Wine Country in the winter is truly a hidden gem. Whether you decide to start in the northern region of Sonoma County and make your way down into Sonoma and Napa Valley or vice versa, we’ve got a few ideas that are sure to please.The holiday season is a wonderful reminder to pause and spend some quality time with those who you hold near and dear. In a world that can be overwhelmed with commodities, we often forget that experiences are what truly makes the holiday season memorable. Traveling to a new destination with loved ones and immersing yourselves in unique, fun and cultural experiences is one of the best ways to spend precious time together and Wine Country in the winter is truly a hidden gem. Whether you decide to start in the northern region of Sonoma County and make your way down into Sonoma and Napa Valley or vice versa, we’ve got a few ideas that are sure to please.
Winter In Sonoma County – Winter is an excellent time to visit Wine Country because the communities come alive with wonderful holiday activities. Plus, you get to experience many popular Sonoma attractions on a more “low-key” level since it isn’t peak season.
Sonoma Plaza – During late November and all of December, the Sonoma Plaza in historic downtown Sonoma, is illuminated with festive lights and holiday delights. Take a stroll through the eight acre park that’s filled with historical sites, boutique wineries, amazing eateries, art, culture and more. Many of the wineries and restaurants in Sonoma offer fun holiday or winter themed menus, tastings and events. The plaza is an excellent starting point to experience Sonoma Valley in winter.
Charles M. Schulz Museum – Who hasn’t seen “A Charlie Brown Christmas?!” For decades, it's been a classic that’s aired on the televisions of millions during the holidays. Come channel the Peanuts holiday spirit in person by visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. This is your opportunity to experience the history of the world renowned comic strip, take a docent-led museum tour, view the world’s largest collection of original Peanuts artwork and take part in events such as hands-on winter crafts, showings of Charles Schultz’s favorite movies and more. There’s even Snoopy’s Home Ice (ice skating rink) and Warm Puppy Cafe! - Ph: 707.579.4452 | 2301 Hardies Lane | Santa Rosa, CA 95403 | schulzmuseum.org
Hot air balloon rides – Soaring above gorgeous, lush wine country landscapes on California hot air balloon rides is an experience not to be missed. Hot air balloon rides are a fun and safe family-friendly activity when you book a reputable balloon operator. At Up & Away Ballooning we are committed to ensuring the safety, comfort and well-being of our guests. With an impeccable safety record and a professional team of pilots and crew, you’re sure to have an amazing adventure that you and your loved ones will be talking about for years to come.
Town Green in Windsor – Experience the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove” at the Town Green between December, 5 - January, 1, 2020. “The event highlights 200 lighted individually decorated holiday trees lining the walkways of the Green.” You’ll also enjoy streaming holiday music and they even do a nightly snowfall at 5:30 and 7:30pm!
Napa in winter – Napa was founded by Nathan Coombs in 1847. In 1850, it became one of the original counties of California. Incorporated as a city in 1872, Napa is the county seat of California. It derives its name from a South Nappan village, whose natives shared the area with a wide variety of wildlife including deer, elks, cougars, and grizzlies. The first recorded exploration into the Napa Valley dates back to 1823. Almost seven years later, American farmers started arriving in the valley.
Napa offers its own version of a “wintery wonderland,” minus the snow and freezing temps! As Mercury dips, the atmosphere becomes cozy, intimate and welcoming. It is the time when Mother Nature paints vivid images on her canvas, welcoming visitors to this quaint and beautiful city with open arms. Here are some reasons why visiting Napa during winter should be on your priority list.
Fewer Crowds – If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city, you will love a trip to Napa during winter. A major attraction of the city, Napa wineries are less crowded during winters, which means many places won’t require an appointment. Fewer crowds means more personalized attention and (if you are lucky) a few more tastes. During winter, you won’t have to navigate through as much traffic, it’s easier to find open parking spots and you’ll have more time to sit and enjoy great conversations with your tasting room host, family and friends.
A Long List of Things to Do – During winter, Napa wineries vie for the attention of smaller crowds. To get more patrons rallying around their brands, many wineries offer a range of enticements such as cooking lessons, extra wine tasting sessions, winemaker dinners, wine passport programs and barrel tastings. The options for these types of activities in Napa Valley are bountiful.
Seasonal Deals – One of the best things about visiting Napa in winter is that a Napa winter holiday won’t hurt your pocketbook. Hotels, like wineries, come up with a range of offers during winter. To get the attention of budget travelers, many hotels slash mid-week rates. You can even book a high-end hotel at a better rate this time of the year.
The Napa Valley Wine Train – The Napa Valley Wine Train takes passengers on a relaxing tour. It takes three hours to cover the 36-mile distance between Napa Valley and the quaint village of St. Helena. The route passes by multiple wineries and vineyards in the region. During winter, the Napa Valley Wine Train is converted into the Santa Train. To help customers soak in the festivities, many games and sing-alongs are organized during the trip. Several holiday-inspired characters interact with passengers, ensuring that they create fond holiday memories. Hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies are served on-board.
Elaborate Festivals – The people of Napa know how to have fun. The local folks never let any opportunity to appreciate the blessings of their town pass them by. Every year, Napa residents celebrate the Napa Lighted Art Festival which displays light installations after dark. The nine-day long festival includes light art, video mapping projections, 3D and lighted sculptures. The city aims to have light installation for 16 prominent locations including the Westin Verasa Napa, Blue Note Napa Valley and Native Sons of the Gold West.
Winter in Wineries Passport – You can buy a Winter in Wineries Passport for just $60. The passport grants you entrance to 16 participating wineries or complimentary wine tasting flights. However, you do not have to worry about finishing all 16 experiences in one go. Checkout visitcalistoga.com for details.
No matter where your adventure in Napa takes you, all roads lead back to Up & Away Ballooning. Our hot air ballooning tours are rated among the best winter activities in Sonoma Wine Country. For inquiries, call us at (707) 836-0171.