There is a little something for everyone on a tour of the majestic, hilly valleys of the Napa and Sonoma counties in northern California. With many tourists scaling back on overseas travel, the hidden beauties right here in the United States are calling to be explored. One not to be missed is the gorgeous richness of the California Wine Country.
Located just north of bustling San Francisco, the Napa and Sonoma valleys have plenty of delights to offer the continental traveler. The better known of the two counties, Napa Valley is renowned for its wineries. A popular tourist attraction from June through late autumn, Napa offers some of the best wines in the world. The temperate year-round climate, soil conditions, and the amount of sun and moisture make the Napa Valley an ideal location for producing the best of many varieties of wines: Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs, Champagnes, Cuvees, etc.
Luxurious spas and charming inns are found throughout the area for a truly relaxing, bucolic vacation spot. Many local travel agencies create wine-tasting tour packages, including accommodations and visits to all the local attractions. Some folks love to take the Napa Valley Wine Train, a locomotive tour through the best wineries in the area, with meals and fine wines served on the train.
Because of its popularity, Napa Valley can become crowded during its peak tourist season of early summer through late fall, and reservations should be made well in advance.
Just to the west lies Sonoma County, Napa's less well-known sister valley, with just as many wonderful sights and attractions but a less busy peak season. Also known for its wines, the beautiful Sonoma Valley offers much of the same appeal as Napa: lovely wineries, quaint towns dotting hilly vineyards, and many local activities. In addition to its 36 wineries, Sonoma County is also home to historic missions, hot-air ballooning, breathtaking coastlines, redwood forests, and organic family farms.
For example, Sonoma County's Farm Trails trip offers a map to hundreds of participating farms where visitors may see just how food is grown, pick their own produce, and take a horse-drawn carriage ride to a petting zoo. Further north is Armstrong Redwoods, a cool, misty oasis of soaring ancient redwood trees, right near the rustic resort town of Guerneville and the Russian River.
A trip to this region lures the wine-loving adventurer, but has enough alternate appeal that anyone from romantic honeymooners to family vacationers can find something fun to do.