The Napa Valley is the undisputed
capital of American wine production. Famed for its unrivaled climate and
neat rows of vineyards, the area is made up of small, quirky towns whose
Victorian Gothic architecture - narrow, gingerbread facades and pointed
arches - is reminiscent of a distant world. From south to north, the key
Napa Valley towns include Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Yountville
is compact and redolent of American history, yet also an up-to-the-minute
culinary hub. St. Helena is posh, with many shops and elegant restaurants.
Calistoga feels like an Old West frontier town, with wooden-plank storefronts
and people in cowboy hats.
But there's more to do in the Wine Country than
merely taste wine. Mineral water soaks, mud baths, and massage are rejuvenating
local traditions. Calistoga is famous for its warm, spring water-fed mineral
tubs and mud baths full of volcanic ash. Sonoma, St. Helena, and other
towns also have full-service spas. Among other diversions, you can dine
at superb restaurants, take a balloon ride over the vineyards or a bike
tour through them.