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California's New Wellness Destination

Known for its wineries, the Napa Valley is also a destination for yoga, hot springs, hiking and biking.

In the past 50 years, Napa has ascended from relative obscurity to international fame. Although known foremost for its world-class wine and food, lately the valley has become a sought-after destination for those seeking holistic wellbeing. It seems travelers have finally discovered that in addition to viticulture, the sunshine, fresh air and storybook landscape lend the region to alfresco yoga, long walks and detox retreats. Here are a few ideas for planning a wine country getaway devoted to fitness, health and Zen. 


Yoga and Fitness

Yoga at Harvest Inn
Yoga by the vineyards (©Harvest Inn)

It’s easy to see how Napa’s enchanting blond hillsides and sun-drenched clime would inspire meditative pursuits, and the number of hotels offering yoga classes demonstrates the valley’s current affinity for the practice. Here you’ll find some glorious settings for your asanas, perhaps most striking of which is the veranda of the palatial Domaine Carneros chateau, overlooking sprawling gardens and vineyards. The property hosts private, personalized classes (your certified instructor might also be a prestigious sommelier), where the shavasana is followed by a refreshing glass of organic bubbly and a cooldown stroll through the vineyards alongside an expert wine educator. An alfresco sparkling wine brunch caps off the experience.

The intimate and luxurious Harvest Inn offers yogis an overnight alternative. Its Wine Country Wellness package entails yoga for two on the vineyard terrace, wellness massages and an olive oil mill tour and tasting. And fitness enthusiasts will find that yoga isn’t the only class being paired with wine. Vineyard 29 just launched a Pilates and barre program, holding classes on its vista-boasting terrace. Post-workout, attendees sip fresh green juice then tour the wine cave and enjoy the hour-long Essentials Tasting followed by a healthy, paired lunch.

Domaine Carneros, 1240 Duhig Road, Napa, 707.257.0101; Harvest Inn, 1 Main St., St. Helena, 707.963.9463; Vineyard 29, 2929, St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, 707.963.9292


Hot Springs

Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
Mineral pools in Calistoga (©Calistoga Spa Hot Springs)

For thousands of years, humans have congregated at the natural hot springs in the Calistoga region for healing and restoration. Today you can soak in expansive mineral pools filled with soothing warm water from the nearby geysers. The palm tree-flanked, retro-cool Indian Springs has been functioning as a resort since 1862. It sits on 16 lush acres that are home to four profuse thermal geysers and an abundant deposit of pure volcanic ash. Mineral-rich, 92-to-102-degree waters fill the Olympic sized, Mission Revival-style pool, which has an adjacent “inhalarium” steam room and views of mountains and steamy geysers. The property’s ash is mined, hand-sifted and mixed with its natural thermal water for the resort’s signature spa treatment, the Classic Mudbath.

Another soaking destination is the newly renovated Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, which has four geothermally heated mineral pools. The hottest is a Jacuzzi pool that can get up to 104 degrees. The soaking pool is slightly cooler at 100 degrees or below, and the 80-degree lap pool is best for exercise. Mineral, steam and mud baths can be booked in the spa, as well as an array of massages. 

Indian Springs, 1712 Lincoln St., Calistoga, 707.942.4913; Calistoga Hot Springs, 1006 Washington St., Calistoga, 707.942.6269



Napa Valley Bike Tours
Biking by the vineyards (©Napa Valley Bike Tours)

Some argue that the best way to visit Napa’s wineries is by bicycle rather than car. Their arguments touting the unsurpassed sensory experience of feeling the sun on your face, hearing the breeze rustling the vines and (depending on the season) smelling the exotic fragrance of harvest are indeed persuasive. Loads of wineries line bike-friendly, flat routes, and avid cyclists will find no shortage of challenging terrain. Plus, the Napa Valley Vine Trail, a 44-mile, beginner friendly bike and pedestrian trail system connecting the entire valley, is in the works. 

If you’re planning a two-wheel wine country tour, a good starting point is Clif Family Winery at Velo Vino (from the same family behind Clif Bars). Here you can stock up on bike maps, gear and energy snacks and even sip espresso or wine. This is also the place to get connected with rental outfits like St. Helena Cyclery. The full-service, centrally located bike shop’s rentals are conveniently equipped with a rear bag for picnic supplies and cameras. 

For a guided ride, Napa Valley Bike Tours leads group outings that include a scenic picnic lunch. They also arrange off-road trips that cycle through the vineyards and pass a wetland wildlife refuge that’s home to a variety of birds. 

Ladera Vineyards is offering a Cycle the Road Less Traveled excursion on the sleepy roads of Howell Mountain. Riders start with an early morning pedal on a pleasant seven-mile route to and around the small town of Angwin, then break for a garden picnic followed by a tour of Ladera’s historic ghost winery and a tasting of the property’s small-production cabernet sauvignon. 

Velo Vino, 709 Main St., St. Helena, 707.968.0625; St. Helena Cyclery, 1156 Main St., St. Helena, 707.963.7736; Napa Valley Bike Tours, 6500 Washington St., Yountville, 707.944.2953; Ladera Vineyards, 150 White Cottage Road, Angwin, 707.963.2334


Lifestyle Retreats

Massage at the Harvest Inn
An alfresco massage at the Harvest Inn (©Harvest Inn)

Wine country is now a national destination for a number of organized group getaways dedicated to wellbeing. One is the Napa Recharge Retreat on Feb. 21-23, hosted by Milliken Creek Inn & Spa and Los Angeles celebrity health coach Sophie Jaffe. Attendees will take yoga classes and learn about smart food and supplement choices at a wellness and superfood seminar. At Harvest Inn, guests can sign up for the three-day Max and Relax package for two, a balance of indulgence and self-care. The first day is devoted to wine tasting at two wineries followed by an Italian dinner, and the next two days are dedicated to a two-day cleanse from Philosophie superfood. The cleanse involves liquid meals, detox bath soaks, detox herbal tea, probiotic supplements and 60-minute detox massages.

Women have their own food, wine and health getaway at the Westin Verasa Napa. High-profile women winemakers, chefs and wellness leaders headline the property’s second Wine, Women and Wellness event on March 6-9. Attendees can sip wines from female winemakers, enjoy a brisk morning walk or yoga class, book in-room spa treatments and sit in on the Superfoods Cleansing Workshop.

Milliken Creek Inn, 1815 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707.255.1197; Harvest Inn, 1 Main St., St. Helena, 707.963.9463; Westin Verasa Napa, 1314 McKinstry St., Napa, 707.257.1800



Hike in Napa Valley
Napa Valley has numerous hiking trails (©Visit Napa Valley)

Did you know that vineyards cover only about 9 percent of Napa? If you head for the hills, you’ll find a wilderness of redwood forests, bubbling creeks and panoramic views. For an easy amble, go to Westwood Hills Park. You’ll walk through wildflowers and eucalyptus on your way up to a sweeping valley vista point. Skyline Wilderness Park on the border of the city of Napa has more than 25 miles of trails, including a short main trail that leads to Lake Marie and a ridge trail that commands extensive views. If you’re looking for redwoods, try Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, covering nearly 2,000 acres in Calistoga. Here you can discover some of the valley’s past on a history trail that takes hikers by the Pioneer Cemetery and the 1800s era Bale Grist Mill. For a challenge, the fivemile jaunt to the 4,343-foot peak of Mount St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, a 5,000-acre recreational area verdant with evergreen and chaparral, is sure to get your blood flowing. If the sky’s clear, you might be able to see the tip of Mount Shasta 192 miles in the distance. The park’s scenic Table Rock Trail is popular with picnickers.

Westwood Hills Park, 3107 Browns Valley Road; Skyline Wilderness Park, 2201 Imola Ave., Napa, 707.252.0481; Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, St. Helena Highway., Calistoga, 707.942.4575; Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, 3801 St. Helena Highway., Calistoga, 707.942.4575