A Town-by-Town Guide to Biking in Napa Valley
Napa Valley is strewn with quaint towns, vineyard vistas, and natural wonders that tempt both leisurely bikers and hardcore cyclists. Sightseers on two wheels are rewarded with front row access to the best of Napa’s world-class wine and food scene as well some of wine country’s hidden gems.
Whether exploring downtown Napa and Yountville, riding through vineyards in St. Helena, or cruising the backcountry roads of Calistoga, the region offers endless routes, from intermediate to advanced, to satisfy any level of biking adventure.
Napa is the perfect home base for those looking for a relaxed ride with plenty of pitstops along the way. Downtown Napa, a bustling area full of celebrity-chef restaurants, laid-back tasting rooms, boutique shops, and intimate cafés, is entirely accessible via bike. Right across the river on First Street is the Oxbow Public Market, a lively marketplace and food lovers’ paradise where one can slurp fresh oysters, sample local wine and beer, and peruse artisan chocolates made with luxury ingredients like Cabernet and Port wine. Oxbow is the perfect starting point to fuel up before a day of biking and wine tasting.
Those looking to work up more of a sweat can hop on the Napa Valley Vine Trail, a paved bike route that starts in south Napa at Kennedy Park and extends 12.5 miles north to Yountville. Eventually, the Vine Trail will become a 47-mile biking route connecting the Napa River wetlands in Vallejo to Calistoga’s Hot Springs. But, for now, the trail offers a manageable and safe journey parallel to HWY 29.
The entire town of Yountville is cruise-able by bike, with easy access to some of the region’s most coveted dining, shopping, and cultural destinations. For the most important meal of the day, head to Southside, a California and Latin-inspired café and coffee bar featuring breakfast dishes like Chilaquiles and avocado toast with roasted pepitas. Enjoy breakfast in the Stewart Cellars courtyard directly behind Southside and pair it alongside a flight of their current release Napa and Sonoma wines (reservation required).
After a morning of biking and imbibing, why not stay for lunch? A couple of excellent options include grabbing a bucket of fried chicken from Ad Hoc Addendum to relax and eat in their outdoor garden or pre-ordering a boxed picnic lunch from Velo Deli at the Ranch Market and enjoying it in the famous French Laundry culinary gardens. Every bike tour of Yountville should conclude with a stop at the JCB Tasting Salon for a one-of-a-kind experience and splashes of both French and Napa sparkling wines.
Bike rentals are available in Napa and Yountville at Napa Valley Velo, a full-service bike shop in south Napa and Napa Valley Bike Tours, which has two full-service rental locations 8.5 miles apart along the Napa Valley Vine Trail, allowing for a completely flat and car-free bike ride.
The town of St. Helena is just the ticket for an “off-the-beaten-path” experience. Vineyard-lined roads, horse-grazing pastures, and charming neighborhoods are the views that await when one saddles up in the heart of Napa Valley. For the perfect combination of both Velo and vino, book a cycling adventure with Clif Family Winery.
From the founders of Clif Bar, Clif Family has a deep passion for wine, food, and cycling and offers three cycling packages for varying levels and interests: the Tour de St. Helena, The White Road, and their newest experience, the Tour de Chef, which is designed by local celebrity chefs, such as Chocolatier Chris Kollar, who all happen to be avid cyclists. Their packages include a cruiser or performance bike, an espresso and Clif Bar to start, and seasonal food and wine pairings from their organic Bruschetteria Food Truck post-excursion.
Their self-guided bike tours are meant to be peddled at one’s own pace, offering guests a chance to slow down and savor a different, more carefree side to Napa Valley. Clif Family also provides curated pocket-sized maps with featured routes and local business partners, such as Model Bakery and Long Meadow Ranch, to inspire the journey, but ultimately the ride is what one makes of it.
Hemmed by Mount Saint Helena in the north, Napa’s town of Calistoga is the less traveled and more laid-back sibling to the rest of the valley, making it the perfect cycling haven. Indeed, Calistoga is tailor-made for bike riding with its low-traffic country lanes and scenic vineyard landscapes. The town itself is conveniently accessible, and a bike eases travel around the many shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms at an un-hurried pace. In between rides, stop at Evangeline for delicious creole dishes or indulge in a cocktail in the beer garden at Calistoga Inn. For shopping and sipping, visit Picayune Cellars to taste their small-lot California wines in their secluded back courtyard.
Also worth exploring in Calistoga is the northernmost segment of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which begins at Washington Street and follows the former Southern Pacific Rail Line. This mile-long paved trail leads through vineyards and reservoirs, making an excel-lent area for bird watching. The course shoots out at the winery dotted Dunaweal Lane, home to Twomey Cellars, Sterling Vineyards, and Clos Pegase Winery.
Bike rentals are available in Calistoga at the Calistoga Bike Shop, which offers road, mountain, hybrid, electric, tandem, and kids’ bikes as well as guided wine, road, and mountain tours.
Story By: Marisa McCann
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Calistoga Bike Shop // 707-942-9687 // www.calistogabikeshop.com
Clif Family Winery // 707-301-7188 // www.cliffamily.com
Napa Valley Bike Tours // 707-251-8687 // www.napavalleybiketours.com
Napa Valley Velo // 707-927-5486 // www.sthelenacyclery.com
St Helena Cyclery // 707-963-7736 // www.sthelenacyclery.com