By Sarah Tanner
The Napa Valley is known best for luxury living, fine dining, and watercolor sunsets set against the dark green of its surrounding mountains. For college students with limited budgets and even less time, while the area is gorgeous to take in, it is not always easy to find inexpensive activities to relieve the stress of classes. Luckily, the valley has much to offer, and discovering your next favorite study break location is easier than you think!
Adventurous students with a love for the outdoors can head to Lake Berryessa for a variety of activities including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and a number of water sports. Less than a forty-minute drive from PUC’s campus, this lake makes for a fun weekend hangout location. It’s also the perfect spot for hot weekends early in the fall quarter, when students can pack a picnic lunch and spend the day surrounded by nature, and still make it back to the dorms in time for nightfall.
St. Helena Farmer’s Market
The St. Helena farmer’s market is a lovely Friday morning activity just a few minutes’ drive down the hill. This event is open from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each week and features the valley’s favorite artisan products. Located in Crane Park from May through October, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a number of baked goods are available for purchase. Grab a coffee, and wander the stalls for a quick morning get away.
St. Helena features a number of parks that include bocce ball courts. This easy afternoon activity pairs best with a handful of friends and a large pizza. Take in the sunshine and let your competitive spirit run wild as you compete on the court. With a little skill and some luck, this game is relatively simple to master, and a great way to fit outdoor activity within a busy schedule.
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
A favorite area of its namesake author, and located just north of Calistoga, this state park includes a number of hiking trails and cycling opportunities. It encompasses Mount St. Helena, as well as a number of scenic viewpoints. With hiking options ranging from short jaunts to a ten-mile round-trip, Robert Louis Stevenson practically begs for return visits.
Tucked between restaurants lining Yountville’s main street is Bouchon, a local bakery known worldwide for their award-winning desserts. What better way to treat yourself after a long week of classes, quizzes, and studying? Pick up a house-made macaron, pain au chocolat, or take a loaf of fresh-baked bread to go, and enjoy a well-deserved break from the stress of the quarter.
Whether you prefer to wander the streets of Calistoga, fit in an early morning hike, or sample your favorite baked goods, the Napa Valley has a number of budget-friendly activities practically made for busy college students. With a wide variety of options and locations, the valley offers something fun for virtually everyone.