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Top Rated Attractions in Napa Valley

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Petaluma Wildlife & Natural Science Museum

The Petaluma Wildlife & Natural Science Museum has a huge collection of taxidermied animals as well as live animals, and is open to the public every Saturday. The property also includes an aviary, dioramas, and a fossil and mineral collection.

John Muir National Historic Site

This national park is the preserved home of one of the United States' most famous naturalists and conservationists, John Muir. Muir, who passed away in 1914, founded the Sierra Club and is considered the father of the National Parks system. The site consists of Muir's 17-room Victorian mansion and surrounding fruit ranch, his gravesite, the Martinez Adobe, and the recently added Mount Wanda area that features the John Muir Nature Trail. Take the self-guided tour of the grounds. There are special events around Christmas and on John Muir's birthday, April 21.

Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

This restored mill, built in 1846, still works, and visitors can see its massive millstones in action when millers grind flour out of local wheat. Bale Grist flour, literally the "run of the mill," can be purchased at the mill when demonstrations take place. Check for the sign saying "Milling Today." Bale Grist Mill demonstrations are irregularly scheduled. Demonstrations are more frequent on weekends and in summer months. The verdant surroundings are a great addition to the historic charm of this site.

Skyline Wilderness Park

A picnic ground and trailhead at the base of the hill lead to steep trails up to the boulder-strewn valley rim. Hikers and horse riders to the Skyline Wilderness Park are greeted with pretty views of the valley and a respite from the wine-soaked tourist crush of the valley floor. Some moderate degree of cardiovascular fitness is advisable before setting off.

Mission San Francisco Solano

Founded in 1823, the last California mission, Mission San Francisco Solano, served only 11 years before its secularization. But without it, history would be rewritten to upset many wine-loving travelers: Sonoma Valley wine country wouldn't exist, and the town of Sonoma wouldn't exist. Today, the mission is part of the Sonoma State Historic Park in the lovely downtown. It is rather small, but theexhibits are impressive in terms of variety and quality, from watercolor paintings of California missions by Chris Jorgensen to flea-market-finds oil paintings and artifacts. The courtyard is anoasis filled with olive trees, walls of cactus and rosemary.

Napa Valley Museum

Napa Valley Museum boasts an intriguing collection, of objects and artifacts rooted in Napa's pioneering and wine making history. The museum is housed in fashionably reconstructed quarters of what was once the California State Veterans Home. Three galleries are housed within the museum, each dedicated to a different aspect of local history. The exhibit spaces are intelligently arranged and well lit, making good use of Napa's abundant natural light. Its educational programs are great, particularly strong hands-on art training for kids.

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