the valleys

Napa Valley

Located in sunny California just north of the San Francisco Bay, Napa Valley is known for its history in wine making. As a top American Viticultural Area in California, its rich history has its early roots in the early 1800’s. Charles Krug Winery, Shramsburg, Chateau Montelena, Nichelini and Beringer are all wineries that began during these early times that tourists can visit today.

Napa Valley’s wine industry did not prosper without setbacks; there was more than one occasion that caused those who made their living from this commercial enterprise financial trouble. Prohibition, which swept the country in the 1920, caused the winemakers to rethink their strategies.

No longer able to market their original product, these entrepreneurs then began to sell grapes to those who were going around the law to make wine in their own, homemade distilleries. This became big business as grapes were a popular commodity during this period of United State’s history. When prohibition was ceased in 1933, the price for grapes plummeted. As a result, the promotion of wine making in the area resurrected, and, following the second World War, this again became a primary source of income in the Napa Valley area.

The year 1965 marked a noticeable increase in the amount of wineries in Napa Valley. It was during this time that Robert Mondavi left his family residence of Charles Krug to begin his own enterprise. Following this new winery start up, many others began their own start-ups.

This influx caused the reputation for wine to change. Mondavi convinced the populace that wine was the drink of romance, and he made the beverage easier than ever to acquire by offering it in a 1.5 ounce bottle, larger than the previous availability and therefore cheaper.

To this day, some of the world’s most reputable wines come from California’s Napa Valley. Some of the notable brands include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Zinfandel, just to name a few.

Things to Do in Napa Valley

Travelers who are wine connoisseurs are sure to want to visit The American Center for for Wine, Food and Arts. Here, visitors are able to enjoy fine wines, delicious food and beautiful art simultaneously. The innovative gallery of artwork carries various themes and are geared toward informing visitors of the history of the area primarily regarding food and drink.

Another common tourist attraction is Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Tourists here are able to test their athletic ability through the various trails that can be hiked. Difficulty levels are accommodating and include a variety of terrain from flat and smooth for the leisurely stroll to hillier areas for those up for the challenge. For those visiting in the winter months, it is worth noting that bringing along water is necessary as the weather is known to become very hot. Many are unaware of this fact and can become dehydrated.

Those interested in the wining history the area has to offer will want to make time to visit the Reynolds Family Winery. Here, they will enjoy a large tasting room where wine enthusiasts receive the unique opportunity to taste a variety of the best the industry has to offer.

Other areas of interest in Napa Valley include Valley Gate Vineyards, Folie a Deux Winery, Bonaventura Balloon Company, Saint Supery Vineyards & Winery and Folie a Deux Winery, just to name a few.

Silicon Valley

On the opposite end of the San Francisco bay area, tourists can visit another area rich in history: Silicon Valley. The history here is much different than its northern counterpart as it is full of technological advances. The name itself derives from the massive amount of silicon chips that were manufactured here; however, today it has become a general reference to the various high tech industries that have since taken root.

Silicon Valley owes much of its advancements to Stanford University and its graduates and staff. It was here that Lee De Forest invented the innovative vacuum tube known as the Audion. Hewlett-Packard also created the first oscilloscopes in this famous area.

Radio and military technological advances also originated in Silicon Valley. Charles Herrold, the American radio broadcaster who was the creator of the world’s second radio station, did so here. It was Silicon Valley, also, that the Federal Telegraph Corporation was created just months later. During the decade that followed its foundation, the FTC created a global radio communication system, the first the world had seen.

The Navy saw the benefits offered by Silicon Valley, and it was here that they decided to establish NAS Moffett Field. This was the location where Navy blimps were based and later became a primary location where the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics performed aeronautics research.

Silicon Valley, while always to be remembered for its innovation in semiconductors, has more recently gained notoriety for software and Internet advancements. Starting in the 1960’s when Doug Engelbart invented the mouse, computer innovations have continued to advance here.

The dot com bubble, which started in the 1990’s, had much of its activity centered in Silicon Valley. Even after the NASDAQ stock market began its descent in 2000, this area of the country has continued as a worldwide leader in the advancement of software and computer aided technology.

Must-See Attractions in Silicon Valley

Those who have an interest in experiencing the inventive spirit that exists in Silicon Valley have few places to explore as most companies do not offer public tours; however, tourists can take advantage of the unique opportunity made available by Intel through their Intel Museum made free to the public. Here, guests can receive a guided tour featuring exhibits which paint the picture of this reputable company’s rich history full of innovations and advancements.

Tourists at the Intel Museum are encouraged to call ahead with their reservation to ensure a guide is available to accommodate their tour. Guests are able to utilize maps of the museum in Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

Another popular tourist location is the Apple Company Store at the Apple Campus. Those who visit will have the chance to purchase unique souvenirs for friends and loved ones such as t-shirts, mugs and other paraphernalia containing this universal logo.

Those who wish to enjoy nature can take advantage of the many hiking opportunities made available in the Silicon Valley hills. The Almaden Quicksilver County Park provides visitors a variety of terrain to take advantage of; while hiking, the tourist is able to enjoy the nature and scenery that scenic California has to offer.

Death Valley

In eastern California lies the famous Death Valley. Known for its location in the Mojave Desert, this valley is famous for being the hottest location in North America. At 282 feet below sea level, it is also the lowest point on the continent.

Visitors of Death Valley will want to be sure to bring with them plenty of water and loose clothing; Death Valley holds the record for the hottest recorded temperature in the Western hemisphere at 134 °F. This temperature was recorded in Furnace Valley on July 10, 1913 and is just two degrees less than the world record made in Libya.

This famous desert area has been inhabited by the Timbisha Indian tribe for at least the past millennium. Its name originated during the famous Gold Rush in 1849. During this time, prospectors dubbed it such due to its unaccommodating climate. Only one death resulted as these prospectors made their way across in pursuit of the gold that they believed to lie beyond the borders of the valley; however, the travelers probably felt as though they were knocking on death’s door as they endured the scorching temperatures the area is famous for.

As recently as 2005, Death Valley has experienced an influx in rainfall as it saw a quadrupled average amount during that year. As a result, the lowest point in the valley filled and created a small lake, but it was quickly evaporated due to the extreme heat. Known as Lake Badwater, this short lived body of water was tracked closely by NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite. The lake had a lifespan of around three months from February through May.

For those brave enough to face the unfavorable climate, Death Valley offers a variety of interesting tourist attractions. Artist’s Drive and Palette is a scenic canyon area located deep within the Black Mountains. The oxidation of metals that naturally occur here create a plethora of beautiful colors on the rocks and is a result of violent volcanic eruptions that once hit the area.

Iron salts create red, pink and yellow pigments while the decomposition of mica causes the rock to become a pleasant shade of green. Tourists also get to enjoy the purple manganese that tops off this rainbow on the rocks.

At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basins is the lowest elevation in all of North America and a great spot for tourists to check out during their travels through Death Valley. Upon first glance, it appears that the area is covered with snow; however, this is actually pure table salt. The scenery found here is like none other in the world.

On the other end of the spectrum, travelers are able to view the expanse of Death Valley from a vantage point 5,500 feet above sea level at Dante’s View. Here, tourists can see Badwater Basin, Telescope Peak and a variety of other areas from a unique, bird’s eye view.

Tourists can take advantage of the rare opportunity to watch rocks move across the ground mysteriously at Racetrack Playa. This strange phenomena, which has been the feature of more than a few documentaries and news stories, occurs without the help of humans or animals. The movement is made evident by the trail the stones leave behind.

Sun Valley

Not all valleys in North America are located in California; Idaho’s Sun Valley is another option for tourists to visit and offers a unique opportunity to take part in a variety of sports and activities. Sun Valley originated when W. Averell Harriman, Union Pacific Railroad chairman, attempted to promote an increase in train riders. By creating a destination mountain resort in this area, he envisioned an influx in business similar to that which was seen by enthusiasts who visited the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, an event which caused an increase in interest for winter sports.

Harriman hired the services of Felix Schaffgotsch, a count from Austria, to tour the country in search for the perfect location for such a resort. During the trip, he nearly gave up until he was intrigued by the Ketchum area in Idaho. The location featured an ideal combination of sunshine and snow and had minimal hindrances such as wind. The area was purchased and promoted as Sun Valley soon thereafter.

In 1936, chairlifts were added as an attraction to the Dollar Mountains. The lifts, which were manufactured in Omaha by U.P., were the result of an engineer’s recollection of the conveyor equipment he had observed in use to load tropical fruit. The idea proved a success and attracted more attention to the developing hot spot.

Upon its inception, the creators of the Sun Valley attraction spot had dreams of making Bald Mountain a ski resort area; however, at that time in history, the sport had not picked up much attention, and there were few people who were able to participate. All the same, there were plans to integrate the use of the mountain with time.

When a group of Austrian ski instructors fled their home country during World War II, however, the process was sped up at their insistence that the mountain offered a unique skiing experience that the public had the right to experience. The idea took off. Through the use of clever promotion, the sport began to increase in popularity, and Sun Valley began to gain the popularity that has brought it to its current status as a top United States tourist attraction.

Other Sun Valley Attractions

Tourists do not have to be primarily skiing enthusiasts to enjoy a visit to Sun Valley. The area also offers other opportunities for them to enjoy. The Elkhorn Resort offers commodities in a remote yet readily accessible area the entire family is sure to enjoy. With swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa and various other forms of entertainment, the Elkhorn Resort is a great place for the tourist to catch up on the rest and relaxation they have long awaited.

Those who choose to visit Sun Valley will want to be sure not to miss a chance to witness the scenic Sawtooth Recreational Area. Located between the White Cloud and Boulder mountains, this area features the rustic Sawtooth Wilderness, an area where travelers can essentially “get away from it all” as there are no roads, buildings or motors of any sort allowed.

Valley Schwag loves popular vacation destinations for families and adventures alike. We love kids and we love having fun. Each of the valleys has a unique environment for both adults and kids to enjoy. Many Valley places offer educational and historical sites for touring. Our partner ToysKidsLove is dedicated to helping kids have fun while learning about our country and world in general.