Things to do in Downtown Napa Valley

Keeping Current Matters June 15, 2023

Things to do in Downtown Napa Valley

       Downtown Napa, the gateway to the world-famous Napa Valley wine region, is the ideal destination for wine connoisseurs, foodies, art collectors, and outdoor enthusiasts. Downtown Napa, once a peaceful hamlet that tourists passed through on their way to the Napa Valley, is gaining popularity. It’s simple to see why.

       Over ten years ago, the city began a successful redevelopment initiative. Downtown Napa has been home to luxury accommodation, chic wine bars, restaurants with chefs trained at Napa’s Culinary Institute of America (CIA), wine tasting rooms, and a lovely riverbank promenade since its revival.

       By imaginatively reinventing itself, downtown Napa now provides a dynamic art scene with an urban exhibition of public artworks, boutique shops, new hotels, and a vibrant public market. Some Victorian mansions have been renovated into small inns, thanks to their late 1800s and early 1900s architecture. Downtown Napa gives convenient access to some of the world’s top wines, with more than 40 tasting facilities. 

Outdoor Art Display Collection

       Downtown Napa is known for being one of California’s most walkable wine country locations, but it is much more. An open-air art museum featuring many outdoor art installations can be found in downtown Napa and may be explored on foot. In addition, the Napa Art Walk, a biennial rotating sculpture display through downtown streets, is an inspirational event for art aficionados. At the First Street Napa: Artist Alley, there are several murals and art installations.

River Front Walk

       The waterfront and Veteran’s Park, located on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, are must-see attractions in Downtown Napa. The peaceful Napa River flows through midtown, providing magnificent vistas of ducks and kayaks paddling together in the water. This wasn’t always the case, though. The town is bisected by a tidal river that has flooded numerous times throughout the years, wreaking destruction and forcing the town into a state of continual renewal. The riverfront is now Downtown Napa’s dazzling beauty, owing to an elaborate flood control project in the early 2000s.

Napa Valley Gondola

       The gondola was manufactured in Venice and is 1,300 feet by 36.5 feet. It is made of oak, walnut, and cherry wood. On this one-hour peaceful cruise, guests are welcome to bring their own wine. At the same time, the gondolier adds to the pleasure by serenading the passengers with music. The Napa Downtown Dock is located right below the Riverfront Promenade.

Napa River Kayakin

       Do you want to try something new? Rent a kayak to get a closer look at the Napa River’s natural splendor. This is an easy way to appreciate one of Downtown Napa’s shining gems, with no crowds, quiet water, and great views. It’s also suitable for people of all fitness levels and experience. Stop for a swim or a picnic meal. You might see a river otter, a great blue heron, or any of the other natural birds that live in this riparian corridor along the way.

Down Town Napa Cycling

       Self-service bike rental kiosks make exploring Downtown Napa a breeze. Choose from two handy stations: the Oxbow Public Market or the Historic Napa Mill’s Napa River Inn. Bicycling is an excellent way to get some exercise, get some fresh air, and see more of the sights.

       There are also numerous urban trails that promote bicycling. A wide, paved pathway, for example, runs down the riverbank, providing room for bicycles, pedestrians, and strollers. Another large, paved pathway may be found in the Rail Arts District Napa, where the two-mile stretch of murals can be found.

       Exploring the downtown Victorian houses by bicycle is another excellent option. These architectural gems from the late 1800s and early 1900s have been lovingly renovated and add to Downtown Napa’s charm.

Take in the Craft Beer Scene

       Napa Valley is known around the world for its winemaking prowess, but it has much more to offer. The city’s booming craft brew culture offers a variety of opportunities to sample a new microbrew or an old favorite.

  • Downtown Joe’s Brewery has established itself as a long-running, casual venue for house-brewed beers on Main Street. This restaurant is also one of the best in Downtown Napa, with fresh cuisine creations and tasty burgers. If you go, ask for second-story seats by the window or on the balcony outside for a spectacular view of the Napa River.
  • Another local favorite, Stone Brewing Napa, is located on the east bank of the Napa River in a massive 10,000 square-foot iconic edifice. Inside the cavernous restaurant or on the riverside patio under umbrella-shaded tables, this venue serves strong and tasty craft beer. You can get your suds in growlers, sampling flights, or by the glass. The meal selection features pub classics. There are no bookings required.
Enjoy both casual and fine dining options

       Cole’s Chop House is a classic American steakhouse housed in a historic two-story building with exposed stone walls and a mahogany bar. In a beautifully restored environment, the restaurant serves exquisite steaks, lamb chops, and seafood. Classic drinks are created by talented bartenders using a world-class whiskey selection. You can eat either indoors or outside on the patio. Reservations are strongly advised. 1122 Main Street is the address.

       Ca-Momi Osteria serves typical Italian pizzas, pasta, and other main courses, as well as cocktails, wine, and beer. If you had an Italian grandmother, this restaurant would remind you of her lovingly prepared, meticulously authentic cuisine. The restaurant’s casual but modern ambience is enhanced with a sophisticated industrial atmosphere. Takeout, dine-in, or eat on the terrace are all options. There are no bookings required. 1141 Front Street is the address.

        Lunch at C Casa in the bustling Oxbow Public Market offers delicious Mexican cuisine. A range of reinterpreted Mexican meals are prepared by CIA-trained cooks. The core of their cuisine is a hand-prepared white corn tortilla. Their taste is rounded off with fresh, nutritious ingredients and distinctive sauces and flavorings. 610 1st Street is the address.

On Foot Wine Tasting

       There are around 40 wineries in Downtown Napa where you can sample hundreds of varietals. Even so, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the only varietals available at Gamling and McDuck. What makes this place unique is that the nine wines offered for tasting come from six distinct wine regions in California. The wine’s titles are whimsically hilarious, and the artwork is fantastic.

       They include wines such as “Poor and in Love,” a Chenin Blanc, and “Entanglement #5,” a blend of three Cabernet Francs from various vineyards. The wine tasting room’s moniker is an alias for Minnesota winemakers Gabrielle Shaffer and Adam McClary, who started their shop in Downtown Napa in 2008. Except for the lovely black “greeter cat” that may join you at the bar, the tastings are virtually completely private.

       Vintage Sweet Shop, housed in this one-of-a-kind former feed grain shop, will please any sweet desire as well as any wine tasting palate. Handcrafted chocolates and regional wines are combined to provide a memorable tasting experience.

       Debbie Dever, the owner, has been creating chocolates by hand for over 35 years. The Vintage Sweet Shop has been featured on the Food Network, Travel Channel, and several publications. She and her husband also manufacture a proprietary wine, Devereaux, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon grown in a local Napa Valley AVA.

       The Vintner’s Collective offers a staggeringly large selection of wines from 21 different wineries. This is the official tasting room for a select group of Napa Valley winemakers that specialize in small-batch, terroir-driven wines. Other California and Oregon producers’ wines are also available at the Collective.

       The Collective, which is housed in a massive two-story sandstone structure established in 1875, has been available to the public for 17 years. By appointment only, it provides three private tasting choices. Each tasting’s flights are tailored to your palate and preferences.

       The Reserve tasting is served upstairs in Napa’s most famous former brothel, with local artisan cheeses and dry-aged charcuterie. Another tasting involves pairing the ultimate cult wine with chocolate. This is your Downtown Napa tasting location if you’re a curious and enthusiastic admirer of artisan wines. Main Street, 1245.

Napa Valley’s Blue Note

       Blue Note Napa is a jazz club with live music and a gourmet food. Blue Note Napa, located on the first floor of the historic Napa Valley Opera House, offers a taste of Greenwich Village jazz. In an intimate setting, the Blue Note hosts some of the best names in jazz, including Chris Botti, Diana Krall, and Michael Bublé.

       Summer marks the start of the open-air concert season, with Blue Note performances moving from downtown Napa to Valley wineries. These lively outdoor performances take place at Charles Krug Winery, Napa Valley’s oldest wine estate. This informal, enjoyable celebration of world-class musical performances offers great food and wine, reserved seating, and free parking.

The Napa Valley Wine Train

       The historic Napa Valley Wine Train, which has been running for over 69 years and departs at regular intervals from Downtown Napa Station, provides travelers with a unique opportunity to sample wines outside of the city without having to drive. The train is carrying on a railroad tradition of transporting people to a Calistoga spa.

       The train now offers a 36-mile, three-hour round-trip excursion to St. Helena and return, including stops at many Napa Valley wineries along the way. Guests may meet local vintners, participate in a murder mystery, enjoy winery tours and wine tasting on board, as well as a chef-prepared lunch or supper, depending on the type of ticket purchased. Choose from a delicious seasonal cuisine that varies according on which of the three onboard dining experiences you choose.

       The Napa Valley Wine Train offers a leisurely ride through one of the world’s most famous wine regions in restored, antique carriages with nicely designed interiors. However, it neatly returns you to Downtown Napa. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Oxbow District Market

       This lively neighborhood hangout serves delicious food, drinks, and specialty delicacies. The Oxbow Public Market, located in Downtown Napa’s Oxbow District, houses 20 different artisanal sellers. The market, which is modeled after the Ferry Building in San Francisco, offers an indoor community of local food sellers, brewpubs, organic produce kiosks, and coffee shops.

       The Market aggressively promotes organic and sustainable farming practices, as well as locally owned enterprises. Its broad tenant mix represents the Napa Valley’s agricultural community and considerable wealth. A picturesque outdoor deck with seating along the Napa River and the Napa River Trail is part of this 40,000 square foot marketplace.


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