8 Things Not to Miss in Downtown Napa

8 Things to do in Downtown Napa

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Napa, CA is wine, and while there is plenty of that, there is also so much more to do and see in this quaint little city! I had been to Napa once before while visiting San Francisco a couple years ago, but I only visited a couple wineries so it didn’t really count. I didn’t even realize there was a “downtown” to Napa!

Some trips I genuinely enjoy adventure and the constant go, go, go, but other times, I really enjoy just getting away and taking it easy. If you’re looking for the latter, staying in downtown Napa, California is a great option. There are so many tasting rooms within walking distance of any hotel (I stayed at the Napa River Inn and loved it), which takes the hassle of arranging a car or designating a sober driver to go out to the vineyards that are a bit further away. The food is also fantastic!

I was invited by the City of Napa to stay and explore the downtown area for 3 days and 2 nights, and it was a fantastic trip! These were my 8 favorite things about the trip to downtown Napa:

Napa Art Walk

Downtown Napa has this wonderful program in place that helps support artists and encourages/requires more art in the community! The Napa Art Walk changes every couple of years and has a self-guided audio tour you can take! As a gal from Austin, TX which is known for their street art, I really appreciated this!

Vermeil Wines

Things to do in Downtown Napa - Vermeil Wines

This was one of my favorite wine tasting venues that we visited! Dick Vermeil, the owner, is a former NFL coach. I’m typically a white wine kinda girl, but their red blend was my absolute favorite wine of the whole trip! I’m also a football fan so it was cool that they have the XXXIV Superbowl Trophy in the wine tasting room (OK it might be a replica but still cool).

Kayaking on the Napa River

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip! It was amazing to hear just how much the Napa River has changed and grown over the last 50 years. Most people don’t even realize that A, Napa has a river, and B, that you can kayak on it! The guide was very knowledgeable, and it was a great way to learn about Napa’s history outside of wine.

Napa General Store

Things to do in Downtown Napa - Napa General Store

We had lunch one day at the Napa General Store, and it was lovely out on their patio! The food was delicious too. They, like many places in Downtown Napa, do wine tastings, but what’s fun about doing it here, is that you have the option to do a “blind tasting”! They blindfold you and then you have to try guess what it is you’re tasting. I didn’t get any right haha oops!

Things to do in Downtown Napa - Napa General Store

Culinary Insitute of America at Copia

Things to do in Downtown Napa - CIA Cooking Class

During our trip with Downtown Napa, they took us to do a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia where all the recipes were inspired by wine, of course! Our chef/instructor was fantastic, she taught us some really helpful techniques for cooking in general. If you’d like to book a class, visit their website.

Sky and Vine at the Archer Hotel

This rooftop bar in the new Archer Hotel has an unparalleled sunset view! The food was good, nothing too noteworthy (they do have lobster corndogs which were good!). However, I would absolutely recommend this place for drinks at sunset — I mean, look at that view!

Oxbow Public Market

Things to do in Downtown Napa - oxbow market

The Oxbow Public Market is a 40,000 square foot marketplace that includes many different cafes, food vendors, shops, and produce from local farms. It’s a great place to get breakfast and browse around in the shops. Some favorites are Anette’s Chocolates (her chocolates are legendary), Five Dot Ranch, Kara’s Cupcakes, Model Bakery, Whole Spice, and Napa Valley Distillery. The market is located at 610 and 644 First Street in Downtown Napa along the river.

Gordon Huether

Things to do in Downtown Napa - Gordon Huether

If you walk down any street in downtown Napa, chances are you’ll run across a piece of art by Gordon Huether. He is an incredible artist, his pieces can be found all over the country! Even cooler? He’s extremely down to earth and chill in person as well. We were lucky enough to get a personal tour of his studio which was really amazing to see. We even got a signed copy of his newest book! I would absolutely recommend taking some time to go out to his studio if you visit Napa, I believe you can set it up by contacting him on his website.

Planning a trip to Napa? Let me know in the comments!

xx Chels

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