Things to do in Downtown Napa: A Traveler’s Guide

  • Guides
  • on MAY 12, 2023
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Napa Valley boasts plenty of beautiful spots to call home during a visit, but if you’re looking for a wide variety of things to do and see all in one convenient location, downtown Napa is the place to be. This once sleepy town at the south end of Napa Valley has undergone a major renaissance over the past decade and is now home to luxury lodging, hip wine bars, celebrity-led restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and beautiful river walks. So park the car, forget about traffic, and take advantage of the urban oasis that is downtown Napa. Here’s your guide to making the most of a visit.

Eat Well

Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Oxbow Public Market, Courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.

From award-winning fine dining to farm-to-table casual eateries, downtown Napa is a foodie haven. Simply put, you’ll want to make room in your bellies to chow down on all the delicious offerings that Napa has to offer. First on the agenda should be a visit to the lively Oxbow Public Market. A gathering place for gourmet grub in Napa, Oxbow is where you can find everything from oysters and tacos to chocolates and cupcakes. In fact, there are over 20 merchants under one roof, providing endless ways to eat and drink yourself silly!

For more delectable fare, follow your nose to Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ. In addition to pulled pork and beer can chicken featuring house-made rubs, Bounty Hunter has 40 wines available by the glass. Down the street is famed Napa Valley restaurant, Angèle, renowned for its upscale French country cuisine and quaint, romantic atmosphere since 2002. While wine is a natural choice as you dine on French fare, when your palate needs a break from the grape juice, you can’t go wrong with one of Angèle’s fantastic cocktails.

Courtesy of Angèle

If you still need more restaurant ideas, check out Morimoto, the sleek Napa River restaurant from celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto, where an extensive menu of sushi, seafood, Wagyu beef, sake, and Japanese Whiskey can be found.

Sip & Savor

Courtesy of New Frontier Wine Co. | Autumn Anderson

If you’re looking to taste fine wines from some of the world’s most renowned winemakers, wines normally only available by allocation, check out New Frontier Wine Co., beloved by serious oenophiles. Housed in a former saloon and brothel from the late 1800s, the Vintner’s Collective is another good place to sample a wide variety of Napa Valley wines from one location. Here, you’ll find over two dozen quality boutique producers who are too small to have their own tasting rooms, with various tasting spaces from which to enjoy their coveted wines.

Courtesy of Acumen Wine Gallery | Susan DeMatei

Make a point to also stop into Acumen Wine Gallery, featuring a small but high quality collection of organically grown estate wines from Atlas Peak, and WALT Wines, located near the Oxbow Public Market, where tasters can sip their way through 1,000 miles of Pinot Noir from within the bright, cheerful space.

But wait, there’s more: Mayacamas’ historic winery may be tucked high up in the mountains, but visitors can sample these classic, age-worthy wines in the comforts of Mayacamas’ sleek urban space right in the heart of downtown. Another worthy destination is Compline, a wine bar, restaurant, and bottle shop in one. Founded by two sommeliers, Compline’s wine collection is complete with bottlings from around the world, including some obscure varietals from lesser known regions. Stop in for a glass and a bite, and be sure to check their calendar for educational tastings and events. And last but not least, when you’re in need of a vino break or just want to try something unique, head to the uber inviting California Brandy House, the first stand-alone tasting room dedicated to premium California brandies.

See A Show

JaMSession at JaM Cellars, Courtesy of JaM Cellars

At the eclectic JaM Cellars, wine tastings take place in the casual setting of their music and wine lounge. In addition to JaM’s classic vinyl collection and Rolling Stone Magazine-clad walls, the tasting room also plays host to weekly live music sets known as JaMSessions. Savor After Hours combines cabaret and wine tasting for an immersive performance in downtown Napa. This not-so-typical cabaret show blends dance, music, and illusions to display the way wines make us feel, all while enjoying a wine pairing flight, naturally.

Another fantastic place to catch a show is the historic Uptown Theatre. This renovated California art-deco theater from 1937 regularly welcomes musical performers and comedy acts. The intimate setting means there’s never a bad seat in the house.

Other Things to Do

Culinary Arts Museum at CIA at Copia, Courtesy of CIA at Copia

Foodies and wannabe chefs won’t want to miss heading to the CIA at Copia, the ultimate destination for wine, art, and food-related happenings and exhibits. Take a cooking class in the state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, explore the collection of specialty cookware at the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum, or try their new 3D dining experience that consists of a four-course meal and features cutting-edge 3D technology and visual storytelling. The CIA at Copia is truly a wonderful place to immerse yourself in Napa’s culinary community.

Camino Shop at First Street Napa, Courtesy of First Street Napa

For shopping, head to First Street Napa, the heart of shopping in downtown Napa, where you’ll find a variety of boutiques offering the best in fashion, home décor, art, and gifts. If shopping until you drop isn’t in your budget, a more affordable Napa activity is bike riding around the area. Rent bikes for a scenic ride along the paved Napa Valley Vine Trail, which runs 12.5 miles from Napa to Yountville. Or, rent kayaks or paddle boards from Napa Valley Paddle for a fun outdoor experience on the water. They offer guided and unguided rentals by the hour, day, or weekend. Another great activity that won’t break the bank is simply walking around downtown Napa to experience the Napa Art Walk, an urban exhibition of public artworks. The sculptures change every couple of years, highlighting the work of various artists from throughout California and the West Coast.

Sleep Soundly

Andaz Harvest Suite, Courtesy of Andaz

The 141-room Andaz is ideally situated right in the heart of downtown Napa, offering the comforts of a boutique hotel with the convenience of being walking distance to shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms. Loft-style rooms feature hardwood floors and deep soaking tubs, while spacious suites offer an added dose of luxury in the way of rain showers, fireplaces, and terraces overlooking downtown. If a view of the river is what you’re after, stay at Milliken Creek Inn. Hidden away just one mile from the heart of downtown Napa, this peaceful retreat overlooking the Napa River is the perfect romantic getaway after a long day of wine tasting and shopping throughout the area.

Courtesy of Milliken Creek Inn

Located in a quieter part of downtown is the alluring Hennessey House, a 10-room bed and breakfast with a tranquil garden setting and Victorian charm. Along with friendly service, the inn’s welcoming amenities, including gourmet breakfasts, a 24-hour sauna, and evening wine and cheese, make a stay here feel extra special.

 WineCountry Inspo: Downtown Napa embodies everything we love about Wine Country—mouthwatering food, excellent wine, a booming arts scene, and a lively vibe—making it one of the most beloved places to explore in Napa Valley. When you’re ready to plan your stay, check out our exclusive WineCountry hotel perks. All you need to do is book using one of our Promo Codes to get perks like complimentary early and late check-out, suite upgrades, and more.

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Hana-Lee Sedgwick

Hana-Lee Sedgwick is a writer and editor based in Santa Barbara, California. A Certified Specialist of Wine and Sommelier, Hana-Lee specializes in all things wine, food, and travel, and her work regularly appears in publications such as The Tasting Panel, Edible, and Food & Home. Follow her on Instagram at @wanderandwine.