When you picture Napa Valley, odds are you envision lush rolling hilltops and vineyards as far as the eye can see. But, in reality, there is so much more to Napa than its wineries.
Most visitors know Napa Valley for its world-class golfing and phenomenal culinary scene. Still, they don’t know that the city’s center has a riverfront setting with breweries, tasting rooms, and a stunning waterside walkway to stroll along.
From a bustling downtown filled with shops and cafes to kayaking, train rides, live music, and award-winning restaurants, you’ll definitely want to allot some time in downtown Napa on your next wine-country getaway.
When you stay at Chateau de Vie, you’ll be a scenic 40-minute drive to Napa’s vibrant city center. So, consider this your guide to must-see Downtown Napa Valley destinations.
Eating and Drinking
Check out the Tasting Rooms
This one may seem obvious, but Napa Valley is teeming with exceptional wine-tasting rooms everywhere you turn, but especially so in the downtown area.
One of the benefits of wine-tasting downtown is that you’re within walking distance of over 40 tasting rooms. So regardless of your palate, you’re guaranteed to find a winery that caters to your preferences. Whether you’re looking to taste the local juice or you want to try wines of the world, there are dozens of exceptional wine bars, bottle shops, and award-winning restaurants to choose from.
A few notable options are:
- Krupp Brothers Tasting Room Downtown: 714 1st Street, Napa, CA
- Mayacamas Downtown: 1256 1st Street, Napa, CA
- Brown Downtown Napa: 1005 Coombs Street, Napa, CA
- Vineyard 29 Tasting Room: 1300 1st St Suite 305, Napa, CA
Dine in Style
With exceptional wines comes fine dining, and it doesn’t get much better than the restaurants in downtown Napa Valley. With everything from French cuisine to Japanese and farm-to-table eateries, the food scene in Napa is top-notch.
For Riverfront Promenade dining that exceeds expectations in ambiance and taste, Celadon serves classic comfort food in a vibey courtyard. That said, if you don’t have reservations or this guide with you, you won’t have to work too hard to find exceptional eateries in Napa.
Sip on Some Craft Brews
Now, we all love a good Napa Cabernet, but even after a day of sipping on great wines, you still may find yourself thirsty for something more. Luckily, being in the center of downtown Napa puts you within walking distance of over a dozen excellent breweries and taprooms that take their craft just as seriously.
Some favorites include:
- Fieldwork Brewing: 1046 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA
- Trade Brewing: 731 1st St, Napa, CA
- Napa Palisades Saloon: 1000 Main St #100, Napa, CA
Take a Cooking Class
If you want to impress the foodies in your life, then you’ll definitely want to book a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia. This branch of the CIA is located in the heart of downtown and offers classes for every age and skill level.
Whether you want to embark on a multi-day culinary boot camp or you’d prefer a single-day hands-on cooking class with wine tasting, this is a wholly unique experience worth checking out.
Visit the Oxbow Public Market
The Oxbow Public Market is a bustling food and wine destination for locals and travelers alike. It’s located smack-dab in the heart of downtown Napa and features over 20 vendors. You’ll find everything from fresh oysters to fresh cheeses, wines of the world, Napa Valley olive oil, books, coffee, and so much more.
This is a fantastic spot to spend an afternoon year-round, as natural light makes for a welcoming atmosphere while also providing a much-needed reprieve from Napa’s warm summer days.
Stroll Down the Riverfront Promenade
When you walk along the Napa River, which feeds into the San Francisco Bay, you’ll be greeted with a picturesque glimpse of the region’s vineyards, wineries, and rolling hilltops.
This is the perfect setting to take a walk and breathe in the fresh air; Napa’s riverfront offers an abundance of shops, cafes, restaurants, and tasting rooms. In addition, you’ll notice throughout your walk that the riverfront is also home to cultural attractions, including art installations and access to parks and outdoor seating areas.
Check Out the Napa Art Walk
Each year, the Napa Art Walk features a new round of local artists and exhibits their pieces around downtown Napa. The aim was to promote support for local art and embrace the town’s cultural diversity.
Locals and tourists alike can embark on a self-guided tour of the Napa Art Walk, where they’ll find creative and thoughtful pieces of all shapes and sizes.
Kayak the Napa River
If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of California’s vast and beautiful landscape, consider hopping in a kayak and paddling down the Napa River. The river runs straight through Downtown Napa and introduces you to a host of wildlife, including birds, fish, and even the occasional otter. You’ll find kayak rentals available just off Main Street, right next to Morimoto at Napa Valley Paddle.
In addition, the river also provides access points to Kennedy Park, where you can launch your kayak and embark on your adventure.
Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa Valley Wine Train is a wildly popular traveler’s activity. You begin your voyage minutes away from Oxbow Market and travel, via restored vintage train, through wine country. This offers visitors a unique glimpse into the full beauty of Napa’s vineyards and landscape.
During your travels, you’ll enjoy gourmet meals prepared by onboard chefs, wine tasting, and special events. All of this occurs as you enjoy a panoramic view of the countryside.
The route takes three hours and encompasses 36 miles of round-and-back travel. In addition, you’ll be able to listen to the onboard narration, offering education and insight into Napa’s history. This is a popular destination, so be sure to book your train tickets in advance.
Catch Some Live Music at Blue Note
If you love live music, you’ll definitely want to stop by Blue Note. It combines two of the finest things in life: a live jazz music club alongside a gourmet restaurant. Located on the first floor of the Napa Valley Opera House, Blue Note has featured acclaimed artists such as Bobby McFerrin and Ramsey Lewis.
Special events can be found throughout the year, so definitely check out their calendar when you decide to visit Napa Valley.
Shop Along Napa’s First Street
Running straight through the heart of Downtown Napa, First Street is home to numerous shops and plenty of restaurants, tasting rooms, and attractions like the Napa Art Walk.
What was one of the first streets to be laid down in Napa has become a hub for the city. It’s a pedestrian-friendly street that features many historic buildings dating back to the early 19th century.
Many of the attractions in this list can be found on First Street, including the Napa Valley Opera House, Oxbow Public Market, the historic Archer Hotel, and Napa’s Riverfront Promenade.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Many of Napa’s wineries close around sunset, but that doesn’t mean you have to call it a night. Downtown Napa has plenty of nightlife opportunities, from live music to restaurants and nightclubs.
If you’re on the hunt for a little nightlife, be sure to check out:
- The Andaz Napa Hotel Rooftop Lounge: A cocktail hour with stunning views.
- Uptown Theater: Entertainment venue featuring live music and comedy.
- JaM Cellars Wine and Music Studio: A live music-centric wine-tasting experience.
Have a Spa Day
If there’s one thing Napa is good at, it’s allowing you to pamper yourself. Being in the center of downtown still puts you within walking distance of some of the most luxurious day spas. This means you can enjoy a facial, massage, or even a calming mineral bath at a moment’s notice.
Some popular downtown spas include:
- The Blue Water Day Spa: 1763 2nd St, Napa, CA
- The Greenhaus Spa: 1300 Pearl St, Napa, CA
- St. Pierre Massage and Spa: 2400 Clay St, Napa, CA
Spend the Day in Scenic Downtown Napa Valley
With cascading hilltops, vineyards as far as the eye can see, and plenty of public attractions to keep you busy, Napa is a place you have to see to believe.
When you check in at Chateau de Vie, you’ll be amazed by how many fun activities are just a short jaunt away. Napa’s downtown is just one of many exciting ways to spend your time in California’s gorgeous wine country.