Napa Valley Summer in the Town of Napa
Napa is a valley—30 miles in length and five miles across at its widest point — spanning from the south in Carneros to the North in Calistoga with a dry Mediterranean climate perfect for grape-growing.
Napa is also a town–the first you encounter on a drive up the valley. Originally it was more of a blue collar kind of town, settled by hardy early pioneers and home to hard-working shipbuilders at the Mare Island Shipyard in Vallejo. For many years Napa held on to its quiet, small-town, no-frills identity. Visitors skipped the exit on their way to the more glamorous vineyards and wineries in Yountville, Oakville, St. Helena and Calistoga.
All that has changed, and a revitalized and busy Napa has become a tourist destination in its own right. Although there are no vineyards in the city limits, there’s plenty of opportunity for wine tasting and culinary experiences, shopping, entertainment and recreation—all in a walkable downtown area. There’s plenty to explore in the shiny, new, but still friendly and down-to-earth town of Napa.
Downtown Napa’s newest breakfast, brunch and lunch spot is Monday Bakery. Owned by classically trained chef Sally Latimer, she combined her love for baking with her love for fresh, seasonal local ingredients. Plenty of sweet treats on the menu, as well as a curated selection of breakfast sandwiches, salads, quiche, soup and a sandwich of the day. And of course, great coffee. A casual spot to start your day with a smile.
Browse the market
A short walk across the Napa River takes you to the Oxbow Market, where a collection representing the best of Napa Valley restaurants, food purveyors and artisans are gathered in an agriculturally inspired structure reminiscent of the barns of Napa Valley past. If you are an oyster fanatic, Hog Island Oyster Company is your ticket to paradise. Sit outside and dig into a platter of sweet, fresh local oysters on ice from their Bolinas Bay farm paired with a glass of Napa Valley Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine. Afterwards, try a hand-scooped cone from award-wining local ice cream purveyor Three Twins Creamery.
The CIA at COPIA
Right next door, COPIA, originally the American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts, has experienced a rebirth. Founded by Robert and Margrit Mondavi and other local philanthropists to celebrate the culture of Napa Valley, the ambitious project fell on hard times. Recently, it’s been reimagined as the CIA at Copia, presented by the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s premier culinary college. Check out their website for the many tastings, events and “food conversations.” There’s also a restaurant that sources from the on-site organic gardens and the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum. The New York Times called it a “foodie wonderland” so if that’s your jam, be sure to pop in.
As you wind your way back to the heart of downtown, a craft beer may be calling your name. Stop in at the Stone Brewing and grab a pint and a seat on their sunny deck overlooking the Napa River. This two-story gastropub is housed in the Borreo building, a historic stone building built by the family of the same name in 1877. The building has been extensively renovated and beers are brewed right on site. There’s a winemaker saying along the lines of “it takes a lot of beer to make a great wine.” Here’s your chance to experience a taste of just that.
Boho Lifestyle Napa
Retails stores seemed to come and go as the Napa downtown was being heavily renovated and the newest offerings tend to be big and familiar brand names. One of the longstanding and most beloved, Boho Lifestyle, is still going strong. A true boutique, Boho was founded by owner Indra Fortney who considers herself a Boho girl since birth. Inspired by her free-spirited mother, who showed her how to travel in Europe on a dime, the shop features a creative and eclectic selection of well-priced clothing, accessories and jewelry—now more on trend than ever.
Cadet Beer and Wine Bar
There are lots of delicious options for a fab, formal meal in downtown Napa, but if you’re looking to drink and eat with wine-savvy locals and winemakers, Cadet should be on your list. The owners Colleen Fleming and Aubrey Bailey founded Cadet to celebrate producers from California and beyond. More than a beer and wine bar, more than a restaurant, it’s become a community gathering place where winemakers personally showcase their wines at weekly party events. All other nights, there’s always something good on the extensive drinks list from around-the-world—from rare Champagne to California wines to craft beer to cider, paired with simple but thoughtfully prepared classics like savory paninis, salumi and cheese boards.