Downtown Napa – Tips for a Fun Weekend

Oh to be a kid again! Giant chair at Napa's Riverfront - ©
Oh to be a kid again! Giant chair at Napa’s Riverfront – ©

We often get asked about Napa Valley – where to stay, where to eat, where to go wine-tasting and fun things to do. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed exploring the quaint little towns of Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Recently we ventured into Downtown Napa for a long weekend getaway and what a delight! We parked our car and didn’t have to drive anywhere for the whole weekend. Everything we wanted to do and see was right there, all within easy walking distance to our hotel – outdoor cafes, shops, restaurants, spas, live entertainment, wine bars and over 20 tasting rooms.

Tips on Planning a Weekend in Downtown Napa

If you’re planning a trip to Napa Valley, consider staying in Downtown Napa – it’s one of the first Napa towns you’ll come across (just before Yountville)  as you’re driving up from San Francisco. Listed below are some tips and ideas on where to stay and fun things to do – ask your hotel concierge for a map of the local eateries and tasting rooms.

Where to Stay

Option 1: The Westin Verasa Napa

The Westin Verasa Napa – view of pool and hot-tub ©

The elegant Westin Verasa Napa hotel is conveniently located within easy access to Oxbow Public Market, Napa Valley Wine Train and about a 10-15 minute walk to Napa’s Riverfront. Rooms are spacious, most with a balcony or patio. Some rooms have a kitchenette that includes a microwave and coffeemaker – Tip: don’t forget to bring popcorn for the microwave; we also like to bring packets of Starbucks Via instant coffee whenever we travel. Amenities include flat screen TV, wi-fi, comfy robes, aptly named “Heavenly” beds and shower/bath. The pet-friendly hotel features an outdoor saltwater pool, large hot-tub, private cabanas with padded loungers, fitness studio, in-room spa treatments, complimentary wine-tasting, cafe and bar, and a  Michelin star restaurant (La Toque).

Option 2 – Napa River Inn – Napa’s Historic Riverfront

Napa River Inn at the historic Napa Mill - ©
Napa River Inn at the historic Napa Mill – ©

Michelin-rated Napa River Inn is located within the historic Napa Mill in Napa’s Riverfront District. The pet-friendly hotel dates back to 1884. Amenities include complimentary California breakfast in bed, flat screen TV, wi-fi, in-room gourmet coffee and tea with Keurig coffee-makers, complimentary newspaper, plush terry robes, day spa, and complimentary wine-tasting. Restaurants, bars and tasting rooms are all within easy walking distance from the hotel.

Where To Eat

Oxbow Public Market:

Oxbow Public Market Eateries ©
Oxbow Public Market Eateries ©
  • Gott’s Roadside – one of our favorite hamburger places; expect a line during peak dining times (FYI… they also have locations in St. Helena, San Francisco and Palo Alto)
  • Hog Island Oyster Bar – the place to go for oysters (pictured above)
  • Oxbow Cheese & Wine Bar – wonderful selection of domestic and international cheeses and fine wines (pictured above)
  • Kitchen Door – American comfort food by Chef Todd Humphries; long dining tables make it easy to meet new friends
  • Ca’ Momi – deliciously thin, crispy gourmet pizzas
  • C Casa – unique and tasty tacos (popular with locals and tourists alike)
  • Picnic dinner in your room. Pick up a baguette, a few assorted cheeses, fresh fruit, chocolate and a nice bottle of wine, slip into a comfy robe and enjoy a romantic picnic for two in the comfort of your hotel room – this is one of our favorite things to do whenever we visit Napa Valley 🙂

Napa’s Napa & Riverfront:

Napa General Store - garden patio overlooking Napa River ©
Napa General Store – garden patio overlooking Napa River ©
  • Napa General Store – fun place for breakfast or lunch; casual setting with a lovely garden patio overlooking Napa River (pictured above)
  • Angele Restaurant & Bar on the Napa River Walk
  • Celadon Restaurant – global comfort food
  • Fish Story
  • Morimoto Napa – popular Japanese Steakhouse
  • Grace’s Table – popular with locals; casual with outdoor tables
  • ABC – Alexis Baking Company
  • Oenotri – Southern Italian food (we like sitting outside in the courtyard)
  • La Toque – Michelin-star French restaurant at The Westin Verasa Napa – elegant setting and fabulous food by Chef Ken Frank
  • Napa Valley Wine Train – lunch and dinner excursions through Napa Valley’s scenic vineyards (fun wine-tasting and dining experience)
Napa Valley Wine Train - lunch and dinner excursions ©
Napa Valley Wine Train – lunch and dinner excursions ©

Where To Go Wine-Tasting

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar ©
Bounty Hunter Wine Bar ©

Downtown Napa Tasting Rooms

  • Back Room Wines
  • Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokn’ BBQ
  • Ca’ Momi Winery & Enoteca
  • Carpe Diem Wine Bar
  • Ceja Vineyards Wine Tasting Salon
  • Gustavo Thrace
  • John Anthony
  • Wines by Mark Herold
  • Mason Cellars
  • Napa General Store
  • Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar
  • Robert Craig
  • Silo’s
  • Stonehedge Winery Tasting Room & Gift Shop
  • Taste @ Oxbow
  • Twenty Rows
  • Uncorked @ Oxbow
  • Vintners Collective
  • X Winery
  • 1313 Main Wine Bar

Fun Things To Do

Walk along the Napa Riverfront promenade ©
Walk along the Napa Riverfront promenade ©
  • Napa’s Riverfront – walk along the promenade overlooking Napa River
  • Oxbow Public Market – fun place to stroll, people-watch, shop, eat and drink wine. Filled with merchants, wine bars and restaurants, it’s similar to San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Marketplace and a smaller version of Boston’s Fanueuil Hall Marketplace and Seattle’s Pikes Place Market
  • Indulge your senses – treat yourself to a scoop or two of Three Twins organic Ice Cream – yum! (located inside Oxbow Public Market)
  • Explore Downtown Napa’s historic neighborhoods on foot or by bike. During our visit, we were surprised to still see a few of Napa’s oldest buildings that had been damaged during the 2014 Napa earthquake
  • Enjoy shopping in Downtown Napa, Oxbow Public Market and Napa’s Riverfront
  • Go kayaking along the Napa River
  • Take your picture sitting on the Giant Chair at Napa’s Riverfront (top picture) – fun for kids and big kids too!
  • Pamper yourself with relaxing spa treatments at one of Napa’s Day Spas
  • At night, enjoy shows and live entertainment at Napa’s Opera House (a national historic landmark), Silo’s Night Club and the Uptown Theater
  • Napa Valley Wine Train – lunch and dinner excursions through beautiful wine country. Sip wine while admiring scenic vineyard views along the 36 mile ride. 
  • Wine-Tasting at Downtown Napa Tasting Rooms
Napa River in Downtown Napa ©
Napa River in Downtown Napa ©

As you can see, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a weekend in Downtown Napa without having to drive anywhere. If you do decide to venture out a little deeper into Napa Valley and go wine-tasting along Hwy 29 and visit Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga, you’ll find a world of amazing restaurants and more wineries than you can count… but that’s another blog article for another time 🙂

More Info on Napa Valley Wine Country

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