Though there was a time when this town was often passed over in the rush to get deep into Napa Valley wine country, that’s not the way to go now. Savvy travelers know that this bustling town on the banks of the Napa River has undergone a major renaissance, with a major influx of celebrity-chef restaurants, appealing parks and river walks, and upscale lodgings. And tasting rooms—lots and lots of tasting rooms. Nearly 30 such locations, with settings ranging from coolly sophisticated to kickback relaxed, are all within walking distance in the downtown core. Streets are also dotted with a tempting array of shops, cafes, and chocolatiers, and leafy neighborhood streets are the place to find some of the classiest, lace-and-crystal B&Bs in the state.
Highlights around town include Oxbow Market, a lively food hall where you can slurp fresh oysters, sample housemade charcuterie, peruse chocolate truffles with names like “Tart Cherry Cabernet,” and find endless other ways to stuff yourself silly. Along the riverfront, step into the minimalist beauty of Morimoto Napa, enjoy ultra-fresh seafood at Celadon, or cross the river to sample Chef Ken Frank’s elegant offerings at La Toque. For overnight stays, consider big city chic options Andaz Napa, or one-of-a-kind B&B options such as ultra-elegant Churchill Manor or friendly Cedar Gables Inn.
For a truly unique (car-free) way to explore the region, settle into a cushy appointed vintage rail car to sightsee, dine, and sample wines aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, departing from downtown Napa year-round.