Archer's Favorite Things to Do In Downtown Napa + Napa Valley
. ad hoc + addendum
From the famed chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry, and Per Se in NYC) comes this popular spot, originally intended to be a temporary diner while Keller plotted concepts for a more-permanent restaurant. But the locals and visitors quickly declared their love of the four-course menu that changes daily, and ad hoc became a permanent fixture. The spicy buttermilk fried chicken is legendary.
. Anette's Chocolates
Anette and her brother have been crafting artisan-style chocolates for more than 25 years. Chocolate truffles, spoonable sauces, brittles and nut chews all sit patiently displayed behind the counter, waiting to be chosen. If brandy-filled cordials, merlot-infused dark chocolate and bourbon brittle aren’t incentive enough for a visit, they also serve delectably sweet gelato in a variety of familiar flavors.
. The Dutch Door
Just across the street from Archer is the Dutch Door — a delightful gourmet-on-the-go takeout spot. Private chef Brent Pennington cooks organic and uses the freshest seasonal ingredients around. Open Tuesday - Sunday, the Dutch Door offers both hot and cold options, plus drinks and a homemade biscotti. Kale Yeah Bowl, Chipotle Vegan Chili and Spanish Fried Chicken earn honorable mentions.
. B Cellars Vineyards and Winery
This destination winery, set amidst lush surroundings, takes guests beyond the vines. Ample outdoor seating, a kitchen garden, honey bee aviary, hen house and creative wine and food pairings provide an opportunity to experience the essence of a boutique Napa Valley winery.
. Balloons Above the Valley
What better way to see the iconic Napa Valley than by balloon? Marvel at the sunrise while ascending to new heights in the cool morning air. Boundless vineyards and mountain ranges surround you as you slip into reverie. Back on solid ground, enjoy a seasonal champagne brunch and reflect on your adventure. This is how you imagined Napa.
The namesake of the wine bar, restaurant and wine retail shop hearkens back to an old Latin term for the end of the working day. In this spirit, Compline welcomes guests to lunch and dinner with a smallish but fabulous menu of sharable starters, main meals and salads and a largish and also-fabulous wine selection. Highly recommended: the classic burger with aioli, caramelized onion, and cheddar on a Model Bakery bun.
Photo courtesy of Emma K. Morris.
. Bistro Jeanty
Are you in Napa or the French countryside? It’s hard to tell at Bistro Jeanty — the only local French-owned and -operated restaurant — where such dishes as sole meunière, coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon are served amid classic French bistro décor: vintage prints, yellow walls and rustic wooden tables.
. Brown Downtown Napa
Like the streamlined scarab beetle that graces its bottles, Brown Estate Vineyards produces wines that “tell tales not readily apparent at a glance.” Its urban-chic, red-bricked tasting room in the heart of downtown Napa has a knowledgeable, attentive staff offering on-point cheese pairings and wines borne out of familial love and respect for the earth.
. Blue Note Napa
You'll flip for the cool cats down at the Blue Note — a renowned global jazz and supper club that calls the former Napa Opera House home. Downtown Napa's swinging music scene offers an intimate experience with seating for 150, along with farm-to-table gourmet cuisine provided by Michelin-star-experienced Quentin Garcia and local wines to howl about.
. Model Bakery
Delicious pastries, breads and cookies are abundant at this quaint Napa bakery. The crowds come for Oprah’s twice-named favorite — the English muffins. She admitted recently that she enjoys this chewy bread so much that she flies them across the country when she gets a craving. Massive, fluffy and chewy, these delicious treats can be enjoyed in one of the many breakfast sandwiches on location. Or, like Oprah — with a little butter and house-made marmalade.
. Truffle Festival — Mid-January
This annual American Truffle Company event brings together the world’s best truffle chefs and experts (including truffle-sniffing dogs) for a weekend of culinary exploration and demonstrations. Truffle lovers won’t want to miss the Saturday-night Truffles & Wine dinner and the Monday Marketplace where specialty food products and fresh truffles can be purchased.
. Bounty Hunter
The Wild West moves to Sonoma County inside the doors of this rough-and-tumble restaurant and wine bar. With eclectic décor, a seriously smokin' barbecue menu and 40+ American whiskeys, it’s easy to forget you’re in Napa. Quickly reminding you, though, are 40 wines served by the glass and more than 400 by the bottle. Follow your nose to the smoker whenever the craving hits; you'll get your fill until midnight.
. Cardinale Estate
In the heart of Napa’s Oakville district, Cardinale is known for its limited-production cabernet sauvignon blends that utilize grapes from Napa’s most coveted mountain appellations. Atop its own knoll, the stone winery commands an unmatched panoramic view of Napa Valley. By appointment only.
. Norman Rose Tavern
For far-better-than-bar-food food, head to Norman Rose Tavern just a block away from Archer. The second Napa restaurant owned by Christina and Michael Gyetvan feature fresh, seasonal, local ingredients and a large beer and wine list. Menu favorites include the 5 Dot Ranch CheeseBurger, Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich and Beer Battered Fish & Chips. Chase it with root beer from the tap.
. Chateau Montelena
The winery that put California viticulture on the map, Chateau Montelena continues what it started in 1976 when its chardonnay won the top prize of a blind tasting in Paris. (See the movie "Bottle Shock" for a dramatization of the historic event.) The winery is in one of the most peaceful settings in Napa: a stone castle carved into a hillside overlooking a Chinese garden, a lake and the vineyards.
. The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone
One of four extraordinary Culinary Institute of America campuses (the others are in Hyde Park, NY, San Antonio, TX, and Singapore), St. Helena’s historic Greystone facility welcomes guests to witness firsthand how its novices prepare to become tomorrow’s food business leaders. Dine at either The Bakery Café by illy or Gatehouse Restaurant, where students use the freshest regional ingredients to create contemporary dishes worthy of any leading restaurant in the country.
. Cole's Chop House
Exposed brick and a mahogany bar make this elegant, upscale steakhouse ideal for a romantic dinner for two. Juicy, flavorful steaks are the focus here. The 21-day dry-aged New York strips and California rib eyes are served alongside such perfectly prepared steakhouse sides as Brussels sprouts and baked potatoes. The steaks' big flavors are complemented by bold wine, whiskey and scotch selections. And don’t leave without dessert — the Bourbon Whiskey Bread Pudding is a guest favorite.
A multiple-year Michelin Bib Gourmand winner, Cook is a perpetual St. Helena favorite. Warm, welcoming and unpretentious, the petite downtown spot features uncomplicated yet incredibly delicious Northern Italian dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. The rustic and quirky dining room is delightful.
. Tarla Grill
Tarla is an award-winning Mediterranean grill that serves up selections originating from Turkey and Greece. Open for lunch and dinner, plus a Saturday and Sunday brunch and a daily happy hour (no corkage fee on Tuesday), this bar and grill has a warm, welcoming atmosphere and excellent, genuine service. For lunch, begin with warm hummus, homemade dolma or (and?) the Greek dip trio. Any of the kebabs are sure to please.
Photo courtesy of Judy Doherty.
. Del Dotto
Why fly to Venice when you can visit Del Dotto, a labor of Venetian love built in honor of the proprietor’s Italian ancestors? The winery’s historic caves, now lined with Italian marble and ancient tiles that depict the history of wine, continue to provide the ideal environment for Del Dotto’s voluptuous and opulent red varietals, sourced from the top AVAs in the area. By reservation only.
. di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
Visit three galleries, a sculpture park and a wildlife preserve and you'll be just scratching the surface of this 125-year-old estate and vineyard. Home to the largest holding of Bay Area art in the world, the galleries house a diverse collection of paintings, photographs and sculptures. But the pièce de résistance is the one-third-mile Sculpture Meadow with scenic hills and grassland.
. Eagles Vines Golf Club
Golf in harmony with nature, the way it was always meant to be. As you swing for par, you’ll notice that there are no homes along the course, only meticulously cared-for greens and natural Napa foliage. Out of bounds runs along vineyards, and elevated tee boxes may make you consider the sights, along with your next shot. Don’t let the scenic views make you think this is all vacation, though; the course can be challenging.
. Eiko's Modern Japanese Cuisine
A sublime spot for a Japanese-themed dinner for two, Eiko's serves up sushi, Japanese cuisine and American classics with a little Napa flare. Sexy sushi rolls and blistered shishito peppers fly out of the kitchen into the intimate dining room and bar. Many of the dishes are served tapas-style, so bring your chopstick skills and order a sampling.
. El Dorado Kitchen
Go high (seared foie gras, oysters on the half shell) or low (macaroni and cheese) in choosing from Chef Armando Navarro’s farm-driven menu. Either way, you'll enjoy your meal — and a glass or two from more than 200 wine choices — in the sophisticated dining room, welcoming bar or outdoor patio lined with fig trees.
Just one aspect of Long Meadow Ranch, Farmstead’s menu offerings feature the talents of the area’s chefs, farmers, cattle ranchers and winemakers who, together, help to create a unique Napa Valley dining experience. Housed in a Napa-chic barn, Farmstead buzzes with a palpable energy that draws locals and tourists alike. Shop the property’s general store, or just grab a cup of Stumptown coffee at the café.
. Napa Valley Restaurant Week — January
What a way to experience all the culinary adventures in the heart of California wine country: Napa Valley Restaurant Week includes multicourse prix-fixe menus for lunch ($20) and dinner ($36 or $46) from Michelin-Star rated restaurants that include the newest epicurean masters and local favorites alike.
. Girl and the Fig
This popular rustic bistro’s enclosed patio was voted Best Outdoor Dining in Sonoma County by Sonoma Magazine readers. Enjoy creative, seasonal French country fare and libations, including French aperitifs, award-winning wines and both unique and traditional cocktails. Then hop across the street to take a stroll around historic and picturesque Sonoma Plaza.
. Goose & Gander
Dine by the rustic fireplace or head to the patio at this historic 1920s bungalow — a local favorite serving hearty gastro pub dishes in an amiable and festive atmosphere. Great cocktails, an extensive wine list and beers galore accompany mouthwatering bar bites and elevated American cuisine.
. Gordon Huether
The place to visit for anyone who loves glass art, unique art or any art. Based in Napa, this is famed artist Gordon Huether’s personal workspace. The functioning studio also serves as a showcase gallery with personal pieces, scaled-down replicas of his most famous sculptures from around the world and a live look at his current productions. The behind-the-scenes feel of this gallery makes it unlike anything else in Napa.
This award-winning restaurant is picture-perfect — literally. Large barn wood doors open to a vine-laden trellis tunnel that leads to a covered courtyard ideal for alfresco dining. After updating your Insta, lunch on global comfort food and excellent wine and cocktail selections. Nowhere's better in Napa for a boozy lunch with the girls.
. Hanzell Vineyards
The original vines planted at this historic Sonoma winery, tucked away in the Mayacamas Mountains, are claimed to be the oldest continually producing chardonnay and pinot noir vines in the Western Hemisphere. Known for its Burgundian style, Hanzell is a highly regarded yet little-known wine industry gem. By appointment only.
. C Casa
Fresh Mexican food for breakfast? ¡Por qué, sí! Inside Napa’s Oxbow Market, C Casa serves up house-made breakfast tacos and tostadas that are “larger, healthier and more flavorful than traditional tacos.” Breakfast plates with Hen Pen eggs from a local family farm are deliciously vegetarian on their own or complemented with Mexican beef chorizo, Colorado buffalo, Iowa pork carnitas or certified Black Angus steak. Wash it down with fresh-squeezed Valencia orange juice or Mexican coffee.
Photo by John Bedell, courtesy of C Casa.
. Artesa Vineyards & Winery
Set into a high hill with a protective covering of native grasses, this avant-garde winery blends a 460-year winemaking legacy from Spain with time-tested winemaking techniques and an innovative, experimental approach. Complementing each delightful tasting experience are the front lawn — complete with fountains and reflecting pools — and panoramic vistas from the valley to San Francisco. ¡Salud!
Photo courtesy of Artesa Vineyards & Winery.
. JaM Cellars — JamSessions
Live music until midnight. Wine produced from second-generation vintners. Eclectic décor. Rolling Stones records and magazine clippings. Whether hanging with friends in person at the JaMSessions or chilling at home with a glass while enjoying virtual happy hour online, this is one tasting room that seriously rocks. Did we mention the disco ball?
Share a little taste of the Iberian Peninsula with small plates packing big flavor. This well-loved tapas bar brings people near and far for its warm and lively atmosphere and perfect bites. Close your eyes and taste the Mediterranean with such ingredients as lamb, gouda, yucca and Jamón ibérico.
. Jessup Cellars
Whether a seasoned wine lover or a novice, you’ll feel right at home at Jessup as your guide tours you through the winery’s portfolio of small-production varietals. The quaint tasting room features an art gallery with rotating exhibits. Order a cheese pairing from across-the-way neighbor Atelier by JCB.
. Gabrielle Collection
Vintner Gabrielle Leonhard O’Connell focuses on food-oriented cabernet sauvignons and cab sav blends, as well as a rosé. An intimate tasting experience in downtown Napa emphasizes the sustainability and organic nature of the vineyard. Get ready to enjoy a tasting of three small-production wines, or satisfy your palate with seasonal bites paired with gold-medal-winning wines.
. Jarvis Conservatory
Celebrate and support the arts by enjoying an evening at the Jarvis Conservatory. Dedicated to the training and support of artists — particularly art forms not often available in other spaces — the conservatory has been training aspiring artists and giving them a place to call home since the '90s. Come for dance, theatre and artistic film screenings, all set in a beautiful two-story, brick-walled theater.
. La Toque
The apex of Napa's fine dining, this Michelin-starred restaurant in The Westin Verasa is seriously good. The exquisite French cuisine is expertly paired with wine by master sommeliers to deliver a meal that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s this pairing that earned La Toque its lauded star. Choose from a four- or five-course à la carte menu and add the wine pairings; to eat here without wine is to miss the magic.
. Land Trust of Napa County
Get outside and enjoy the iconic beauty of Napa County. As a professional guide leads the expedition along the day's trail, you’ll be shown foliage, sights and wildlife that you’d be hard-pressed to find on your own. Not only will you feel good, you'll be doing good: The price of the hike goes toward maintaining the 65,000 acres that the Land Trust maintains. Reserve tickets online.
. Napa Valley Opera House
The musical pulse of downtown Napa, this National Historic Landmark has been a city social hub since its inception in 1879. Currently home to Blue Note Napa and JaM Cellars Ballroom, the space invites locals and visitors alike for drinking, singing and enjoying a wide array of music most nights of the week.
. Uptown Theatre Napa
Built in 1937 with exquisite acoustics and perfect sight lines, this restored art deco masterpiece is a nod to a past era, with vaulted ceilings and chandeliers. Hundreds of famous bands, comedians and performers have graced the stage over the years, with more to come. With only 98 feet between the stage and the back row, every seat in the house provides a great theatrical experience.
Photo by Mitchell Glotzer, courtesy of Uptown Theatre Napa.
“We make everything” is the mantra of this Southern Italian restaurant. Daily baked bread, house-made salumi and, of course, hand-worked pasta all grace the menu. Local produce — that’s the star. With a four-acre garden offering as much as 80 percent of what appears on the plate, this experience is more backyard-to-table than farm-to-table. Here, simple is best. Start with a daily selection of six salumi, move on to a seasonal sauce atop fresh pasta and end with an espresso or opt for something sweet. Mangiamo!
. Oxbow Cheese and Wine Merchant
Serious about their craft, Oxbow's expert cheesemongers curate a mouthwatering assortment of artisanal cheeses. Offering rare and unique cheeses alongside classic earthy, buttery, nutty and barnyardy varieties, this is a place for those who consider themselves a devotee. Insiders ask for an artisanal cheese board that features three rotating selections, bread, nuts, fruits and house-made condiments. Grab a glass (or flight) of vino and enjoy it all on the Oxbow patio — it's a meal that’s always appropriate.
. V Marketplace
"Come for the wine. Stay for the shopping!" This 38,000-square-foot, late 19th-century marketplace is home to a full-service wine shop and a tasting salon, as well as four art galleries that highlight ceramics and murals, scenic photos and paintings of the valley. Also part of the V Marketplace experience are two restaurants and a chocolatier, several apparel, jewelry and accessory boutiques, gift shops and a beauty bar.
. Lucky Penny Productions
This not-for-profit theatre company creates, develops and presents professional-quality theatre, as well as fostering educational opportunities for youths and adults in the community. Past performances have included “Into the Woods,” “Chicago,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Cabaret.”
. Napa Beer Mile — February
The 2nd annual Napa Beer Mile celebrates Napa Valley's craft beer makers — and those who appreciate a cold one. Spend the day exploring Napa's six craft breweries and enjoy special half-off pricing. Make it to the end? You'll take home a commemorative cap. Please contact each brewery for specific closing times.
. Three Sticks at the Adobe
This intimate tasting room, designed by San Francisco-based Ken Fulk, is not to be missed. In the historic Vallejo Castenada Adobe in downtown Sonoma (the town’s longest-occupied residence and one of the few remaining buildings from California’s Mexican Period), Three Sticks features artisanal wines from exceptional Sonoma Coast vineyards. Reservations are required.
. Alexis Baking Company
From A to Z, Alexis Baking Company (ABC) has it covered. Whether you’re in the mood for “Amazing Brunches, Cakes and Desserts” or hankering for “Xtraordinarily Yummy Zings” to eat (see what they did there?), ABC is a lively retail bakery café in the West End of downtown Napa, within walking distance of Archer Hotel. Word on the street is that the Cinnamon French Toast is to die for.
Photo courtesy of Alexis Baking Company.
. Shadybrook Estate
Saddle up and experience Napa Valley from the perspective of a rancher on horseback. A 30- or 50-minute ride through the vineyards with a tour guide highlights the grand vistas of the Rapp Ranch Estate and Coombsville locale. Following the ride, enjoy a pairing of four estate wines with cheese, charcuterie, spreads, fruits and nuts.
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Becker Bronk.
. Contimo Provisions
Whether for breakfast or lunch or a take-home dinner, Contimo Provisions in Napa’s CIA at Copia believes that everyone deserves to eat well. To that aim, only the best-quality ingredients and the right techniques come together to create simple, delicious food. Start the day off with buttermilk biscuits paired with ham & jam, breakfast sausage, bacon & molasses, pimento cheese or “just jam.” Supplement with a local favorite: NoLa, a cold-brewed espresso and chicory with milk and sugar.
Photo courtesy of Contimo Provisions.
. Scott Lyall
Has giving back ever looked so good? Selling premium menswear since 1981, Scott Lyall brought his signature style to downtown Napa in 2011. Offering premium products sourced from around the world, his sophisticated assortment of contemporary clothing not only looks great, it does good — a percentage of his store's net sales is donated to support sports, arts and music programs in area schools.
. Sam's Social Club
One of the more-popular restaurants in Calistoga — Sam’s, at the iconic Indian Springs Resort and Spa — lives up to its Social Club moniker. Serving crowd-pleasing, upscale American fare in its clubby bar or expansive dining room or on the lovely, twinkle-lit veranda at the foot of Mt. Lincoln, Sam’s is perpetually festive.
. Rutherford Grill
Rub shoulders with Napa insiders at this local favorite — a casual yet elegant meeting spot nestled among some of the area’s most historic wineries. Beloved by valley winemakers, RG bustles with palpable energy. American comfort foods are featured, as is a hearty wine list.
. Round Pond Estate
Vineyards, organic gardens, olive orchards and gourmet cuisine — Round Pond has it all. Featuring one of only two olive mills in the region, its oils, red wine vinegars and flavorful citrus syrups are nearly as popular as its award-winning varietals. Guest experiences here are exceptional. Reserve online.
Intrigue abounds at this dichotomy of modern and industrial, rustic and refined. Exquisite wines are served up inside an art gallery featuring a statement series of “Pulp” prints with humorous settings and dialogue. You’ll find eclectic art and a fine selection of antiques paired alongside vintage magazines and a five-foot corkscrew.
. R+D Kitchen
Serving modern American comfort food in its sleek dining room or on the bustling outdoor patio with cozy fire pit, R+D Kitchen offers something for every palate. Enjoy sushi, a classic burger or Greek-style rotisserie chicken in a casual and amiable atmosphere. Walk-ins only.
This stunning property within a natural landscape on the eastern edge of Rutherford affords commanding views of the valley. The tasting experiences include guided vineyard, winery and cave tours and a tasting of several vintages paired with local artisan cheeses. By appointment only.
. Paradigm Winery
The view from Paradigm’s Oakville tasting room across the vineyards toward the Mayacamas Mountains is spectacular. This small, family-run winery, in continual operation since 1976, produces premium varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel, cab franc and rosé. Intimate and informative tastings are casual and by appointment only.
. Oxbow Public Market
The food service isn’t the only thing that shines at Oxbow. It's a specialty shopping (and gift-purchasing) wonderland. The bustling market offers premium spices and custom blends, artisanal olive oils and vinegars, a fishmonger, a butcher, a cheese and wine merchant and a Napa bookstore with new releases and a lovely selection of stationery.
While living in Paris, owner Bettina Rouas lived above a neighborhood bistro by the name of Chez Angèle. Fate would have it that they shared the same name — Rouas’s middle name. It was then that she dreamed of moving back to the States and opening a restaurant. Years later, her rustic take overlooking the Napa River is an ode to (but not a replica of) that nostalgic bistro. With such elevated French classics as cassoulet with duck confit, steak frites and oysters on the half shell, you can close your eyes and taste her Parisian adventures.
. Oakville Grocery
Is that the rock star you idolize, standing in line for his handcrafted, locally sourced, gourmet deli sandwich? You never know who you’ll spy at Oakville Grocery — a popular gathering spot for locals, visitors and assorted glitterati. History bonus: It’s California’s longest continually operating grocery store.
. Cliff Lede Vineyards
Sample meticulously crafted, estate-driven wines and view museum-quality art at this Stag’s Leap District 60-acre estate. Tasting venues include a 1913 Craftsman-style tasting room, an outdoor patio with breathtaking views and the FEL Pinot Garden, named in honor of Cliff’s mother, Florence Elsie Lede. Appointments are recommended.
. Gargiulo Vineyards
The Gargiulo Vineyards terrace overlooks all of Oakville and is especially stunning on a sunny day. Tour the winery — and gallery of vintage and handmade guitars — with glass in hand. A commitment to authentic expression is evident in both the winery’s single-vineyard estate wines and in its tasting room that features reclaimed wood flooring from a 1950s Napa gymnasium, chandeliers crafted from wine barrel staves and walls built from the property's hallmark red rock. By appointment only.
. Jessel Gallery
At the century mark and 12,000 square feet, Jessel Gallery is the oldest and largest gallery in Napa Valley. It features eclectic art from a variety of local and national artists, with seemingly endless galleries that feature a room of local designer jewelry, another of vintage clothing and accessories (some by local designers) and a proper art studio. Immortalize the moment with its signature WOW Moment: When hosting an event at Jessel Gallery, Jessel Miller or one of her Plein Air Artists will attend and capture the moment in paint, on the spot.
Get a cute wardrobe and do some good while you're at it. This affordable women’s boutique mixes the hottest fashion trends with a twist: Many of its products have a “give back” feature in which a percentage of your purchase goes to any number of needy causes. So, go ahead — you do need that romper.
TORC is Napa farm-to-table with none of the pomp. The clearly audible music plays rock and jazz, not classical. The entirely open dining area is boisterous and radiates conversation — think gastropub meets Napa in the pairing you didn’t know you needed. Must-order deviled eggs, pork belly with shiitake mushrooms and lobster risotto ensure culinary delight.
. Southside Café
True to its name, Southside is a truly local café. Fresh, local Napa produce shines brightest in simple but delicious toasts. While avocado toast is nearly a must in this part of the country, English pea with whipped ricotta and grilled strawberries with tarragon and honey bring a little more creativity to the table. Pair your toast with a cup of local Wrecking Ball Coffee, and you're on your way to a Napa start to your day.
. Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar
East Coast and South America meet wine country at this lively and vibrantly designed seafood café near Healdsburg’s historic plaza. Small plates, meant for sharing, include New England-style "rolls," ceviches, tartares and raw bar items, including eight varieties of oysters. Seasonal cocktails and an extensive wine list round out the menu.
. Lime Stone
If you appreciate the look and feel of a Charlie Palmer restaurant, you’ll love Lime Stone, a beautifully stocked home wares and gift store curated by Charlie’s wife, Lisa — the creative force behind his restaurant décor. Always on the hunt for the intriguing and the unusual, Lisa stocks Lime Stone (within Hotel Healdsburg) with unique linens, stemware, luxurious throws, home fragrance items, one-of-a-kind gifts and so much more.
. Yountville Live — Mid-March
Highlighting the best that Napa Valley has to offer, Yountville Live is a next-generation celebration of food and wine with a vast array of events from which to choose. In addition to master classes, the four-day event — held at various Yountville venues — features intimate dinners, wine tastings, a beer garden, a champagne brunch and live music performances by today’s hottest stars.
. Cliff Lede Vineyards
Combining his love of rock 'n' roll with his enthusiasm for Bordeaux, Cliff Lede created something special. The estate interior is framed with vintage album covers and signed guitars displayed like modern sculptures. The vineyards are even named after his favorite bands. But, as with any good concert, heading backstage provides the exclusive experience. A private tasting lounge awaits with modern seating, a rotating rockability art exhibit and access to limited-production wines from the vineyard. The background music? Soft rock.
. Napa General Store
The name comes from the gift store that sells Napa everything. It’s an exciting place to walk through or find souvenirs, but the real star is the restaurant. Serving upscale Napa breakfast, the food is remarkable but the view is better. Dining in the shadow of an abandoned water tower, you’ll soak up just the right amount of sun while you take in the panoramic views of the Napa River.
. CADE Winery
A must-stop for any wine lover, CADE is situated 1,750 feet above the valley floor on hallowed Howell Mountain. Contemporary in design, the casually elegant tasting room brings the outside in and features panoramic views. Known for its luxurious cabernet sauvignons and sauvignon blancs, CADE is proud to be Napa Valley’s first winery to earn the LEED Gold certification rating. By appointment only.
. Blackbird Vineyards at RiverHouse
A match made in wine-loving heaven: Exquisite wines from Blackbird Vineyards are served up inside an art gallery featuring a statement series of “Pulp” prints with humorous settings and dialogue. In-the-know patrons grab a bite from Morimoto next door to enjoy with their vino.
. Napa City Nights — June - August
Friday evenings during the summer, bring a blanket and something to munch while enjoying the works of musicians and performers across a variety of music genres: jazz, blues, rock, country, world, pop and folk. This free entertainment is family-friendly and a ton of fun. Bring comfy dancing shoes 6:30 - 10 PM each Friday night during the summer.
Photo courtesy of Napa City Nights.
. Schramsberg Vineyards
Life is always sweeter with a flute of bubbles in hand, and Schramsberg makes some of the best. This historic winery (the first established on the hillsides of Napa Valley) just expanded its visitor center to include a pictorial gallery and private tasting rooms. Tour the 150-year-old caves, witness a riddling demonstration and sample the effervescent end product. Book early; tours fill quickly.
. Bruschetteria Food Truck at Clif Family
Parked adjacent to its Velo Vino tasting room on St. Helena’s main street, The Clif Family Bruschetteria Truck is fueled by seasonal ingredients freshly picked from its organic farm. Sample from the unique and ever-changing menu of delectable bruschetta, porchetta, rotisserie chicken, salads and seasonal sides.
. Grace's Table
Move over, chicken and waffles: The cornbread at Grace’s Table is the new savory 'n' sweet brunch mainstay. Served piping hot in a cast-iron skillet, this bread comes to the table begging to be eaten. Before taking the first bite, add a pat of the famous lavender honey butter. Floral and savory, it’s an extra burst of flavor that takes the cornbread from expected to brunch-level goodness. Take a bite, and you’ll experience the crisp exterior before reaching the custardlike interior with whole pieces of tender corn. It’s sweet, savory and everything you want for brunch.
. Festival Napa Valley — July
Festival Napa Valley brings innovative performances from more than 200 artists around the globe, as well as inspiring education programs, to the Napa Valley community year-round. Each summer for 10 days in July, the festival takes place with performances in gorgeous wine-country settings, complemented with food, wine and authentic Napa hospitality. Many of the events are free and family-friendly. While walk-ups are welcome, reservations are recommended.
Photo by Paul Richardson, courtesy of Festival Napa Valley.
. Morimoto Napa
With a lively bar backed by 50-year-old cabernet vines, a natural wood-top sushi bar and comfy, mustard-yellow accent furniture, Morimoto Napa is all style. The eye for detail extends to its extravagantly plated food. Whole deboned fried fish, poured blue flame and sashimi flowers are just a few of the spectacles you can expect on your plate. Flavor, never second fiddle, is abundant in all of Morimoto’s signature Japanese-American fusion dishes.
. Model Bakery
When in Napa, make at least one stop at Model Bakery for crazy-good breads and pastries. The bakery has been part of the valley experience for close to a century — and for good reason. Model supplies breads to many of the area’s favorite restaurants, and its buttery, fluffy English muffins have a world-wide following (including Oprah). Try one plain or as part of a breakfast sandwich.
. Kara's Cupcakes
A talented home baker followed her dreams: Pastry school. Catering business. Single storefront. Then, the Food Network. Now, 10 storefronts with more in the works. Kara’s explosion of popularity comes from her wonderfully winsome cupcakes that have a distinct Napa flare. Made with local, real ingredients, they're always made fresh with a deep understanding of what makes us all say, “Yum!”
New winery, old soil. While sitting in the wine cellar surrounded by stone and ornate stemware tasting cabernet and malbec, you’d never suspect that this is one of the newest wineries in the valley. It only hosts private tastings, so reserve a spot and get a hint of what the future holds for this Napa up-and-comer.
. John Anthony Vineyards Tasting Lounge
Born with Napa soil between his fingers, John Anthony practically bleeds wine. His stylish and upscale downtown tasting room showcases his passion. Reservations are required so that you can sit with a team member who discusses the story and profile behind each select wine.
. State & First
What began in downtown Napa as a pop-up shop in January 2018 has morphed into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar store. Offering 2,000 square feet of curated ready-to-wear fashion for women and men, plus footwear, handbags, accessories and home goods, State & First is downtown Napa’s “global lifestyle and luxury fashion destination retailer. Underneath Archer Hotel, the store’s aim is to have something for everyone who stops in.
Photo courtesy of State & First.
. Mecox Gardens
With a curated collection of eclectic indoor and outdoor furnishings, this Mecox Gardens emporium brings unique antiques, uncommon re-editions and authentic Mecox designs to downtown Napa’s First Street. A myriad of styles and periods are included in the selections of furniture, lighting options, décor and art. Its exclusive Mecox Collection marries a simple modern aesthetic with classic styling and enduring character. Can’t take it home with you? They will ship your found treasures via FedEx or UPS or arrange for white-glove delivery as appropriate.
Photo by Kim Serveau, courtesy of Mecox Gardens.
. Nancy Willis
Painter-printmaker Nancy Willis lives and works in Napa Valley. She uses an additive and subtractive process to explore how color, light and atmosphere instill meaning and evoke a sense of place. Her immersive Path of an Artist tours lead artists to France and Sundance for annual painting workshops, and she teaches courses at the Culinary Institute of America and Napa Valley College. Some of her work is displayed on the third floor of Archer Hotel Napa. Nancy leads guest artist lectures, small-group workshops and private lessons in painting and printmaking out of her studio — by appointment only.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Willis.
. Rooted Fork Foodie Tours
If a three-hour tour is on your Napa agenda, bring a hungry tummy, walking shoes and a gastro-inquisitive nature along for a Rooted Fork Foodie Tour (for guests ages 18+). Focusing on the cuisine in downtown Napa, sign up for a weekend brunch tour to visit a variety of restaurants and sample their signature brunch dish, along with a brunch beverage (with or without alcohol). Or go for the Taste of Downtown Napa tour to explore eight unique food and drink pairings, as well as learning about the history, architecture and insider’s info along the way.
Photo courtesy of Rooted Fork Foodie Tours.
. Napa Valley Wine Train
An antique Pullman car refurbished for the modern era ferries you along seemingly endless vineyards as you're served gourmet eats and premium pours. Choose your experience with wine or (no, and!) dining tours and special packages. While services differ, you can be ensured an authentic and unforgettable Napa experience.
. Art & Clarity
Gain a new perspective by learning and practicing photography with the gorgeous Napa Valley as the backdrop — and the focus. Art & Clarity is a fine photography and video production company offering three- and six-hour custom photography adventures that expand clients’ knowledge and appreciation of photography while exploring the roads and paths less taken throughout wine country. All levels of expertise are welcome.
Photo courtesy of Art & Clarity.
For a fun, breezy, unique new way to tour Napa Valley, consider an all-inclusive package that comes complete with authentic good times. Laces and Limos ensures an unforgettable experience for travelers to wine country with its eco-friendly electric tuk-tuks, which offer weather protection (and heated seats!) and are fun to ride in with their open-air views. Full and half-day private tours are available, as well as customized itineraries for special events.
. Bistro Don Giovanni
This familial Italian bistro serves up al fresco dining and superb pasta made by hand with the same techniques that have been used for centuries. Tender, with just the right amount of chew, you taste the passion and effort needed to make it. While their pasta is a constant, the sauces, ingredients and preparation change with the seasons — luring you back again and again for new tastes on old favorites.
. di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
Self-guided and guided tours through this beloved art park take visitors through two galleries and a sculpture meadow, weather permitting. Site Walk Weekends, which take place April through October, are self-guided tours that include the sculpture meadow, courtyard, olive grove, scenic lakeside drive and galleries. Special exhibition tours run the first Saturday of every month.
Photo by Israel Valencia, courtesy of di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.
. Napa Valley Bike Tours
Napa needs to be experienced, not just seen. Strap on your bicycle helmet and prepare for that experience as you take a ride with panoramic views of rolling vineyards, then take a break at local wineries. The pace is made for sightseeing, not cyclists, so relax as your knowledgeable host educates and guides you along the route.
. Skyline Wilderness Park
Twenty-five miles of multiuse fire road and single-track trails of various skills make Skyline Wilderness Park a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and nature lovers. Fishing is permitted at Lake Marie and picnicking is allowed throughout the park. Test your aim at Silverado Archery Club or on the 18-hole disc golf course. Tent and RV camping sites welcome visitors year-round.
. Napa Valley Fly Guides
Since 2013, Richard Loft has spent approximately 200 days per year taking locals and tourists with varying levels of experience on guided fly-fishing tours. Focusing on the tailwater Putah Creek at the south end of Lake Berryessa, the half- or full-day catch-and-release experience includes the use of waders, rods, reels and flies. This unique outdoor adventure is ideal for a solo trip or for groups up to six.
Photo courtesy of Napa Valley Fly Guides.
. The Aviary at the Ackerman Heritage House
Does 1920s Victorian elegance make your wine taste better? Who knows? But it sure is fun. Sip wine from Lloyd Cellars and Ackerman Family Vineyards as you relax in the historic, refurbished Ackerman Heritage House. Chandeliers, engraved soaking tubs and dark wood abound in the famed mansion. As you step into this beautiful piece of history, guides complement the experience with expert knowledge about the home and the wine. Reservations are required.
. Ashes & Diamonds Winery
The modern mid-century Ashes & Diamonds Winery delivers a blend of old-school and modern flavors that put the transparency of the terroir at the forefront. Insta-worthy tasting experiences have a relaxed vibe and include the A&D Picnic — a curated contact-free picnic on rolling grass berms or an outdoor table — a wine + cheese pairing, a wine + food pairing and a group experience.
Photo courtesy of Ashes & Diamonds.
. Peddle 'N Paddle
Perhaps an atypical way to experience Napa Valley, a Peddle 'N Paddle biking and kayaking tour is sure to show a completely different, gorgeous side of wine country. Begin with a guided bike ride through the serene Carneros region, stopping at two wineries along the way. Enjoy a lovely picnic buffet lunch before casually kayaking the Napa River in double kayaks, taking in the scenery and admiring the local bird life.
. Napa Porchfest
Each year on the last Sunday in July, Napa Porchfest brings the tunes to porches in and around downtown Napa neighborhoods. This free music crawl showcases Napa soloists and bands playing on historic porches, and the audiences are fluid — going porch to porch via bikes, skateboards, wagons, feet, you name it. Don’t forget lawn chairs and water bottles, and bring some cash for food and drink vendors, as well as much-appreciated musician donations.
. Music in the Vineyards
Each August, Napa Valley becomes the inviting backdrop for the nationally acclaimed chamber music festival. With approximately 40 world-class artists performing new and classic chamber music repertoire, the intimate events take place in barrel rooms, caves and event spaces of wineries throughout the valley. Intermissions include wine tastings amid iconic valley views.
Photo by Chick Harrity, courtesy of Music in the Vineyards.
. Jax Diner
Breakfast and lunch at Jax Diner is “simple, and done right.” A short but tasty menu includes crispy French toast, crispy pork belly hash, chicken fried chicken, steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, burrito gringo, a variety of scrambles and several versions of bennys. Thirsty? Enjoy a brunch cocktail — Jax mule or bloody Belvedere, Bulletproof coffee, blueberry lavender lemonade, Paloma fresca or the So Fresh, So Clean, with Tanqueray gin, Lillet Blanc, cucumber, ginger, mint and lime. Ahhh.
. Connolly Ranch
Connolly Ranch has a mission to teach kids and families about farm life, the role of animals, ecology and sustainability, as well as fostering an appreciation for nature. Farm Tour Fridays and Second Saturdays are hands-on opportunities to visit the animals, explore the gardens and picnic in the great outdoors. The annual harvest festival hosts a myriad of family-friendly activities, along with live music, games and such old-fashioned activities as building scarecrows and spinning wool.
. Discovery Tour at Robert Mondavi Winery
A family-friendly winery tour in Napa? Absolutely. Visit Robert Mondavi Winery on weekends year-round (and daily May-October) for a 30-minute walking tour, on which guests view and discuss the historic To Kalon Vineyard, its state-of-the-art cellar and its barrel aging room. The tour includes a tasting of two signature wines. Walk-ins are welcome.
. Napa Valley Film Festival — Mid-November
Featuring 100 independent films, 300 filmmakers, actors, writers, directors and producers, 50 chefs and more than 150 wineries, this world-class film festival seamlessly marries the best of Tinseltown and Napa during its five-day run. Each unique screening and culinary venue offers numerous opportunities for artist, chef and winemaker interactions.
. Napa Christmas Parade — December
The entire Napa community loves a good parade — and its annual Christmas parade is no exception. Second and Third Streets in downtown Napa welcome illuminated cars, trucks, floats, people — even animals, and cash prizes are awarded for Best Use of Lights, Best Theme Related and Best Music.
Photo courtesy of Napa Downtown Association.
. Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade — December
Calistoga celebrates its agricultural heritage with an annual Lighted Tractor Parade. The 2016 event made USA Today’s list of 10 Best Holiday Parades, and it’s easy to see why — with both modern and vintage tractors, antique trucks and construction equipment decked out spectacularly to usher in the holiday season, it’s a family-friendly, festive, not-to-miss event.
. The Chalkboard
With a menu of modern small plates, ingredients from the restaurant’s three-acre organic garden and a focus on wines by the glass and by flight, Chalkboard’s executive chef Shane McAnelly brings his eclectic style of cooking to Napa Valley. A must-try: one of his house-made pastas. Can’t decide between the black pepper linguini, Old Bay strozzapreti, carrot radiatore and cocoa trifoglio? A tasting of each pasta is the way to go.
Born in Berkeley, California, and now served throughout the state, Fieldwork brews a wide enough variety that you could throw a party and each of your friends could drink a different beer. Its downtown Napa taproom is in Oxbow Public Market; grab a seat and enjoy a sampler flight or beer by the glass. Or stop in to grab some grub-to-go, along with a fresh growler or Crowler can, to take home.
Photo courtesy of Fieldwork Brewing.
. Trade Brewing
“A small-town brewery with a big passion for beer,” Trade Brewing spreads its good vibes through such community happenings as charity events, sports team activities and celebrating others who make a difference throughout Napa. They craft (among others) blondes, IPAs and porters that keep the locals coming back for more. And their taproom serves up simple but savory finger foods that complement their frosty brews.
. Stone Brewing
This bicoastal brewery is one of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., with its beers in all 50 states and 40+ countries. Like all of its locations, the Napa brewery made its home in a historical building; the Borreo Building was completed in 1877 before being renovated into Stone Brewing. Stop by, take a seat, grab a cold one and something to munch from the eclectic food menu and enjoy your time apart from the status quo.
Photo courtesy of Mitchell Glotzer.
. St. Clair Brown
With a two-barrel, all grain system that brews just 60 gallons of beer per batch, this small nano-brewery creates “balanced beers that elevate the classic recipes.” Adjacent to the St. Clair Brown winery, the brewery offers both public and private tours and tastings. All private tastings are guided by a wine and beer educator and begin in the brewery-winery’s garden, where guests are encouraged to pick and taste along the way.
. Tannery Bend Beerworks
A round selection of beers are crafted by the small but savvy team at Tannery Bend Beerworks. Guests thirsty for a straw-gold saison, earthy pale ale, hoppy-yet-balanced West Coast IPA, toasty and roasty imperial coffee porter or a full-bodied festbier are happily satisfied. And a fun food menu satisfies. Think hot dogs (typical or vegan), tortas, Reubens, sloppy Joes, grilled cheese, nachos — all the sorts of munchies that pair really well with a frosty brew.
Photo courtesy of Kali Marie Kirschman.
. Gott's Roadside
This is fast food the way it was always meant to be: Hamburgers made with fresh beef. Fries made with local potatoes. Ahi burgers and poke tacos? They're on the menu, too. This valley-born spot keeps the love local with Napa cabernet and San Francisco-brewed beer to complement.
. Oxbow Public Market
A foodie epicenter and true public market, Oxbow supports local growers and regional specialties. The diverse stalls and local tenants make this an ideal place to assemble lunch. Construct the consummate charcuterie board from the butcher, baker and cheese stalls on site. Or stop by one of the many stalls for freshly cooked burgers, recently shucked oysters, Japanese food, tacos or seasonal ice cream. After gathering your perfect meal, step onto the open-air deck for an alfresco experience overlooking the Napa River.
. CIA Copia
Taste a plate of the Valley. The Restaurant at CIA Copia offers seasonal menus based on what’s fresh and delicious. The offerings change constantly based on supply, but you can expect such simply prepared dishes as a Grilled Hanger Steak Salad, made with spinach, arugula and blue cheese — simple ingredients and deliberate preparation allow the true flavors to shine.
. Genova Delicatessen
Since 1926, this family-owned Italian delicatessen is an authentic bridge to the past in a world full of chains. It began in Oakland and expanded to Napa — now its sole focus. With Old World recipes and fresh ingredients, Genova deli serves such classics as meat and meatless lasagna, gnocchi, tortellini and minestrone. And the specialty sandwiches — delizioso!
. Sweetie Pies Bakery
From humble beginnings in an apartment to a commercial kitchen and then a storefront, this bakeshop-café has risen to become an established distributor of deliciousness. Sweetie Pies now offers a wide selection of confections to all who love sweet treats. Need examples? Rum-soaked pound cakes, over-the-top cookies and a pumpkin pie so good, it landed itself on "The Rachel Ray Show" as the best in America. You can take the experience home with its pie delivery service.
. Vintage Sweet Shoppe
The local owner of this cozy chocolate store with a wine tasting bar also has a certified organic cabernet vineyard. The chocolates are made by hand and wine is incorporated into recipes. The cabernet wine truffles are a local favorite. They also create the now-famous chocolate-dipped wine bottles — a memorable way to combine two tasty treasures in one.
Photo courtesy of Vintage Sweet Shoppe.
. Cream Napa
According to Cream Napa, “Ice cream is a great palate cleanser.” Who would argue with that? Right off Highway 121, serves hand-crafted and warm ice cream sandwiches, brownies, waffles, do’sants, floats, ice cream tacos and more tasty treats. Vegan and gluten-free cookies are on the menu, as well as soy ice cream. Between the variety of ice creams, cookies and toppings, there’s no telling how many concoctions can be enjoyed.
. Fantesca Estate & Winery
Sexy, smart and unpretentious: The entire Fantesca experience lives up to its namesake. Whether the informative tour through the vineyards, the cool cave tasting, the private deck with spectacular views or the stories behind its All Great Things wines, a Fantesca winery tasting is a rare treat. Personal attention and a personalized experience (plus beautiful wines) makes this stop a Napa Valley favorite of wine collectors and buyers.
Photo courtesy of Fantesca Estate & Winery.
. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Famous for its rides for thrill-seekers, families and kids, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom also has such live entertainment as caregiver talks, training sessions and wildlife experience shows. Animal attractions and encounters, holiday festivals and educational events fill out the calendar for a full year of entertainment and family fun.
. Safari West
Known as the “Sonoma Serengeti,” Safari West has been providing wildlife education and conservation for more than 25 years. Visitors 4+ years old can experience a safari adventure (Day Tripper), extend the adventure overnight (Safari Glamping) and enjoy a meal at the Savannah Café (Dining in the Wild). And it’s less than an hour away from downtown Napa.
. Old Faithful Geyser California
Just northwest of Calistoga is California’s version of the Old Faithful geyser. Every 15 - 30 minutes, the geyser erupts and the ensuing rainbows that form in the mist are a delight to behold. While you’re there, enjoy the serene gardens, animal farm and biking paths, as well as a geology museum, bocce courts and picnic spot.
. Napa Valley Wine Trolley
Take a six-hour tour of Napa Valley aboard an open-air trolley. The Classic Tour includes grand estates, subterranean caves and cozy cellars, plus insight into why this wine- and food-centric destination is world-renowned. All your senses are catered to on this adventure, which begins and ends at the Oxbow Market Area in downtown Napa and includes a family-style lunch.
. Seg Your Way Napa Valley Tours
Glide your way through Napa on a Segway and learn about historic landmarks, vineyards and famous restaurants, and visit a winery or two while you’re at it (kiddos are served “juice of merlot or cab). Several tours are available — including an Extreme Segway tour for experienced riders, which includes lunch at the top of Mt. St. Helena.
. Lincoln Theater
This 50-year-old theater has been revitalized into a 1,200-seat state-of-the-art, multipurpose entertainment venue. Hosting a full range of artists — whether comedians, Russian violinists, traditional ballerinas or Grammy-Award winners — the Lincoln Theater ensures a variety of culture in the valley.
. Shakespeare Napa Valley
A proud member of The Shakespeare Theatre Association, this group performs a plethora of classics, such as “The Tempest,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “As You Like It” and “Taming of the Shrew.” They highlight members of the local and global communities reciting “A Sonnet a Week” and encourage submission of new sonnets through their “Write a Sonnet” initiative.
. Honey Whiskey
This lifestyle, contemporary boutique shop wants their shoppers to “be the best-dressed girl in the room.” Offering several clothing lines, some with a bohemian vibe, others with a classically Californian feel, this woman-owned shop caters to customers looking for unique finds in sizes ranging from petite to plus-sized. It also features handmade jewelry by Soul Rebel out of Berkeley.
. Tay & Grace
Tailored to the quintessential “Napa Valley lifestyle,” Tay & Grace offers well-made and well-designed women’s clothing — think soft knits, chic denim, flowy dresses and breezy blouses for wine country summers and always-in-style cashmere for the cooler season. In the heart of downtown Napa, you’ll find a relaxed shopping experience with friendly, experienced staff.
. Kalifornia Jean Bar
Like the unique character of each of the three Kalifornia Jean Bar stores in the state, what’s inside each one is just as singular and mindfully chosen. Discover clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, jewelry and gifts from more than 45 designers. The perfect popover henley? Specialty men’s jeans? Fuzzy sliders? Yes, indeed.