Mention Downtown Napa and the first thing that’s comes to many people’s minds these days is the 6.0 earthquake that shook the area in late August. The images are something that are hard to forget. But that was then and this is now. And now is a good time to get to Downtown Napa.
Parts of Napa are still fenced off, but the rubble is gone and there’s plenty to see and do. According to the City of Napa, 95% of all businesses that serve visitors were open the following day.
Wine is flowing and having a car is no longer a requirement. Parking the car and forgetting about it has never been easier. There are all sorts of sporty ways to get your sipping in.
Most Bay Area folks know about the Napa Valley Wine Train, but have you ever been on it? Hop on right in Downtown Napa, not far from Oxbow Public Market. The vineyards have a way of showing off regardless of the season. You can ride the rails and have lunch or dinner. I’m partial to lunch because you’ll have daylight views for the entire trip.
Walk for Wine
There are close to three dozen tasting rooms in Downtown Napa and they’re all within walking distance. That’s hard to beat on a sunny day. If you’re on a serious tasting mission, check out the Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card. It covers tastings at a dozen spots for $30. No one can make it to 12 tasting rooms in one day and still remain standing, and you don’t need to try. The card is good through the end of the year and it’s transferrable.
Sip and Spin
Rolling through town is a great way to get some exercise and pace yourself in between tastings. If you didn’t bring your bike from home, many hotels like the Embassy Suites and Napa River Inn have bicycles you can rent to explore the area.
Head over the bridge toward the Oxbow Public Market and you’ve got tasting rooms on both sides of First Street, or keep going, pedal past the chefs gardens in front of what used to be Copia and jump onto the Silverado Trail. In less than two miles you’ll hit Judd’s Hill. Family owned and operated, they do things differently here. Judd typically wears a Hawaiian shirt and in his spare time plays the ukulele in a Hawaiian band. There’s no tasting bar. There’s tables that make getting to know the wine and each other easy.
Luna Vineyards is less than two minutes further up the road. The sunny patio is loaded with cushy chairs that are easy to relax and lounge on. Wander down closer to the vineyards and there’s an area with tables and shade compliments of olive trees that has all the makings for a perfect picnic spot.
Dana was a guest of Downtown Napa, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.
Dana’s weekends spent exploring the San Francisco Bay Area outnumber those at home in wine country, but her favorite trips require a passport and typically a destination with warm sand and blue water. Along with travel, Dana writes about food, wine and anything fun. Find her on Twitter @drebmann and Instagram @danarebmann