Just before the holidays T and I got away (sans Rex) for a weekend in Napa, and it was just the best. We try to get away somewhere together before the craze of the season every year and this mini wine country stay proved to be just the ideal relaxing pre-holiday break. This particular trip we stayed in downtown Napa, choosing to explore more of the local food and wine scene and opting not to venture too far out of the downtown area–which we really had never done before. It was also our first time in wine country during the month of December (that I can recall) and I have to say it was quite charming and so romantic all decorated in twinkly lights for the holidays! But, we all know Napa is a good idea anytime of the year. We left with a handful of new favorite spots and, should you find yourself in downtown Napa anytime soon, these are not to be missed…
6 Things To-Do in Downtown Napa
Oxbow Public Market | We came here for lunch on our first day in the area and ended up returning every day after. I just love curated markets like this. Oxbow has a selection of local artisans, food and wine… think smaller scale SF Ferry Building or New York’s Chelsea Market. Sit at the bar at Hog Island oysters, grab tacos or pizza, browse the cute bookstore (we picked up a couple of books for Rex here), a beer at Fieldwork Brewing Company, or cupcakes at Kara’s Cupcakes.
The Model Bakery | Located around the corner from the Oxbow Public Market, this bakery is not to be missed. We stopped in every day for a pastry or cookie of some sort, sandwiches to take with us when wine tasting, and then more treats to take home with us on Sunday.
Miminashi | I first heard about Miminashi, a Japanese-style Izakaya restaurant, from Napa local, April Gargiulo of Vintner’s Daughter, and then read about it again in a Napa Valley feature in the WSJ. So it was at the top of my list to try. Upon walking in I was mesmerized by the hanging display of hoshigachi (a special way of drying persimmons–something my friend Kevin introduced to me) on the ceiling above the bar. We grabbed a seat at the bar beforehand and ordered off their extensive cocktail menu. I loved the overall vibe and everything we ordered. Although we were stuffed, Tanner talked me into ordering soft serve with all of the fixings to share. So yum! They also have a soft cream window outside of the restaurant if you just want to get your soft cream fix which is what April mentioned she loves. They change their flavors often so you’ll want to check those beforehand.
Angèle Restaurant & Bar | The other date night spot we loved and sorta happened upon was Angèle. It was raining our first night in Napa and something about the twinkly lights of the restaurant and walking hand-in-hand under our umbrella just set the mood for the entire weekend. It was a lively, happening spot but also had a cozy and romantic Napa charm to it. It’s French cuisine and again everything we ordered was delicious. The french onion soup I started with was a meal in itself, hitting the spot on a chilly night.
Vintner’s Collective | Downtown boasts a handful of great tasting rooms however the owner of our Bed and Breakfast tipped us off to Vintner’s Collective when we asked about where to buy the most unique bottles of wines for gifts, and we couldn’t recommend it enough as well. Vintner’s Collective is a small tasting room located in the oldest building in downtown Napa. They only carry a small curated collection of limited production wineries, so you’re able to get some really special bottles that you wouldn’t be able to usually get your hands on (was perfect for Christmas gifts!).
Walk through downtown along Napa’s Riverfront | On our last morning in town I woke up bright and early. I couldn’t sleep and thus woke Tanner up asking if he wanted to go for a morning walk to hunt down coffee and pastries. We made our way through downtown over the bridge towards Model Bakery, and the view with the early morning fog made us feel as though we had escaped somewhere else entirely. It almost has a European feel from that vantage.
* For additional Downtown Napa recommendations