Friday, October 15, 2010

Beautiful October day in Napa.

Napa, in California terms, is a pretty old town. It was incorporated in 1872 but had been settled since the 1830s. It is also perhaps the most often overlooked, though most populous, of the Napa Valley towns. It is often bypassed for Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga by wine tourists and fine diners.

But Napa has a its own unique brand of charm. As you walk down First St., you may notice many empty, closed storefronts. There may not be bustling crowds strolling the sidewalks. But there is a nostalgic aura of times gone by. Those empty storefronts? They've got great art deco details in the design. Those bustling crowds? They're not strolling because they're happily sitting inside one of the town's tasty restaurants.

At the heart of downtown along the Napa River, at the intersection of Main and First, sits the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company. Greer and I started our day here with a pumpkin spice latte (of course!). The cute little corner window table would have been a great spot to enjoy, but unfortunately the cafe was packed. So we strolled....

Napa Valley Opera House. Built in 1880 as a theater, it suffered after the 1906 earthquake and was not restored until the late 1990s. It is now used again as an opera house for crowds of up to 500 people.

Continuing down First St....

The Goodman Library, home of the Napa County Historical Society. Built in 1901, it was the county's first library, and is the oldest library in California still being used for its original purpose.

We continued down 2nd, 3rd....the little downtown area is pretty walkable, and very peaceful.

Napa Firefighters Museum. We didn't go in, but there were funny mannequins in the window running the dispatch board.

We found some neat historical photos in a window. Pretty cool to see some of the comparisons...

The nostalgic, art deco Uptown Theatre was built in 1937 and went through many restorations and reinventions as a movie theater before it was transformed into its current capacity as a live music venue in 2000.

Then you know we've got to do some driving-around sightseeing. Despite the historic downtown's small town feel, Napa is a large city of around 75,000!

The home of Wine Spectator Magazine.

Some of the adorable B&Bs of Napa:

And some of the adorable houses in Napa:

And finally, what makes the city of Napa such a great destination--it's fantastic eateries. Some of these I've actually had the satisfaction of patronizing, others I've only heard are delicious. Either way, you can find a great meal (and without a 3 month wait list...).

The Bounty Hunter--tasting room and BBQ joint (the chef was grilling right here as I took this shot and let me just say my mouth was watering!).

Some fine dining--Cole's Chop House on Main St.

Ubuntu, an interesting restaurant-yoga studio combo said to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants around.

For some yummy Italian food and live jazz listening, head to Uva Trattoria.

Part specialty shop, part lunch cafe, the Napa General Store offers dishes such as clay pot chicken and noodle salad bowls.

Filippi's Pizza Grotto just happens to be my grandma's favorite Napa dining spot; it may be a chain, but it has very cute traditional Italian atmosphere.

And finally, Greer and I ended our lovely October Napa day with a little...


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Courthouse historic photo via
Uptown Theatre historic photo

Goodman Library historic photo via


Anonymous said...

great post, i've always loved downtown napa!

Notes from Holly St. said...

wow..i've always wanted to go to Napa but i had no idea it was so charming! now i really want to go...