The best things in life are free … in Downtown Napa

With more than 55 wine tasting rooms – most within walking distance – Downtown Napa has earned its “Wine Tasting Room Capital of the World” status. And the restaurant scene offers a world of tastes sure to please any palate.

Yet there are also numerous fun activities you can do between meals and tastings, and some of them are free … or very close to it. In addition, the local weather is fantastic year-round, so you can go for a stroll no matter the season.

We’ve highlighted a few activities to help you get ready to have a great time in Downtown Napa!

photo by: ciaatcopia


Lovers of food, wine and the history of food and wine are in for a treat when they visit the free exhibits at CIA at Copia, the Culinary Institute of America’s food and beverage center.

More than 4,000 pieces of cookware, appliances, food preparation tools and more, some dating back to the mid-18th century that were created by the great chefs of Europe, are on display at the CIA’s Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum. Also featured is “A History of California Wine: The David and Judy Breitstein Collection,” which documents the history of the California wine industry through more than 200 actual unopened bottles.

Artist Gordon Huether was commissioned to create two memorable sculptures for CIA at Copia. “Fork” is an amazing 18-foot-high piece comprised of more than 8,500 recycled forks designed to focus on the area’s sustainability and farm-to-table experiences. “Is that Bob & Margrit?” is a tribute to Robert Mondavi and Margrit Biever Mondavi, who founded and funded Copia. The work, which sits on top of the CIA at Copia’s 75-foot tower, features the Mondavis toasting.


The 32-bed Culinary Garden at CIA at Copia is a great place to enjoy a takeout lunch (available, of course, from Lunch Box at Copia) and see how the variety of produce and herbs used in CIA at Copia restaurants and classes are grown. If you’re lucky, you may be able to take a free garden walk with master gardener Jacob Tracy.

Unlike the Copia Culinary Garden, you can purchase the bounty you find at the Napa Farmers Market. Voted the No. 1 farmers market in California for two years running and the No. 7 farmers market nationally – according to America’s Farmers Market Celebration – you’ll find a variety of fresh and local certified organic and non-organic fruits, vegetables, fish, flowers and more. Benefiting small, local farms, the Napa Farmers Market is open on Saturdays and Tuesdays for much of the year, and admission is free.


From world-class collections to public art, you’ll find some of the finest works in a variety of mediums. Rail Arts District – better known as RAD Napa – is a 2-mile stretch that follows the Napa Valley Vine Trail, a popular walking and biking trail that runs through Downtown Napa. A former industrial area, RAD Napa is now a free outdoor contemporary art museum showcasing murals, sculptures, installations and more by local and international artists.

The Napa County Historical Society offers numerous opportunities to learn about the history of the region. Walking tours, visits to the Goodman Library, virtual presentations, guest speakers and more provide fantastic background on Downtown Napa and the surrounding areas.

Take a stroll through Antiques on Second, a place to find treasures and more. Located on Second Street in Downtown Napa, the collective features antiques, unique gifts, vintage clothing, vinyl records and much more by 25-plus vendors. Look for special pieces for your home, or just enjoy a casual walk through this one-of-a-kind collection.

The Napa Art Walk is a rotating exhibition of multiple works throughout the city that remain on view for 24 months. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite work, with the winning artist receiving the People’s Choice Award and a complimentary getaway in Napa. Keep watching this space for updates on the next exhibition.


The beauty of Downtown Napa is that so many things are within walking distance of the 30-plus lodging properties where you can reside during your vacation. And walking is not only a great exercise, it’s also an ideal way to explore the history of this precious region and experience its lively heritage.

Napa County Landmarks will present a guided tour of the elegant historic homes surrounding the Fuller Park area at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16. The free event will begin at the corner of Oak and Jefferson streets. A local expert will detail the wide array of architectural styles featured throughout the Fuller Park Historic District.

There are a number of historical landmarks that offer glimpses of the Napa Valley area throughout the years. For example, the Tulocay Cemetery has been in use since the mid-1800s. In addition to featuring a variety of grave markers – from simple to elegant – the cemetery is the resting place for several people who made a lasting impression, including Nathan Coombs, a California pioneer and founder of the city of Napa. Also buried at Tulocay is Mary Ellen Pleasant, one of the first African American self-made millionaires. Her goal was to earn as much money as possible in order to help as many people as she could by providing transportation, housing and food for survival.

For other historical landmarks you can explore on your own time, including Napa County’s historic stone bridges and the First National Bank Building’s stylish example of neoclassical design, visit the Napa County Landmarks site. For additional guided and self-guided tours, click here or upload the $7.99 Napa Valley Tours app.

And if you’re visiting during late January or early February, The Napa Lighted Art Festival is a walkable celebration of creative arts, technology and lights that supports innovative techniques using light and light technologies as a growing art medium.


The Napa River is a 55-mile-long body of water that flows through numerous communities, including Downtown Napa. Ideal for walking, hiking and cycling, the river can be seen up close by kayak, paddleboard, canoe and boat. Fishing on the river is popular due to the variety of native fish species that swim in it. Wildlife sightings are a daily occurrence, with birds such as mallards, herons and kingfishers, as well as mammals that include beavers, muskrats, gray foxes and deer, making the location their home. Pack up your water sports equipment, rods and reels and binoculars and enjoy the outdoors. (Equipment is available for rental throughout Downtown Napa.)

The 25-mile Skyline Wilderness Park is the perfect place to take the family at a price that is next to nothing. Hiking and biking trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, fishing, wildlife viewing and camping are just a few of the activities you can enjoy. While there, make sure to visit the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden, a 2.5-acre site with an amazing assortment of plants from Napa County and adjacent areas. The price to visit the park is icing on the cake: $6 covers a vehicle and its occupants.



When you begin to plan your vacation getaway to Downtown Napa, make sure to allow plenty of time to get as much done as you can. This region offers a spectacular opportunity to kick back, relax and enjoy the many adventures Northern California has to offer.