Downtown Napa: More than Wine

|   Last Updated on January 13, 2023

Most people think of Napa as a region: Napa Valley. Wine country. Napa, California is also a lively city of nearly 80,000 residents with a vibrant downtown just northeast of the Bay Area. Of course, Napa is primarily associated with wine, rightly so, but Downtown Napa also offers boutique shopping, dining, a river walk and arts worthy of your attention as well.

Napa Lighted Art Festival 2023

The Napa Lighted Art Festival highlights those non-som activities as a celebration of creative arts, technology and lights. The free, walkable, outdoor experience in Downtown Napa features 10 lighted art sculptures displayed for five weeks (January 21–February 19, 2023). Returning following a COVID-19 hiatus, the festival will again feature projection artwork on three iconic downtown buildings for the first nine nights of the festival along with the community lantern parade February 11th. Viewing hours are 6-9 PM Monday through Thursday and 6-10 PM Friday through Sunday.

Noticing the popularly of lighted art festivals around the world and looking for a way to brighten the darkest time of year during a low tourism month, the Napa Lighted Art Festival was born in 2017. Combining arts and technology with historic architecture, the festival’s yin and yang simultaneously emphasize the city’s rich heritage and vibrant future while supporting light and light technologies as a growing art medium.

Downtown Napa Valley

Coinciding with the Napa Lighted Art Festival, the rotating Napa Art Walk includes 10 sculptures from seven regional artists throughout downtown. Art lovers are also sure to enjoy the Rail Arts District–RAD Napa. Inspired by Wynwood Walls in Miami, the RAD neighborhood was created by artists, businesses and city leaders seeking to create Napa Valley’s first dedicated public art district. RAD Napa is a two-mile-long outdoor art gallery enjoyed equally by foot, bike or in luxury aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Debuting in 2022 among the swanky shops in Downtown Napa’s premier retail district, the First Street Artists Alley brings more outdoor art to the neighborhood with large-scale murals and fine art pieces on loan from the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art five miles out of downtown.

Hotels in Downtown Napa

From 5-star luxury with on-property spas to B&Bs and branded hotels, Downtown Napa has whatever you need for overnight accommodations. Use the map below to browse your options.

Booking.com

Art in Napa Valley

Downtown Napa, “The Wine Tasting Room Capital of the World,” hosts 55-plus wine tasting rooms, most within walking distance of each other and downtown lodging. There’s also craft breweries and kayak rides along the Napa River, all backdropped by the distant rolling hills. No one would be blamed for not leaving downtown, but there’s more art in “them thar hills!”

Picayune Cellars & Mercantile

Claire Weinkauf with Terrance Guardipee Skateboard Picayune Cellars
Claire Ducrocq Weinkauf with Terrance Guardippe (Blackfeet) skateboard and ledger art at Picayune Cellars & Mercantile. PHOTO CREDIT PICAYUNE CELLARS

Twenty-five miles north of Downtown Napa, a surprising outpost of original, contemporary Native American art can be found for sale among the vino at Picayune Cellars & Mercantile. Owner and winemaker Claire Weinkauf became fascinated by Native American art upon her arrival in the United States from her native France through visiting the national parks in the Southwest. Hopi Kachinas, Navajo weavings, Pueblo jewelry, Zuni carvings.

Fast forward several years to a wine specific work trip to New York where Weinkauf took time to visit the National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan for an exhibition on ledger art.

“I knew a bit about (ledger art) because my father-in-law had given me a book about it, but I had not seen much of it in person,” Weinkauf told Forbes.com. “There was a lot of contemporary ledger art which I knew very little about; this is where I saw my first Terrance Guardipee (Blackfeet) piece. I loved the combination of artistry, striking colors, energy and the storytelling. I was completely won over after visiting this museum.”

Wienkauf took her fandom into collecting and eventually representation of the Institute of American Indian Arts graduate and Santa Fe Indian Market award winner.

“I was at a show and I walked by Terrance’s booth. I recognized the work and we started talking. I realized rapidly I could not afford his work at the time, but his wife loves wine and offered to trade. I was so excited!” Weinkauf recalls. “That day we more than traded, Terrance and his wife ended up having dinner at my home and staying overnight. It was the beginning of our friendship. Terrance does not work very much with galleries, but I was persistent that we find a way that works for both of us.”

Guardipee’s ledger drawings along with jewelry, katsinas and more, all sourced directly from Indigenous artists, can be found on the eclectic mercantile side of the operation.

HALL Wine’s St. Helena

Back toward downtown from Picayune Cellars & Mercantile, the focus shifts from Native American to contemporary art at HALL Winery where major-name, museum-collected artists including John Baldessari, Nick Cave and Jaume Plensa have worked featured. The property’s “Wine and Art Exploration Experience” guides guests through the collection while tasting wine.

Yountville Art Walk & Napa Valley Museum

Continuing in the direction of Napa, tiny Yountville combines small-town life with Michelin starred cuisine, charming B&Bs, luxury spas and fine art. In the last handful of years, Yountville has installed more than 40 public sculptures outdoors.

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art

Connecting art and nature, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art sits on 217 breathtaking, protected acres offering guests multiple galleries, a sculpture park and a 35-acre lake. di Rosa presents contemporary exhibitions by regional artists and an array of educational programs for all ages, in addition to maintaining a permanent collection of notable works by artists living or working in the San Francisco Bay Area from the mid-twentieth century to the present day across a wide range of styles, media, and subject matter.

Last Updated on January 13, 2023

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