When you think of wine country, farmers markets might not spring to mind. But Napa Valley is getting a reputation for delicacies that don’t come from grapes.
If you thought the valley was just a place to get a buzz, think again.
Today, we’re exploring a side of California’s wine country you probably didn’t know existed.
Let’s hit the road!
Where Is California’s Wine Country?
Napa Valley is the picturesque heart of California’s wine country. This 30-mile-long stretch of land lies just west of San Francisco between the Mayacamas and the Vaca Mountains. The microclimates here create the perfect conditions for growing specialty grapes.
But the valley is famous for more than just the booze. Downtown Napa is posh and vibrant. Locals and visitors enjoy great shopping, fabulous restaurants, and plenty of outdoor recreation while they go about their day.
People go to Napa to enjoy the finer things in life. Whether that’s fresh, delicious food or premium wine, it’s probably sourced locally.
What Is the Best Farmers Market in Wine Country?
For the ultimate shopping and culinary experience in one, you’ll want to go to the Oxbow Public Market. This 40,000-square-foot indoor marketplace prides itself on supporting local artisans and sustainable farmers.
Restaurants, boutique grocery stores, butcher shops, cheesemongers, and other vendors sell a vast array of goods. The Oxbow is so much more than your standard wine country farmers market.
They also hosts events like the Napa Lighted Arts Festival. You can listen to live music on Locals’ Nights while sipping a glass of regionally sourced wine.
Does the Oxbow Public Market Offer a Wide Variety of Goods?
Oxbow Public Market includes 22 vendors altogether that are all independently owned and operated. The range of specialty products available is outstanding.
Highly curated grocers carry artisanal spices and sauces, local, organic produce, and high-quality pantry staples. You can buy cold-pressed olive oil from the first olive mill in Sonoma.
If you’re hungry, several restaurants offer tempting treats like empanadas and fresh oysters. You can sit on the patio and enjoy a wood-fired pizza or cozy up to the bar with a wine flight and charcuterie board.
But there’s more than just food at this wine country farmers market. The Napa Bookmine is a premier bookstore that also sells gifts, stationery, and other sundries.
Pro Tip: Use our guide on How to Spend a Day in Napa Valley, California for the perfect visit.
Other Fun Things To Do In Wine Country
After you’ve hit the farmers market, there’s plenty more to take in around wine country besides a vineyard. Here are a few of our favorites.
Napa Valley Wine Train
Enjoy a luxury experience aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. This fully restored antique train takes guests on a journey through the verdant hills while they savor exquisite food and, of course, local vintages.
Traveling from Napa to Helena, the train rolls past 100 wineries daily. They offer packages ranging from afternoon tea to day-long excursions with multi-course meals. You can even reserve train cars for parties or holidays.
Di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art
Fans of contemporary art will love the di Rosa Center. Spanning 217 scenic acres, this art park isn’t your average museum. There’s also a sculpture park, a 35-acre lake, and multiple art galleries.
Visitors can walk through the collections on their own or book a variety of public and private tours.
This park is the brainchild of art collector Rene di Rosa and his wife, Veronica. In 1997, Rene opened his collection to the public. Today, the property is protected by the Napa County Land Trust.
Napa Farmers Market
The largest year-round farmers market in wine country is the Napa Farmers Market. Every Saturday, farmers, and crafters from the area set up shop downtown to peddle their wares. From April to October, they also set up every Tuesday.
Food trucks offer a variety of cuisines to hungry shoppers. Vendors sell local, organic produce, live plants, eggs, and fresh fish. Napa County Master Gardeners can also answer your questions about landscaping and local agricultural initiatives.
More than just a farmers market, this is a hub for locals to meet and learn where their food comes from. It’s also where farmers can build relationships with the local community.
Pro Tip: Can’t make it to Napa? Try out these 5 Best Box Wines for Camping instead!
Best Places To Stay In Wine Country
There’s no shortage of great places to stay in Napa Valley. Whether you want to camp or sleep in the lap of luxury, the perfect accommodations await you in wine country.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Giant sequoia trees and mossy forest floors make the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park an enchanting place to explore. Visitors can reserve a yurt or a fully restored historic cabin for their stay in the forest. Tent camping is permitted, or you can visit the campground with 50 pads that accommodate travel trailers up to 24 feet long.
If you stop by the visitor center, check out the Native American Garden next door. It features plants historically used by the Wappo people who inhabited this area millennia ago.
The charming Candlelight Inn is Napa Valley’s #1 bed and breakfast. This historic Tudor home is nestled away on a tributary to the Napa River. Its seclusion makes it a popular destination for visitors looking to escape.
The Candlelight Inn doesn’t skimp on breakfast. Guests enjoy a gourmet, multi-course meal made from locally sourced foods each morning. Some of their most celebrated dishes are artichoke and roasted red pepper strata, banana pancakes with caramel sauce, and chili cheese puffs.
Napa River Inn
For guests who want to get pampered between wine tastings, the Napa River Inn is an excellent choice. The deluxe spa offers massages, facials, exfoliation treatments, body wraps, and more. Visitors looking to get a little more work done can see the plastic surgeon on staff for Botox, fillers, and other minimally invasive skincare needs.
But the Napa River Inn is more than just a spa. They’ve also been a fixture in downtown Napa since 1884. The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed it as one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.
Enjoy the Bounty of Farmers Markets in Wine Country
High art, award-winning food, and unbeatable farmers markets prove that Napa Valley is more than just wine country. It’s a destination for anyone seeking the finer things in life. You can find so many tempting things to blow your travel budget on.
Whether you immerse yourself in Napa’s community or find a secluded bungalow to hide away in, you won’t be disappointed with a trip to the valley. Just try not to spend all your money at one booth!
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