Welcome to Napa
Just north of San Pablo Bay, at the southern end of the Napa Valley, sits the city of the same name. Historically, Napa has been known as a regional staging point. Miners once used the city as a supply depot before venturing north in search of gold. More recently, wine enthusiasts used it as staging point for winery trips deeper into the valley. However, resorts, restaurants, and a burgeoning collection of wineries of its own have helped Napa real estate grow into a regional destination in its own right.
Lay of the Land
The largest city by population in Napa County, the city of Napa sits at the southern edge of the valley, just outside of the edge of the San Pablo Bay to the south. The Napa River runs through the center of town before eventually emptying into the bay. The city itself is surrounded by several smaller, unincorporated communities, as well as numerous local vineyards and acres of agricultural land. It is also bordered by large swaths of protected space, including the Skyline wilderness park. The city’s largest neighbors are American Canyon to the south and Yountville to the north.
Napa’s population of 79,068 is almost four times that of American Canyon, the second largest city in the county. Despite its proximity to San Francisco, Napa has maintained an economic presence in line with the majority of the state. The estimated median household income of $65,517 and estimated median home value of $428,200 are both extremely close to state averages.
The geographic layout of Napa Valley makes transportation a straightforward affair. The Napa Wine Trail (Highway 29) runs the length of the valley from north to south. This eventually provides access to Highway 12 which then connects to Sonoma County in the west, as well as Interstate 80, which heads south towards Oakland and north towards Sacramento.
Public transportation is handled on a local, county, and regional level by the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency. The NCTPA manages numerous bus lines and shuttle services which traverse the valley, connect to Bay Area Rapid Transit stations, and join-up with various locations within Solano County. They also connect Napa County residents to ferry services in Vallejo as well as the county airport.
While Napa has become a prominent tourism destination is its own right, the town’s history includes an extensive period in which it was a staging point for tours to the more famous wineries in the northern end of the valley. The remains of this period are found in the numerous tasting bars that still dot the city. Locations like Carpe Diem and Back Room Wines allow visitors to sample county vintages and plan their trip accordingly. However, Napa now has several of its own regionally recognized wineries, including Michael Mondavi Family Estates as well as Domaine Carneros.
Napa has also become a regional destination for fine dining. The centerpiece of the city’s culinary district is the Michelin-starred La Toque as well as Morimoto, a critically reviewed eatery operated by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. On the slightly more relaxed side, the city’s West End district features local ethnic eateries, including Tarla, a local favorite providing Mediterranean dishes. Finally, the city also features numerous local bistros, cafes, and delis, including the Oxbow Public Market, which provide visitors and residents alike with quick meals on location or on-the-go. One of the main attractions inside Oxbow Public Market is the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant which offers the finest cheeses and wines from Napa and around the world.
Napa also features a vibrant cultural scene, allowing visitors to enjoy historic locations while strolling down the streets of the West End or the scenic River Walk. Local historic locations include the Napa Opera House. Built in 1889, the Opera House currently hosts numerous blues, jazz, and contemporary dance performances, as well as more traditional theater activities. The city also features Di Rosa, a 200 acre artistic exhibition. Comprised of three separate galleries, a sculpture walk, and an extensive protected wildlife refuge, Di Rosa features artwork from local artists and prominent figures in the California art scene.