What to do in Napa before dinner, with no hotel?
July 22, 2014 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions of chill hangout spots or low-key activities (preferably not wine-related) for that awkward "before dinner" time in Napa.

I am looking for suggestions of something low key to do in Napa (especially the Rutherford/Yountville area) between 4pm and 6:00pm on a Sunday that isn't centered around eating or drinking. It seems like everything is closed during these hours and we can't go back to the hotel because we will have checked out. [Note -- this doesn't have to be a 2 hour activity -- we could start as early as 2:30]

I know that we *could* go to a winery that's open late, and that's definitely in my back pocket as an idea, but a couple people in our group would prefer not to drink, so if we go to wineries I'd at least like them to be places that would be interesting to folks who aren't tasting any wine.

Something like visiting a sculpture garden or a small history museum or a particularly beautiful nature walk would be perfect (but the diRosa museum closes at 3:30pm, and the Grist Mill stops milling at 4pm). Also perfect would be suggestions of places that are hotel like, such as a very homey wine bar, spa, or coffee shop where people could chat and sit on couches and work on their laptops or whatever and maybe get a glass of wine if they choose.

The more specific the suggestion, the better -- like names of specific stores rather than "go shopping downtown".

posted by phoenixy to Travel & Transportation around Napa, CA (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oxbow Market. Shop, eat, drink coffee, talk to local merchants, or all of the above.
posted by jaguar at 10:15 PM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Walk through downtown St Helena, just a few miles north of Rutherford. Check out Model Bakery for snacks (they close a little early). Sunshine Foods is a great local family grocery. Some nice shops and a few tasting rooms. The St Helena Library just won 2nd place best small library in the nation. The Coffee Roasting company is good to just hang out for a while. Lyman Park is beautiful and good for hanging out. (I'm a Napa native so me mail me if you have any other questions!!)
posted by Swisstine at 10:18 PM on July 22, 2014

Thank you for the suggestions so far, but I do want to re-iterate the "no eating" bit. We will be having a big fancy dinner at a big fancy restaurant so everyone is swearing off snacks for the afternoon. Some of these items do look interesting though!
posted by phoenixy at 10:25 PM on July 22, 2014

I'd probably head up into the hills and check out the views. The Oakville grade is between Yountville and Rutherford, the view from the top is really nice.
posted by foodgeek at 10:32 PM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

You may have a hard time finding an indoor space to hang out without purchasing food/drinks.

You could check out Lake Hennessy and walk around out there, but it isn't a nature walk exactly.

There are some great drives you can go on up valley. Scenic photo op drives.

Calistoga has a walkable downtown with a few coffee shops and other shopping.

Rutherford has no town exactly.

Yountville is cute and walkable but it is almost entirely restaurants with a few tasting rooms. The little farm across from The French Laundry has young goats you can visit.
posted by Swisstine at 10:36 PM on July 22, 2014

Ok last idea from me! Mumm closes at 5 but is great for groups where not everyone is drinking. All sparkling wines. Big patio where tastings are done sitting at your own table. Photography gallery (Ansel Adams primarily). Excellent view. Might be a good place to spend an hour or so.
posted by Swisstine at 10:43 PM on July 22, 2014

Seconding downtown St. Helena. Avoid the geyser tourist trap in Calistoga. There is pioneer cemetery which has some very old tombstones, if you're into that sort of thing. The grounds of Rombauer are fun to walk around. A drive to downtown Sonoma is worth it too.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:33 PM on July 22, 2014

There are some nice hikes in Napa (http://www.napahiking.com)
Also, the Hess Winery has an awesome art gallery...it's free and open until 5:30. (http://www.hesscollection.com/experience/tastings_tours.html)
Posting from phone, sorry I don't have the sites hyperlinked.
posted by Gusaroo at 12:17 AM on July 23, 2014

I'd ask the hotel if it was okay to hang out by the pool in the afternoon once you've checked out. Most places will be perfectly okay with it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:46 AM on July 23, 2014

Are you eating at the French Laundry? They have a nice garden that you can relax in for a bit before dinner. There also appears to be a bike rental place in Yountville, which would be a great way to work up an appetite during the afternoon.
posted by igowen at 6:08 AM on July 23, 2014

Castello di Amorosa is open til 6:00 PM, and their tour is really fun. There is a tasting at the end of the tour, but you can just leave when you get there. Reservations are required and it's expensive, but a fun tour.

Also, seconding the Hess Art Gallery.
posted by cnc at 9:52 AM on July 23, 2014

Ooh yeah, I'll second Castello di Amorosa. That was the only winery tour we did while we were there (my wife and I are more beer people than wine people), and it was really fun.
posted by igowen at 10:48 AM on July 23, 2014

Oh yeah—Barney's New York has an outlet store in Napa.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:45 PM on July 23, 2014

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