When you take a trip over a long weekend to Napa, you’re likely going to see a lot of wineries and taste a lot of wine. This is an extremely enjoyable way to spend a weekend, but it’s also a bit of a whirlwind. The only thing I wished for was an opportunity to see more of Napa in itself, in addition to all of its lovely wineries. During my trip to the area, it seemed like there was just too much going on for that to be possible. Or, so I thought. I got up on the morning we were supposed to fly home, and mine was the only flight that was canceled, giving me 24 more hours to explore. I was good with that, as I could keep the rental car for a day and HotelTonight makes it easy to find a place to stay.
I opened HotelTonight to see what was available for Napa hotels. I was impressed with the wide selection of hotels available and had a room booked and ready to go within a few minutes. I packed my things into the car and headed to my new hotel. I got some information from the helpful staff there about where to go and what to see, and I was off on a full day of exploring Napa the community.
It’s clear when you see it that Napa is in a bit of a transition as a city. Downtown was always known as a sleepy place with more residents than just about anything else. It turns out that it is changing, and changing quickly. When you walk through downtown Napa now, you’ll see all sorts of different restaurants, shops and other locally-owned businesses that give the place a warm feel. Of course, there’s plenty of wine here too for purchase, and the locals remain intensely proud of both their city and their main product. Downtown Napa was not what I expected, but in a good way.
I decided to drive out to Calistoga for my next stop on my one-day tour. As is always the case in this area, there are a lot of wineries here to enjoy, but I looked for non-wine related places to explore. I found a Petrified Forest nearby and got out and walked around for quite awhile. It was extremely interesting and had a strange beauty to it that I cannot really describe, but it gave me an opportunity to reflect on nature. After all that walking, I stopped into a local café and had a delicious cup of iced coffee. It was exactly what I needed before moving on to my next stop.
My next stop was a little community known as Stanley. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but I was greeted by the Napa River Bridge, which was as filed with street art as just about anything I had ever seen. The town itself was very friendly and laid back, and I enjoyed speaking to some of the residents. One of the things that they told me was where I should go for lunch, and I took the advice and went to a local restaurant that seemed like a community staple. I was starving, but that was soon resolved with the enormous lunch I enjoyed immensely. Satisfied, I was ready for my final two stops of this interesting day.
Talk about your small towns. Imola, California is about as “small-town” as it gets, and it appears that this is exactly the way that the folks who live here want it. Some small towns can be a bit standoffish with regards to visitors, but not here. I walked around on the main road for a bit and enjoyed nice conversations with some different people. They were as interested in what I was doing as I was in them. It was a really enjoyable way to spend some time in a place that most people have likely never heard of, but I hope more do.
Imola was the ultimate small community. Napa Abajo seems to be the ultimate historic neighborhood in Napa. The architecture here dates back at least 100 years, and Fuller Park is a sight to behold. I saw families out enjoying the sunshine with their dogs, kids chasing each other around and beautiful old homes that surrounded the open space. I also saw that it was getting to be dinnertime, so I asked someone in the park for a recommendation. They sent me to a restaurant where all of the food was locally sourced. When I took my first bite of dinner, I knew that this was a term that meant something. Everything was so fresh and tasty that I wanted more of it when I was done.
As I made my way back to my hotel, I thought about the really nice and relaxing day I had. I was grateful that I was able to find a Napa hotel so easily. HotelTonight may not have been an involved part of my fun day as it was happening, but its ease of use and plethora of choices for Napa hotels made the whole experience possible. The fact that I was able to secure lodging so quickly and easily was an added bonus to a bonus-filled day.