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Expert Tips

 

10Best Napa Valley Spots to Sit and Sip After Sunset



Days in Napa Valley are filled with tasting at its more than 500 wineries. Folks tend to move at a bustling taste, making their way to favorite tasting rooms while trying to squeeze in new suggestions. But when the sun goes down and vintners go home, life slows down a bit in Napa Valley. Endless bottles continue to get un-corked after sunset, but they have to share the wine country stage. Live performances are nightly affairs at the Uptown Theatre and the more than 100-year-old Cameo Cinema is a great place to finally catch that movie you’ve wanted to see.

If it’s more about grabbing a drink than catching a show, Downtown Napa has the busiest nightlife scene in wine country, with spots like Cadet and Napa Palisades keeping their doors open late.

So take a nap after your busy day of tasting, and use these 10Best spots to inspire some Napa Valley after dark exploring and toasting.


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Crush Lounge
Photo courtesy of Brian Welsh


Roll a strike Napa style at Crush Lounge. Bowling is different here. Think fresh, modern and yes, even hip. Located at The Meritage Resort and Spa, a short drive from downtown Napa, Crush Lounge is a luxury sports bar. Beer, wine and cocktails are served by the fire, the six bowling lanes, around the pool table or a dinner table. The fun choice is yours. With options like fish tacos, burgers, salads and fried calamari, the menu has all the makings for a nice dinner, or munchies to share with a group. All ages are welcome until 11 pm when it switches to ages 21 and up.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: You can watch a game, bowl some frames, or shoot pool while eating and drinking well at Crush Lounge.

Dana's expert tip: If you know when you are going, book bowling lanes ahead of time so you don't have to wait.

Read more about Crush Lounge →




How long does it take to read an 18-page wine list? Find out at Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ. With 400 bottles of wine and 40 available by the glass, you'll have to make some tough decisions here. Beer lovers, there's a menu for you too. And then there's the BBQ menu. Famous for their Beer Can Chicken, the beauty comes to the table atop a Tecate beer can. You sauce your own BBQ, so be forewarned, things can get a little messy. For a taste of everything, try the Bounty Hunter Smokin' BBQ Platter and plan on sharing.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: An easy walk from anywhere in downtown Napa, Bounty Hunter is a meat and wine lovers dream.

Dana's expert tip: Try something new. With 40 wines by the glass, there's no good excuse not to sip something a little different.

Read more about Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ →


Napa Palisades Saloon
Photo courtesy of Dana Rebmann


If you didn't know it was there, you could walk right by Napa Palisades Saloon, but you'd be missing out. Bigger inside than it appears from the outside, Napa Palisades is a sports bar where you don't have to be a sports fans to have a good time. Grab a seat at the bar or at a table. Friendly flannel-clad servers make rounds quickly, filling glasses and delivering unique bar eats like lamb and falafel burgers, Brussels sprouts with bacon, garlic, and goat cheese, and chorizo fries. Napa Palisades has more than 30 house and local craft beers on tap.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Napa Palisades Saloon is a fun, casual spot in downtown Napa to grab a drink or a quick bite to eat, day or night.

Dana's expert tip: The chorizo fries are good with any drink in the house. Topped with cotija, sour cream, and cilantro, share them only if you must.

Read more about Napa Palisades Saloon →


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Solbar


The bar closes when the last person leaves at Solbar. Lively, but quiet enough to have an enjoyable conversation, Solbar is a great spot to grab a late night drink or bite to eat. The wines by the glass list is impressive, but the fun signature cocktails are fabulous, especially after a busy day of wine tasting. (The second Wednesday of each month, Solbar bartender, Kelly Dallas talks about the art of cocktail creation with interested visitors. Advance sign-up is required.) Sit at the bar, lounge in colorful, cushy seats, or stake a place on the patio. The munchies menu, compliments of the adjoining Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name, makes eating well especially easy.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Excellent service, drinks, food and a cozy, casual space with outdoor seating make Solbar a great late night spot to unwind.

Dana's expert tip: Come hungry. Solbar doesn't believe in ordinary bar menus. They serve everything from oysters and cheeseburgers, to crispy petrale sole tacos and poke bowls.

Read more about Solbar →


Charlie Palmer Steak Napa
Photo courtesy of Charlie Palmer Steak


One of the newer spots in downtown Napa, the lounge at Charlie Palmer Steak Napa has quickly become a favorite with locals and visitors alike. In addition to beer and wine by the glass, the cocktail menu is worth a look. Think choices like a Dark & Stormy with mount gay rum, Underberg, pineapple, ginger, lime, and ginger beer, or a CP Old Fashioned with whistle pig 10-year rye whiskey, orange oleo saccharum, raspberry, and aromatic bitters. Wine country knows how to do cocktails too! Small plate offerings range from Alaskan King Crab Cocktail to deviled eggs, and the must-order lobster corn dogs.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Good food and drink in a location that's an easy walk to any hotel in downtown Napa.

Dana's expert tip: Don't agree to share the lobster corn dogs. They're just like the old school favorite, but with succulent lobster inside. You'll thank me.

Read more about Charlie Palmer Steak Napa →


Cameo Cinema
Photo courtesy of Brian Welsh


More than 100 years of Hollywood has graced the screen at Cameo Cinema. Believed to be the oldest single-screen movie house still in operation in the United States, the Cameo makes going to the movies an exciting experience. Stop at the concession stand to get goodies like popcorn, assorted locally made cookies, and sweets like caramel and bark made at the nearby Culinary Institute of America. You can also grab a beer or glass of wine before heading into the theater where 140 velvet covered, comfy seats are waiting. Each show begins with a live introduction, and speakers in the restrooms mean you won't ever miss a beat.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: You can catch a new release while snacking on gourmet sweets made by the nearby Culinary Institute of America.

Dana's expert tip: Check the theater's schedule. You never know when a neighbor/Hollywood heavyweight may be making an appearance.

Read more about Cameo Cinema →


Blue Note Napa
Photo courtesy of Dana Rebmann


Blue Note Napa is a live music jazz club located in downtown Napa on the first floor of the historic Napa Valley Opera House. With seating for less than 150 music lovers, every seat in the intimate theater is a good one. There's typically live entertainment every night of the week but Monday. Seating is typically general admission, on a first-come, first seated basis. Groups are kept together, but you may also be sat at a communal table. The restaurant at Blue Note Napa offers an extensive menu with headliners including thyme basted halibut and scallops, fresh linguine, and baby back ribs. If you have a sweet tooth, save room for the dessert menu.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: An easy stroll from anywhere in downtown Napa, Blue Note has great music, drinks, and food.

Dana's expert tip: Blue Note Napa offers a full menu at the bar including the likes of pistachio stuffed chicken breast and pan seared almond crusted halibut. It's a great place to watch a show.

Read more about Blue Note Napa →


Cadet
Photo courtesy of Dana Rebmann


Wherever you call home, you'll feel welcome in this neighborhood hangout. Featuring beer and wines from all over the world, Cadet is a wine tasting room and fun bar all rolled into one lively nightlife spot. Options are constantly changing as the owners find new things to drink. Cadet offers a small selection of munchies and late evening snacks, including cheese and salumi plates, grilled cheese, La Quercia Berkshire prosciutto, and a snack board with Castelvetrano olives, za'atar almonds, and piment d'espelette potato chips. Cadet has a record player and fabulous vinyl music selection. Buy a bottle of wine and you can choose what spins next.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Excellent service, drinks, food and a cozy, casual space with outdoor seating make Cadet a great late night spot to unwind.

Dana's expert tip: Not sure what you're in the mood for? Cadet offers beer and wine tasting flights.

Read more about Cadet →


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St. Helena
Goose & Gander
Photo courtesy of Dana Rebmann


Ask any local where to go at night in St. Helena and the answer is always the Goose & Gander. It's about a block off of St. Helena's main drag, but easy to find. Head up the stairs for the main entrance to the restaurant, but if you're plotting a course for a good drink, hang a left and head to the much-loved basement bar. The just light enough, just dark enough digs have a relaxed, "it's always Friday," kind of feel. Goose & Gander features nearly three dozen specialty cocktails that change with the season. Just as important as how they taste is how they look. Some of the drinks, like the Coastal Pimm's Cup, look like a florist put in some serious time before your drink left the bar.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Goose & Gander offers great drinks and fun staff in comfortable space complete with fireplace.

Dana's expert tip: Hungry? The Bar Bites Menu is stellar with favorites including Corn Croquettes and Duck Fat Fries.

Read more about Goose & Gander →




Phenomenal performers and a great stage make the Uptown Theatre a top nightlife spot in downtown Napa. Whether it's a musician the likes Keb' Mo' or comedian Adam Carolla, the art deco Uptown Theatre is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. With just 863 seats, the Uptown is small by modern entertainment venue standards, but less than five minutes in, you'll appreciate the intimate setting. Come early. Dating back to the late 1930s, the Uptown has more to see than just the performer on stage. An added bonus, you can enjoy a glass of wine, beer or even a small bite to eat, at the for ticket holders only, Courtyard Café.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Great artists and a great venue make Uptown Theatre a great way to spend a night in downtown Napa.

Dana's expert tip: The theatre's Courtyard Café is a good spot to grab a quick bite (and a glass of wine) before the show.

Read more about Uptown Theatre →


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Meet Dana Rebmann

Dana Rebmann moved from San Francisco to Wine Country in search of sunshine. Amazing wine and food was a delightful bonus.

A former television producer for NBC News, Dana is a regular...  More About Dana

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