Oxbow Public Market gives an excellent introduction to the food and atmosphere of Northern California. The market supports sustainable, local agriculture and production. There are many shops and food purveyors, mostly casual offerings where you pick up your food and find a table, but there are also some sit-down restaurants. The choices all highlight food from the region and include multi-ethnic California cuisine, fresh oysters, organic gourmet ice cream, artisan cheeses, Napa Valley wines, and local olive oil. When the weather is nice, sit on the back terrace that overlooks the Napa River. Oxbow also makes a great place to buy gifts—try Anette’s Chocolates and the Olive Press for distinctive local products that you can take home to friends and family. A wonderful farmers market takes place next to Oxbow on Saturdays from May 1-Oct. 31 from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

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Napa Market Crawl

One of the best places to get a taste of Napa is Oxbow Public Market. Like a smaller version of San Francisco‘s famous Ferry Building, the 40,000 square-foot market space is filled with great purveyors such as Kara’s Cupcakes, Three Twins Ice Cream, Hog Island Oysters, and Five Dot Ranch. I like to go early and get a latte from Ritual Coffee Roasters, and then slowly taste my way around the market.

Oysters and bubbly at the market

Oxbow Public Market makes for a great first stop before you head to the wineries. Get your morning latte at Ritual Coffee Roasters and put together your own picnic for the day. It’s also a great place to wind down before you drive back to the city. On our last trip to Napa, we decided to have an early dinner here. Gott’s Roadside is terrific for their burgers while the grilled oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company are the best. If you’re with a group, I recommend getting different items from different vendors and enjoy it family-style at one of the communal tables at the patio.

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