A VERY NAPA NÖEL: Some places own Mondays -- think big, bustling cities that start the work week with hustle and go -- while other places are all about the weekend. (Pretty much any beach town qualifies.) But when we think of the downtown Napa area we immediately think of Thursday evenings. It isn't that the wine country city ignores the rest of the days of the week; on the contrary, there's usually something pretty interesting going down most every day. But every time we land on a Thursday, Napa is up to something that's either tasty or charming or quaint or all of the above. A dining walk-about or a vino event or something summery and cultural outdoors. In short, this is a place that well understands that the weekend mindset, if not the weekend itself, indeed starts around 5 p.m. on Thursday night. The town's December offering particularly charms, because it puts the focus on the waterfront and the most whimsical time of the year.
MAGICAL EVENINGS: The water-close haps are about as Christmas-cute as all get-out. And they're happening every Thursday in December before Christmas arrives. A "big chair," newly constructed for visits with Santa, sits at the Fourth Street archway, ready for little and grown-up visitors, both. A Christmas tree, holiday karaoke, stores staying open later, gratis treats inside the stores, and carriage rides complete the scene. Plus there's a Toys for Tots drive to boot. Oh, and did we mention Napa on Ice, the seasonal ice rink? We're certainly mentioning it now.
Seriously, other cities everywhere. Downtown Napa is doing it right with this whole "Thursday nights are pre-weekend fun," thing, especially where the yuletide is concerned. Feeling inspired?