Pokemon Go is huge. There’s no two ways about it. By July 13, 2016, nearly 10 million people in the United States were playing this augmented reality game daily. Since then, Niantic, the company behind the wildly popular application flipped the switches for Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, most of Europe, Canada, and Japan. All told, by July 16, the game had been rolled out in 26 countries.
Since Pokemon Go is a location-specific game, where one plays can have an impact on what sort of pocket monsters one can catch. For this reason, as well as many others (that’ll be revealed shortly), the city of Napa, Downtown Napa, specifically, can be a goldmine for those amongst us afflicted with PokeFever. Down by the river, there’s tons of water creatures, while the West End is host to a wide variety of grass, poison, and fairy-type creatures. If that’s not enough, and it is safe to assume that it is not, over in the Oxbow district there’s a variety of bug, electric, and fire type Pokemon. Better still however, is what the non-augmented part of Napa Pokeplay has to offer. The following is a list of (my) prefered Pokestops in and around Downtown Napa.
Thirsty for a tasty brew? The Pokestop at the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, which is located at the back end of the Oxbow Public Market, is a great place to hang a lure, grab a local beer, and let the Pokemon come to you for a change. Pro tip: Do yourself a favor, on a hot day, of which Napa has many, order up a Scrimshaw from North Coast Brewery and enjoy yourself while trying to catch ‘em all.
For a stop that is a little more family friendly than a wine, beer, and cheese place, all you have to do is go next door to Gott’s Roadside. This is THE Pokestop to bring the whole family for burgers, fries, and some of the best milkshakes you can find in the San Francisco Bay Area. Once the order is placed there’s an opportunity to hang lures on the two stops that reside just outside the restaurant. Depending on the day and time, this can be very advantageous. Gott’s is a very popular destination, as is all of the Oxbow Public Market, so there’s ample opportunity to catch ‘em all while enjoying a Western Bacon Blue Burger, some Garlic Fries, and a tasty milkshake.
Just on the other side of the First Street bridge (home to two Pokestops), right near the corner of First and Main Street is the historic Semorile Building which is home to the next awesome Pokestop. The Bounty Hunter is a great place to order up some seriously tasty barbeque, crack open a bottle of wine, hang a lure on the Pokestop, and have a blast trying catch ‘em all while constantly wiping barbeque sauce off the screen of your phone. Pro tip: Visit the Bounty Hunter during its happy hour. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday, 3 – 6pm and during that time you can get 2-for-1 Bounty Hunter brand wines by-the-glass, 2-for-1 draft beers, a $6 rib and slaw appetizer, and the incredible $11 BBQ sampler plate.
On the other side of the Semorile Building is one of the entrances to Napa’s Veterans Memorial Park. This park, right in the heart of Downtown Napa, has three Pokestops (Oberon Building, flagpoles, and the Fallen, but not Forgotten memorial), and it is has been a great place to catch ‘em all since day one. The park, which doubles as an amphitheater is the perfect kid-friendly place to get your Pokemon on. Parents can hang back in the shade, while the kids run around in the sun catching Magikarp, Dratini, and Scyther til their heart’s content. So far, based on what I’ve seen first hand, the stops in this park has been lit up with lures almost 24 hours per day since the game began making it the place to be all day and into the night (Note: the park closes at 11pm) Additionally, on Friday nights, there’s free live music to go along with all the Pokemon action, so it really can be fun for the whole family whether or not everyone has caught PokeFever yet. Pro tip: hitting these three stops on a weekday afternoon tends to be a very good thing. There’s tons of “teams” roaming around and subsequently, tons of Pokemon, too. Hours of fun can now be had in this riverside park that up until recently was just a nice place to walk through in order to get somewhere better.
Lastly, though somewhat loathe to divulge, the gym at Angele can be one of the most fun places in Napa’s augmented reality. This gym is the site of almost nonstop battles all times of the day or night. Whether battling ar training, the action is guaranteed. Just inside Angele, however, is an oasis devoted to fine French Bistro fare, so do be, at the very least, courteous to those around you while you aggressively defend or attack this gym. Better yet, when the battle is over, stop in for a drink and some of the best frites in Napa. You’ll be glad you did.
Now for the obligatory word of caution: As is the case no matter where you are or what you are doing, please be aware of your surroundings. Make eye contact with people. Watch where you are going. This game is as social as you make it be and there’s a lot of us out there playing it. Some of us are actually not opposed to interacting with real humans while catching fictitious monsters. And remember, battles will be won and battles will be lost, but there is no need for hard feelings; it is, after all, just a video game.