We often hear from students that there’s “nothing to do” around PUC, or the Napa Valley doesn’t offer the same amenities found in larger towns. However, it’s completely the opposite! You just have to look a little harder for things you’re interested in as opposed to having them as conveniently right outside your front door.
At first glance, St. Helena, the town closest to PUC—a mere eight miles away—can seem like nothing more than a playground for the rich, lacking a price friendly environment. There are places hidden throughout the valley, however, that offer a good time without breaking the wallet. Here are some popular spots PUC students like to go for a break from studying and experience sophisticated Napa Valley culture in nearby St. Helena!
If you want something to eat …
It’s no secret the Napa Valley is known for its incredible, Michelin star restaurants, but there are also plenty of casual places to grab a good bite to eat in St. Helena, depending on what you’re craving:
- Mexican food: Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or you just want a good burrito, both Azteca Market and Villa Corona offer great food at a great price.
- A good sandwich: If you talk with any PUC alum, one of the things they may tell you they miss the most about being at PUC is the iconic sandwich joint, Giugni’s. It’s a local favorite for sandwiches and “Giugni juice.” This place is a classic, although you won’t want to forget to bring cash!
- Italian food: Another PUC local favorite is Pizzeria Tra Vigne, where you will most likely find PUC students, faculty, and staff on any given day!
- A burger, fries, and milkshake: If you watch the Food Network, you’ve probably already heard of Gott’s, which has been famous in the Valley since 1999 but is now a must stop for tourists after being featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.”
If you want a cup of coffee or a snack …
For students looking for a place to sip on a hot beverage or smoothie, nibble on a pastry, or enjoy a sandwich or gelato, there are several different coffee shops in town available to spend time studying or to just relax take a break. There’s the Napa Valley Roasting Company, lovingly referred to as the “RoCo,” offering excellent drinks and patio seating; the Model Bakery, which is your go-to spot if you’re looking for fresh bread and pastries; and Sogni Di Dolci, a student favorite due to its delicious, authentic Italian gelato.
If you want to watch a movie …
Built in 1913, the Cameo Cinema is one of the oldest running single-screen theaters in the United States. Don’t let its age fool you, though—the Cameo boasts the most technologically innovative projection system in the area, and has Dolby 3D capabilities. The Cameo hosts current movies, art films, concerts, and the annual PUC Diogones Film Festival in the spring, and has also hosted special community screenings of Francis Ford Coppola’s films. The ticket price for students with a school ID is just $7, making the Cameo a perfect place to come on Saturday nights with friends or even a date!
If you want to shop …
Lolo’s Consignment is where you can find relatively new designer clothes as well as discounted furniture, books, and home decor items. College students are always looking for creative ways to stretch their budgets, and Lolo’s is a great place to look for great deals. You can often find items with the tags still on for a fraction of original cost.
Tip: Ladies, be sure to stop by Lolo’s the third Wednesday of every month for “Girls’ Night Out” where the store stays open late and clothing and accessories are an extra 20 percent off.
If you want a good book …
Main Street Books is a charming little bookstore right on Main Street (obviously) offering a large selection of used books, and a modest amount of new books sprinkled in. All used books are half off, and it’s a great place to find classic literature books for some of your English classes, often at an even cheaper price than on Amazon.
Pro tip: Be sure to check out the piles of books in front of the counter—that’s where you will find used books yet to be shelved.
If you want somewhere to relax …
A little off the beaten path, Crane Park is a lovely spot if you’re looking for outdoor relaxation and the perfect place to absorb some vitamin D! The park consists of eight lighted bocce ball courts, six lighted tennis courts, two Little League baseball fields, one lighted volleyball court, a playground, skate park, horseshoe pits, and picnic tables. It’s a great space to hang out, and on Friday mornings you can also enjoy the St. Helena Farmers Market (7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., May through October), featuring local produce, delicious food vendors, and artisanal goods.
Tip: Bring your Giugni’s sandwich to the park for the perfect afternoon picnic!
There are many other amazing places in St. Helena and within the Napa Valley; these are just a few of our favorites. We invite you to visit Pacific Union College and come experience our college and the Napa Valley for yourself! Fill out a visit request at puc.edu/visit, or call (800) 862-7080, option 2 to schedule your personalized tour.