Things To Do

Napa River — Adventures On and Off the Water

By Julia Chang March 27, 2023

The Napa River is one of the largest Central Coast Range rivers, running 50 miles from Mt. St. Helena to the San Pablo Bay. It’s an important part of the local ecosystem, providing a home to many species of fish, birds, and wildlife. The Napa River also winds through downtown Napa, offering a serene, gurgling backdrop to a plethora of Wine Country experiences, all right along the water. We’ve compiled some of our favorite places to eat, drink, and stay by the Napa riverfront, in addition to some unique things to do for the more adventure-inclined.

Where to Adventure

Napa Valley Wine Yacht
Cruise along the Napa River. Photo Courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Yacht

For those looking for a unique Napa experience without forgoing some of the best wine Napa Valley has to offer, look no further than these Napa River WineCountry Experiences. Tour the river on a 50-foot catamaran with Winemaker Cruise on the Wine Yacht, all while enjoying a beautiful four-course meal by Chef Kadiye, of Tarla Grill, and wine from AUM Cellars. Looking for a workout to pair with your wine course? Join a private river tour with Napa Valley Paddle. Experience the most impressive stretch of the Napa River, from salt water wetlands to fresh water forest. Paddle the restored tidal area and see downtown Napa like never before. For those looking to not get their sea legs, a casual stroll can happen right downtown and includes river views and ample shopping from stores like the Napa General Store, Riverhouse by Bespoke Collection, and more. And for those looking to really connect with nature both in and out of town, there’s a 4.2 mile, casual hike on the Napa River Trail. If you’re visiting in the summer, enjoy a balmy evening at the Veterans Memorial Park Amphitheater for Napa City Nights, the concert series that happens Friday evenings. With terraced riverfront seating, live music, and beautiful views of the Napa River, it’s a great way to wind down after a day of Wine Country activities.

Where to Taste

JaM Cellars
Sip wines at JaM Cellars at their music studio tasting room. Photo Courtesy of JaM Cellars.

There are also plenty of options for wine tasting for all the landlubbers who want to enjoy a river view without getting wet. In downtown Napa, check out Acumen Winery Gallery, featuring estate wines from organically-grown grapes on Atlas Peak, New Frontier Wine Co., showcasing luxury Napa wines from renowned global winemakers, and JaM Cellars, which offers easy to love wines for you to enjoy in their music studio tasting room (complete with a classic vinyl collection and weekly live-music JaMSessions). \

For more music and wine, check out Savor After Hours, an immersive Cabaret and wine tasting experience taking place at the JaM Ballroom. Offered June through September 3, 2023, this exclusive event features dancers from Dancing With The Stars as well as wine from PEJU and Raymond, adding up to one fun and unique way to enjoy downtown Napa after hours. Last but not least: California Brandy House is the first tasting room dedicated soley to California brandies, and is a worthy stop when venturing downtown.

Where to Eat

Celadon Napa Valley
Discover Celadon, a restaurant that gives an upscale flair to your favorites. Photo Courtesy of Celadon

If you’re strolling along the riverfront, you might venture down the dreamy, floral corridor that leads to Celadon. Known for its ‘Global Comfort Food’, Celadon gives an upscale flair to your favorites, with diners raving about the pork belly and the lemon meringue pie. Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ is a great casual option right off Main Street for some hearty protein, with an extensive whisky menu to boot. The Grove at Copia is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant serving shareable dishes and a great brunch spot. If you want a more casual breakfast, stop at Monday Bakery. They offer fresh pastries daily, or you can make a custom order, and their menu has savory items for those without a sweet tooth.

Angele Restaurant & Bar is a long-running brasserie serving French fare on the Napa River, and remains one of Napa’s most popular restaurants to this day. For those who might be finding it difficult to decide (decision fatigue is real), sample a little bit of everything instead at the Oxbow Public Market, which features favorites such as Hog Island Oyster Bar, Gott’s Roadside, The Fatted Calf, and Kara’s Cupcakes.

Where to Stay

Milliken Creek Inn and Spa
A luxury Inn located in a serene setting. Photo Courtesy of Milliken Creek Inn and Spa

After all the indulging and activity of Napa River, you’ll want somewhere close by to lay your head at night. Treat yourself to a stay at the Andaz Napa, which offers modern, elegantly-proportioned rooms for you and your pooch. It’s located in the heart of downtown Napa, so after you’re done walking along the river and sampling wine at some dog-friendly tasting rooms, check-in for an in-room spa service, while your fur-baby lounges nearby on the complimentary doggie bed, snacking on the complimentary doggie treats. Nearby is the Napa River Inn, located just off Main Street. Luxuriate in glittering views of the Napa River while enjoying the complimentary pastries from Sweetie Pies, delivered fresh to your room daily.

Milliken Creek Inn & Spa isn’t much further from downtown Napa, but this serene setting can feel like a world away, whether you’re strolling through the beautifully landscaped grounds, or enjoying the view from the grassy river banks with a drink in hand and good company by your side.