Napa River — Adventures On and Off the Water

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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, providing 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

Courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Yacht

For those looking for a unique Napa experience without forgoing some of the best wine the 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, and earn your keep on a stand up paddle board or kayak with Napa Valley Paddle’s Private Paddle Tour with Wine & Oysters, experiencing 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. Congratulate yourself on calories burned, and reward yourself with oysters and wine from the award-winning Andrew Lane Winery.

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, starting in 2018 on June 8th and ending August 24th. With terraced 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

Courtesy of Cru @ the Annex

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). Apart from having a fabulous name, Cru @ the Annex has several gorgeous, laid-back tasting areas, replete with wicker chandeliers and a cozy outdoor patio. Outland Wines tasting room feels like a local neighborhood spot and features a tightly curated selection of wines from three local producers.

Where to Eat

Courtesy of Celadon

If you’re strolling along the riverfront, you might venture down the dreamy, floral corridor that leads to Celadon. It’s a highly rated local seafood establishment, though diners also rave 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. Angele Restaurant & Bar is a rustic brasserie serving French fare on the Napa River. Crowd favorites include the beautiful deviled eggs, the duck confit, and the pork belly. Just want sweets? No problem. Stroll up to the Soft Cream window, for a customizable serving of ice cream and toppings, served in a house made waffle bowl or cone. 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 Three Twins Ice Cream.

Where to Stay

Courtesy of Napa River Inn

After all the indulging and activity of Napa River, you’ll want somewhere close by to lay your head at night. The Napa River Inn is located just off Main Street, and is walking distance to much of what downtown Napa Valley has to offer. 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. Or 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.

Cover image courtesy of Milliken Creek Inn & Spa

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Julia Chang

Julia Chang is a writer based out of San Francisco, California. In her early twenties, she made the transition from the eat-to-live to the live-to-eat type, and her waistline has suffered since. She works in tech by day and ekes out time to write about food and fiction on nights and weekends. She doesn’t sleep much. Follow her delirium on Instagram @onmywhimsy, and on Twitter @Jurichu.