Friday, July 30, 2021

Strolling Around Napa, California

Our first trip after Covid-19 vaccinations is back to California, to Napa.  It's a little strange to be a tourist in a place that we moved from last winter, but now we get to stay in downtown Napa.  When we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, we never stayed in Napa, only making day trips or staying outside the city.  Now, we have the opportunity to explore Napa and find it delightful.

We start with a walk over to the Napa River, passing some of the majestic buildings of downtown Napa, a mixture of old and new, much rebuilt since the 6.0 earthquake in 2014, the largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay area in 25 years.

Downtown buildings

Modern times:  restaurants extending into and taking over the streets

On the river

In the1890s, this was a booming waterfront, where steamships brought cargo and tourists to and from San Francisco Bay Area cities.  Now, the old Napa City Mill is a bustling entertainment district.

Napa city mill from across the river

The Napa River Flood Project has created miles of hike and bike paths along the river, along with paths, sports/entertainment areas in the riverbed, a kayak launch, and wetlands/tidal marsh wildlife habitat.  This Dry Bypass Channel is designed to divert 50% of the river flow in a 100 year flood, diverting water around the city to where the downstream channel has been widened. 

In and along the river bed

We cross the river to the Oxbow Public Market, a great food hall, farm stand, and gathering place a short walk from downtown.  The 40,000 square foot (3,715 square meter) market opened in December of 2007 and is still going strong.

Oxbow Public Market

Behind the market, the hike and bike path continues along the river, running behind the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia, a branch of the culinary college that opened in 2016, located on the grounds of the former Copia Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts, founded by vintners Robert and Margrit Mondavi and funded partly by Julia Child (including a restaurant called Julia's Kitchen, now closed).

River path a short distance to the CIA

The Center is currently closed to the public, but the grounds and architecture are beautiful and fun to stroll.

CIA grounds

And, of course, this being Napa, there are vines everywhere, along the roads, along the sidewalks, around the parking lots, filling the fields.


Returning to the river, we walk a ways along the paths and enjoy the view as we return to downtown.

Along the river

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