Experience the Petaluma River

The Petaluma River is a veritable sea of activity attracting recreational boaters, rowers, kayakers, photographers, bird watchers and anglers to explore, play or just relax.

Since the mid 1800s, the Petaluma River has been a vital commercial link for shipping produce and poultry to San Francisco. Today, the river overflows with personality-packed events and recreational options.

Step off your boat and into Historic Downtown

If you arrived in Petaluma on your boat, you’ll be within steps of dozens of excellent restaurants, unique shops, antique stores, and live entertainment. Or take in the latest blockbuster at Boulevard Cinemas, you still won’t need any car keys. No wonder Petaluma was selected as one of the “Top Ten Bay Area Leisure Boating Destinations” by Latitude 38 Magazine.

For drawbridge openings call (707) 778-4303. For Petaluma Marina information call (707) 778-4489.

Petaluma Boat Rentals

If you want to experience the Petaluma River but don’t have a boat, Dolphin Charters offers three-hour cruises in April, May and October.  You will want to bring your binoculars for viewing the many varieties of waterfowl.

Or get eye-to-eye with an egret in a kayak or paddleboard. Let the experts at Clavey Paddlesports get you outfitted and on the water in no time.

If you’re not sure what type of non-motorized vessel suits you, Friends of the Petaluma River will help you try a canoe, kayak, rowboat or sailboat. Join them on Sundays at the David Yearsley River Heritage Center at Steamer Landing Park.

A bird watcher’s paradise at the Petaluma Wetlands

Only two miles from downtown, this serene haven for bird watchers seems hundreds of miles from civilization. Over 200 species of birds have been identified in the 500 acres of public wetlands with nine distinct habitats.

You’ll want your binoculars because during the active season from April to July, more than 60 nests of Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Great Blue Heron can be seen. The wetlands have trails through a variety of habitats ranging from tidal salt marshes to freshwater marshes.

Central to the wetlands is Shollenberger Park, one of Petaluma’s natural treasures. Bird watching, walking or jogging, and dog walking are popular activities on the more than seven miles of scenic trails. Our mild climate means that you can enjoy them year-round or learn about the wildlife from an expert on free docent-guided nature and bird walks October through June.

Petaluma River Events

Rivertown Revival in July celebrates “The Greatest Slough on Earth” (the Petaluma River is actually a tidal slough that leads to San Francisco Bay). The festival features art boat races, live musical entertainment, and arts and crafts like you’ve never seen before.

The holiday season kicks off with Santa and Mrs. Claus’s Riverboat Arrival in November. The magic continues at the annual Lighted Boat Parade in December when a flotilla of decorated boats sail into the Turning Basin against the crisp winter night sky.

For more details about seasonal events taking place on the Petaluma River, click here.