Benicia is filled with rich history and a world-class artist community, every corner one turns represents another story waiting to be told. And, there are plenty of locals willing to stop and take the time to fill in the blanks or add their own colorful interpretation of the town’s many assets.
Just 40 or so minutes from San Francisco, Benicia is a small, waterfront community in Solano County, California. Before Sacramento became the state capital, Benicia was designated with that honor for nearly thirteen months from 1853 to 1854.
“People who visit Benicia for the first time are often surprised by what a fun getaway it is. We sometimes hear, ‘I’ve driven by hundreds of times, and didn’t know what I was missing,’” comments the town’s Economic Development Manager Mario Giulani.
Benicia’s historic past and contemporary Bohemian atmosphere sets the stage for mystery and romance…a perfect getaway for couples interested in exploration and inspiration. Although there are 100+ things to capture one’s attention, below is an outline of the best bets…
Top Ten Things To Do in Benicia
(all suggestions are within walking distance of many lodging options, including the Inn at Benicia Bay – http://www.theinnatbeniciabay.com/)
- Historic Walking Tour — Start off the day with a free, self-guided walking tour of downtown Benicia. A well-documented map is available on Benicia’s Main Street, at the foot of First Street, across from the Promenade. It provides a comprehensive tutorial of the town’s many assets, its history and the options that will craft each visitor’s personal experience.
- Lindsay Art Glass Studio —This colorful studio encourages visitors to craft their own souvenir glass ornament and also features a wide selection of beautifully spun glass keepsakes. http://www.lindsayartglass.com/
- Sailor Jack’s — Enjoy waterfront dining for lunch and choose from such favorites as the spicy Gumbo, over-stuffed crab melt or a large selection of fresh seafood and salad options. http://www.sailor-jacks.com/
- Arts & Culture — Art enthusiasts will revel in the wide variety of galleries and public art that are sprinkled throughout Benicia’s hub along the waterfront and downtown. For a list of the many options, plan ahead by reviewing the resources ahead of time. Some favorites include: Studio 41, Romancing the Home (home stuff, gifts, etc.), Honeysuckle Rose (antiques), Christina S Fashion Destination and Bookshop Benicia (an actual independent bookstore). http://www.visitbenicia.org/arts
- Trails, Gardens and Wildlife — The tidal marsh, where the rivers meet the bay, forms a unique habitat in Benicia, which is home to rare and endangered plants and wildlife. Check out all the recreational options of Benicia’s State Recreation Area at http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=476.
- Lucca’s Bar & Grill — This intimate, yet kitschy restaurant has a beautiful open kitchen, so it’s a wise choice to go in prepped for one of the mouthwatering grill options, which can be smelled the moment of arrival. http://luccabar.com/
- Annual Events — Some prefer to take in the attractions of their host destination on their own and at a casual pace, however, for those that want to get into the thick of Benicia’s local amusements, there is a whole host of annual events that range from Open Studios, 4th of July celebration and Holiday parades to wine walks, Taste of First Street and Zombie Brew Crawl. Depending on the season, review the options at beniciamainstreet.org.
- Historic Tour — Benicia Capitol State Historic Park, 115 West G Street (corner of First Street). This beautiful building was California’s third state capitol.The tour includes the Capitol and historic Fischer-Hanlon House (and gardens). http://www.parks.ca.gov
- Ghost Walk — On the first and third Friday of each month, those interested in the paranormal will enjoy the spooky tales of Benicia as told by investigators Deborah Hogarty and Serena Desoto. http://www.beniciamainstreet.org/
- Cocktails, live music and dancing at The Rellik are a great way to wind down after a long day strolling the myriad of shops/galleries and outdoor attractions. http://www.therelliktavern.com/