If you’re seeking a unique way to honor veterans on Memorial Day, visit nearby Benicia, Monday, May 27. From 10 to 11 a.m., a patriotic ceremony, which is open to the public, will be held at the oldest U.S. military cemetery on the West Coast, the Benicia Arsenal Post Cemetery.
Benicia Historical Society hosts this annual event, whose tireless volunteers have assembled an impressive lineup of speakers and performers for the 2013 ceremony – an event that typically draws a crowd of over 300 people.
The hour-long event will feature:
- Introductions by master of ceremonies Jerry Hayes, president of the Benicia Historical Society
- Keynote address by Colonel Joel J. Clark, Garrison Commander, Presidio of Monterey
- A performance by the Color Guard of the 749th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the California National Guard, who will post the colors
- Music by Diablo Regional Concert Band
- A 21-gun rifle salute by the Military History Preservation Society
- The Military Oath of Induction by Garrison Command Sergeant Major Andrew J. Wynn Sr. of the Presidio of Monterey
- Poetry readings by Joe Fallon – Benicia’s first poet laureate
- Prayer by Navy Master Chief Larry J. Miller (retired)
- Pledge of Allegiance by the Benicia Girl Scouts Juniors Tripp #20076
- A traditional wreath ceremony
- Performance of Taps and Reprise by Cristina O’Brien and her younger brother, Shane
All of these performances, and more, are on the agenda.
About the Cemetery
The Benicia Arsenal Post Cemetery is an intimate, peaceful cemetery. Established in 1849, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Benicia Arsenal/Benicia Barracks Historic District. The cemetery contains 211 graves dating from 1849 to 1958. The earliest recorded burial at the cemetery was First Lieutenant Charles E. Jarvis, who died June 8, 1849 at Sonoma, California. In 1958, Emelie G. Brammer, wife of Staff Sergeant Charles Brammer, was the last person buried in the cemetery. The graves include 123 U.S. military personnel, nine foreign military personnel who were German and Italian POWs, 61 civilians, 18 of unknown affiliation and three canines (who were pets of military personnel.) The cemetery also served as the burial ground for women and children who were dependents of soldiers stationed in Benicia.
How to get there
Highway 80, take Highway 780 and take the East Fifth Street exit. Turn right on East Fifth Street to Military East. Turn left on Hospital Road to Buchanan Street and take the first right to the cemetery. There will be directional signs posted and parking attendants to assist you.
For more details, please contact the Benicia Historical Society at www.beniciahistoricalsociety.org, or call event organizer Wallace Stephens at (707) 745-8384.
With Mother’s Day coming up, what better way to make her feel special than a day at the spa and/or salon? Benicia’s mix of over 40 day spas, hair salons and nail salons delivers rejuvenating treatments that will leave her feeling refreshed and appreciated. From skin and muscle therapies to hair and nail care, as well as charming boutiques and restaurants, Benicia is a unique destination to take mothers on their special day.
Day spas that melt away stress
Day spas make for a relaxing escape, without traveling to far-off places. Benicia has more than 15 day spas that provide a variety of treatments – from an assortment of skin therapies to various massage techniques – that will tone, tighten and rejuvenate skin and body.
One option is A Lily of Gold Day Spa, 2006 Columbus Parkway. The spa is a chic retreat with a diverse menu of skin care treatments, as well as massage therapy, permanent makeup, custom airbrush tans and biofeedback. The spa has custom options for people seeking more than one treatment – such as the Escape Package – which is a two-hour service that includes a 60-minute full body massage, and a 60-minute deep purifying facial for $135. Appointments are required by calling (707) 746-5413.
Hair salons and nail salons that primp and polish
Benicia has over 26 hair salons, ranging from upscale, appointment-only treatments, to convenient walk-in services.
Buddahful Salon, located at 814 First Street, is a Zen-inspired salon with a peaceful atmosphere. The salon features a water garden with a relaxing deck area where clients can sip tea while waiting for their appointment, or relax afterward. The salon provides full services for both men and women, including popular hair extensions.
PS Hair Studio is an innovative hair design studio located at 638½ First Street (upstairs). The salon is owned and operated by Paula Schwartz. With over 30 years as a hair professional, Paula creates shape and balance to reflect each client’s individuality.
Benicia also has a variety of nail salons – even an eco-friendly alternative – Arian Nail Spa, 521 First Street (second floor). The spa features eco-friendly, green and organic products, as well a retail boutique selling costume jewelry, beautiful handbags, and a variety of spa products to take home.
Arian Nail Spa also has a private room for parties, couples or nursing mothers. For appointments, please call (707) 297-6649.
Several Benicia spas and salons offer tanning beds and booth or custom spray tans, for people who seek a warm glow to their skin throughout the year.
Golden Reef Tanning Spa, 560 First Street, Suite 105C, provides custom airbrush spray tans to clients. It also serves as a face and body spa, where guests can enjoy deep cleansing facials or body wraps, and they can even get eyelash extensions. Please call (707) 720-5811 for appointments.
Benicia Health & Fitness Club, 1150 West Seventh Street, has tanning services available to members and non-members. The club spa provides conventional tanning beds, and a stand-up tanning booth. The spa also features the Magic Tan® UV-free sunless tanning booth, for a luxurious spray tan with three tanning shade options. For services, please call (707)751-0410.
Plan a “Pamper Yourself” tour of Benicia
For help planning a personal pampering tour of Benicia’s finest salons and spas, check out the Visit Benicia Tour Tips page, and click “Pamper Yourself.” There, you will find ideas on where to schedule appointments, tips on where to eat lunch, and more.
Image courtesy BOTTG
For a small town, the charming city of Benicia has a large number of events that are worth the drive for Bay Area residents looking to step away from the routine. You’ll find a mix of indoor and outdoor events, such as quality, live local theater, the family-friendly Opening Day on the Strait, and Open Studios – the much anticipated Benicia artists’ annual open house. Here’s a look at what’s happening:
Benicia Old Town Theatre Group presents “Rabbit Hole”
Date: April 19-May 11, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees, 2 p.m.
Location: B.D.E.S. Hall, 140 West J Street
Benicia Old Town Theatre Group will stage “Rabbit Hole,” April 19 through May 11, on weekends. The entertaining play, which is both a drama and a bit of comedy, deals with the ways in which different family members survive a major loss. To find out more about the play or to purchase tickets, please visit the BOTTG website for details, or call (707) 746-1269.
Benicia Artists Open Studios Preview Exhibition
Date: April 19 through May 5, Thursday through Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
Location: Arts Benicia, 991 Tyler Street
The Gallery at Arts Benicia will be hosting the Open Studios Preview Exhibition. The exhibit – a prelude to the annual Benicia Artists Open Studios event – will open on April 19, and run through the Open Studios weekend, May 4-5.
Arts Benicia 2012 Mosaic Project
Image courtesy Peg Jackson
Once again, this year’s exhibit will include a popular community outreach installation called the “Mosaic Project,” a diverse piece that helps to raise funds for Arts Benicia. The organization has given out over 160 six-inch square masonite tiles to artists, kids and community members, of varied artistic ability, and asked them to create any type of art upon them. The result is an exquisite grid of tiles – many of considerable value because of the caliber of professional artists who have participated – that covers an entire gallery wall.
The tiles (some worth as much as $200) are being sold by lottery, and tickets can be purchased at any time during the exhibition. Since this is a blind lottery, purchasers will not know which tiles they will end up with. The lottery takes place May 5 at 5 p.m., at the Open Studios event, when purchasers will discover which tiles they’ve won. The more raffle tickets purchased, the better the chance of winning a very valuable piece of art. For details about the exhibition or the Mosaic Project, please contact Arts Benicia at (707) 747-0131.
Benicia in Bloom
Date: Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: First Street
Benicia Main Street presents Benicia in Bloom. The annual two-day spring showcase is an eco-friendly event that provides information on how to “go green” from Bay Area non-profits and eco-partners. Families can enjoy sidewalk chalk artists and face painting. First Street merchants and restaurants will host tastings, trunk shows displaying the latest spring fashions, various demonstrations and prize drawings. For more information about Benicia in Bloom, please call (707) 745-9791.
Opening Day on the Strait
Date: Saturday, April 20 – all day
Location: Benicia Yacht Club, 400 East Second Street
The Benicia Yacht Club will celebrate Opening Day on the Strait for its 34th year. This free, public event is filled with entertainment and fun. There will be live music by the Diablo Regional Concert Band, as well as a variety of arts and crafts booths and boardwalk games to play – such as a rubber ducky race, and a freestyle kite competition. A catered lunch will be available to hungry visitors at a reasonable cost. Also, there will be a boat parade beginning at approximately 2 p.m. near West Ninth Street and heading east on the Carquinez Strait toward the Benicia Marina entrance. Visitors can view the parade from many spots along the waterfront, including the marina. For information, contact the Benicia Yacht Club at (707) 746-0739.
Arts Benicia Family Art Day
Image courtesy Michael Van Auken
Family Art Day
Date: Sunday, April 21, 1 to 3 p.m.
Location: Arts Benicia, 991 Tyler Street
In conjunction with the Benicia Artists Open Studios exhibition, Arts Benicia sponsors Family Art Day. Children and their parents can discover art together, while creating an art project taught by Arts Benicia personnel. For details about Family Art Day, contact Arts Benicia at (707) 747-0131.
Benicia Certified Farmers Market
Date: Thursdays, April 25 through October 31, 4 to 8 p.m.
Location: First Street
Beginning April 25, Benicia Main Street will present the annual Benicia Certified Farmers Market. This downtown market features dozens of vendors selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh flowers, baked goods, gourmet food, local artwork and crafts, and much more. Visitors will also find plenty of live musical entertainment, and children can enjoy pony rides, a bounce house, have their faces painted, and a variety of other activities. For additional information about the Benicia Certified Farmers Market, please contact Benicia Main Street at (707) 745-9791.
Benicia Classic Car Show
Date: Sunday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: First Street Green – at the foot of First Street
Over 400 gleaming hot rods, road-cars and show-cars built prior to 1976 typically turn out for this all-American classic car show. The award-winning Benicia High School Jazz Band will be performing, as well as “oldies” music being played throughout. Attendees can purchase tickets for hourly raffle prize drawings, and food from a variety of vendors. Admission is free.
"Keesa" with owner Robert Lyon of Lyon Ranch
(Image courtesy Lyon Ranch)
Every so often, a museum receives a donation that’s so extraordinary, it draws people from miles around. That’s what the Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns expects to happen, beginning this Saturday, March 17. Because of its intriguing association with camels, the museum has received a special donation in the form of an extensive private collection of eclectic camel-related objects d’art. “Camelot! The Philly Dake Camel Collection.”
In the 1860s, the Benicia Arsenal (the first military ordnance supply depot on the West Coast) made accommodations for 35 camels that were shipped to Benicia by the military when a camel-packing project was abandoned after the Civil War erupted. The camels were then sold to the public. The museum houses exhibits chronicling this rich military history, as well as other items of Benicia’s historical significance.
The sizable collection was left to the Benicia Historical Museum by Phyllis “Philly” Dake of Saratoga Springs, New York. Philly originally inherited the vast collection from her in-laws. Throughout her years and travels (and gifts), she grew the collection, affectionately referring to her home as “Camelot” – the name of the museum exhibit.
Philly had visited the museum while on a trip to California more than 20 years earlier. The museum left a lasting impression on her, and she felt it would be the perfect home for her priceless camels.
There are just over 1,000 objects in the collection, most of which will be on display in the temporary “Camelot!” exhibit. There are several items (some antique) made from enamel, pre-ban ivory, camel bone, fine china, pottery, carved stone, brass, lead, fabric, pewter, and much more.
Puppeteer Joe Leon
Come one, come all!
The public is invited to a free opening reception on Sunday, March 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the museum, 2060 Camel Road. There will be a proclamation and ribbon cutting ceremony, as well as remarks by Brad Dake, son of the late Mrs. Dake. Free refreshments and cake will be served.
Elizabeth d’Huart, Benicia Historical Museum’s executive director, says, “we are thrilled to be the recipients of this fascinating collection, which provides such valuable information on the historical importance of the camel in so many different cultures from around the world, leading to a better understanding of the camel’s special place in Benicia’s own history.”
Making a special appearance at the opening will be “Keesa,” a female rescue camel from Lyon Ranch of Sonoma, Calif. Also on hand will be Bay Area puppeteers, the Caterpillar Puppets, performing an original show “How to Train a Camel,” composed especially for the exhibit, using adorable camel puppets donated as part of the Philly Dake collection. The show is produced and performed by Joe and Ronna Leon (Ronna is Benicia’s Poet Laureate).
For further details, please contact the Benicia Historical Museum at (707) 745-5435 or visit www.beniciahistoricalmuseum.org.
Not sure what to do for Valentine’s Day? A romantic waterfront city, Benicia has a few events lined up, on or near the big day, that have all the makings of a great date. Here are a few insider tips on where to follow Cupid’s arrow:
Wine and dine your sweetie
The Saturday before Valentine’s Day, Wine & Chocolate Walk will be hosted by Benicia Main Street on February 9 from 1 to 5 p.m. A variety of wines and chocolates will be served inside participating downtown shops during this pre-Valentine’s outing. Attendees will stroll along First Street savoring the different wines (reds, whites and sparkling) and chocolates, and taking the opportunity to browse the unique shops along the way.
The ticket price includes one complimentary Benicia Main Street wine glass per person. Check-in starts at 12:30 p.m. at Benicia Main Street, where you’ll receive the wine glass, a map of tasting locations, and a wristband. A limit of 300 tickets will be available. Attendees must be 21 or older. You can order tickets online, or go to Benicia Main Street, 90 First Street.
First Street Café, 440 First Street, is hosting a Valentine’s four-course dinner on February 14. Upstairs at the café, starry-eyed couples will be treated to the music of Deborah Kuhl and Pawel Walerowski, entertaining in French and English. Reservations can be made for seatings at either 5:30 p.m. or 7:45 p.m. The cost is $75 per person (includes tax and gratuity). Please call (707) 745-1400 for reservations, or visit the First Street Café website for details about the menu, and a special Valentine’s Day prize that two lucky couples will win!
If you’re both thrill seekers, the Benicia Ghost Walk would be a unique date night, the day after Valentine’s Day – February 15 – beginning at 8 p.m. (Ghost Walks are held the first and third Friday of each month). Hosted by Benicia Main Street, it’s an evening of spooky tales and paranormal intrigue (providing a reason to hold hands and walk close) while Benicia's supernatural history is revealed. Professional paranormal investigators lead the spine-chilling walks, meandering downtown, starting at the Historic Railroad Depot (90 First Street). Tickets are $25 each. Tours last approximately two hours. For information on event times or other details, call Benicia Main Street at (707) 745-9791.
What about strolling through the art galleries downtown? Benicia is estimated to have over 500 artists in residence, and there are dozens of studios and galleries showcasing their exquisite work. You might discover a piece of art that will remind you both of your romantic day in Benicia.
Relax and rejuvenate together
Benicia has a nice mix of over 40 day spas, hair salons and nail salons. A few offer side-by-side treatments, from luxury pedicures to massage. A Lily of Gold Day Spa, 2006 Columbus Parkway, will have a “Chocolate, Champagne and Strawberries Duet Massage” special during the month of February. The cost is $135 for one hour, 15 minutes of decadent pampering.
Keeping it real (and on budget)
A Valentine’s gesture doesn’t have to be grandiose, just thoughtful. Benicia Magazine has put together a great list of local shops that sell handmade chocolates to make your love swoon. Take a peek at the cocoa infused article here.
Don’t miss strolling along the waterfront while you’re in town. Lace hands and live in the moment!
Arts Benicia opens its annual Art of Community exhibition this month – a popular montage of colorful, vibrant, diverse media. It’s a showcase of brilliant works by over 100 members of the organization – artists from Benicia and all over the Bay Area. From January 17 through February 17, the exhibit (now celebrating its 19th year) will highlight the vibrant and diverse art scene in Benicia, from seasoned, well-known artists, to newcomers in the art community.
Most Arts Benicia members will have pieces in the show. Visiting the gallery during this time is a great way to encounter the art pulse in Benicia, and is a unique opportunity to view (and purchase) sundry art subjects, under one roof.
Heart of a Community
Meet the “Heart of a Community” during the opening reception Saturday, January 19, starting at 7 p.m. This popular event is free and open to the public. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages will be served along with finger foods. Program Coordinator Laura Buchan has found that it’s one of the most exciting Arts Benicia events of the year, saying “It's a time for the whole community, artists and art lovers alike, to come together and celebrate.” Attendees will have a chance to meet the talented artists, and speak to them about their work. Most of the participating artists will be on hand.
Family Art Day
Arts Benicia continually engages youth in the arts throughout the year. One way is through Family Art Day, a supplemental event that takes place during each exhibit. Art of a Community Family Art Day will be Sunday, February 10, 1-3 p.m. This is a great time to introduce youngsters to art – hands on. It’s free, and open to the public. It’s a family friendly event, with activities for children and adults.
If you go
Arts Benicia is located at 991 Tyler Street, Suite 114, and the gallery is open 12-5 p.m., Thursday through Sunday (unless otherwise noted). If you would like further details about this event, or general information about Arts Benicia, art classes or future exhibits, please call (707) 747-0131, or visit artsbenicia.org.
The Tannery building, a historical downtown fixture, has been going through a revival over the past several months – including its name – now known as Tannery Row. New businesses are moving in, established businesses are relocating there, and additional shops are in the works. It’s fast becoming a sweet spot in Benicia, where you can have a frothy beer on tap after a long day, shop for antiques and collectibles, discover original art, and even grab a hot dog on the go.
What you’ll find there
Bill Parsons Gallery, 131 First Street, Suite G, has been a favorite local gallery at the Tannery for several years. The gallery showcases and sells stunning Classical Realism paintings by Charles H. White, Gary Bergren and gallery founder, Bill Parsons.
Char's Hot Dogs, 131 First Street, Suite A, is a fun place to bring the kids for a quick bite. It features a variety of hot dogs to choose from – even vegetarian options. They also serve frozen yogurt to top off your indulgence.
Creations & Illustrations, 131 First Street, Suite E, is a unique tattoo, piercing and art gallery, recently relocated to Tannery Row because of the unique aspects of the space. Artist and owner Landon Mau creates custom tattoo work for clientele. The studio also showcases the original art work of not only Landon and other various artists who work at the studio, but of other artists in Benicia. Stop by for a look…or some ink.
Cullen's Tannery Pub, 131 First Street, Suite B, opened in the space where O’Leary’s previously operated. It’s a steampunk-inspired (where science fiction meets the old west) pub, serving up microbrew, unique craft spirits and a variety of snacks. Be sure to say hello to resident Cockatoo, Remy. Patrons can kick back outside on the lovely waterfront beer garden, with a nice view of the Carquinez Strait, and if you’re a gamer, the pub has complimentary Playstation (PS3) stations – holy Pacman!
Fabulous Finds, 129 First Street, opened on Tannery Row summer of 2012. There, you’ll discover antiques and collectibles from furniture to old logging saws and model trucks with most of their finds derived from estate sales. You never know what you might discover each visit.
Nest, 131 First Street, Suite C, is where shabby chic meets industrial. The mix of vintage and new items from home décor to linens and gifts, will keep you puttering around the shop for hours. It’s a great place to find gifts, or a treasure to enhance your home or office.
The plan is to restore the charm and character of this special property, and make it a place people can have something to drink, a nice meal, shop for unique and interesting items, and enjoy the view – all under one roof. Currently, renovations are underway on another section of the Tannery.
Downtown is the heart of waterfront Benicia. Visit Tannery Row on First Street, and check out this scenic district. It’s a daytrip destination the entire family will enjoy.
The waterfront city of Benicia has a new place to stay overnight. Shorelight Inn is right on the water, with spectacular views of the Carquinez Strait. Here's an inside look with owner Stephen David.
The talented artists located within the historical Benicia Arsenal district will be opening their doors again this weekend, December 1-2. Visitors can take advantage of this fun chance to see numerous open art studios, housed within close proximity along Jackson and Tyler streets. The interesting buildings and warehouses are nestled within close walking distance – many dating back to the late 1800s.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, stroll through more than 35 various artist studios. The main draw is the amazing art, and the studios will be having special prices on one-of-a-kind works – a great time to find a deal for you, or someone special on your holiday list. Yummy beverages and treats will be served, and musicians are expected to perform, too.
This Open Studios event is completely run by the artists themselves. Many live as well as work in their studios. Several have been producing smaller works of art specifically for this event so patrons can purchase an affordable piece to enjoy in their homes or offices. Hosting an open studio is a wonderful way for artists to experiment with new ideas and interact with the public, both newcomers and aficionados alike. It’s a fun way to stumble upon art you never knew existed.
Also, Arts Benicia’s Pop-Up Holiday Art Market at 991 Tyler Street, #114, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Up to 20 artists are expected to be selling their exquisite wares in the Arts Benicia gallery. Families should stop by from 12 to 4 p.m., as there will be an opportunity to make holiday cards, and a signature scavenger hunt is planned throughout several of the open studios.
For a listing of participating studios, please visit http://mikekendall.com/os12.html.
Other events around town this weekend are the Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting, Friday November 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. (rain or shine), as well as the Art Glass Studio’s Holiday Open House, happening all weekend.
Visit Benicia and immerse yourself in holiday spirit.