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Spa spotlight: A look at a few of Benicia's many amazing spas and salons

If you’ve shopped in Benicia, you know there are countless cool and unique stores in town, especially on First Street. We’re starting a new blog feature called “Benicia Spotlight,” where we’ll focus on a few of the great shopping, dining, and activity choices in Benicia. Eventually, we’ll highlight must-see businesses within categories such as clothing, restaurants, night life, furniture, galleries, gifts, fun things to do, etc.

There are more than 40 excellent spas and salons throughout Benicia, and you can check them all out here. In this Benicia Spotlight, we’ll tell you about three spas or salons that have a unique twist you may want to check out.

Wellness Wisdom
Laura L. Kohl
Holistic Health Practitioner
827 First Street
www.wellnesswisdom.us
746-6099

What’s striking about this spa and wellness center is how many different types of treatments they handle, and how unusual some of them sound. Wellness Wisdom does bodywork therapy, holistic spa treatments, skin care, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage, waxing and more.

A specialty of Wellness Wisdom is helping people with injuries using clinical therapy and body work. For some treatments, they use essential oils that are manufactured in the North Bay. Wellness Wisdom has been in business 17 years.

Laura also uses tuning forks for sound therapy. Sound travels very quickly through water (which, as you know, is much of what our bodies are made of). It’s like acupuncture, but without the needles. Each differently pitched tuning fork (therefore different vibrations) is used for a specific purpose, such as releasing tension, helping the immune system, hydrating, aiding depression, easing emotional issues, and more. Wellness Wisdom also performs standard acupuncture.

PS Salon
Paula Schwartz
638½ First Street (upstairs)
pshairstudio.com
483-5212

This salon brings a bit of New York to Northern California. Owner Paula Schwartz worked in New York for several years, and has done quite a bit of hair and makeup for photo shoots. She has worked for Paul Mitchell and L’Oreal, teaching the latest styles.

Paula specializes in designing a haircut specifically for the person in her chair, and giving them the most flattering cut and color, while bringing a knowledge of the current styles. As Paula puts it, “when people get a haircut from me, they may as well be in New York or LA getting that same haircut.” She has clients come from around the Bay Area to work with her.

First Impressions Hair Salon
832 First Street
firstimpressionsbenicia.com
747-6910

One of the largest salons in the area, First Impressions is a full-service facility with a diverse staff that the owner, Kathy Stevens, says is like a family. Sixteen hair stylists, four nail techs, two estheticians, a massage therapist and others are all part of the First Impressions team.

Operating downtown for 14 years, about half of First Impressions’ clientele comes from outside Benicia. The salon carries 12 different lines of products and color. According to Stevens, it’s a go-to spot for a ladies’ spa day. Just give them a call and they’ll work with you to design a fun, relaxing getaway. Men are welcome, too.

Due to the space constraints of a blog, we had to leave out more great spas and salons than we could include, so we hope you’ll check out the complete list of Benicia’s options. And for details about Benicia’s dining options, shopping, art, history and more, see VisitBenicia.org.


 

Oldest military cemetery on the West Coast site of unique Memorial Day ceremony

Monday, May 29, 2017, hundreds will come together in historical Benicia to honor all past and current veterans. Held at the West Coast’s oldest military cemetery, this particular service offers a unique experience that will include a special recognition of World War II veterans, a color guard, keynote speaker, rifle salute and a rumbling fly-over.

Organized by the Benicia Historical Society, this free Memorial Day ceremony will bring moving stories that will both educate and touch the hearts of all ages. Many local military veterans are scheduled to attend, alongside public officials, local legislators, and active military personnel.

“We are very proud of our Memorial Day ceremony to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the United States military," shares Jerry Hayes, currently a director for the Benicia Historical Society. “Benicia is rich in history, which makes the Benicia Arsenal Post Cemetery the perfect place to recognize our troops. It really is an impressive landmark that is a bit of a secret. This truly is a respectful and dignified service that speaks to all who attend.”

What to expect

Beginning at 7:45 a.m., there will be a free Soltrans shuttle to transport guests back and forth from City Park at First Street & Military West, to the Benicia Military Cemetery. If you are an early bird, you won’t want to miss the ceremonial flag raising and placement of flowers.

At 10 a.m., the Memorial Day ceremony will commence by honoring our WWII vets, some of whom are expected to attend. Next up will be a special performance by the VFW Post 3928, American Legion post 101, VFW Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion, which will demonstrate the ceremonial posting and retiring of the colors.

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Col. Lawrence T. Brown, garrison commander, Presidio of Monterey, who will be followed by a dramatic 21-gun salute, delivered by the Military History Preservation Society. And wrapping up the service will be a special fly-over by the 60th Air Mobility Wing from Travis Air Force Base, as well as light refreshments.

How to get here

The Benicia Arsenal Cemetery is easy to get to and will offer a parking shuttle from Military East for late arrivals. For GPS navigation, you can use 735 Buchanan Street, Benicia, California. Take Military East to Hospital Road, then to Buchanan Street and follow the signs through the gate.

Spend a great day by the bay in Benicia

The waterfront city of Benicia is known for its interesting shops, rich history, vibrant arts community, and beautiful views. It's estimated that nearly 500 artists are in residence, and their work can be viewed and purchased at the many public and private galleries throughout town, including Arts Benicia, the city's art center and gallery. Visitors can discover Benicia's colorful past at the Benicia Capitol State Historic Park, the Benicia Fire Museum and the Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns. The charming, scenic city provides visitors with an array of popular dining options and a variety of downtown boutiques that feature unique merchandise, from the latest seasonal fashions to exquisite gifts. 

For more information about the ceremony, please contact the Benicia Historical Society at beniciahistoricalsociety.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Benicia Certified Farmers Market draws a crowd for opening festivities

Benicia was hopping Thursday evening with live music, local produce, jewelry, flowers, soaps, scarves, sauces, dips, oils, and more! And while the shopping was terrific, it’s clear that this Farmers Market is all about the food. By 4 p.m. First Street was packed with people coming to enjoy the artisan wares and delectable bites located between B and D streets.

Now celebrating its 25th year, the Benicia Certified Farmers Market is a well-oiled machine that draws some of the finest organic farmers and chefs from the area. Last week marked the kick off for the season, and the Benicia Certified Farmers Market will roll out every Thursday evening from 4-8 p.m. through August, then until 7 p.m. in September and October.

“We are very excited about this season and tonight’s turnout,” shares Benicia Main Street Executive Director Nancy Martinez. “We have a few new farmers, some great new foods, and Up Bay Coffee Pedalers is back. After 25 years, I’d say we have one of the best Farmers Markets in the area.”

Located on the Carquinez Strait, Benicia has the perfect climate for an evening market. And it was clear from the crowd that people gathered from near and far to do a little street shopping. And while dogs aren’t allowed in the Farmers Market, many pet owners peruse the perimeter and team up to grab their groceries and hang out at one of the many restaurants with dog-friendly patios.

Many stopped to enjoy their food while taking in a solo saxophone performance, the perfect sound track for this easygoing town. Others did their shopping then settled in at one of the local eateries for drinks, dinner, and more music. There were three additional spots right off First Street to hang with friends and enjoy live music. Guests just needed to follow the beat to find the charming outdoor areas behind Kinder’s Deli on the corner of First and D streets, and behind Lucca Bar & Grill at the corner of First and E streets. The Union Hotel offered jazzy tunes inside its cozy bar at the corner of First and D streets.

In addition to the incredible shopping, food, and music, the Benicia Certified Farmers Market also presents fun activities for kids. Grab your Kettle Corn and head to the First Street Green to burn off that youthful energy in a bounce house. Or engage those creative minds with arts and crafts along the way. Many of the food vendors offer tastes and treats to keep the whole family coming back for more.

Each week will showcase a slightly different array of goods. Most of the farmers only bringwhat is in season and some alternate the weeks they come based on crop yields. This market’s opening night was all about strawberries. Several of the farmers boasted incredible baskets bursting with beautiful, perfectly ripened fruit. And while the crowd was large, this market seemed to have customer service down to a science. The lines were always moving and there was never much of a wait for goods.

And there’s another great reason to check out the market. Host and producer, Benicia Main Street, has a loyalty program to reward return visits. Pop by the tent located at the entrance of the market to pick up your frequent shoppers card. Attend eight markets and receive a bag of fresh, free produce as a perk for showing your support. Participating patrons will also be entered into a drawing held at the end of the season as a final “thank you” for shopping Benicia.

For more information about Benicia’s Certified Farmers Market please visit www.visitbenicia.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Making learning fun for kids

Invention, creativity, and participation are on the menu!

Looking for a new, fun, and educational experience for the whole family? Benicia has a full menu of great ideas and activities to keep your kids engaged and smiling this spring.

Benicia Mini Maker Faire

In celebration of the maker movement, curious people from all over will gather to show off what they’ve discovered at the third annual Benicia Mini Maker Faire held Sunday, April 2 at Benicia Middle School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Set those creative minds loose in a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. There will be several hands-on activities in addition to some amazing exhibits with a must-touch policy.

For example, artist and educator Gregory Gavin cultivates a social and creative environment for all ages through the properties of moving water. Check out his sculpture featuring an elevated waterway designed for water play, as well as a method for teaching art, science, architecture, and even civics.

If your family is into crime shows, they’ll enjoy this one. Gene Cooper will be demonstrating how new forensics technology is changing the way crimes are solved. Learn how it works, compare results, and enter to win prizes.

Tickets are required, so be sure to get them in advance online and save 30%. At the door tickets are $15 for adults, $9 for kids ages 5-17, or $45 for the whole family. For more information on the Mini Maker Movement and the Mini Maker Faire, and early-bird tickets, visit benicia.makerfaire.com.

Art Classes for Kids

Kids love making things with their hands, and what better way to channel those creative ideas than with fun art classes after school or during break. Artcentric Pottery Painting offers great kids classes in pottery, painting, glass fusing, and mosaics. And they charge a flat studio fee per visit, so you can stay as long as you need to design the perfect craft. There are additional fees, so check out the website at artcentricbenicia.info for more information.

Creativity Unleashed Ceramics Pottery and Canvas Studio also has great all-inclusive classes starting at $11.95 per person. Get your hands dirty during creativity with ceramics, canvas, mosaics, glass fusing, clay working and more. Join a class, host a party, or sign up for one of their camp sessions. All the fees and dates are available online at creativityunleashedceramics.com.

Brickspace Lego Learning Center is the perfect place to encourage curious minds in a fun environment designed around playing with Legos. This magical space is a great spot for birthday parties, drop-in play, or more structured programs where kids learn engineering concepts using Lego sets as a tool. Parents will love the impact of tactile learning, while children get to see their plastic block creations come to life. Check out their website for more information at brickspacebenicia.net.

Another great place to take the kids for an art extravaganza is Once Upon A Canvas. Learn to paint as a group, work with clay, draw, or make a craft of your own design. Once Upon A Canvas offers instruction and parties for kids of all ages. The best part about this art adventure is that you don’t have to bring anything. All materials are provided and included in the price. Check out their schedule for more information at onceuponacanvasbenicia.com.

For the next generation of artists, Arts Benicia has an incredible after-school program to give students the chance to explore art and develop new interests in a fun and supportive environment. Taught by experienced teaching artists, the classes provide practice problem solving, encourage young artists to think creatively, and provide the structure and tools to develop artistic talent. There are several ways to get involved. For more information, visit artsbenicia.org.

Benicia is bursting with art and activities year-round. Follow us on Facebook to keep up on all the latest news about upcoming events and activities. For a complete list of art studios and classes, please go to visitbenicia.org.

One of the best places in the San Francisco Bay Area for events

Check out these fun things to do

Benicia may throw more events per capita than any other Bay Area town. Especially in the spring, Benicia is bursting with activity. Here’s a sampling of what’s coming up, including events that will entertain the whole family.

Benicia Mini Maker Fair

Discover an all-day show of invention and creativity while mingling with inspiring makers Sunday, April 2 during the Benicia Mini Maker Fair. Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, people come from all over the Bay Area for this event.

It’s a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. Bring the whole family to explore new ideas, new technologies, and incredibly creative crafts. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $6-$15. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit benicia.makerfaire.com.

 “Intimate Apparel” by Benicia Old Town Theatre Group

BOTTG’s spring production runs April 21-May 13 with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. “Intimate Apparel” has been described as “a poignant commentary on an era when the cut and color one’s dress – and of course, skin – determined whom one could not marry…even talk to, in public.” Tickets are on sale now at beniciaoldtowntheatregroup.com.

Opening Day on the Strait

Located on the Carquinez Strait, Benicia is home to an active sailing community and the perfect place to visit in the spring. The Benicia Yacht Club celebrates this official kick-off to boating season with a party and parade. Opening Day on the Strait starts around 11 a.m. Saturday, April 22. Visitors will get a rare chance to visit the club, witness a decorated boat parade (which starts around 3 p.m.) and the blessing of the fleet. Behind the Benicia Yacht Club there will be arts and crafts vendors, live music, delicious food, fun games for the kids, as well as dinner and dancing to carry the celebration into the evening. For more details, call the Benicia Yacht Club at (707)746-0739, or visit beniciayachtclub.com.

Benicia Classic Car Show

Is your dream car a 1968 Chevy Camaro SS or maybe a 1970 Dodge Challenger? Whether you are into classic muscle cars or vintage models from the golden age, Sunday, April 30 the Benicia Classic Car Show will showcase these shiny babies. Held on the First Street Green (located at the foot of First Street) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors can peruse the cars, chat it up with the owners, and enjoy a full day of fun, food, and music, all for free. All proceeds will go directly to support the Benicia High School Panther Marching Band program. For more information please visit beniciaclassiccarshow.com.

More Fun Things To Do

Benicia’s popular Ghost Walk is held the first and third Friday each month through late October. This spooktacular walking tour is a fun and interactive way to get in touch with the paranormal, right here in the bay area. Tours last about two hours and you must be at least 12 years old to attend. For more information visit beniciamainstreet.org.

Beginning April 27 and running every Thursday through October 26, foodies from all over will gather for Benicia’s popular Certified Farmers Market. Enjoy fruits, vegetables, cheeses, olive oils, crafts, music and so much more at this hometown favorite. Bring the kids for an evening of great food and entertainment. Farmers Market hours are 4-8 p.m.

Stay up to date on all the fun events happening in Benicia by following us on Facebook and Instagram. You can also check out our full calendar of events
year-round at visitbenicia.org.

 

Beautify your mind, body and soul during Benicia’s Pamper Me Week – a spa, salon, and shopping event February 18-25

Looking for a new spot to schedule a little me time? Benicia is perfect for that, and likely has a few amazing treatments/experiences that you didn’t even realize you needed. Both centrally located and easy to access from the Bay Area, this fun loving little town is a great spot to spend time with your sweetie, the family, or your best girls. February 18-25 downtown Benicia will be your one-stop location for wellness, beauty, and retail therapy.

Where to begin

We all know that the first step in taking care of ourselves is to de-stress. Be sure to check out Wellness Wisdom, located at 827 First Street. They offer an expansive menu of holistic healing treatments in a simple, clean and welcoming space. Whether you are looking for a relaxing massage, age-defying facial, or needleless point acupuncture (Japanese style) this is the place to center your mind and body. Call (707) 746-6099 before this weekend to receive $10 off their Ionic Foot Detox and $20 off your initial acupuncture consultation.

Bring the family

When was the last time taking the kids to get haircuts felt relaxing? Often we find ourselves rushing through the motions without enjoying the process. At Time Out with Cheshi, you can schedule a “Family Chill Session” while taking care of the kiddo’s haircuts. The chill spa service includes an herbal foot soak and massage with a shampoo and blow dry. This kids’ haircut and chill spa is located at 841 First Street. Make advance reservations by calling (415) 305-9740.

Enjoy radiant skin

Don’t wait another minute to enjoy beautiful, glowing skin. At Barbara Patrick Skin you will receive a completely customized analysis of just what your skin needs to glow and shine. Defy your age with the Age Smart Treatment, preserve your youth with a Mico-Peel, or create balance with the Ultra Calming Treatment. Barbara shares, “Skin Therapy and permanent cosmetics are my passion. I find it so gratifying to make a difference in someone’s appearance, giving them a great facial, or fabulous brows!” Barbara Patrick Skin is located at 831 First Street. Call (707) 718-5062 to receive 20% off permanent brows when booked during Pamper Me Week.

Word on the street is that the key to healthy skin stems from proper exfoliation. Bella Donna Skin Spa offers a variety of treatments that will cleanse, energize, and hydrate resulting in younger, healthier looking skin. Interested in removing unwanted body hair? Check out Bella Donna’s Sugaring method. Used by the ancient Egyptians, this timeless treatment removes hair in a natural and safe manner. Sugaring is a great technique for skin of all ages and sensitivity. They are located at 849 First Street. Reserve in advance at (707) 718-5062 to receive 15% off Skin Treatments and Henna Services.

Cut, Color and Style

Finding the perfect hairdresser can be quite the task, especially if it’s for a special occasion. So here are a few of the best of the best in downtown Benicia.

The Courtyard Salon, specializing in weddings and important events, offers everything from hairdressing to waxing and lashes to facials. Whether you are looking for elegant tresses, ombré and balayage, or a full color make-over they have the talent on hand to make it happen. First-time clients will receive 50% when you book with Samantha. They are located at 114 West D Street. Reserve in advance by calling (707) 398-5667.

At First Impressions you can count on their experienced team to execute the perfect hairstyle, massage, facial, manicure, or wax. This full-service salon offers a complete menu of beautifying treatments. First-time clients will receive 10% off many of the services booked during Pamper Me Week. Contact each stylist individually to book your appointment. For a complete list of stylists and services visit firstimpressionsbenicia.com.

And at PS Studios, located at 638½ First Street, it’s all about hair. Paula Schwartz, master stylist and owner, is well known for doing hair, make-up, and styling for photo shoots for musical artists, authors, and celebrities. PS Studios specializes in creating shape and balance that will reflect your individual style and preferences. New clients will receive 20% of Liqwd products, a Breakthrough ColorLife Technology® that has UV filters. Appointments can be booked by calling (707) 483-5212.

Shopping, shopping, and more shopping!

And to round out a perfect spa day, Benicia offers some of the best boutique shopping in the Bay Area. Check out all of the latest trends at Christina S Fashion Destination, located at 370 First Street, where guests will receive 10% off the De la Terre Skincare line. Elisa’s Closet, located at 623 First Street, offers unique clothing and accessories both vintage and new. Save 20% during Pamper Me Week. Women of all styles will find something at Tina Marie’s, located at 131-C First Street, which is in the Tannery Building. Enjoy 20% off your purchase when you shop during Pamper Me Week. Check out local glass blowing art at Lindsay Art Glass, located at 109 East F Street. Peruse hand-blown vases, ornaments, and much more. Save 15% when you mention Lindsay’s newsletter. And if you are looking for something to brighten your home or enhance a room, Romancing the Home, located at 617 First Street, has everything from handbags to home furnishings. Enter to win the “Pamper Me Gift Basket” when you spend $25 or more.

For a complete list of Benicia spas, salons, and shops please go to visitbenicia.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get all of the latest news.

 

 

What makes Benicia such a special place for art? Here’s a hint: It celebrates its 30th anniversary this year

There’s a reason Benicia has one of the richest, most diverse concentrations of talented artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. It started 30 years ago when a handful of visionary artists sought to bring a collective voice and focus to Benicia’s already growing arts community. In May of 1987 these visionaries could not have known that their alliance, appropriately named Arts Benicia, would forever change the creative landscape of their small town.

Much like a family, the legacy of Arts Benicia carries on through each generation of artists. Collaboration and education, often the catalyst of creativity, have paved the way for new artists looking to further the artistic boundaries of their contemporaries.

This is true for Benicia native, Derek Weisberg, who is now a successful figurative ceramic artist living and working in New York City. When Weisberg was a teenager, he was a frequent volunteer at Arts Benicia, showed his first works in the Next Generation exhibition (a widely attended youth exhibit that continues today), and studied under Arthur Gonzalez who in turn studied under one of California's most renowned clay artists, Robert Arneson. Robert, a highly respected and beloved Benicia artist, was considered the father of the ceramic Funk Art movement, and was also a ceramic sculptor.

But this is just one of many amazing stories originating from the galleries and halls of Arts Benicia. In 1993 Mike Kendall (pictured here on the left), a highly sought after Benicia sculptor, was one of the very first to exhibit his work in the 2,400 square-foot space in the historic Arsenal where Arts Benicia now calls home.

In celebration of their anniversary, Kendall’s retrospective will take up the entire Arts Benicia gallery from the first weekend in April through Open Studios, which is held the first weekend in May (May 6-7). If you haven’t already visited during Open Studios weekend, this is a unique opportunity to meet the artists in their working studios and to see a full range of art in progress.

Popular annual events

And since this is a very special year for Arts Benicia, they will be hosting four major art events. Beginning in the spring, women will share their voice and vision during the 8th annual Creative Women Symposium Panel. Held on March 11, this event is co-hosted by Arts Benicia and the Benicia-Vallejo American Association of University Women.

Following the symposium is “Benicia Artists Open Studios” weekend (May 6-7), when local artists will open their studios to the public both in the Arsenal and throughout town. A SolTrans shuttle will be available to transport art enthusiasts from the Arsenal to downtown and back all weekend.

Then in the fall, visitors will have the opportunity to raise money for Arts Benicia during their annual Art Auction in their gallery on September 23 (auctioned art will be available for a two-week preview September 9-23). For additional information on Arts Benicia events please visit artsbenicia.org.

Other upcoming exhibits

In addition to this year’s exciting events, Arts Benicia has an incredible lineup of exhibits by active and influential artists from all over. Currently on display is ‘The Art of a Community’, a collection of art showcasing the multifaceted talents of Arts Benicia members. ‘The Art of a Community’ will be on exhibit through February 19.

From June 10 - July 9 artists from Solano and Sacramento will exchange places during the Human Voices Cross Currents Exchange: Solano + Sacramento artists' with Sacramento curators Robert-Jean Ray and Nisa Hayden from Beatnik Gallery, and Arts Benicia’s Celeste Smeland, and Mary Shaw. Later in the month, July 29 - August 27, Juror Kathryn Harmon from Tributary Books in Seattle, WA will be adjudicating artists’ work for ‘Mapping Your Terrain’, an exhibition of the map as art.

From October 14 - November 19 don’t miss ‘Clay - A Legacy of Social Consciousness’ with Curator Lisa Reinertson, (who also studied with Robert Arneson.) And then Gems IV (small works) with Juror Donna Seager from the Seager-Gray Gallery in Mill Valley from December 2-25.

To discover more about Arts Benicia and the vibrant Benicia arts community, please go to visitbenicia.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Dig in Bay Area! Downtown Benicia Restaurant Week is here January 21-28, and it’s a little different!

More than a dozen restaurants are participating in this year’s Downtown Benicia Restaurant Week January 21-28. Foodies from all over the Bay Area can enjoy menu discounts ranging from 15-20% when they present the Dining Passport (which is free to download). Unlike neighboring restaurant weeks, Benicia eateries prefer their patrons to choose from the full menu instead of limiting you to a prix fixe selection. What’s the point? To dig in and see how many restaurants you can hit in one week.

Here’s the list of participating restaurants:

Aroma Indian Cuisine – Order it how you like it! There is something for everyone at this delicious Indian restaurant. They even offer a buffet lunch and great to-go options. Be sure to try one of the Biryanis. Passport Offer: 15% off second entrée.

Dianna’s Bakery & Café – Grab a cup of joe or stay for lunch. This bakery/café has everything from croissants to salads to sandwiches. The BLTs is a local favorite. Remember to order at the counter before you grab a table. Passport Offer: 15% off entire order ($10 min.)

Double Rainbow Café – Who doesn’t love ice cream! This small down sweets shop includes a great selection of frozen and baked goods. Try the brownie ice cream or one of their cookies. If you can’t decide ask one of the staff, they know all of the best flavors. Passport Offer: 15% off entire order ($10 min.)

First Street Café – A pet friendly patio, music upstairs (on weekends), and known locally for their breakfast, this little café delivers big time. Check out the corn beef hash or crab sandwich. Passport Offer: 15% off entire order.

Forever Sala Thai – If you are seeking authentic Thai food, this is the place. Be prepared to get a visit from Kay, the chef. She is always popping out of the kitchen to make sure her guests are happy. Enjoy the Pad See Ew or Mango Sticky Rice. Passport Offer: 15% off (excluding beverages).

Got Plate Lunch – Hawaiian food that never disappoints and is all over Instagram. Follow them to see what the latest specials are. Favorites include the Kalua Pork and Garlic Shrimp. Passport Offer: 15% when you purchase 2 plate lunches.

Kinder’s – A great spot when you are in the mood for some good barbeque or a sandwich. Try the rib eye, filet mignon, or mac salad. Here it’s all about the sauce. Passport Offer: 15% off of 2 entrées.

Lucca Bar & Grill – Lucca’s has a quaint restaurant, casual bar, and incredible food.  Top picks include the burger, Brussels sprouts, and homemade chips. This is another great place with a pup friendly patio. Passport Offer: 15% off (excluding alcohol).

Pacifica Pizza – Pizza is usually rated by the sauce and crust, but at Pacifica Pizza we have got to include the toppings. Here you can count on hot, cheesy slices of deliciousness. Try it plain or loaded with every meat you can think of. Pizza lovers of every age won’t be disappointed. Try their delicious pasta menu, too. Passport Offer: 20% off entire order.

Rookies Bar & Grill – If big screen TV’s, a full bar, and fried food is what you are looking for, Rookies is your spot. Look forward to friendly servers, attentive bartenders, and a lively atmosphere. Passport Offer: 15% off lunch only.

Rosanna’s Bakery – This is a must-do for sweets in Benicia. The cakes and pastries are out of this world and will remind you of mom’s. Top picks include the princess cake, carrot cake. and chocolate custard éclair just to name a few. Passport Offer: 20% off entire order.

The Rellik Tavern – This place has edgy chic perfected with a sexy lounge and fun bar scene. But don’t let the bar sway you from ordering food. Their dining options will pleasantly surprise you. Enjoy some sriracha slaw, fried pickles, and fried chicken. Passport Offer: 15% off (excluding Happy Hour and beverages).

Union Hotel Restaurant – Known for its historical heritage, seafood, steak, and pasta, the Union Hotel has been serving happy customers for decades. Guests can enjoy live jazz music on the patio during Sunday brunch or reserve a quiet table inside for a more romantic setting. Passport Offer: 15% off (excluding alcohol).

Venticellos – Your one stop shop for authentic Italian food, even if you are gluten-free. Try a homemade pasta, the chicken parmesan, or one of their specialty desserts. Passport Offer: 20% off entire order.

For a complete list of restaurant locations, hours, and contact information please go to visitbenicia.org. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Bon appetit!


 

Help for keeping that New Year’s resolution

Get ready to step into 2017 by keeping this year’s resolution to spend more time with the ones you love. And what better place to get together than beautiful Benicia. This charming, waterfront town offers rich art and history, delectable eateries, chic and edgy bars, vintage antiques, a large variety of shopping, spas, and an array of activities to ensure visitors of all ages have a great day by the bay.

We’ve put together a calendar of ideas to help you keep that resolution year-round and to ensure your friends and family are entertained during each and every visit.

January

After the holidays, we could all use a little break from our own kitchens. January is a great time to plan an evening out. Benicia has tons of amazing restaurants that serve delicious selections ranging from breakfast to late-night snacks and everything between. Here are a few excellent options. If breakfast or brunch is your thing, we recommend Java Point Café, First Street Café, and Huckleberry’s (in the Southhampon Center, and by the way, great for kids). For those who prefer a mid-day meal and are looking to enjoy lunch with friends and family, be sure to visit Got Plate Lunch, Lucca Bar & Grill, Camellia Tea Room or Venticellos Ristorante Italiano. And if wrapping up your day over a nice dinner is your version of heaven, then try Sailor Jack’s Waterfront Dining, Matsuri Japanese Restaurant, and the Union Hotel Restaurant and Bar. There are many other great options, which you can check out here. If you find it difficult to choose, just visit during Benicia’s Restaurant Week January 21-28. It’s a great way to taste the variety of cuisine in downtown Benicia.

February

Nothing says, “I love you” like a romantic getaway. On February 4, Benicia Main Street will host its annual Wine & Chocolate Walk. Friends and couples alike are invited to peruse the many incredible shops downtown that will be serving wine and chocolate pairings. Tickets are $25 each or $45 for two, and can be purchased online here. This is also a great time to extend your stay by reserving a room with a view at the Shorelight Inn or a cozy suite at The Inn at Benicia Bay. And for spa lovers, you may want to book a return visit at one of the many incredible spa and wellness centers during Pamper Me Week, February 18-25. Indulge your senses, rejuvenate your body, and relax your mind.

March

Celebrate the luck of the Irish during Benicia’s St. Patrick’s Day Beer Crawl. The Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, March 11, craft beers will be poured by participating downtown businesses from 1-5 p.m. Guests are encouraged to show some Irish spirit by sporting their best green garb. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 the day of the even.

April

Spring into the new season by adding a few new items to your wardrobe or sprucing up yourhome décor. Benicia boasts a plethora of shops and stores with unique and fashionable items sure to please even the most ardent trendsetters. Enjoy the ease of shopping First Street where you will find everything from apparel and accessories to vintage collectibles and antiques, and plenty of free parking. For a complete list of stores check out visitbenicia.org’s shopping directory.

May

Known for its vibrant arts community, May is a wonderful time to dive into the world of art in Benicia. There are more art galleries and studios than you can visit in one day, but luckily there are several events to help you see it all. The Benicia Arsenal is a treasure of history and home to Artists Open Studios May 6 and 7, an event where connoisseurs are given an entire weekend to chat with individual artists, and see where the art is made. And for those who enjoy the live arts, through May 13, the Benicia Old Town Theatre Group (BOTTG) will be presenting ‘Intimate Apparel’ by Lynn Nottage, a play offering poignant commentary on an era when the cut and color of one's dress –  and skin color – determined whom one could marry, socialize with, and even talk to in public. General Admission is $22, students and seniors save $2 with a valid ID.

June

Continuing the arts theme, indulge in an afternoon of discovery as you stroll First Street along Benicia’s downtown waterfront during Benicia’s Art Walk. It’s tentatively set for June through October (excluding August) on the second Saturday of each month. And since the summer months bring even warmer weather, June is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the gentle breezes off the water. There are a ton of places to walk, hike, or jog along the water and nearby trails. Benicia’s waterfront trail spans 10 miles of scenic trekking, and Benicia’s State Recreation Area has 2 ½ miles of trails for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy both paved and unpaved adventures.

July

The Fourth of July is the ultimate summertime celebration, and Benicia provides all the small town charm to make this particular time of year memorable. Visitors won’t want to miss the Torchlight Parade, Picnic in the Park, and fireworks at dark.

July is also a great time to explore Benicia’s fascinating history. As a former state capitol, Benicia was a busy seaport. It also had the first Army ordnance supply depot on the Pacific Coast, and was an inspiration for some of Jack London's literary works. There are four carefully curated museums where you can discover artifacts of days gone by. This includes the Benicia Capitol State Historic Park, Fischer-Hanlon House, Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns, and the Benicia Fire Museum. History explorers can learn first-hand about all of the interesting points of interest during the Historic Downtown Benicia Walking Tour (maps available at Benicia Main Street, 90 First Street). For more information go to visitbenicia.org/history.

August

August is a great month to bring your bike to Benicia. Families with children can bike the local trails near the waterfront and state park. For the serious cyclist there are more than 500 miles of trails that snake through Benicia and the surrounding 46 cities. The San Francisco Bay Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail also run through Benicia, making it a great place to start or end your day outdoors. Cyclists looking for a local route can cross the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to the east, then wind your way back along the Carquinez Strait.

September

Fall in Benicia is breathtaking. The warmth of an Indian summer and breezes off the bay make this a perfect time of year for water sports. Benicia’s marina has a boat launch for fishing, sailing, boating and more, as well as the public launch at West Ninth Street. Visitors looking for a little water recreation can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and more at kiteskatepaddle.com. They also offer lessons for stand up paddleboarding and kitesurfing. For water explorers there is the Water Trail, an ongoing effort to link nine Bay Area counties with a network of launch and landing sites. It’s designed for human-powered boats and beach-able sail craft, which dovetails nicely with Benicia’s network of trails. Check out more information at the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail.

October

Join us in Benicia on the first Saturday of October for Bay Day, a day the entire Bay Area will celebrate the San Francisco Bay. Also in October is non-stop ghoulish fun for all ages. Benicia, once a busy stop for the Southern Pacific Railroad, is said to have a high amount of paranormal activity. Drop by the Haunted Depot, take part in a Ghost Walk, carve a pumpkin, dress up for the parade, don your best zombie outfit for the beer crawl, and vote on your favorite town scarecrow. Day or night, Benicia is a “dead on” choice for a spooky good time.

November

As you embark on another holiday season, remember that shopping in Benicia is a great place to make the holiday season bright. Plan a day of boutique shopping, lunch and/or dinner, and enjoy time with the ones you love. Spending time together during the holiday season is just as valuable as the treasures we give. Benicia offers incredible diversity in shops, bars, and restaurants. Make your next holiday season memorable and warm by bringing your friends and family for a great day.

December

Christmas lights on First Street, a giant Christmas tree, hometown parade, marching band, holiday market, boat parade, and holiday cheer to last the whole year makes Benicia the perfect place to get into the spirit. Bring family and friends for a magical celebration of events throughout the month.

For more information on great Benicia activities and events throughout the year go to visitbenicia.org or follow us on Facebook. Happy New Year!

Benicia – holiday atmosphere like the good ole days

Nothing feels more like the holidays than a small town Christmas parade with a marching band, dancers, and a visit from Santa himself. Get into the spirit this weekend during Benicia’s holiday festivities that include its annual Christmas Parade, Holiday Market, Lighted Boat Parade, and a Family Art Day – fun for the whole family, including your four-legged friends.

Christmas Parade

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 10 at the corner of First and D streets, Benicia’s annual Christmas Parade will make its way through downtown and will end on H Street. With bells a-ringing and dancers a-jigging, this hometown tradition will be sure to start your day off merry and bright. There’s lots for kids to do, and dog-friendly Benicia invites all your furry friends to join the fun, too. Most of the shops along First Street welcome pups and keep fresh water on the sidewalk for thirsty passersby. And some restaurants have sidewalk dining where dogs are welcome.

Holiday Market

Just after the parade, pop over to the Holiday Market, set up at First and D streets, where you’ll feel like you have entered Santa’s own workshop. There will be handmade gifts, gourmet food, art, and artisan crafts that will please even the hard to shop for loved ones on your list. Enjoy hot cocoa and a tasty bite at the market while you shop for unique stocking stuffers and gifts. And many shops will wrap your gift for free!

In addition to the parade and market, many of the restaurants and shops downtown are packed with Christmas cheer. Decked out in boughs of holly, shoppers can enjoy all the service of small town charm with many of the options found in a big city.

Kids can have their picture taken with Santa from 4-7 p.m. at Benicia Fire Station #11, located at 150 Military West. There will be a session for children with special needs to take pictures with Santa from 2-3 p.m. This session will be geared for kids who are sensitive to excessive noise. Sponsored by Benicia Fire Department and Benicia Parks & Community Services, they are accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots Drive.

Also Saturday, December 10, you can learn how to make Victorian ornaments at the historic Fischer Hanlon House (for a nominal fee). Docents in period attire will serve cookies and cider from the wood-burning stove. The event takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fischer Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park (First & West G streets).

Lighted Boat Parade

As the sun sets, Benicia’s Yacht Club will commence its 26th Annual Lighted Boat Parade. Join the locals for this holiday favorite at the Benicia Marina, Saturday, December 10 at 6 p.m. Bundle up and enjoy the show as each ornately decorated vessel takes to the bay. The boats will travel through the Carquinez Strait from the Benicia Marina to the First Street Pier, and back. After the parade, the promenade makes for a lovely walk back up First Street where the trees are sparkling with lights.

Family Art Day

On Sunday, December 11 the whole family is invited to participate in Family Art Day at Arts Benicia. Located in Suite 114 at 991 Tyler Street, this event is free and open to the public from 1-3 p.m. Explore the creative world of art with hands-on projects that are both fun and educational. Learn all about the investigation and observation of art while you make something special and unique. The current exhibition at Arts Benicia is “The Art of the Toy: Wild, Whimsical, and Magical.”

Let the spirit of Christmas fill your heart and home during this holiday season, and see why some people call this small town “Mayberry by the bay.” For a full listing of shops, restaurants, and activities please visit our website at visitbenicia.org or follow us on Facebook.

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