The Benicia Getaway
The Bay Area’s Best-Kept Day Trip Secret
Charming Benicia Great Place to Relax, Recharge and Rejuvenate
Benicia, a beautiful waterfront city in the San Francisco Bay Area, offers many delightful reasons to visit for a day with family or friends, including world-class art, intriguing historical sites, one-of-kind boutique shopping, great dining, dozens of rejuvenating spas, and plenty of outdoor recreation. And it’s all just minutes from most points in the Bay Area.
World Class Art
Benicia boasts an active and influential art community. Resident artists share their talents via an eclectic mix of media and styles, including glass art, prints, sculpture, ceramics, photographs, paintings and even hand-screened wallpaper. Almost 100 artists have opted to locate their studios in a group of buildings known as the Arsenal, a former military reservation that has evolved into a bohemian-type enclave.
The city is particularly known for its glass art studios, where visitors can see first-hand the process of turning molten glass into exquisite works of art. Benicia’s three glass art studios include Lindsay Art Glass, Nourot Glass Studio and Smyers Glass.
Intriguing Historical Sites
Benicia’s rich history – as a former state capitol, a busy seaport, the first Army ordnance supply depot on the Pacific Coast and an inspiration for some of Jack London’s literary works – is a treasure trove for anyone wanting to learn more about national and California history. Benicia’s three museums highlight the city’s colorful past:
- Benicia Capitol State Historic Park: Benicia was the site of California’s third seat of government and served as the state capitol for 13 months during 1853 and 1854. The classically designed capitol building is perfectly preserved inside and out and looks as if the legislators just stepped out for a short recess.
- Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns: The museum houses a variety of exhibits and displays recounting the commercial, cultural and civic history of Benicia and of the role that the U.S. Army Arsenal played in national history and the city’s development from 1849 through 1964.
- Benicia Fire Museum: Maintained by the Benicia Volunteer Firemen, the museum contains many treasures of fire service equipment, including the “Phoenix,” an 1820s double-decker hand-pumper that required 45 men to operate.
Shopping, Dining and Spas
Benicia’s unique shops offer the style and fashion of upscale, international shopping for clothing, accessories, shoes, art, antiques, gifts and home decor. Each store provides one-to-one customer service and merchandise found exclusively in boutiques.
The largest retail area in Benicia is First Street, set against the dramatic backdrop of the city’s waterfront, but there are many interesting shops scattered throughout the city, including within the intriguing collection of buildings called the Arsenal.
While enjoying a great day of shopping, visitors are invited to dine at one of the many excellent restaurants in town, from casual outdoor cafes to elegantly decorated establishments. Enjoy a range of dining choices from classic American seafood to ethnic cuisine, fine dining to casual food, and hearty diner cooking to a multi-course feast with a French flair. In a nutshell, whether someone is in the mood for incredible burgers and hotdogs, or gourmet fare, they’ll find a wide variety of mouth-watering options.
Benicia is also a place where pampering can easily become a full-fledged pastime, from a relaxing massage to a rejuvenating facial, with more than 40 spas and salons ready to create, for visitors, the feel of mini-vacation.
Waterfront Activities and Outdoor Recreation
Benicia’s waterfront location is one of the city’s greatest attractions. Downtown is literally just a few steps from the scenic waterfront Promenade, which allows visitors and residents an up-close glimpse of the impressive Carquinez Strait.
In addition to spectacular vistas, the waterfront area is full of fun things to do, from the Benicia State Recreation Area to the Benicia Marina. Of Benicia’s more than 20 parks, three are along the waterfront and are perfect for picnicking and fishing. The area is also part of the San Francisco Bay Trail System.
Here are some of Benicia’s primary recreational areas:
- Benicia State Recreation Area: The area includes 438 acres of land with 2½ miles of paths set aside for cyclists, runners, walkers, equestrians and roller skaters. The trails wind through the marshy, grassy hillsides and rocky beaches along the narrowest portion of the Carquinez Strait. Dillon’s Point is a favorite fishing spot.
- Bay Ridge Trail: A walk along this trail follows the Carquinez Strait waterfront through Benicia and Vallejo. This route travels mostly level trails, including sidewalks, paved and unpaved trails and paths.
- West Ninth Street Boat Launch: This is a public launch operated by the City of Benicia at the West Ninth Street Park, located at West Ninth and K streets. In addition to the two public boat launches, there are three kayak and canoe put-ins along the waterfront.
- Benicia Marina: This is a full-service marina and a great stop for boaters who want to visit for the day or stay overnight on their way to the Sacramento Delta and other waterway destinations.
Where to Stay
There is so much to see and do in Benicia, it’s easy to spend more than one day here. Overnight accommodations include the historic Union Hotel and the Inn at Benicia Bay, and more contemporary lodgings at the Best Western Plus Heritage Inn or Holiday Inn Express.
For more information about visiting Benicia, please go to www.visitbenicia.org. You can also become a fan of the Visit Benicia Facebook page for special deals, insider tips and up-to-the-minute news about this very special getaway.
Journalists are asked to contact Jack Wolf of Wolf Communications at jack[at]prwolf.com or (707) 575-4415.