Family Fun in Benicia
Museums and History
Benicia is steeped in interesting, local history. A fascinating past as a former site of our state’s capitol, a former military base and a seaport with salty tales provide plenty of fodder for your outing. You can drop by Benicia Main Street at the Historic Railroad Depot, 90 First Street, and pick up a “Historic Downtown Benicia Walking Tour” brochure for information. Museums to visit while in town are:
- Benicia Capitol State Historic Park (which includes the Fischer-Hanlon House), 115 West G Street, the site of the former state capitol. Self-guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours are also available Thursdays and Fridays, 1-4 p.m. Tours for the Fischer-Hanlon House are conducted Thursdays and Fridays at 2 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for youth ages 6-17 years, ages 5 years and under are free.
- Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns, 2024 Camel Road: The museum houses a variety of exhibits and displays recounting the history of both the city of Benicia and the U.S. Army Arsenal. Museum hours are 1-4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors/students, $2 children 6-12 and 5 years and under are free. (707) 745-5435.
- Benicia Fire Museum, 900 East Second Street, housing many treasures of fire service equipment and hundreds of related items, including the "Phoenix," an 1820s double decker hand-pumper requiring 45 men to operate – one of the first fire engines to arrive in California in 1847. The museum is open the first three Sundays of the month, from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. (707) 745-1688.
Downtown Benicia’s shops and restaurants are literally just a few steps from the scenic waterfront area in Benicia, which encompasses the waterfront Promenade, Benicia Point Pier and First Street Green. Beyond downtown, the waterfront is accessible at many spots on the southern edge of Benicia, via pedestrian and bike routes from the Benicia Marina to West 14th Street. Residents and visitors enjoy an up-close glimpse of the impressive Carquinez Strait from these spots. There is fishing and boating at the Benicia Marina, a great place to sit back and take in the stunning view. The marina also has a general store and public restrooms.
Shopping and Dining
Along the First Street stretch and throughout Benicia, there are plenty of shops and kid-friendly restaurants. Take a look at the restaurant directory for a complete listing. As a reward, treat the kids to a bagful of yummy treats at Spoonful of Sugar, 374 First Street.
Festivals and markets
Benicia’s many annual family-oriented festivals and markets provide a chance for locals and visitors to partake in Benicia pride. This spring, come to Benicia for:
- Benicia In Bloom – March 26 & 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the annual spring open house celebrates the "greener" side of spring with demonstrations from eco-friendly businesses. Merchants, restaurants and businesses showcase the latest trends for spring 2011.
- Farmers Market – April 29 through end of October, 4-8 p.m., Benicia Main Street draws many people to The Certified Farmers Market for fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, gourmet food, delicious hot foods, arts and crafts, live musical entertainment, face painting and more.
- Marché Benicia – June 11, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., an outdoor marketplace with a French flair, featuring food, wine and entertainment at the waterfront Promenade. Bon Jour!
Also, in February there’s Family Art Day at Arts Benicia, the Benicia Classic Car Show in May, and many other events families will enjoy. For more information please check out the events page at visitbenicia.org.
Art Glass Studios
Benicia is well known for the art glass studios that have mastered the old-world process of turning molten glass into distinctive art pieces, an astonishing process to behold. Call in advance to arrange a time to visit the studios while the artists are at work. This would also be a very cool class field-trip. The glass art studios in Benicia are:
- Smyers Glass, 675 East H Street, (707) 745-2614
- Nourot Art Glass, 675 East H Street, (707) 745-1463
- Lindsay Art Glass, 109 East F Street, (707) 748-1336
Parks and Recreation
The town of Benicia has over 20 lovely outdoor parks and an aquatic facility. Here are a few of the main parks, located conveniently for visitors:
- Jack London Park is located on the corner of Rose Drive at Hastings Drive, and features a large, grassy field perfect for kite flying, Frisbee throwing or a game of tag football. There’s also a basketball court if you’ve got game. White arched architectural elements give this park a modern feel. Plenty of shady trees pepper the park, so roll out your blanket and escape with your latest novel – Jack London would expect nothing less from a park with his namesake.
- City Park is located at First Street and Military West, where a massive wooden play structure beckons for kids to explore its every nook. They will cherish being lords of the fortress, even for a day.
- Community Park, located on Rose Drive at Kearney – grab a deli sandwich at Kinder’s or pack a lunch to kick back and enjoy a day outdoors with the family in tow at this huge park. If you have a skateboarder in the family, Community Park boasts the awesome Xpark – a skate-ramp park to catch some air and rip a few gnarly 180s while in town. So slip on those tattered Vans and helmet and snag your skateboard for a ripping good time.
- James Lemos Swim Center – Not every community offers a pool, and luckily, Benicia has one to cool your jets at 181 East J Street, (707) 746-4286. The pool will be opening February 1 for the spring season.
To find out more about the festivals, activities, shops and other Benicia details, please take a look at visitbenicia.org. You can stay tuned for upcoming events by signing up for the Visit Benicia newsletter, too.
Take a day trip to Benicia with the entire family for a wholesome, good time. We’re excited to share our vibrant city with your family!