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Small Town Seaside Beauty: 10 Best Things To Do In Benicia, CA - Updated 2020

Thing to do in Benecia, CA
Catherine
Catherine
Updated

An hour’s drive north of San Francisco lies the lovely Bay Area city of Benicia, California. Benicia’s past is shaped by canneries, tanneries, and a rich maritime history. With the beautiful Carquinez Strait, a narrow body of water that connects the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, as a backdrop, Benicia offers an enchanting getaway filled with charming sights and cool waterfront views. Take a moment to discover this seaside beauty with the 10 best things to do in Benicia, California.

1. Benicia Historical Museum: showcasing a mighty military history

Benicia Camel Barn Museum
Source: Photo by user Frank Schulenburg used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Benicia Historical Museum, also referred to as the Camel Barns, is a unique museum with exhibits highlighting the history of Benicia and the military presence in the Bay Area. It gets its nickname because the structure did in fact house camels. During the 1850s and 1860s the US Army experimented with utilizing camels as pack animals. But the idea was nixed at the outbreak of the Civil War, and several of the camels were shipped to the Benicia Arsenal, the current museum, to be sold. Guests can peruse the place solo, but guided group tours require an appointment.

Benicia Historical Museum

Address: 2060 Camel Rd, Benicia, CA 94510

Contact: +1 707 745 5435

Website: Benicia Historical Museum

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2. Eat, drink & be merry at The Tannery Building

Pubs
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The Tannery Building, also called Tannery Row, is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike. The indoor mercantile mart offers delicious restaurants, pleasing taverns, and quaint shops all under one roof. The Tannery Building is without a doubt the hub of Benicia’s social scene. If you’re into antiquing check out Fabulous Finds, a store that acquired much of its wares from estate sales. Whatever your interests or appetites, The Tannery Building is sure to satisfy.

The Tannery Building

Address: 131 1st St, Benicia, CA 94510

Website: The Tannery Building

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3. Lindsay Art Glass: where an artisan craft lives!

Art glass
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Since 1998, Lindsay Art Glass has created glorious hand-blown art glass in a studio located in downtown Benicia. Lindsay Art Glass also displays a variety of intricate jewelry pieces, colorful scarves, and other great accessories from various artisans. But Lindsay Art Glass doesn’t stop there, they kick it up a notch by offering others the opportunity to blow their own glass ornaments. Glass blowing is open to all, 10 years and up. Don’t miss the thrilling chance to participate in an age-old craft at Lindsay Art Glass.

Lindsay Art Glass

Address: 109 East F St, Benicia, CA 94510

Website: Lindsay Art Glass

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4. Sailor Jacks: dine in an 1868 sea captain’s house

Corn chowder with crab 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user stu_spivack used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Once a former sea captain’s home, the delightful restaurant called Sailor Jacks resides on the scenic Carquinez Strait. The house is a charming two-story abode with an outdoor deck and patio, providing the perfect nautical atmosphere for enjoying a lovely meal. Start with a luscious bowl of chowder and finish with Sailor Jack’s unbelievably delicious bread pudding, topped with brandy caramel and whipped cream. Sailor Jacks gets its name from celebrated author Jack London, who actually lived in the area and held a special spot in his heart for this coastal region.

Sailor Jacks

Address: 123 1st St, Benicia, CA 94510

Website: Sailor Jacks

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5. Travel back to the 1800s at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

Benicia Capitol
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Frank Schulenburg used under CC BY-SA 3.0

It may come as a surprise to learn that Benicia once stood as California’s state capitol, before it ultimately found its home in Sacramento. For a very brief period from 1853-54, the legislature met in the building that is now Benicia Capitol State Historic Park. Displayed inside Benicia Capitol State Historic Park are several desks; originals from the early days of the state, and each has a candlestick, a quill, a 19th century newspaper, and a top hat. Guided tours are available, or you can explore the area on your own.

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

Address: 115 W G St, Benicia, CA 94510

Website: Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

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6. Bask in Benicia's sunny scenic waterfront

Carquinez Strait aerial view
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Robert Campbell used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

During its heyday, Benicia’s Waterfront saw its share of busy seaport activity, with shipyards and tanneries dotted the shoreline. Today, the waterfront is one of Benicia’s greatest attractions. With the scenic promenade and the downtown area nearby, the waterfront is the premiere place to enjoy Benicia’s mild, sunny weather. The waterfront offers great views of the impressive Carquinez Strait. With three of Benicia’s beautiful parks along the waterfront, picnicking and fishing are prime activities. The waterfront also hosts many events, like the annual Benicia Waterfront Festival, a wonderful celebration with great food and live music.

Scenic Waterfront

Address: 38.0460097, -122.1613225

Website: Scenic Waterfront

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7. Benicia State Recreation Area: Northern California's heavenly retreat

Benicia State Recreation Area Bay Trail
Source: Photo by user San Francisco Bay... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located along the narrowest portion of the Carquinez Strait is the beautiful Benicia State Recreation Area. Rocky beaches, marshes, and grassy hillsides contribute to the beauty of this area, and it is a great place to escape the hustle of the city. Take a stroll, hike, or ride a bike. The Benicia State Recreation Area also offers fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, and bird watching. Benicia State Recreation Area is even great for meditation. If you want to catch some nice scenic views take the loop trail, a 1.3 mile (2.1 kilometer) trek that is okay for people of all skill levels. Dogs are also welcome, but they must be on a leash.

Benicia State Recreation Area

Address: 1 State Park Rd, Benicia, CA 94510

Website: Benicia State Recreation Area

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8. Benicia Clock Tower

USA-Benicia-Clock Tower-13
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Eugene Zelenko used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Situated near the entrance to the port of Benicia, the Benicia Clock Tower was once a military arsenal built in 1859. The first of its kind in the “far west,” Benicia Clock Tower originally possessed two towers, but an explosive mishap in 1912 badly damaged the building. It was re-built, minus the second tower, and the present clock was also installed. With the tower’s fine Benicia sandstone, an attractive slate roof, and a striking rough “rock face” exterior, Benicia Clock Tower is worth a stop-and-look on your travel itinerary.

Benicia Clock Tower

Address: 1189 Washington St, Benicia, CA 94510

Website: Benicia Clock Tower

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Benicia, Greater Sacremento, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Benicia, Greater Sacremento, US

9. Benicia Fire Museum: see how fires were extinguished

The Fire Museum (Mon 21-03-2016) @ 11-46-43am. - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Christopher Wood used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Established in 1981, the Benicia Fire Museum contains many interesting treasures of fire service equipment, including the “Phoenix,” an 1820s double decker hand-pumper that needed 45 men to operate! The “Phoenix” was also one of the first fire engines to arrive in California in 1847, and was part of the firefighting effort in San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fire. Benicia Fire Museum is open the first three Sundays of the month, from 1 pm to 4 pm and is FREE; however, donations are greatly appreciated.

Benicia Fire Museum

Address: 900 East 2nd St, Benicia, CA 94510

Contact: +1 707 745 1688

Website: Benicia Fire Museum

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Benicia, Greater Sacremento, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Benicia, Greater Sacremento, US

10. The Rellik Tavern: pub fun of the highest order

Bloody mary
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

An ultra-hip lounge, bar, and tapas house, The Rellik Tavern serves craft beer, wine, and small plates in a festive venue. Many tourists will be glad they dropped in. Live music is performed on weekends. And for you Madonna die-hards and Boy George fanatics, check out The Rellik Tavern’s DJ Decade Thursday special, Ladies and 80s. A favorite among locals is The Rellik Tavern’s Sunday special, build-your-own-Bloody Mary, where guests choose their liqueur and build a Bloody Mary from a buffet of ingredients! Available from 9 am to 1 pm.

The Rellik Tavern

Address: 726 1st St, Benicia, CA 94510

Facebook: The Rellik Tavern

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Benicia, Greater Sacremento, US and also compare the prices with Vacation Rentals in Benicia, Greater Sacremento, US

Find a waterside city of wonder in Benicia, CA

There’s a story in Benicia’s history about a carpenter in the 1800s who revealed that gold nuggets were found in the region, and thus emptied Benicia of all its able-bodied men. The California Gold Rush and the frontiersmen may have vanished, but Benicia’s seaside beauty and enticing atmosphere will certainly never keep the tourists away.

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As a child, Catherine's family took a trip to the World's Fair New Orleans and her mom asked what she wanted to see. She exclaimed, "Everything!" She's been working on that endeavor ever since.

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