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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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/events.