"Former State California Capitol That's Beautiful" Benicia by atufft

Benicia Travel Guide: 41 reviews and 118 photos

Capitols of California...

Monterey was the Capitol of Alta California under the Spanish and Mexican governments, a period that lasted a little less than a century. When the California became a state, the Spanish/Mexican seat of power became irrelevant as San Francisco had quickly become a huge tent city with political clout. So, the legislators looked for an ideal place with a good capitol building, access from all parts of the state by the transport of the day, and enough lodging for the lobbists and others required to do the work of government. Benicia, established by a land grant from Mexican-Californio leader General Vallejo, and named for Vallejo's wife, was for a year, a great capitol, for everything except the last of these issues. The building was large and grand, and the ferry boat access to Benicia easy, but many men couldn't find lodging and slept in saloons. Today, the capitol building in Benicia is the only pre-Sacramento capitol building still standing, and it has been completely restored to the standards of the day when it was constructed. But, Benicia is more than a former capitol city, and in many ways a much more pleasant place for a capitol than Sacramento is today because of the scenic Carquinez Straits.

Sunny with Delta Breezes

For international visitors, the most likely visit to Benicia would be during a road trip from San Francisco through to the Napa Valley, into the Sacramento River Delta Region, or perhaps during transit to Sacramento or Lake Tahoe via Hwy 680. The charming and historic small town atmosphere, and relatively high quality restaurants and shops along First Street, and the pleasant waterfront walk, raise Benicia's tourism value above some of her neighboring towns such as Martinez, Suisun City, Fairfield, or Vacaville. Contrasting with the otherwise scenic nature of the Benicia is its presence within Northern California's the oil refining region. But, but this factories are pushed back behind a row of hills that rise behind the old center of town. The view across the Carquinez Straits to Martinez does does include tanks and after-burning stacks of two oil refineries, but these are about a mile east of the old town waterfront. Further east also are the unimpressive views of the newly expanded Benicia-Martinez bridge and of the haunted Navy Mothball Fleet. Even so, the city is working to restore some aspects of the natural environment where California Indians had once paddled their canoes among the cattails.

  • Intro Updated Sep 13, 2007
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Reviews (10)

Comments (4)

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2008 at 10:07 AM

    Haven’t been to downtown Benicia in years, even though it is in my own backyard. Was thinking of swinging by one afternoon this summer. Nice research on the mothball fleet. I’ve always found those old relics interesting. ~ Steve

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Oct 14, 2007 at 9:27 PM

    Wanted to see what Benicia was like since I've not heard of it. I love architecture and was impressed with old homes. Great presentation.

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
    Sep 12, 2007 at 8:38 PM

    Alan - I have driven through this area but never stopped to see the sights! Next time. Joe

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Aug 17, 2007 at 12:17 PM

    Nice page of Benicia.Never heard of it before though I have driven from SF and Oakland to Napa Valley. Well, California is a big state.

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