Benicia Things to Do

  • California's Old State Capitol, Benicia
    California's Old State Capitol, Benicia
    by WulfstanTraveller
  • 1st St, Downtown Benicia
    1st St, Downtown Benicia
    by WulfstanTraveller
  • Assembly Room
    Assembly Room
    by Basaic

Most Recent Things to Do in Benicia

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    St. Paul's Episcopal Church--Exterior

    by atufft Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Benicia
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    There are actually a number of historic churches in Benicia, but the unique architecture and craftsmanship of St. Paul's Episcopal is very unique both inside and out. See link below for more historical details.

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    Waterfront Park

    by Basaic Written Dec 20, 2009

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    Carquinez Strait and Mothball Fleet
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    There are a couple of nice parks along the waterfront in Benicia. They offer a nice walking trail and they all have nice views. From the one on F Street you can catch a slight glimpse of the "mothball fleet".

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    Pony Express Relay Station

    by Basaic Written Dec 20, 2009

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    Site of Pony Express Relay Station
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    After stopping at the Solano Hotel, the Pony Express Rider would ride down to the waterfront to this point where he would board the ferry for Martinez before continuing his ride to Oakland then San Francisco.

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    Washington House

    by Basaic Written Dec 20, 2009

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    Washington House

    The Washington House was built in 1850 and housed several of the members of the state legislature while Benicia was the state capitol. It also served as a bordello, a Chinese lottery, and was a speakeasy during prohibition.

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    The Solano Hotel

    by Basaic Written Dec 19, 2009

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    Solano Hotel

    The Solano Hotel was built in 1851. It was one of the social centers of the town and served as the residence for many of the politicians while Benicia was the state capitol. It was also a stop for the Pony Expressin 1860 and 1861.

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    Fischer-Hanlon House

    by Basaic Written Dec 19, 2009

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    Fischer-Hanlon House
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    The Fischer-Hanlon House is located right next to the Benicia Capitol Building. It was built sometime prior to 1849 using the Eastern Federalist Style of Architecture. It was reputedly a hotel for miners and was located on First Street until Joseph Fischer, a Swiss immigrant purchased the lot at the current location and had the building moved. The building and the gardens have been renovated and restored and are open to the public on the weekends. I was here on a weekday so I did not get to tour the inside.

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    The Guard House

    by Basaic Written Dec 19, 2009

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    The Guard House

    Another building of historic and architecural interest in the area of the Benicia Arsenal is The Guardhouse, which was built in 1872. This is actually the third guard house with the first being built in 1852. The first guard house was the setting for a trial of a young lieutenant charged with a minor violation of army regulations. He was convicted. This did not seem to adversely affect his career, however, as the young lieutenant went on to become a general, and later President of the United States. This was Ulysses S. Grant.

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    Old Railroad Depot

    by Basaic Updated Dec 19, 2009

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    Old Depot

    The first passenger and freight depot was built here near the ferry docks in 1879 upon the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. They used to transfer the passengers and freight to the ferries for transport to San Francisco. Later entire trains were ferried by large ferries like the "Solano". This building was built in 1887 in the railroad town of Banta and was moved here in 1902 as Banta began to dwindle and Benicia became more and more important as a trade center. In 1930 they completed a bridge between Benicia nd the town of Martinez retiring the ferries. Today this building, which was preserved as close as possible to original, serves as a visitor's center and headquarters to the "Benicia Main Street" organization an historical preservation group. Hours are 9 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday and 11 AM to 4 PM on weekends and holidays. There is also a Visitors Center at the Benicia Chamber of Commerce but I recommend the one at the depot.

    There is a brochure on the history of Benecia which gives a background on over 40 historic sites in the town, unfortunately, the numbers in the brochure do not correspond to the numbers on the signs at the locations, and the brochure does not appear to cover all the sites.

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    Clock Tower

    by Basaic Written Dec 19, 2009

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    Clock Tower
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    This stone building overlooks the Carquinez Strait and was built to defend this strategic area. It was built in 1859 and is the only 19th Century Gothic Fortress in the US. The building has long thin slots to allow rifle fire from inside and larger openings in the front and back for canon fire. The walls are two feet thick. There was originally a third floor and another tower on the rear of the building, but these were destroyed in a fire and were eliminated during the subsequent reconstruction. The Seth Thomas clock in the current tower was placed there as a memorial to Colonel Julian McAllister who commanded the arsenal for 25 years. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    Commandant's Quarters

    by Basaic Written Dec 19, 2009

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    Commandant's Home
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    This large 20 room mansion built in the New Classical Style was the home of the commandant of the base containing the Benicia Arsenal. It was built in 1860, and has 14 foot ceilings and 2 foot thick walls. This was the social center of the town and guests frequently came by steamboat from San Francisco to attend the parties. Poet Stephen Vincent Benet lived here when his father was commandant of the arsenal. This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

    by Basaic Written Dec 19, 2009

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    Benicia Capitol Building
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    This classically designed building was originally built as the Benicia City Hall. It was later offered as the state capitol building for the new state of California. It served as the capitol from February 1853 to February 1854. It was the third state capitol and the fourth capitol of California. (Monterey was the first capitol; but that was before California was a state). This building is the oldest existing original capitol building in California. Inside you will find recreations of the original assembly halls and a variety of interesting displays about the early history of Benicia, the state and the capitol. The park is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Thursday through Sunday.

    See also my Benicia Capitol State Historic Park Page.

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    Downtown

    by WulfstanTraveller Written Aug 12, 2008

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    1st St, Downtown Benicia
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    Benicia has a neat little downtown with a number of old buildings and plenty of charm and character. It is right on the water on the edge of the Carquinez Straits and ends at a pier with a waterfront park and an old railway station. Most of the old buildings, including the capitol, as well as restaurants, etc., are in this area.

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    St. Paul's Episcopal Church--Interiors

    by atufft Written Aug 16, 2007

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    St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Benicia
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    Look closely at the wood craftmanship on the inside of the building, which was completed in stages. The most outstanding feature, the wooden vaulted ceiling, was constructed by Norwegian shipwrights. The stained glass windows are also notable, particularly for the content.

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    Historic Capitol Building

    by atufft Written Aug 16, 2007

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    State Historical Capitol Building in Benicia
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    Benicia has restored the brick building with sandstone foundation that once was the state of California Capitol building. Almost everything is the original materials. From the grand column entrance, to the wide wood plank Ponderosa Pine flooring, to the legislator desks with ink wells and top hats, and even to the chewing tobacco spitoons in the aisles, this building is marvelously restored to it's 1854 glory days. There are numerous historical markers and plates outside to read, that help to provide visitors a sense of California political history. To commemorate 150 years of California politics, the legislature met in session for a day in the year 2000. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 to 5pm. Unfortunately we arrived on a Tuesday for these images.

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    Visit the Carquinez Straits

    by atufft Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Wetland Restoration Project in Benicia
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    During California's Gold Rush, Benicia was a major port for ocean going passenger vessels and ferrys from San Francisco and Sacramento. From here, many took overland routes to the Motherlode. Today, the remains of old piers that once reached sandstone islands in the Carquinez Straits can be seen from the newly restored civic fishing pier. Elsewhere along the beach of the straits, the city is trying to restore the natural wetland vegetation. The Benicia terminal building has also been restored for visitors to appreciate. From the waterfront, the Benicia-Martinez Bridges can be seen toward the east, and the Carquinez Bridges to the west.

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Benicia Things to Do

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