For months now, we have all been cooped up in our houses, stressing about everything and maybe even forgetting what nature looks like! If you’re finding yourself in dire need of a mental health day, why not escape to Benicia’s waterfront breezes, natural beauty, and charming restaurants with curbside pickup? Located on both the San Francisco Bay Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail, Benicia is the nature lover’s dream location. You can bring your bike, scooters, or walking shoes and explore the safe trails, waterfront, and expansive outdoor areas. Here are some ideas to help you plan your escape:
HIKING Explore the Benicia State Recreation Area, enjoying California’s native plants and a view of the fast-flowing Carquinez Strait. Try to see how many ground squirrels and songbirds you can spot!
A good recommendation for all skill levels is the 1.3 mile Benicia Marsh Loop Trail, which circles past wildflowers and is accessible to dogs, as long as they’re on a leash. Also, make sure to check out the native flowers at the Botanical Gardens before you leave!
Parking is available inside the park by the botanical gardens or by the entrance of the park, itself. You will want to dress in layers if you start in the morning.
Learn more here.
WALKING For an easier hike or adventure walk, check out the waterfront path with a few stops along the way. Starting at Ninth Steet Park and ending at East B Street, along the way you will see the bay and vintage homes.
At the end of this trail, you can grab a fresh-squeezed juice at Juice House Co and head down to the First Street Pier to look out for sea lions.
CYCLING If you want to feel the wind on your face, hop on your bike and check out one of the many adventure-filled cycling trails!
Recognized by the Amgen Tour of California and Ride Chronicles for its excellent cycling, Benicia offers everything from simple, family-friendly paved trails to challenging hills for experienced cyclists.
As you breeze around the city and natural areas, drink in beautiful views of the water and historic architecture from early California.
For more inspiration, check out these Ten Great Bike Rides and Walks in Benicia!
BEACH CRUISERS If you are coming out with your beach cruiser, you are going to want to stick to some of the flatter paths. You can start by parking in the lot at the corner of First Street and East B Street. Take a bike lap going around the Marina (to get there, just bike away from First Street while staying on East B Street).
Try looking out for some beautiful white cranes in the water and you might even see a seal head or two popping out of the water.
MOUNTAIN BIKES If you are looking for a more intense ride, try out the Lake Herman Loop! You can park in that same parking lot to start and head the opposite direction of the marina (follow this map). You will start out with a warm-up stretch of no incline, slowly working up to a few hills, some more strenuous than others.
On this path, you will pass by Benicia’s relaxing waterfront and the State Recreation Area, and then you’ll start really pumping your legs up the hill!
But all that work will be well worth it when you start to head downhill, viewing the sparkling blue Lake Herman. After you pass the lake, there will be a rougher road (to activate full adventure mode, try off-roading), then after an uphill leading to another downhill, you will land right back in downtown Benicia, ready for a delicious and well-deserved takeaway meal.
Head here for more suggested trails that range from beginner to expert.
(Easy) Around the marina
(Intermediate) Through the Benicia State recreation area
(Strenuous) The Grand Tour throughout the whole city of Benicia
REFUEL & RECHARGE After your grand adventure, head downtown to try some of the wildly-popular healing tea/juice at Freshly Rooted Tribe. At Freshly Rooted Tribe, you will find the most unique forms of nutrition through sea moss, soursop and Palo Santos specifically. With numerous benefits that include immunity boosters, anti-inflammatory properties, stress relief, and so many more.
RELAX & RECENTER Head to Bookshop Benicia to pick up some extra resources on wellness, health, and relaxation to take home and help keep you centered amidst all the stress and uncertainty of the current challenges.
If you’re feeling hungry, take your books and some food to go for a picturesque picnic. You can find some health-inspired meals in many of the Benicia eateries offering curbside pickup.
Try Sprankles Village Deli for a fresh-made sandwich filled with crisp sprouts, thinly sliced meats and veggies. You will get the proteins to rebuild your muscles, the carbs to give you more energy, and veggies to get your vitamins and minerals reloaded. Pick up your delicious sandwich and then bike on over to one of many picturesque picnic locations.
If you want to relax somewhere with an open grass field, bring a picnic blanket and check out the First Street Green or the Marina Green. Surrounded by grass, you will be able to safely keep your distance from others around.
RELAXING MINDFUL ACTIVITIES
Yoga: virtual yoga class (yogahouseco)
Breathing exercises (try these)
Stretching- (to get you started)
Meditating- Find a nice quiet spot outside, out of the way, close your eyes sitting upright, focus on your breathe and clear your mind to let in all the good thoughts-key tips here)
Reading (listen on audio while strolling through your adventure, or sit down and read with the ambient sounds of nature surrounding you).