Off First: An Arsenal of Shops

While present-day First Street offers a plethora of local businesses to browse, our town also holds hidden gems that are off the beaten path, especially in the Arsenal District. Read on to explore different options—there’s something for everyone!

For the Home

Benicia is a historic town, so why not incorporate that spirit into your home decor? Score periodical wallpaper, like a vintage 1920 pattern or something from the Colonial Revival era, from Bradbury and Bradbury. Spruce up your bathroom or living room spaces with candles from Island Memories (the Lake Tahoe scent will bring the vacation to you). IronHorse Home, which has been around for over two decades, is the place to be for some new designer furniture. Shop online at Will & Atlas, a home goods shop which offers high-quality, hand-made, ethically sourced items. They also do an occasional warehouse sale, for those on their mailing list. If you could use a little extra help from the professionals, get your pad staged with SpaceLift, or hire an interior designer from Le Reve Design & Assoc. 

Art, Photography, and Music

Our small city is undoubtedly filled with many talented arts and a vibrant photography community. Create your own work of art at Creativity Unleashed Ceramics, where you can paint your own pieces or have a group canvas paint night. For the musically inclined, learn to play guitar, drums, or piano, or up your vocals at 851 Music Studio. Arts Benicia features hundreds of local and Northern California artists. Check out the “Reimagining History” exhibition through June 25, or explore a unique class at Arts Benicia Annex. Coming up later this month, you’ll find “Strait” Ahead – Carquinez Plein Air Painting and Introduction to Pastel Painting. The Arsenal is home to a variety of artists studios – hopefully you had a chance to check them out during Open Studios last month! From the abstract paintings of Jeffrey Tover Contemporary Art to the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Arthur Stern Architectural Glass to Michael Van Auken Photography there is a variety to feast the eyes upon.

Fashion, Gifts, and Beauty

Whether you’re looking for a gift, household items, or clothing with a modern-meets-vintage flair, Femmage is for you. Stop by Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays to browse for the perfect items. If consignment shopping is your thing, head over to Rags to Riches, where you can find name-brand clothing items for much less than at a typical store. For those who are into taking care of their skin, Luminance Skincare offers everything from moisturizers to masks to natural soaps made with 100% essential oils. They hold an impressive website, but we’re lucky enough to have easy in-store shopping access Monday through Friday. For the pup in your life, check out Bubbly Bulldog Grooming for all their pampering needs.


A New Zealand wine just so happens to hold its US headquarters in Benicia. Mt. Beautiful Wines, a globally recognized winery, can be ordered online. It’s also often carried at local haunts like Lucca’s Bar & Grill and The Chill. 


If fitness classes are your thing, Copas Crew is the place for you. Try your hand at cardio kickboxing, cycling, barre, or even floating yoga, which is done in a hammock. On Grant Street, you’ll find both Shotokan Karate, which offers traditional karate instruction, as well as Ildefonzo Martial Arts for various options like Kajukenbo, a martial arts hybrid program with Hawaiian roots.

Town History

Education and fun go hand in hand when you visit the Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barn. Looking for a way to keep the kids occupied this summer? Callie’s Kids Summer Camp runs weekly from June 12-July 26, offering rotating themes like History Detective and Archy Adventures. For a fun night out, First Fridays at the Museum are only $15 for non-members and feature entertainment, food, and a no-host bar. If you’re planning a wedding, perhaps you’d like to do so locally at the historical Jefferson Street Mansion, where generals Grant and Sherman once were.