Benicians are justifiably proud of our abundance of beautiful parks. There are 28 parks in all with a total of 577 acres. With that much space to walk, bike, run, jump, play, compete, barbeque, swim, spin or take in a beautiful sunset, there is definitely something for everyone.
The oldest park is City Park, which was dedicated around the time Benicia was born in the late 1840s. The newest is Water’s End Park, which was dedicated just four years ago in 2006. From the large, multi-functional parks to the small neighborhood pocket parks, each is unique, and designed to take maximum advantage of the landscape. We chose seven parks with outstanding features that merit acquainting or reacquainting yourself with this summer.
Best Place to Spend a Day with the Family
This park has something to offer people (and dogs!) of all ages. We could have chosen it for “Best Slide,” but that was just a bit too obvious. Besides the big cement slide, this super-park boasts an X-Park, a dog park, soccer and baseball fields, a large, covered picnic area with BBQ pits and a great kids playground and a path around the perimeter to run/walk/bike. So grab some burgers and potato salad, the pets, the little ones, the teens, grandma and grandpa; head on down; and make a day of it!
This designation goes to a park that I have personally always loved but is often overlooked. On the corner of Chelsea Hills and Panorama, it’s a lovely, serene park with a stream running through it, picnic tables with BBQ pits, a basketball court and play area for the little ones. On a soft summer day, a quiet breeze rustling through the Willow and Eucalyptus trees alongside the gracefully meandering stream makes this park a great place to sit and read a book.
Jack London Park
Beautifully landscaped around a theme of circular elements, this park’s design welcomes and intrigues. The wide cement pathway winding around the playground under a series of tall blue archways is striking from any vantage point. Across from the play equipment is a giant compass you can walk around and see how far it is to different places around the world. Did you know that Tokyo, Japan is 5,163 miles west of Benicia, and Melbourne, Australia is 7,882 miles south?
Best Place to Get Lost
Benicia City Park, the Playground of Dreams
Planned and built in just five days by a dedicated group of 3,000 volunteers in 1992, the Robert Leathers –designed playground is a masterpiece. There are nooks and crannies galore to explore in this castle-like wooden structure. Tiny places to crawl through, stairs into tall turrets, a cross-park telephone system, racing slides, bars and balancing walkways, artwork, swings and more. It’s full of children’s fantasies made reality. While the kids play, picnic tables in the shade keep parents happy.
9th Street Park
The Point at 9th Street offers up a panoramic view of the straits and the Carquinez Bridge. Enjoy a breath-taking sunset from the ship-shaped playground, the beach, the pier, or the flagpole above. If you don’t have a boat or kayak, launch your imagination from the sandstone rocks above the water. If you still have the energy, work off your barbeque meal with a game of volleyball. This park gets lots of sun but the breeze off the water keeps it cool.
Benicia State Recreation Area
The ongoing challenge of keeping our State Parks open makes this one even more special. Used on a daily basis, it’s Benicia’s outdoor gym. The 2 1/2 miles of pathway along the marsh affords many opportunities to stay in shape. Walking, running, biking and skating are the most popular activities but one can also check out California native plants or view birds and other wildlife. There couldn’t be a more natural setting to get your exercise on!
Spin Cycle: Best Place to Get Dizzy!
Channing Circle Park
This small-but-charming neighborhood park in Southampton has been around for a long time, but the tire swing that used to call it home is long gone. It has a vista that rivals the some of the best, as well as some interesting play equipment for young adventurers. Spin around on the corkscrew, take a turn on the spinning chair, slide down the twisty slide, or navigate the curly-cue climbing structure.