Once thought to be only applicable to romantic partners, February’s celebration of love has extended its reach to love of all sorts. Whether it’s for Galentines, Palentines, or simply an excuse to buy chocolate and flowers for yourself, Valentine’s Day has morphed into a broader and more inclusive holiday. So, singles, couples, friends, and people of all sorts, your celebration of love has the perfect setting: Benicia.
With historic landmarks, a charming countryside, and a view of the Carquinez Straits, Benicia’s setting alone makes it an ideal spot to celebrate love. No matter who you are celebrating this Valentine’s Day with, the diverse and vivacious small business scene in Benicia provides plenty of opportunity for celebration.
Flora and Fauna
Flowers have served as an emblem of affection for hundreds of years, so it’s no wonder they’re a staple for Valentine’s Day. In Benicia, we are lucky enough to have two beautiful floral shops: Daughter of Luna and Sweetness and Light. These shops not only provide delicately, artfully put together bouquets, but home goods, small gifts, and floral accessories. If you or your loved one prefer a more millennial expression of love (aka indoor plants) Aquarian Plants offers rare and exotic greenery. Their plethora of options will be sure to delight any plant lover!
Receiving gifts is only one of the five love languages, but let’s be honest: everyone likes presents. Even if it’s not your primary love language, there is something about receiving a thoughtful gift that can make you feel seen and understood. The feeling of completely nailing the perfect gift doesn’t feel so bad either.
Benicia small businesses have gifts for anyone you may be celebrating. If you’re looking for a way to say “I love you!” to a little one in your life, Mozart Einstein & Me has instruments, craft kits, cars & trucks, popits (the current kid trend; move over, fidget spinners), and more. Bookshop Benicia and Twodays Jewelry not only offer toys for children, but exceptionally unique books, jewelry, and gifts that speak to an array of personalities.
For the fine jewelry lovers in your life, try Roberto’s Fine Jewelry on First for a new piece or for repair of a current sentimental item. Crystals? We have that too–try Angel Heart 4 You or Cartel Crystals, the new crystal shack in town. Happy Life Pottery has unique jewelry, ceramic art, and other one-of-a-kind treasures, as well as pottery classes you can sign up for with your better half.
Even if it’s only a few miles away, spending the night away from home can be the perfect break in routine. Whether you need a night away to yourself, with your partner, or with a friend, Benicia’s quaint hotel scene is ideal for a staycation. A stay at the Inn at Benicia Bay, built in 1854, includes in-room breakfast from the delightful Amore Bistrot. Located on First Street, the historic Union Hotel offers a getaway with a full bar, delicious bites, and maybe even a ghostly visit from one of the rumored spirits. Or, if you prefer, spend the night on the bayfront at the romantic Shorelight Inn, a refurbished turn-of-the-century lodging. All of these staycation spots are only steps away from Benicia’s lively downtown scene and waterfront walking trails!
Cocktails, beer, and wine pair perfectly with a day on the town. Add to your day of love with lovely libations from Benicia’s various bars and breweries. For beer enthusiasts, there’s Bruehol Brewery, out in the Industrial Park, with German style beers, and the new Mare Island Brewery location on First Street. Wine lovers and armchair sommeliers, we’ve got you covered too–the Chill at the bottom of First Street pours a delicious variety of wines in a cozy and inviting setting. For cocktails, wine, and beer in a laid back and eccentric bar, try Cullen’s, Benicia’s one and only steampunk bar. If lounging is more of your thing, relax and sip on the couches at the Rellik Tavern.
Would it really be Valentine’s Day without sweets? If you haven’t given up on your New Year’s Resolution yet, now is the time. Grab a box of See’s from Benicia Mainstreet for a sweet gift on the go. For sweet baked goods, try Dianna’s Bakery, Fox and Fawn Bakehouse, Matilija Farms on Kuhland Alley, or One House Bakery.
Dinner by the Bay
We are lucky to have a host of great restaurants, some with wonderful waterfront views. For a romantic dinner or a meal with friends, dine by the bay with seafood and cocktails at Sailor Jack’s. Take your pick with seating: you can sit facing First Street to people-watch, outside just feet from the water, or inside with a view. Nextdoor you’ll find Bella Siena, an Italian restaurant with killer entrees, even better cocktails, and a laundry list of wines. For dinner without the view but still with outstanding food, take a look at the map on the following page.
More Than Music
Music lovers, you don’t have to travel far for a show. While it doesn’t land on Valentine’s Day, the Camel Barn is debuting its first First Friday on February 4th. Come down to the Benicia Historical Society to see Dirty Cello perform and enjoy food trucks with a no-host bar. Celebrating the day of love early will make time for all of the other Valentine’s Day activities Benicia has to offer!
Illustration by Cooper Mickelson