The rhythm of summer is marching on. We’re on the downhill side of the season, but there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in some fun with a good, old-fashioned summer picnic. In Benicia, we are spoiled for choice. With over 700 acres of parks, a lovely lake and miles of waterfront, how does one decide? In our Top Ten Picnic Primer, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation, so that all readers need to do is grab their gear: a blanket, a book and a picnic basket packed with favorites. Or take the no-stress route and order to go from one of Benicia’s many local eateries. Maximize the experience by shunning electronic devices that divert your attention from nature. You’ll be on your way to a few hours of family, friends, food and fun. Is there any better way to celebrate summer?
Best place to exercise before & after you eat: Benicia State Recreation Area
Although it’s on the State Park closure list, for now, the park remains open to pedestrians and cyclists. You’ll need to walk or cycle to picnic tables, but it’s well worth the effort. Explore hidden paths, observe wildlife, marvel at the Forrest Deaner Garden and drink in the view.
Best for family fun: Community Park
There is something for everyone at this massive park. The quarter-mile perimeter path is an appealing way to stay fit while watching soccer & baseball. The dog park, X-park, playground and concrete slide make this park the busiest in town. Reserve through the city or go early on weekends.
Best beach: Ninth Street Park
Benicia’s own crescent-shaped sandy beach is a popular choice for the boating and water sports crowd. With a boat launch and a sheltered cove, it’s perfect for kayaking and paddle-boarding. A volleyball court, lots of grass and playground for younger kids makes this one of Benicia’s most popular options.
Best getaway feeling: Lake Herman
Surrounded by golden hills that beckon the hiker, Lake Herman Park is a lovely, quiet area that is off the beaten track. It’s underutilized, and a good choice for avoiding weekend crowds. Enjoy hiking trails, catch & release fishing and a shady picnic grove along the shore.
Best place to daydream: The Benicia Marina
On the far side of the Marina, sandwiched between the boat slips and the Strait there’s a grassy area, the famed “Benicia Bench” self portrait bust by the late Benicia artist Robert Arneson, a pair of picnic tables and lots of watercraft to inspire daydreams of sailing into the sunset.
Best multifunctional park & handicap accessibility: Jack London Park
One of Benicia’s prettiest and most interesting parks, Jack London’s uniquely designed features include horseshoe pits, a playground, meandering paths and sculptural elements. The barbeque pits & picnic tables are wheelchair accessible.
Best for commerce: First Street Green and Promenade
To catch the downtown buzz, park your picnic on a blanket on the green, at the beach or on the promenade and watch the economy unfold on land and water. You can shop or gallery hop, people-watch or meet dogs taking their owners for a walk.
Best for shade on a hot day: Francesca Terrace Park
When temperatures soar, lots of turf and a grove of Redwoods makes for great picnicking. Adults are happy with ample space for a game of Frisbee or horseshoes; kids are happy with a playground and room to run.
Best for young kids: City Park
The Playground of Dreams was built by community members in 1992 in just five days, and has been a big draw for families ever since. With lots of picnic tables scattered throughout the park, kids are happy for hours while parents grill nearby.
Best Place to relax with a book: Skillman Park
This lovely neighborhood park is another great picnicking option in Southampton. It features barbeque grills and tables under a curved arbor overlooking a playground for younger kids. It has a peaceful vibe that makes sitting on a bench and reading a good book very appealing.