Benicia is a beautiful beach-side town with a thriving arts and small business community. Its motto is “It’s better in Benicia!” Located about 36 miles north of San Francisco, Benicia was the state capital of California for 13 months in the mid-1800s. Want to find local movers in Benicia? View the list of local Atlas® Agents here.
Benicia was founded in 1847 by General Mariano Vallejo, Mexican Comandante General of the Free State of Alta California. He originally named it Francisca after his wife, but changed it to Benicia, his wife’s second given name, after the city formerly known as Yerba Buena changed its name to San Francisco. Benicia was the state capital for a little over a year from 1853 to 1854. The town often served as an alternate route for Pony Express riders who missed their steamer connections in Sacramento.
The weather in Benicia is sunny, comfortable, and dry year-round. The average high temperature in July is about 83 degrees, while the average low temperature in January is a temperate 40 degrees. There are typically a mere 36 days of precipitation per year, and an impressive 262 sunny days per year, nearly 60 days more than the United States average.
Benicia is accessible by car via Interstate Highway 780 and Interstate Highway 680. Public bus transportation is provided by SolTrans, which also serves Vallejo and Fairfield and offers regional connections to BART. Benicia is also a bicycle-friendly city, with miles of paths, trails, and bike lanes.
Cost of Living in Benicia
The tradeoff for Benicia’s beautiful weather and close proximity to San Francisco is a higher-than-average cost of living. Residents of Benicia pay less for utilities, but slightly more for healthcare, groceries, and transportation, and 196 percent more for housing. However, the local economy is strong, with job growth over the next ten years predicted to be about 42 percent and a median household income of $89,094. Considering relocating to Benicia? Want to see how far your current salary will go in the San Francisco area? Use the tools below to find out.
The town is served by the Benicia Unified School District, which consists of four elementary schools, one middle school, and two high schools. The University of California, Berkeley is about 27 miles south via Interstate Highway 80. Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley is regularly ranked among the top public universities in the country.
The Sutter Solano Medical Center is ten miles northwest in neighboring Vallejo via Interstate Highway 780. The medical center offers 24-hour emergency care as well as cancer care, cardiology, orthopedic care, diagnostic imaging, surgery, and many other services.
Benicia Real Estate
The median home price in Benicia is $550,800, about $365,000 more expensive than the United States average but less than half the median home price in San Francisco. The vacancy rate for apartments and houses in Benicia is 5.63 percent. Rent in Benicia is slightly higher than average, at about $1,350 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
Benicia and its neighboring cities have a thriving economy supported by numerous small businesses, including locally-owned hotels. The Union Hotel, open since 1852, is a bed and breakfast style hotel with décor reminiscent of Benicia’s rich history. Some of its suites offer Jacuzzi tubs and ocean views. Napa, California, only a 30 minute drive away, is home to some of the best locally-owned lodging in the region. The Victorian-era Hennessey House is surrounded by beautiful gardens and features spacious rooms with historic character as well as complementary sherry and chocolate.
Benicia’s beachfront location and proximity to Napa Valley makes for the perfect seafood and wine pairing. Sailor Jack’s is a waterfront seafood shack set in a former sea captain’s home and named for Jack London, who lived nearby. The seasonally changing menu features fresh-caught fish harmonized with an ample selection of wine or its signature “Call of the Wild” cocktail. The First St. Café draws in diners from miles around with its Dungeness crab and artichoke sandwich and its upstairs live music venue.
Things to Do in Benicia
The sun is out and the weather is warm for most of the year in Benicia, the perfect recipe for outdoor fun. Benicia State Recreation Area offers gorgeous natural views along its 2.5 miles of road and bike paths. It’s an ideal spot for horseback riding, fishing, bird watching, and picnicking. Arts Benicia, responsible for the community’s thriving arts scene, is located in the historic Arsenal and offers classes for youth and adults in painting, sculpture, printmaking, journaling, and more.