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The capitol building at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

The capitol building at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park. Photo: Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park, located in Benicia, California, is home to the state’s 3rd capitol building. Here guests may visit the historic building where the California State Legislature convened from February 3, 1853 to February 24, 1854. The building features period architecture and furnishings plus educational exhibits, guided tours, and a gift shop.

Visitors also enjoy touring the nearby Fischer-Hanlon House and the Benicia State Recreation Area. The recreation area features trails, picnic areas, and limited enroute campsites.

Activities

While visiting Benicia be sure to stop in for a few hours and take a tour of the historic buildings and grounds inside this California state Park. Discover this unique piece of history and imagine what life was like here during the mid 1800s. For guests comfort restrooms, drinking water, and a gift shop are also available within the park.

The Benicia State Parks Association hosts events throughout the year, with special features such as vintage lawn games, hand churned ice cream, a torchlight parade, reenactors serving warm cider and cookies at the Fischer Hanlon House, and victorian ornament making.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Benicia Capitol State Historic Park:

Museum at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park’s main feature is its original capitol building built during the mid 1800s and featuring a combination of Greek Revival and Palladian architecture. This historic building also features period furnishings and exhibits such as historic documents, an 1850s safe, and the state seal embossing press. A gift shop located onsite carries souvenirs, books, wooden toys, and more.

The Fischer-Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

The Fischer-Hanlon House showcases the life of a 19th century upper middle class family; it is the only building of its kind in the State of California parks system. This historic house, originally a gold rush era hotel, is located at 135 West G Street, not far from Benicia Capitol State Historic Park.

The partially fire-damaged hotel was purchased in 1858 by businessman Joseph Fischer and moved to where it stands today. Soon after it was moved it was converted to a home and occupied by the Fischer-Hanlon family until 1966 when it was donated to the state.

The Fischer-Hanlon House also features an historic garden, a carriage house, privy, and servants’ quarters.

Birding at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

Since Benicia lies along the Pacific Flyway, a variety of birds may be observed throughout the area, especially during migration times. Nearby Benicia State Recreation Area’s grass covered hills, marshland, and rocky beach area provides a safe habitat for many bird species.

This preservation area has been designated as an Important Bird Area, especially for wintering waterfowl such as Goldeneye Ducks and Canada Geese. During your visit you may also see Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, American Black Oystercatchers, Suisun Song Sparrows, Saltmarsh Common Yellowthroats, and a variety of cormorants, osprey, gulls, pelicans, and terns.

Nature and Wildlife Near Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

You may see a few bird species, squirrels, lizards, and other small creatures during your visit to Benicia Capitol State Historic Park. For more wildlife viewing visit nearby Benicia State Recreation Area. Here you will have more opportunities to observe California Ground Squirrels, Gray foxes, Black-tailed Jackrabbits, North American River Otters, opossum, gophers, lizards, snakes, and birds.

This nearby natural preserve area also houses the Forrest-Deaner Native Plant Botanical Garden and within it over 250 species of native plants. This spectacular garden overlooks Southampton Bay and features a Wildflower Meadow, a Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden, a Native American Garden, a Riparian Garden, and a Residential/Community Garden.

Pets

Pets are not allowed at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park.

Camping

Visiting the area for a few days or longer? Check out the variety of overnight accommodations near Benicia Capitol State Historic Park. Inns, B&Bs, Hotels, campgrounds, RV parks, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and more are located close to this interesting day park.

Another nearby option is Benicia State Recreation Area. This public recreation area, located at 1 State Park Rd in Benicia, offers 3 enroute campsites for motorhomes or vehicles with trailers (no tents) on a first-come, first-served basis. Other activities offered within this natural preserve area are hiking and biking trails, fishing, picnic areas, and picturesque gardens.

Park Location

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
115 W G St
Benicia, CA 94510
Phone: 707.745.3385

Park Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park: