East Bay: Vallejo, Benicia, Martinez, Berkeley, and Oakland Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"Today, Vallejo is a sprawling, mostly blue-collar city of more than 110,000 people. Recently, Vallejo has seen a large influx of transplants from San Francisco and the East Bay who’ve moved here because of its affordability. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article pointed out Vallejo’s growing, and increasingly active, gay community, who have transformed many of Vallejo’s historic neighborhoods by remodeling and painting old homes. One neighborhood, St. Vincent Hill, has taken on the moniker Lavender Hill after the colors of the gay-pride movement, and in November of 1999, an openly gay Vallejo attorney was elected to the city council. Vallejo is also home to the California Maritime Academy, as well as dozens of mothballed U.S. Navy ships that sit in harbor at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard at the mouth of the Napa River. The historic downtown area of Benicia, where the old capitol building still stands, is worth a side trip, particularly since the area has recently experienced a rejuvenation, with coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, and specialty shops moving into century-and-a-half-old buildings. Across the river from Benicia, Martinez was founded in the 1870s by Italian immigrants, whose favorite, and most famous, son is the great Joe DiMaggio. Local boosters claim it was also where the martini was invented, though other locales have also claimed the gin-and-vermouth classic as their own. Berkeley is one of those cities whose reputation precedes it. A wonderful and eccentric blend of leftist intellectualism, counterculture ideologies, and artistic experimentation, Berkeley has been alternately nicknamed “The People’s Republic of Berkeley” and “Ten Square Miles Surrounded By Reality,” not to mention the classic “Berserkley.” At any rate it’s got to be at the top of any list of places to see in California, from the world-class university to Telegraph Avenue, where you can still buy tie-dyed T-shirts and hemp jewelry from street vendors. One could easily spend weeks here, getting to know the quirky community, the scores of tiny international restaurants, and the wonderful used-book stores. Like Berkeley, Oakland has a reputation that often precedes it. Unfortunately, it has never really been a favorable one, and the reputation isn’t really very accurate or fair. Yet things have been changing, thanks in large part to the current mayor, former California governor Jerry Brown, who has managed to help rejuvenate the economy and inject a sense of civic pride into the city’s populace. Overpasses have been rebuilt—most of the city roadways and buildings been retrofitted to make them less prone to earthquake damage—and new homes have replaced those torched by the Oakland-hills fire. This eTrail from the DayTrips series describes many fascinating, exciting, (and many free of charge) things to do, most within a two-hour drive of Sacramento. Each Day Trip includes destination highlights, places to visit along the way, choice restaurants and lodging, and shopping."