What’s a waterfront town without a dog-friendly beach or two? The pair of splash spots on the Carquinez Strait at the end of First Street in Benicia are nothing spectacular, but hey, they’re wet—and the community spirit behind them counts for a lot.
Visitors can thank a group of dog advocates dubbed the Canine Coalition for persuading the city to loosen its leash laws and open this spit of shoreline to romping Rovers. That was back in 2002, shortly after the debut of Phenix Community Dog Park, one of the first facilities of its kind in Northern California.
On the theory that visitors will “come for the bark and stay for a bite,” many Benicia merchants along First Street, the main drag, have gotten on the canine bandwagon by offering fresh water and treats and allowing customers to browse with well-behaved dogs at their sides. Numerous restaurants with sidewalk tables welcome wet noses, too. Among favorite doggie meet-up spots: First Street Cafe, Union Hotel and Camellia Tearoom.
Benicia’s enthusiastic dog community organizes several dog events each year, among them Great Dog Day by the Bay, set for August 27 this year. No wonder dogs take tails a-waggin to a community that last year earned the No. 4 spot on Dog Fancy magazine’s list of the country’s 40 most dog-friendly towns.