Friday, January 13, 2017


It may seem incredulous to find a town this sleepy and quaint only 31 miles away from bustling San Francisco, but Port Costa is almost lost in time. While on a visit to see my Mom in December, Marla and I, along with our good friend Lea, stopped for lunch in Crockett overlooking the Carquinez Strait. On the way back we took a detour to Port Costa, a place we used to shop for antiques when we were first married. The Burlington Hotel above goes back to 1883. The town was once a major grain port for merchant ships with warehouses, saloons, and the hotel. At its peak the town had 3000 inhabitants, most of them sailors, stevedores, and railroaders.

This unusual inscription brings the bordello history to life. 

The Victorian splendor of the old Burlington hotel is coming back, albeit slowly, after many years of neglect. They have 19 rooms with no TV or WiFi and are open only Thursday through Sunday. It was closed the day we visited so I peeked in the window. With a little imagination, you could almost envision a ghost-like "Lady of the night" walking through the lobby!

The rustic "Bull Valley Roadhouse" next to the hotel offers fine dining, Thursday through Sunday night. I definitely want to try it on my next visit as the menu looks great! The rowdy "Warehouse Cafe and Bar" across the street offers 300 different ales and a 16' Polar Bear by the bar.

There are a few quaint shops in town.

Marla and Lea purchased some unique Christmas decorations.

If you love little sleepy towns put Port Costa on your map. You will be glad you did!

Port Costa today and in the 1880's. My dad used to take me fishing on the pier in Martinez just 9 miles away when I was a small boy.

In the 19th century, large ferryboats like the "Solano", traveled from Port Costa to Benecia across the Strait. Benecia served as California's state capital from 1853 to 1854.

Contra Costa County may not have quite the lure of its' neighbors like San Francisco, Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties, but there are many fascinating and fun places to explore.

Images: Dick Gentry, Port Costa Conservation Society

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