Take a road trip through the sights and sounds of the Sacramento River Delta.
Winding levees, birds wheeling over marshland, the misty Sacramento River—these are some pleasures of a drive through California’s delta region. Start on Highway 12, then head north on Highway 160 toward Freeport, crisscrossing the river on historic drawbridges. The drive is just 56 miles, but allow most of a day.
SUISUN CITY Stroll along the trim marina before starting the day right with plate-size blueberry pancakes at cheery Babs Delta Diner, which has such loyal regulars it keeps a cabinet full of mugs emblazoned with their names. (707) 421-1926, suisun.com.
RUSH RANCH OPEN SPACE A two-mile side trip on Grizzly Island Road lets you stretch your legs as you spot burrowing owls, pintail ducks, and soaring raptors on trails that wind through this 2,070-acre tidal marsh and working farm. rushranch.net.
WESTERN RAILWAY MUSEUM Ride restored electric trains along the old tracks of the Sacramento Northern line at this "moving history" museum that houses 100 colorful trains. (707) 374-2978, wrm.org.
FOSTER'S BIGHORN Bootlegger and big-game hunter Bill Foster hung his trophies at this Rio Vista lunch spot. Munch your sandwich under the glassy eyes of hundreds of animals, from a headmount of a full-grown African elephant to a willowy giraffe. (707) 374-2511, fostersbighorn.com.
LOCKE At Walnut Grove, traverse the river (from Highway 160) for a detour to Locke, established in 1915 by Chinese laborers. Today you’ll find creaky houses, galleries, and the Dai Loy gambling museum with its fan-tan tables. locketown.com.
OLD SUGAR MILL Cross the river again to Clarksburg, where boutique wineries occupy a former sugar beet refinery. (916) 744-1615, oldsugarmill.com.
Additional reporting by Erin Klenow. Photographs by Erin Klenow, except red train courtesy of Western Railway Museum and Sugar Mill by Donald Carroll
This article was first published in November 2006 and updated in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.