Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

The California Delta

Heading to the fertile river region near Sacramento? We suggest what to do and where to eat in six low-key towns.

Sunset at the Rio Vista Bridge in the California Delta, image
Photo caption
Sunset reflects against California Delta waters at the Rio Vista Bridge in Rio Vista.

The Delta region has more than 1,000 miles of wide waterways that look lazy but move quickly, and some 665 square miles of rich farmland set mostly below sea level so you might spy a tractor’s top exhaust pipe peeking up above a dirt levee. The area is also crowded with history that demonstrates the immense variety of California’s communities. Along the base of a triangle formed by Sacramento, Stockton, and the Straits of Carquinez, the Delta is today defined by its levee system, built in the 1850s to control a half million acres of tidal marsh. Without levees there’d be no asparagus farming, nor the tiny Chinese-inflected communities that remain pretty much as they were when they served the immigrants who helped construct those levees. Without levees what's left of the waters of the original marsh might not be as prolific a fishing spot for sturgeon and striped bass, either. The still-marshy parts of the Delta are part of the Pacific Flyway, which makes it as popular for birders as it is for anglers, water-skiers, and houseboat enthusiasts. But if you’re just looking to listen to local stories at a karaoke night or chow down on crawdads after a long day of shooting photos, you can find that here, too. California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau: (916) 777-4041,

Check out our California Delta package:
Clarksburg: Winetasting and bike riding
Isleton: Crawdads and a historic Old Town
Locke: The Chinese immigrant past
Lodi: 85 wineries—and a reptile museum
Rio Vista: Bird-watching and riverfront dining
Walnut Grove: Man-made beauty and natural splendor

Photography by Rich Draper Photography

This article was first published in February 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.