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California Delta: Rio Vista

Enjoy bird-watching, book shopping, and riverfront dining in this comfortable city.

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 story of Rio Vista, midway between San Francisco and Sacramento, echoes the story of the Delta itself. Built on fishing, then on farming, it evolved from a Gold Rush−era settlement into a thriving city, adding restaurants, museums, and other cultural attractions without losing its small-town feel. City of Rio Vista:

Area code is 707 except as noted.

To Do and See
Sue Conklin was a Business Administration professor at California State University–East Bay before she retired to Rio Vista and opened Books Rio V. She modestly calls it “the home of the $2 thriller,” a description that understates the shop’s diverse collection of used fiction and nonfiction. 207A Main St., 374-5650, View more than 70 species of birds at Brannan Island State Recreation Area, a maze of waterways and walking trails. Boating is popular here, too. Highway 160 at West Brannan Island Road, (916) 777-6671, Without dredging, the Delta we know would not exist. The waters of the Delta are prime for windsurfing, and thanks to Delta Windsurf and Watersports Company, you don’t have to show up with your own board. The shop rents boards for $50 a day and arranges private lessons for participants at all levels. 3729 W. Sherman Island Rd., (916) 777-2299, The history of dredging and its role in creating the region’s infrastructure is detailed at the Dutra Museum of Dredging through photographs, log books, models, and other artifacts dating to the 1850s. By appointment only. 345 St. Gertrude Ave., (415) 258-6876,

Among the regulars at Foster’s Bighorn are a black wolf, a lion, a hippo, and a grizzly bear, to name a few of the 300-plus hunting trophies the late Bill Foster bagged in his travels. His namesake restaurant serves satisfying if less exotic items such as barbecued pork ribs and New York steak. 143 Main St., 374-2511, Shrimp, fish-and-chips, and crab cakes are specialties at the Point Waterfront Restaurant on the bank of the Sacramento River, but so is the scenery. Look for paddle boards, sailboats, and even cargo ships navigating the deep-water channel from Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay. 120 Marina Dr., 374-5400,

To find a place to stay, visit

Photograph by Rich Draper Photography

Check out the rest of our 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
Walnut Grove: Man-made beauty and natural splendor

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