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, California
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.
Rush Ranch Open Space, Suisun City
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.
Western Railway Museum
Foster’s Bighorn, Rio Vista
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.
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.
Old Sugar Mill
Additional reporting by Erin Klenow.
This article was first published in November 2006 and updated in February 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.