Originally Posted by 1990GT50
Not sure on WhiteSharks comments on Benicia. If you have kids, then Benicia is the best area around. Way better schools, community kid stuff, etc... than Vacaville or anywhere around. The politics may be weird.... not sure. Ive lived here on and off for 20+ years and never had to deal with it. The town is clean, good schools keep the people pretty good, downtown has pretty good activities, etc...
The downtown is much better than 10-15yrs ago, and much younger. 4 or so good bars, good food around the town, etc....
I work with a few guys that live in Vacaville, and a few in Fairfield, and they usually cruise this way for their "nights out" downtown....
I've had family in Benicia since 1906. My wife and I specifically moved out of Benicia because of the overall town, politics, and school situation, not to mention the refineries periodically catching on fire, having toxic gas releases, etc.
Benicia schools are definitely the best in Solano County by test scores which is good, but the curriculum is very liberal, the politics of the town are very liberal, and a large percentage of the kids are bused in.
The schools are infinitely superior to Vallejo for sure, and Benicia has some world class teachers, but having had family attend every school district in the county, friends working in every district in the county, and seeing how things sorted out, we felt that Vacaville offered the overall best option for flexibility in curriculum, choice of schools, ease of access, and the chance for being in winning sports programs when our kids were starting out at Kindergarten age. Benicia school are great though, but they just didn't offer as much for us, and with 3 kids now having graduated from Vacaville schools, I wouldn't go back and change a thing.
It's hard for kids to get around in the hilly terrain of Benicia without a car, and it's far too steep to reasonably ride bikes. It's closed in by the river on one side and private property on the other. Lame restaurants (few are open after 10, and fast food is limited to Taco Bell, KFC, and McDonald's - no Jack, no Wendy's, no Chik-Fil-A, no Carl's Jr., etc), and limited grocery stores (only a Safeway's and a Raley's).
Crime spills over from Vallejo (there's a weird rivalry between the two towns that just doesn't exist in Vacaville or Fairfield), and people tend not to retire and stick around. 780 is the only highway through town and it's only 2 lanes and buried in traffic for hours in the morning and afternoon.
The weather is great though. Cool and foggy in the mornings and rarely into the 100's. Living by the water is nice, and people are really pretty friendly there. It's a great place to visit, nice to live in for a short time, but I wouldn't put down any roots there. There's too many other nicer, cheaper, more accessible, just as friendly, and easier to find amenities places nearby.
Just my $.02 after living there and commuting from there for a decade and spending time in and out of there for almost 50 years. Don't get me wrong, Benicia isn't a bad town, it's better than most, but it's very limited in it's overall offerings, higher in cost, less accessible, and therefore less desirable than other towns in my honest opinion. If you've lived in Fairfield, Vacaville Vallejo, Cordelia, or other Solano County towns as I have, and had them to compare directly, you'd likely agree as well.