DIY Hike: Maritime Martinez

It’s the birthplace of Joe DiMaggio and the martini.

Today, Martinez offers a spectacular shoreline with views of the Carquinez Strait, and a picturesque downtown sporting restaurants, antique shops and historic sites—all within walking distance.

The city began as a simple ferry dock on Carquinez Strait, then took off in the Gold Rush. Martinez has served as a major shipping center, wine producer and fishery. In 1903, Alhambra Water started bottling water here, and today oil refineries dot the landscape. Most recently Martinez has been in the news for the beavers that built their dam in Alhambra Creek.

Martinez Regional Shoreline Park
Walk out to Ferry Point, relax on a bench, and gaze out at Carquinez Strait. From here, you can walk along nearly 3 miles of scenic trails that take you through marshland and along the shore. Interpretive signs guide you as you walk. Follow Killdeer Trail around the duck pond and pick up Pickleweed Trail to walk west along the strait. You will take the quaint arched bridge across Alhambra Creek and a boardwalk over the marshes.

Bring binoculars to view the rich birdlife in the marsh, possibly even the rare California clapper rail. Looking into the strait, you can see the remains of the Forester, a transoceanic lumber schooner that burned in 1975.

Note: Dogs are not allowed by the duck pond, the marsh areas or other interior areas of the Martinez Regional Shoreline.

Downtown Martinez
Leaving the park, you will be on Ferry Street, which crosses Marina Vista, Escobar and Main, three streets encompassing the core of downtown. Here you can explore, shop and dine. Make a right at Marina Vista to the Amtrak station to look at the moving 9/11 memorial, containing pieces of twisted steel beams from the World Trade Center. Visit the Martinez Museum (1005 Escobar at Court Street) to steep yourself in local history and to pick up a brochure guiding you through a walking tour of the town’s historic buildings. The museum is housed in the 1890 Borland cottage and is open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 1 to 4 p.m. the first four Sundays of the month. Walk south on Court past the Finance Building and the courthouse to the Post Office (815 Court); there, peep inside at the Roosevelt-era Works Progress Administration mural by artist Maynard Dixon.

Walking along Main Street, check out the many antique and vintage shops.
Alley Cats (720 Main St.) offers ’50s-style clothing and Bakelite kitchenware, and Bad Girls Antiques (810 Main St.) sells vintage jewelry. Quilters must visit Main Street Quilts (533 Main St.) to see an impressive array of fabrics and quilting supplies.

If you get hungry, try Le Gateau Elegant (712 Main St.) for scrumptious sweets. For more substantial fare, stop in at Haute Stuff (521 Main St.) or try JT La Beau’s (436 Ferry St.), where you can sit outside on the patio, weather permitting.

Evening entertainment
Right in the downtown area, you can find unique cabaret-style entertainment. The California Magic Dinner Theatre (729 Castro St.) offers dinner and a dazzling magic show in an intimate setting. Call (925) 374-0056 for hours and prices. At the Willows Cabaret Theatre (636 Ward St.) you can drink and snack while watching musical theater. Call (925) 798-1300 for information.

Getting there
By BART and bus, take BART to the Concord Station. Then take the County Connection No. 16 to the Martinez Amtrak Station, which is right at the park entrance. Or take the 98X from the Walnut Creek BART Station. Go to www.cccta.org for schedules. Or, for a carefree and scenic ride, take an Amtrak train from Jack London Square or Emeryville, or from the Richmond or Oakland Coliseum BART Stations. Check www.amtrak.com for schedules and prices.

By car, take Highway 80 to Highway 4. From Highway 4, take the Alhambra Avenue exit toward Martinez. Turn left on Alhambra and right on Escobar to Ferry Street. Turn left on Ferry and cross over the railroad tracks into the park. The road jogs to the right at Joe DiMaggio Drive and then left out to Ferry Point and the Marina. Park in the Ferry Point parking lot at the end of the road.
Alternately, from Interstate 680, exit at Marina Vista Avenue in Martinez.
Turn left on Marina Vista Avenue to Ferry Street. Turn right on Ferry Street into the park.

Photo: East Bay Regional Parks via Flickr

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