|The points of interest below can be reached by driving or by boat. Some of the locations require advance notice for use of guest docks. We suggest you call ahead to confirm dock space or other details. We limit the number of photos on this page so it will load quickly for you. For photos of Historic Delta cities and stops, go to the Delta Photos page. 1. RIO VISTA The town of Rio Vista was established in 1858,
quickly becoming a convenient mid-way point for mariners and
gold miners traveling between the busy shipping ports of Sac-
ramento and San Francisco. Still the largest town in this area of
the Delta, with 3,800 full time residents, one can find all services
in Rio Vista. Fishing, farming, water sports & industrial business proves Rio Vista as an important town for the Delta. Still existing are the peaceful 19th century tree lined streets with beautiful Victorian and California ranch style homes. Rio Vista has two museums, one focusing on the town, one on development of the Delta via a look at the history of Dredges and levee building. Must see for Rio Vista: Foster’s Big Horn Restaurant, Dutra Dredge Museum, Rio Vista Museum. Nice stops: Shop for Antiques at “Second Coming“; food & Misc at Lira’s Market. http://www.riovista.org
2. RIO VISTA FERRY. Also called the “Real McCoy Ferry“. This ferry was opened in 1945 to service the land route between Sacramento and Delta area towns. It operates year round, 24 hours per day, except for 20-minute lunch and dinner breaks. It can handle any size RV or 5th-Wheel combination, taking up to 6 vehicles per ride.
This is also a fun ride for bicyclists. The trip across the Sacramento River to/from Ryer Island takes about 4
minutes, shore to shore, using the powerful diesel engines. Best of all, the ferry ride is a unique experience
that’s FREE! Yes, there are still “free rides” in California!3. SNUG HARBOR Named “2001 Best Small Park” by the California Travel Park Association, Snug Harbor is a Marinas & RV resort. Snug Harbor started out as a 16+ acre natural island on Steamboat Slough, before there were levees and farming in the area. Travelers in steamboats to hand-made rafts, from Sacramento to San Francisco, would cruise by Snug Harbor’s shores, and perhaps some would stop to rest. Captain’s recordings from piloting the Delta King and Queen Steamboats have noted the island and the sighting of “small campfires” along the shores even before the turn of the century. In the early 1900’s the land was renamed “Martin’s Island” and over time became a hub of fishing and canning in the early Delta levee days. In the 1940’s the Martin family allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to deposit dredged sands at the north end of the island, thereby forming the “land bridge” to make it a peninsula instead. Once the island was connected to Ryer Island, it became known as “Snug Harbor” for the well protected back cove created by the peninsula. The Martins sold off half the island in parcels where family homes could be built, and retained the south half of the peninsula for a resort. In the 1960’s the resort was sold. In 1997 it was purchased by new owners who have meticulously upgraded and renewed this historic family Delta resort. The old cannery buildings have been replaced with waterfront RV sites and full Marina facilities, but the quaint ambiance of a peaceful Delta hide-away remains. Still excellent for fishing, Snug Harbor and Steamboat Slough have become a favorite destination for water-sports families, artists and writers. Relax under the shade trees in a hammock and watch the world go by. Snug Harbor’s motto: “There are no
strangers here. Only family, old friends, and newly-found friends”
Call for information and reservations: (916) 775-1455
4. J-MAC FERRY Another fun, free ferry ride takes you across
the pretty waters of historic Steamboat Slough. J-MAC ferry
also runs year round. Guided by cables, the cruise across
takes all of 3 minutes usually. Ferry’s have been serving the Delta for over 75 years, but the J-Mac is the newest, Built in 1966. This ferry has rarely been “down”, except for times
of flooding in the area. While you’re riding the ferry, you might run into some of the colorful local folks, who usually meet & chat, to find out the latest scoop from the friendly ferry operators. One of the ferry operators likes to sing as he traverses the waterway, so don’t be surprised if you hear opera or vocals above the din of the ferry motor. Steamboat Slough is a fairly wide waterway, with mature trees lining the banks. Early morning boaters and land explorers can watch the abundant variety of animal & fowl species in this area…River Otter, Beaver, Muskrats, Hawks, Blue
Heron, White Cranes are seen in Steamboat Slough.. Fish include Black & Stripped Bass, Bluegill, Catfish and other species.
5. GRAND ISLAND MANSION. This beautiful & huge older
home has long been a great spot for Sunday Brunch for folks
“in the know” in the Delta. Once the area’s largest private
home, built in 1918, it has had many interesting visitors and
parties over the years. The mansion is four stories high and has
58 rooms. Privately owned, it is available for use for weddings
and receptions. The mansion and setting have been used for
movies and magazine photos, and some famous folks have
spent time there. Steamboat Slough continues to be a favored
route between the Ports of Sacramento and San Francisco,
with Sunday brunch here a special treat. Call for reservations:
6. COURTLAND. An adorable little town which bloomed off the
banks of the Sacramento River as recreational boaters and
commercial fishermen increased in the Delta. The town offers
well manicured, tree lined streets, cute older homes surrounded
by white picket fences, children playing ball in the streets with
little traffic to interrupt the games. The many churches say
this town is a great place for families to live or visit. Museum,
historical society, stores, library, restaurants and nearby marinas
make this town a nice stop to tour, particularly towards the end
of July for their annual “Pear Fair” Guest dockage is available
at the Courtland Docks, and from there you can walk to all
restaurants, stores, and other services you might need.
Courtland Docks (916)775-1172 You might also want to set a spell and watch the PaintersVille bridge, just south of Courtland. This bridge has shown up many times in movies, and the mechanics is interesting to watch as it opens up for larger boats traveling north to Sacramento.
7. LOCKE. First built in 1912 as a thriving Chinese encampment, Locke burned down completely in 1915. Some of the wood structures were salvaged and the town was rebuilt in 1915. Locke is a very interesting stop, with some buildings listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Make sure to visit the small shops, and the well-known & loved restaurant “Al-the Wops” if you like hearty meat & potatoes meals. Locke is a very small town, about two blocks long, located on the land-side of the levee, east side of the Sacramento just one mile north of Walnut Grove. You can walk to Locke from Walnut Grove, since it’s so close. If you are touring the Delta by boat, new public guest docks at Walnut Grove are a good option. Alternatively, the Boathouse Marina has guest docks available for a fee.
8. WALNUT GROVE This town occupies both sides of the
Sacramento River. Walnut Grove was established in 1851, and
is home to many of the local farming families. Particularly on the
west bank of the river, one can view stately old homes reminiscent
of southern mansions and a simpler way of life. The town has markets, restaurants, gas, hotels, deli, boat & auto repair, post office, shops, museum, banks, churches, and marinas. If you idly walk down the main street on the east side of the river, chances are one of the shop keepers will step out and offer you the “Walking Tour” of Walnut Grove and happily spend a few minutes chatting with you about this idyllic river town. Check out the museum, but call to make sure its open when you’re there. Hwy. 160 cuts through this town and there’s a bridge offering choices of other land routes to take continuing your tour. By water, one can choose Georgiana Slough, Steamboat Slough or Sacramento River to continue a tour of the Delta. Steamboat Slough is a preferred route for its peacefulness and shady tree-lined banks. Http://www.walnutgrove.com (916)776-1442
9. RYDE A tiny town with population under 200, this place none-the-less is a favorite Delta stop for many. Ryde offers visitors a nice hotel, a small golf course, good food, art gallery, and a small market to pick up
the basics. Ryde was established in 1891 and in the 1930’s had many large canneries along its banks. The Ryde Hotel & restaurant offers visitors a glimpse of the past with photos and memorabilia. Ryde Hotel & Greens: (916)776-1318.
10. ISLETON. This small town of a few hundred permanent residents swells to over 100,000 every Father’s Day week end for the annual “Crawdad Festival”. This active town also sponsors a Rodeo and other fun activities. Isleton was “born” in 1874 with the opening of a general store to sell supplies to the Gold Miners boating up and down the Sacramento River. Many of the original “Main Street” buildings remain, with newer additions along the more recent section of Main Street. Yet Isleton still feels more like a sleepy river town you’d find in the deep south, along the bayous. The town offers visitors historical homes and buildings to view along with modern conveniences like markets, a great bakery, really good restaurants and a variety of gift shops. A nice hotel sits on Main Street, and nearby are popular RV camp parks, including Brannon Island State Park. Isleton Chamber of Commerce: http://www.isletoncoc.org (916)777-5880
More Historic Delta stops…If you want to see more, travel north on Hwy. 160 to Freeport and to downtown Sacramento. By water, go north on the Old Sacramento River. Downtown Sacramento is a day trip in itself, with the train museum, the old Paddle Wheelers for dining and rides, the preserved historic waterfront buildings and many interesting shops and restaurants. Businesses, restaurants and services listing for the historic Delta region can be printed out by clicking on the picture to the right to enlarge it.