downtown rio vistaWelcome to Rio Vista—a small town just one hour to the Bay Area and Sacramento. It’s the best kept secret in California!

rio vista bridge with fishing dock

A River Runs Through It…

Perhaps it’s the allure of river towns as they were described by Mark Twain in works like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer”. Maybe it’s a deeply rooted longing that all humans have, whether they grew up in a bustling city or an endless track of modern suburbia to enjoy a slower paced existence. Perhaps it’s just the natural deceleration that time seems to have in a place where a mighty tract of water moves slowly and inexorably towards the sea, season after season. Whatever the attraction is, talk to people who have lived in Rio Vista for most of their life and you’ll get the sense that peace is as prevalent in the hearts of local residents as picket fences are abundant on the back streets of this sleepy river city.

Established in 1857 as “Brazos del Rio” (Arms of the River), the town that was to become Rio Vista was washed away in the great flood January of 1862. Re-established later that year (and a mile farther south on higher ground) it survived as a vital stopping place for the great steamers and riverboats that plowed the calm waters of the vast Sacramento waterway and helped found the thriving territory that has become the State of California.

Known far and wide as “The Heart of the Delta” Rio Vista’s proximity to the confluence of California’s two mightiest rivers, and the 1000 miles of the delta’s pristine rivers, marshes, and wetlands has made it a Mecca for boaters, fisherman, wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, wind surfers, and people in general who seek a friendly smile, a slower pace, and a tranquil atmosphere. Come see for yourself why we call Rio Vista a “Diamond in the Rough”.

A Bird’s Eye View

bird's eye view of trilogy
Aerial view of Trilogy

Amazingly, the town of Rio Vista has grown little in comparison to the urban sprawl of most of the cities the surrounding area. Even the recent addition of Trilogy to the township has not intruded upon the vast amount of open space surrounding our town. Though no one can predict what the future may hold for development, for now there is much room to breath, relax, and enjoy “The Delta Lifestyle”. “Civilization”—should you require it—is only minutes away via Highway 12 in either direction.

Our Town

downtown rio vistaIf you tell most folks from anywhere outside the Delta you’re from Rio Vista, the usual response is “Never heard of it, where is it?” To reply “It’s about mid-way between Sacramento and San Francisco” doesn’t seem to invoke much recognition. But tell them “It’s the town that ‘Humphrey the Humpback Whale’ came to visit back in the fall of 1985 and in May of 2007 where the Humpback mother and daughter dubbed ‘Delta and Dawn’ got stuck too…” and suddenly everyone seems to know exactly where you’re from! The fact is, that aside from a few celebrity whales once having “vacationed” here and the annual Bass Festival Derby, there is nothing particularly famous nor “infamous” about Rio Vista at all. And that’s just the way most folks here prefer it. If there were a “just the right size” contest for American townships, Rio Vista would most certainly make the finals with:

1 Post Office
3 Schools (Elementary, Middle, High)
2 Banks
3 Gas stations
2 Car dealers
1 Hardware Store
1 (very friendly and nicely stocked) Local Market
1 Liquor Store
2 Motels
1 Video/DVD Rental
1 Bakery
1 Car Wash
…a few Churches, Restaurants, Pubs, and Specialty Shops…

and oh yes…1 Traffic Light.

Only four businesses (including Main street’s Radio Shack), sport “National Franchise” names…three of them fast food joints on Highway 12 at the outskirts of town. All in all…a very self sufficient town that has “nothing” that some might require and “everything” some seek their whole life long. The weekly newspapers, “The Rio Vista Beacon” and “The River News Herald”, will keep you informed of how much money the Ladies Soroptomist group raised for a local charity if you yearn for the news, and you can always entertain yourself by reading the Police Blotter to stay abreast of how many cats were rescued from a nearby sycamore tree. If you’re in that rare hurry to get somewhere there will always be someone you know coming out of the hardware store who needs advice on mending a fence or a friend who needs help deciding what the freshest produce at Liras market is today…oh well…so much for tight schedules.

In the evenings as the boats disperse, traffic begins to settle down, and a quiet comes over the area that’s the kind you only find from a town that’s at least 20 miles from the drone of the nearest metropolis. Locals gather for a cold beer and a hot meal at Fosters Big Horn where the largest collection of game trophies (west of the Pecos anyway) is housed. Classic car owners seem to gravitate toward Gemma T’s Drive-In for the the best roadside cheeseburgers (with curly fries!) known to man. Families gather at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant a few steps away to enjoy the freshest and most gratifying Mexican food you’ve ever tasted at reasonable prices, made with pride, and served with a smile. And all the while the silence of the delta night begins to fall. A near full moon rises on the river. A Great Horned Owl bellows down on River Road…

Sunsets are especially beautiful here. The Delta is known for them. Perhaps it’s the fact there is so much water to reflect them upon. Perhaps it’s because there’s so much sky. Perhaps the automobiles from the metropolis’ to the west provide the extra atmospheric catalyst for the color vibrance. Maybe it’s a combination of the three. We prefer the explanation that it’s simply because there is better opportunity to enjoy them here. Maybe that’s why Humphrey, Delta, and Dawn lingered so long…you never know.

The River

There is a place…
When people think of California and it’s many natural wonders, they often envision the mighty redwood and sequoia stands, the rock chasms of Yosemite, and numbers of other visually stark landscapes this state is famous for. Few are aware (many Californians as well), that there is an immense and remarkably diverse labyrinthian network of pristine waterways beckoning to be explored right in their back yard…the California Delta. Where the mighty Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers collide before flowing into the Carquinez Straits and on into San Pablo Bay lies a world of quiet beauty and nearly endless discovery.

This is a place which harbors untold secrets. A place you can travel a hundred miles by water, and only have seen one tenth of. A place where historic river towns, little changed from the Gold Rush days loom around a bend in the river and make you swear you had gone back in time a century and a half. A place you can explore four California counties, dozens of cities and towns, view a hundred species of wildlife, eat at fifty restaurants, visit a hundred marinas, and never set foot in an automobile.If you don’t own your own watercraft there are a number of places to rent everything from sailboats to motor yachts, and nimble runabouts to dawdling houseboats. If traveling by water is not your preferred method of locomotion you’re in luck. A stout system of levees surround and crisscross the entire area, making most of the delta and all of it’s wonders accessible to almost anyone. Full-hookup RV parks & campgrounds are plentiful.If you love to fish, sturgeon and striped bass are plentiful. You’ll find many helpful locals happy to steer you in the right direction. The Delta welcomes anyone in the mood for adventure, birding, waterside dining, wine tasting, or just messing around.