The Delta King is a restored paddlewheel boat that resides on the Sacramento River in Old Sacramento. The Delta King and sister ship the Delta Queen, commuted between Sacramento and San Francisco from 1927 to 1940. The ten-and-a-half hour trip included drinking, live entertainment, gambling and dining. During WWII, they were painted grey and used for various military duties ranging from floating barracks to a hospital. After the war, the Delta Queen was transported to New Orleans via the Panama Canal for service on the Mississippi River. Riverboats were no longer useful in the bay region since the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, so the Delta King languished in odd duties until it suffered its final neglect of being sunk and left half submerged in the San Francisco Bay. There it remained for several decades until a few entrepreneurs with vision, determination and a lot of cash, decided to take on a restoration of the boat. In 1984, the Delta King was raised from the mud and tides to be restored to its former glory. Soon it became the beautiful boat that today claims the title of the only hotel in Old Sacramento.
There are 44 rooms available on the three upper decks of the Delta King. They were made more spacious than the original 88 rooms. We stayed in a Riverview Stateroom and found it to be better than expected. Since the boat was completely renovated, we expected a modern hotel on a historic boat hull but were pleasantly surprised to find it constructed and furnished close to the appropriate era. The room was clean, large enough and unique with floors that curved with boat’s hull and an old fashioned tank-on-the-wall toilet. The window let in plenty of light during the day and was dressed with wood blinds. Outside our room was a shared veranda deck overlooking the Sacramento River. In the morning, we enjoyed a complimentary full breakfast in the Pilothouse Restaurant and retreated to a table-chair set on our veranda deck. We watched birds actively playing and feeding along the river while planning our day’s agenda. Although we stayed in one of the smallest rooms, the Delta King Hotel has several more spacious options including the ‘Captain’s Quarters’, which comprises the original wheelhouse and consumes two stories of the boat’s bow. We were glad we reserved a river view room since the city view option viewed more of the dock than Old Sac.
The Delta King Hotel also includes a bar & grill and elegant restaurant. Upon arrival, we enjoyed a glass of wine at the Delta Bar & Grill to help recover from our 6-hour drive into Sacramento. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, both offering expansive views up the Sacramento River. It was almost too comfortable with coffee tables and leather chairs & couches arranged in lounge-style seating – perfect for a small group to mingle. The original plan was to head out into Old Sac for dinner but after seeing the food being served at the bar and the inviting Pilothouse Restaurant at the bottom of the stairs, we decided to go there instead. The Pilothouse Restaurant spans the entire width of the boat and features a wall of windows with stained glass accents on each side. It’s lavishly adorned with varnished hardwoods much like most of the ship. We enjoyed prix-fixe meal options for those attending evening shows aboard the boat. Both meals were delectable and seasoned perfectly. Service was exceptional, which was par for the entire boat. Twice we were randomly asked if we needed help while wandering the boat.
After dinner, we headed down to the bottom of the boat to see a play. It was loads of fun. The Delta King has two small theatres below where it hosts murder mystery dinners and plays put on by the local theatre company, SacraMelo. We chose the play, which was a musical pun of Peter Pan. Live piano music set the mood while the cast toiled about in tights and made hideously funny wisecracks. The play was geared for kids and adults alike. What a terrific Gold Country experience with entertainment similar to that the gold miners would have enjoyed back in 1849. We enjoyed our show so much that later, when we arrived home and realized we got away without paying, we wrote a check and mailed it to them. Theatre presentations are available Friday and Saturday nights with some Sunday matinees. The Delta King also has live entertainment in the bar Thursday through Saturday nights. Fridays and Saturdays the Delta King offers wine events including a school where you can become a wine aficionado. Several conference rooms are also available for business, group events and weddings.
The greatest part about staying on the Delta King is the ability to enjoy Old Sacramento in the mornings and evenings when there are no crowds. Anyone who’s been to Old Sac before knows how crowded it can get with tourists. With good reason because Old Sacramento is one of the largest Gold Country towns with several blocks of original and restored buildings. These old-west buildings are occupied by touristy shops, museums, restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, tour operators and much more. We ventured out in the morning to the California State Railroad Museum. Be sure to start your tour of the museum by viewing their short historic film. It makes for a dramatic introduction to the museum. Other entertaining Old Sac offerings include underground tours, historic train rides and carriage rides. Although the Delta King remains docked, Hornblower Cruises operates from the same dock and provides river cruises including meals and cordials. As the crowds developed in the afternoon, we walked to Downtown Sacramento to tour the State Capitol and Stanford Mansion. The California State Capitol building is an impressive neoclassical structure with three towering stories of granite archways, Corinthian columns and a huge dome cap. Visitors are welcome to join a tour or explore the maze of hallways and rooms on their own. The nearby Stanford Mansion was the original home of Leland and Jane Stanford, the founders of Stanford University. Leland Stanford made a fortune as a merchant during the Gold Rush and later in the railroad industry. He served as Governor of California and later in the U.S. Senate. The mansion is an impressive 4-story Victorian home that was once the Governor’s Mansion and today is used as California’s official reception center for foreign dignitaries. Both the Capitol and Stanford Mansion tours are free. Other interesting Downtown Sacramento attractions include the Crocker Art Museum, Governor’s Mansion and Sutter’s Fort.
The Delta King Hotel is easily reached off Interstate 5 from I Street. Conveniently navigate the streets of Old Sacramento to Front and K Streets where a hotel valet can ease the frustration of trying to find parking in busy Old Sac. With fine dining, exciting entertainment and updated historic accommodations, The Delta King is one of the finest and unique hotels in Gold Country. On top of that, its location in Old Sacramento provides many more options for dining and entertainment. Pack your deck shoes, favorite Mark Twain novel and head to the Delta King Hotel for your next vacation. The Delta King Hotel is worth a visit when staying in or passing through Sacramento. We’re sure you’ll agree.