I got quite a kick out of spending time on the Queen Mary when I visited Long Beach a few years ago and wrote about it in the Globe. The legendary ocean liner, built in the 1930s, is now a hotel and popular southern California tourist attraction. It turns out that northern California also has its own floating hotel – and it has a much more direct connection to Golden State history.
Now anchored on the Sacramento River in Old Sacramento, the 285-foot riverboat Delta King was launched in 1927 to make daily voyages between Sacramento and San Francisco. She would depart in the early evening for a 10.5-hour journey that featured live jazz, gambling, and fine dining complemented by fine wines and other spirits, even during Prohibition. Pressed into service by the Navy during World War II, the Delta King spent the post-war years more or less adrift and was partially submerged in San Francisco Bay in the early 1980s.
In 1984 she returned to Sacramento and opened as the Delta King hotel (deltaking.com) after a five-year renovation. Her 88 original staterooms were reconfigured into 44 still snug but comfortable rooms. The dining tradition continues in both the Pilothouse restaurant and the Delta Bar & Grill.
The riverboat effectively anchors the Old Sacramento tourist destination of shops and restaurants. There's also a pleasant walking path along the river accessed by crossing the Tower Bridge, a vertical-lift bridge constructed in the 1930s and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The golden-yellow Streamline Moderne-style bridge is also a great place to take a photo of the floating hotel.
Photos by Patricia Harris for the Boston Globe