By DENNIS WYATT
DANVILLE — Tucked away in the East Bay in the shadow of Mt. Diablo is arguably one of the most unique museums in Northern California.
The Blackhawk Museums — the Automotive Museum, The Spirit of the Old West, and the Natural History Museum — is the last thing you’d expect to find in an upscale San Francisco Bay Area suburb.
The automotive museum’s roots go back to 1988. It boasts a significant collection of nearly a hundred rare, classic and unique automobiles.
It’ oldest vehicle is an 1886 Benz that is part of its pre-World War II collection. Among the vehicles are a 1938 Bugatti, a 1933 Pierce Arrow, and a 1939 Aero. Post World War II vehicles at the museum run the gamut from a tone 1948 Cadillac convertible to a 1947 Delahaye.
The sports and specialty offerings include the 1967 Ford Mirage to the 1953 Alfa Romeo.
You will also find fairly rare juke boxes that once ruled highway diners as part of the museum’s roadside relic collection.
Blackhawk Museums also host arguably the snazziest monthly car show in the Bay Area. On the first Sunday of each month (with the next being March 5), the museum’s parking lots are filled with classic cars, hot rods, sports cars and — as the museum website describes — “anything else with wheels and a motor that promotes the car enthusiast hobby.”
The event is called “Coffee and Cars.” The museum opens at 9 a.m. on the first Sunday of the month when car shows take place. There are also docent tours of the museum those days at 2 p.m.
The natural history museum offers three dozen examples of wildlife native to the United States.
The Spirit of the West Museum is designed to present the history of American settlers and Native Americans in a balanced manner showcasing the challenges they faced, their ways of life as well as both their success and failure.
And if a trip to the museums isn’t enough, it is right next to the Blackhawk Plaza with 10 unique dining options and specialty stores. The only chain stores in the whole lot are a Starbucks and Century Theatres.