Pena Adobe Regional Park / Photo: Mindy Lamont @fiandmimi
There’s a lot more to Vacaville than meets the eye when whizzing past it on Interstate 80. Dog-friendly lodging abounds (take note: it’s lot less expensive than in nearby Napa or Sonoma), but perhaps one of Vacaville’s biggest assets is its central location as a basecamp. If you’re a wine lover, get settled and head straight to Suisun Valley Rustic Wine Country, where wine grapes were first planted more than 100 years ago.
This time of year, you’ll find pumpkin patches and farm stands as well as dog-friendly tasting rooms and patios showcasing local fruit of the vine. The valley is easy to navigate with the help of directional signs and maps to point you toward various destinations. Between tastings, make tracks to Larry’s Produce, a mega-farm stand overflowing with a cornucopia of locally grown fruits and veggies. (Your dog will have to wait in your vehicle while you grab a wheelbarrow and load up.)
Later in the day, check into one of eight dog-friendly Vacaville lodging options, including the Hampton Inn & Suites Vacaville/Napa Valley, which doesn’t charge extra for pets, includes a hot breakfast in the rates and offers a “puppy love” package, as well. In the evening, take a stroll on the Alamo Creek Bikeway. It’s primarily a bike path, but dog-walkers will find much to enjoy along the 4.4-mile paved trail connecting several city parks. Or, check out the new Centennial Dog Park, five acres of off-leash fun with separate areas for large and small pups.
Next morning, after fueling up, head to Lagoon Valley/Peña Adobe Regional Park, a 470-acre preserve just off Interstate 80 between Vacaville and Fairfield. This regional gem includes the historic Peña Adobe, oldest structure in Solano County (dating to 1842), plus picnic areas and a hiking trail that will take you and your leashed friend 2.5 miles around the namesake lake. There’s also a large (30,000 square-foot) fenced, off-leash dog park. Little in this landscape has changed over the last century, which is what makes it so special.
On the food-and-beer front, don’t miss the Brass Tap, which serves some 300 brews from around the world and hosts a “yappy hour” on Sundays.