Don’t you love it when you stumble across something great that you never knew about before? That’s the feeling that takes over upon entering Lagoon Valley Park, 470 acres of open space just off Interstate 80 between Vacaville and Fairfield. The park includes the historic Pena Adobe, oldest structure in Solano County; 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 fenced, off-leash dog park. Another prize find for DogTrekkers is Rockville Hills Regional Park, a 633-acre, path-laced gem just north of Interstate 80 near the 680 split. The $1 per dog entry fee (humans pay $3) contributes to maintenance, and both two- and four-legged visitors enjoy the well groomed trails and undulating terrain. And then there’s Rush Ranch, a 2,070-acre swath of landscape little changed since before suburban sprawl began claiming the surrounding hills. Owned and managed by the Solano Land Trust, the ranch is part working cattle operation, part historic site and altogether an intriguing destination for DogTrekkers and their families.
A visit to any of these preserves is a great start for a day that might also include a visit to the Western Railway Museum, 13 miles east of Fairfield on Highway 12. Leashed pets are welcome to wander with their people through exhibits detailing the history of the interurban railways that once connected California cities, and they also can hop aboard for an electric train trip over the historic main line of the Sacramento Northern Railway.
Just passing through Vacaville on I-80 and need a place to stretch? The ever-evolving, 71-acre Nut Tree complex has been a popular roadside stop since the 1920s. These days, it houses restaurants, an amusement park and an ever-changing roster of outlet stores that make for interesting browsing (many put out bowls of water for thirsty pets.) Sparky is welcome to accompany you inside the super-sized PetCo store, where you’ll both be overwhelmed by a tempting assortment of products. Among lunch spots with dog-friendly patio tables are Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Fentons Creamery & Restaurant.
Interstate 80 is also the gateway to Suisun Valley, a verdant agricultural area with many dog-friendly wineries and farm stands. Dubbed “Rustic Wine Country,” it celebrates quality of life for residents and visitors alike. A worthwhile stop is Wooden Valley Winery, where you can pull up to an umbrella table in the courtyard and sample the bounty produced by three generations of the Lanza family.