There’s no time better than October to visit the Suisun Valley between Davis and Vacaville in Solano County. Not only are the vineyards ablaze; pumpkin patches, farm stands and other agricultural points of interest are in full swing. (Don’t miss Larry’s Produce, a vast produce enterprise with adjacent pumpkin patch.)
The valley is just a ridge away from the famous Napa Valley, and its wines share many characteristics native to the shared climate. Suisun bills itself as “rustic wine country” and prides itself on providing friendly welcomes to visitors with dogs on the other end of the leash.
Start getting acquainted with regional wines on the dog-friendly patio at Wooden Valley Winery, where the Lanza family has been processing fruit of the vine for generations. At the Vezar Family Vineyard tasting room, you’ll be impressed with the 19th-century architecture at what the owning Vezer family calls the “petit sirah capital of the world.” Nearby, at BackRoad Vines, your pup can join you in outside seating areas or on the bocce court.
But don’t think Suisun Valley is all about wine. We mean, don’t you love it when you stumble upon something great that you never knew about before? That’s the feeling that takes over upon entering Lagoon Valley/Peña Adobe Regional Park, a 470-acre preserve just off Interstate 80 between Vacaville and Fairfield. The park includes the historic Pena Adobe, oldest structure in the county, plus picnic areas and a hiking trail that will take you 2.5 miles around the namesake lake. (There’s also a large, fenced, off-leash dog park).
Another must-do: The Western Railway Museum, 17 miles south of Vacaville, near Suisun City, salutes electric trains and trolleys of yesteryear and is eminently family- and dog-friendly. It’s an open-air, living-history museum, and visitors are welcome to bring their pups aboard open-air for a 50-minute ride on a historic interurban train.
The museum is built along the former mainline of the Sacramento Northern Railway, and its fascinating collection focuses on interurban transit equipment. Pack a picnic (including a bottle of wine?) to enjoy on the shaded grounds, and note that streetcar rides and the popular pumpkin patch festival have been suspended due to the pandemic. Pet parents need to bring a portable water container and waste bags.