Sure, you could drive home after a day of hiking or just romping with your dog the fabulous, 3,000-acre fenced canine playground at Lagoon Valley/Pena Adobe Park or the newer Centennial Park. But you could also put paws to pillow a comfy spot like Vacaville’s centrally located Hyatt Place or Residence Inn by Marriott. They’re among nine dog-friendly lodgings in this valley town just minutes away from open-space preserves, wineries and other attractions.
Those “other attraction” include:
• Western Railway Museum. Seventeen miles south of Vacaville, near Suisun City, this salute to electric trains and trolleys of yesteryear is family- and dog-friendly. It’s an open-air, living-history museum, and visitors are welcome to bring their pups aboard for a ride on a historic streetcar or excursion 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 to enjoy on the shaded grounds. It’s open weekends year-round, and admission includes 50-minute, dog-friendly train rides (masks required). Wildflower season starts in March and can be spectacular!
• Ranching history. Another attraction of historic interest easily accessible from Vacaville is Rush Ranch Open Space, a 2,070-acre preserve administered by the Solano Land Trust. Leashed dogs are welcome to accompany their people around the complex of historic ranch buildings where interpretive activities are staged on the third Saturday of each month. Call in advance to request permission to hike the 2-mile Suisun Hill Trail, which makes a 200-foot climb to a summit with great views of the Potrero Hills.
• Jelly Bellies, anyone? The famous Jelly Belly Candy Company factory, right off Interstate 80 just 11 miles southwest of Vacaville, is a candy-lover's mecca with a visitor center and store that will definitely ignite your sweet tooth. Whether it’s hard-to-find licorice jellybeans, chocolate Dutch mints or multi-colored Halloween confections, you’re sure to leave with a bagful.
No dogs are allowed inside the visitor center, but the establishment does provide a dog-walk area with pickup bags. Now that the weather’s cool, Daisy should be fine waiting in the car while you satisfy your sweet tooth. What makes it historic? While the California headquarters wasn’t established until 1986, the company itself was founded in 1869.