Jaxon Levi, Vacaville's Director of Barketing
Sometimes the places in our own back yard are the least explored. And for many Northern Californians, Vacaville, a familiar name on Interstate 80, is one of them. Get off the highway, and you’ll find affordable, pet-friendly lodging (seven hotels and two RV parks) and plenty of ways to play.
Start out by stretching legs and paws at Lagoon Valley Park, where you and yours can follow a 2.5-mile path around a lake or take to the hills for a more aerobic workout. The lake trail starts and ends near Vacaville’s only fenced, off-leash dog park, a 30,000 square-foot treasure for resident and visiting pups alike.
Ready for some wine tasting? The verdant Suisun Valley, about 20 minutes from downtown Vacaville, is home to numerous wineries that welcome canine guests in their picnic areas. Wooden Valley Winery’s courtyard patio is an especially pleasant place to sit and sip with your pooch.
People and pups interested in history have a couple of great options within a half-hour’s drive. The Western Railway Museum, on a rural stretch of Highway 12, is a fascinating living-history museum that aims to help visitors envision what transportation in Northern California was like a hundred years ago. Dogs are welcome to join their people in examining exhibits that include an extensive collection of historic streetcars and interurban electric trains. Well behaved tail-waggers also are invited to join their people on an electric train trip through the peaceful Montezuma Hills over the original historic main line of the Sacramento Northern Railway. Bring a picnic to enjoy at this great family destination!
Another attraction of pastoral and historic interest easily accessible from Vacaville is Rush Ranch Open Space a 2,070-acre open space now 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. Of the property’s three trails, only the Suisun Hill Trail, which makes a climb of about 200 feet to a summit overlooking the Portrero Hills, is dog-friendly. Pick a cool day for this trek: while the views are great, there’s virtually no shade on the grassy hillsides.
A bonus for rural explorers: The Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, offering good hiking and bird-watching opportunities in spring, is nearby. Ask at the ranch for back-road directions. Access requires either a hunting license or a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lands Pass, available online or wherever hunting licenses are sold.
Just passing through Vacaville and need a place to stretch? The 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 PetSmart store, where you’ll both be overwhelmed by a tempting assortment of products.