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 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.
More attractions with historic connections:
• Western Railway Museum. Seventeen miles south of Vacaville, near Suisun City, this salute to electric trains and trolleys of yesteryear is eminently 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.
• 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 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 cooled down, 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.
Photo Credit: @itskalinotcali