Ask folks in the Bay Area about Vacaville, and there’s a chance they might mention the correctional facilities and the cows. But if you’re an outsider who thinks there’s nothing to do in Vacaville except count steer and heifers, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Not only are there fun amusements to be found, there are also several well-rated RV parks, complete with Wi-Fi, where you can set up your home base for exploring Vacaville and its environs. Put the following sights and attractions on your must-do list, and be sure to take plenty of pictures for the skeptics back home.
- Lagoon Valley/Peña Adobe Regional Park– There’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had here, including hiking, cycling, horse riding and fishing. There’s even a dog park for your furry companions. Picnickers will be happy to find grills available for cooking up some mouth-watering fare; picnic tables are also in good supply. Bring plenty of water if you’re exploring the trails, as most are out in the open without a lot of shade.The park is also home to the historic Peña Adobe, originally built in 1842 and still standing as the oldest building in Solano County. Visitors on the first Saturday of every month are treated to demonstrations of what life was like for California’s early pioneers and their Native American neighbors.
- Fenton’s Ice Cream at the Nut Tree – Families have been coming to “California’s Legendary Road Stop” since 1921 when it first opened as a roadside fruit stand. After a period of financial trouble and closure, Nut Tree is open again, but more as an outdoor shopping center. There are amusement-park type rides for small children, and Fenton’s Ice Cream is an absolute must-have – fresh ice cream made right here in the Vacaville store!
- Historic Downtown – There’s always something going on in Vacaville’s historic downtown area. You can hear a different band every Friday evening during the summer at the Creekwalk concert series in Andrews Park. Blues Festivals, Chili Cook-offs, Ladies’ Nights and the annual Halloween Stroll keep the place hopping during other times of the year.
- Vacaville Performing Arts Theater – Open since 1993, this intimate, 500-seat entertainment venue hosts everything from chamber music and the ballet to comedy, musicals, dramas and one-man shows. In 2013, the theater will play host to such big names as Smokey Robinson and Eddie Money.
- Vacaville Art Gallery – This gallery showcases works from local artists and artisans. Check out the gift shop for one-of-a-kind treasures that you won’t find in any mall. Speaking of art, make it a game to spot one of the many examples of public art located throughout the town; yet another way the city promotes and encourages its local artists.
- Consolidated Rock and Mineral Shop – Even if you’re not a collector of rock and mineral specimens, you’ll still get a kick out of browsing through the incredibly huge and diverse array of rocks, gems and fossils found inside. At the very least, you’ll learn something new from the friendly and knowledgeable staff on site.
- Stars Recreation and Bowling Center – Sometimes you just need to blow off steam with a rousing game of Q-Zar laser tag! Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the center also has 40 bowling lanes.
- Jelly Belly Factory Tour – Just about everyone loves Jelly Belly jelly beans – those colorful little orbs that burst with out-of-the-ordinary flavors like cinnamon, bubblegum and coffee. The factory in Fairfield offers daily 40-minute tours where you can see first-hand how the candies are made. If you come during the week, you’ll see the machines in full operation. For a quieter tour, come on the weekend when the machines are at rest.
- Western Railway Museum – Located about 5 miles from Vacaville in Suisun City, the museum is home to the largest collection of Sacramento Northern Railway equipment in existence. This isn’t your usual locomotive-type collection, but instead showcases interurban railways and the trolleys used by this type of rail system. There are picnic grounds available, plus there is a working heritage railway where visitors can ride a streetcar or an Interurban. The museum is open on weekends throughout the year and for extended hours during the summer.
- Scandia Family Fun Center – There are two award-winning miniature golf courses here that will challenge and delight duffers of all ages, plus batting cages, arcade games, a “Little Indy” raceway, “Waterbugs” (like Dodge ‘Em cars on water), and more. (in Fairfield).
And yes, there are cows. You can wave to them as you’re driving to your next adventure in Vacaville.
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