Northern California is a popular travel destination known for its iconic cities and world-class attractions. However, in an effort to visit the most popular destinations, visitors often skip over the smaller cities and towns that are well worth a visit, including Vacaville.
Situated in the Sacramento Valley area of Solano County, Vacaville is a cross between a large town and a small city, with roots closer to nature than many of the larger metropolitan areas.
With a population of just 100,000 people, you can expect smaller crowds and an abundance of attractions and services.
The city lies approximately half-way between the major centres of Sacramento and San Francisco. This means you only have to drive for about an hour to reach either city to spend the day exploring everything they have to offer.
Besides having a desirable climate, Vacaville is home to a wide variety of shops, outdoor spaces, museums. Local restaurant serve a variety of local and ethnic cuisine. Spend your days exploring the old downtown area, tasting wine in the wineries of nearby Suisun Valley, hiking in Lagoon Valley or attending outdoor arts performances.
A number of festivals and events take place in Vacaville throughout the year, including Vacaville Fiesta Days and the Festival of Trees and Tree Lighting Ceremony each December. Each Friday during the summer months, the city hosts the Creek Walk in Downtown Vacaville.
Below are 15 things of the best things to do in and around Vacaville, California.
1. Catch up on Local History at the Vacaville Museum
The best way to learn about any city and its surrounding area is with a visit to a museum that highlights the history of the region and its people. The Vacaville Museum is a great starting point for your visit.
This long-standing museum tells the story of Vacaville and Solano County through a variety of exhibits that change throughout the year. An exhibit about influential women from the area, and another about the people who once lived near Ulatis Creek are just two of the more than 40 exhibits the museum has showcased over the years.
Sometimes, cultural workshops are held, and handmade crafts can be purchased at the on-site gift shop. Visitors have the option to tour the museum on their own, or they can follow along with a guided tour.
2. Discover the Iconic Nut Tree Plaza
While roadside stops are a common sight along the roads of The United States, perhaps none are quite as iconic as the Nut Tree Plaza in Vacaville.
This sprawling complex began as a simple fruit stand on the side of the road back in the 1920s. Today, it’s a massive 400,000 square feet of shops, eateries, and entertainment.
Start your outing with a visit to the shops, which include Saks Fifth Avenue, Old Navy, Nordstrom and Kirkland’s. If children are in your group, there’s plenty of fun for them too; the on-site amusement centre includes rides, games, and free events.
End the day with a delicious meal at one of the restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings or Chipotle. The complex also has a Starbucks coffee shop and an ice cream shop.
3. Start Your Day Right at Healthy Life Shakes and Cafe
If you travel a lot, you know how hard it can be to find healthy food and drinks on the road. Healthy Life Shakes and Cafe solves this problem with an array of quality, delicious, healthy items.
This locally-owned eatery offers protein shakes, smoothies, keto coffee and acai bowls made with organic and all-natural ingredients free of anything artificial. Food is also served throughout the day and cooked with an air-fryer.
Chicken wings, breakfast burritos, wraps, sandwiches, teriyaki bowls and steak are just a few of the food items available on the extensive menu, and an aloe shot and a cup of Matcha Tea is included with every order.
4. Spend the Day Golfing at Paradise Valley and Rancho Solano Golf Courses
While there are many golf courses around the region, your best bets for a day on the greens in the Vacaville area are Paradise Valley and Rancho Solano. These two courses are only ten minutes away from one another, so it’s possible to play both in the same day.
Paradise Valley is a laid-back course with beautifully-maintained grounds that include oak trees and creeks. Rancho Solano has more of a country-club feel, with sprawling greens that are among some of the largest in the state. This course offers more of a challenge; various features include rolling landscapes, lakes and bunkers.
Both courses have a driving range and a Legends Bar & Grill on-site.
5. Explore Pena Adobe and Lagoon Valley Park
You don’t have to travel far to find natural settings in and around Vacaville, but Pena Adobe and Lagoon Valley Park is one of the best. You’ll discover scenic views, nature, hiking and biking trails, a picnic area, and a lake suitable for fishing and boating all in one location.
The park features 470 acres of natural landscape so you’ll feel like you’re miles away from the city. Among the trails are a 20-mile hiking loop and a 7.5-mile biking trail. A disc golf course, dog park, and archery course are also on site.
6. Enjoy Many Facilities at Andrews Park
The main attraction in Andrews Park is the Creekwalk. This area of the park hosts many concerts and festivals throughout the year. This scenic 18-acre park also features walking trails, picnic areas, a playground, and several BBQs.
7. Take a Tour of the Jelly Belly Factory
For a truly unique experience, take a 40-minute tour of the Jelly Belly Factory located in Fairfield just outside of Vacaville. Knowledgeable guides take you through the working factory, where you’ll see how the famous jelly beans are made.
8. Take Part in an Escape Room Experience
Escape rooms are all the rage around the country right now. At Beat the Room, visitors can take part in a unique escape room experience.
There are several rooms to choose from, including a pirate-themed room. As long as you have a team of two to ten people, you can join in on the fun. You’ll have an hour to solve various clues and puzzles that’ll help you in your escape
9. Satisfy Your Hunger at Los Reyes Restaurante and Cantina
Take a seat in the energetic atmosphere of Los Reyes Restaurante and Cantina in downtown Vacaville, where you’ll enjoy a variety of traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist.
Tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and seafood entrees are just a few of the items available on the extensive menu, and everything is made with high-quality ingredients that are locally-sourced when possible.
The full-service bar features Mexican specialties such as tequila-based cocktails.
10. Take Part in Some Hands-on Learning at Vacaville’s Imagine That
Visitors of all ages enjoy the interactive science and technology displays at Vacaville’s Imagine That. This learning centre is 6,100 square feet of hands-on learning and includes various activities promoting lifelong education.
11. Take a Tour of the Anheuser-Busch Factory
Located in nearby Fairfield, the Anheuser-Busch Factory is a must-visit for beer lovers. Several different tours are available, but each one covers all the basics, including how the beer is made and a detailed explanation of how this factory maintains green operations using renewable energy.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the tour is the mouth-watering samples that await each participant of legal age. Various events, including auto shows and concerts, take place from time to time.
12. Eat, Drink and be Healthy at Virtue Juice Bar
Virtue Juice Bar is much more than just a variety of healthy juices; it’s a blend of restaurant and wellness centre with a focus on healthy living.
Staff are knowledgeable about healthy food and drink and want to share that knowledge with you while they prepare a nutritious meal to help you refuel for the rest of your day.
The delicious, signature juices are made right in front of you with the freshest, organic ingredients using top-of-the-line juicers. Also available are smoothies, espresso elixirs, acai bowls, and an array of dairy and gluten-free items.
13. Immerse Yourself in the World of Rocks and Minerals
At the Rock Shop, the west coast’s largest rock and mineral shop, you’ll have the chance to view an extensive collection of rocks and gemstones.
Whether you’re a collector or an amateur observer, the variety of small and large finds, including rare discoveries, are sure to impress. Also on site is a separate room dedicated to amethyst crystals, fossils, and a collection of seashells. The items on display are for sale.
14. Spend a Day Hiking in a Hiker’s Paradise
The pleasant weather, spectacular scenery, and pristine wilderness areas of Northern California make it a perfect location for hiking. There are a variety of trails for every skill level located in and around Vacaville.
At Lake Berryessa in the Cold Canyon area of nearby Winter, hikers enjoy mountainous terrain and beautiful views.
The Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa Valley has a poplar trail that passes through grasslands and oak trees on the way to the top of the park area. At the Basalt Boulders, there are numerous trails of varying lengths and difficulties.