A mention of Fairfield, California brings the usual responses, “Oh! That’s where the Jelly Belly factory is!” or, “Sure, the Budweiser plant is over there, right?” Well it’s true! Fairfield is home to the very famous Jelly Belly candy factory, as well as the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Pretty impressive stuff! Proud of these iconic attractions, Fairfield is so much more. Open your eyes and embrace your explorer spirit. You’ll find that Fairfield has enough surprises to fill an overnight or long-weekend escape.
Fairfield includes, and is surrounded by, some of northern California’s most beautiful landscapes. Well situated, Fairfield is located within the California Coastal Range, centered directly north of Suisun Bay, northeast of San Pablo Bay, east of the Sacramento Valley, and is nearly equidistant from Sacramento and San Francisco. It is approximately 40 miles/64km from both San Francisco and Sacramento, approximately 30 miles/48km from Oakland, and less than 10 miles/16km from the Napa Valley.
Freeway close and urban in nature, many of Fairfield’s greatest attributes embrace its rural and agricultural roots. Nearby shopping, lodging, restaurants, and nightlife transcend the destination’s rural nature. The region’s Coastal Ranges and canyons create recreational abundance: championship golf, orchards and farms, and scenic backroads. Agricultural riches in the Suisun Valley are protected to south by the Coast Range bordering the Napa Valley, the Vaca Mountains and Mt. George Range to the west, and Suisun Bay to the south.
Many familiar brand hotels are located just off Interstate 80, making Fairfield a convenient overnight and weekend getaway. Fairfield’s Westfield Solano Mall is the largest indoor shopping mall in Solano County, featuring more than one million square feet of retail space including a variety of popular restaurants and clothing boutiques. Just across the way, the 140,000-square-foot Gateway Courtyard Shopping Center rounds out the local retail scene including a popular northern California micro-brewery Blue Frog Grill & Grog.
Fairfield offers a full menu of fine and casual dining to satisfy any taste and appetite such as Ahi’s Seafood and Chop House, Canepa Delicatessen, Cucina Italiana, Favela’s Fusion, and Legends and Heroes Sports Bar and Grill. Or if you want to add some fun to your food, the Jelly Belly Café serves Jelly Belly-shaped hamburgers and pizzas.
Check-out downtown Fairfield or the North and West Texas Street business districts for a number of one-of-a-kind shops, and where special events occur annually.
In 2004, the Fairfield Hotel Association established a Business Improvement District (BID) to increase the awareness of the area’s many attractions and diversions, and encourage visitors to stay overnight.
Solano County – History
Solano County history dates back thousands of years. Artifacts of stone-age people have been found in Green Valley that date back to 2000 B.C.E. When the Spaniards arrived, Solano County was home to the Patwin Indians. Some of their village places have survived phonetically in such modern places as Suisun, Soscol, Ulatis and Putah.
Four years after the California Bear Flag Revolution, on February 18, 1850, the boundaries of Solano County were set by the first elected legislature of the territory of California, making Solano County one of the original 27 counties. The county derives its name indirectly from that of the Franciscan missionary, Father Francisco Solano, whose name was given in baptism to the chief of one of the Indian tribes of the region. Before receiving the name Solano, the chief was called Sem Yeto, which signifies "brave or fierce hand." At the request of General Vallejo, the county was named for Chief Solano, who at
one time ruled over most of the land and tribes between the Petaluma Creek and the Sacramento River.
Of the 12 townships that were created in the early days of the county’s history, seven have incorporated into cities: Benicia (1850 and 1851), Vallejo (1868), Suisun City (1868), Dixon (1878), Vacaville (1892), Rio Vista (1893), and Fairfield (1903).
Fairfield – History
Fairfield was founded by clipper-ship captain Robert Waterman, and named for his hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1858, voters ratified a proposal to move the county seat from Benicia to Fairfield. As promised, Waterman donated 16 acres for new county buildings and in 1860 a brick county courthouse and jail were constructed. The city of Fairfield was formally incorporated in 1903 and celebrated their Centennial in 2003.
In 1942, Travis Air Force Base was built east of Fairfield providing a tremendous boost to the local economy, which continues today. Travis Air Force Base became one of the major departure points for military units heading for combat in Vietnam. The base was annexed to Fairfield on March 30, 1966.
Fairfield is the home to a diverse industrial and commercial sector, employing workers in a variety of professional fields such as manufacturing, health care, hospitality, agriculture, active military duty, and retail. Major employers include Travis Air Force Base, County of Solano, Westfield Solano Mall, Anheuser-Busch, and Jelly Belly Candy Company.
Fairfield is home to a variety of special events including Summerfest Family Festival & Car Show, Tomato Festival & West Coast BBQ Championships, Vezér’s Summer Concert Series and Suisun Valley Fun Family Farm Days. Fairfield offers ample opportunities for hiking, biking, picnics and other outdoor activities at a variety of parks. The city boasts 18 parks and recreation centers including Linear Park, a trail converted from an old railroad line and now part of the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy. Primarily a commuter route that leads from downtown Fairfield to the Solano Community College, the trail runs through a landscaped greenbelt featuring small playgrounds and benches. Rockville Hills Regional Park, the largest regional park in Solano County with more than 600 acres is a favorite with San Francisco Bay Area and Central Valley mountain bikers.
Golfing enthusiasts can choose between two championship golf courses, Paradise Valley and Rancho Solano. The two Fairfield golf courses have been voted #1 and #2 in Solano County for six consecutive years and are rated in the Zagat Survey. Paradise Valley and Rancho Solano are conveniently located midway between San Francisco and Sacramento making them accessible from all cities in the SF Bay Area and greater Sacramento areas and a perfect location for corporate or large events, or just a day trip.
Paradise Valley, praised as being the number one golf course in Solano County and best value in the North Bay area, has a spectacular layout that is enhanced by oak studded fairways and meandering creeks. It’s a favorite for golfers who enjoy a walking round of golf and is playable for golfers of all abilities. Rancho Solano, known for having a beautiful country-club-like setting, has an alluring layout with hilly terrain and undulated greens that add character to the golf course. Scenic lakes, elevated tees and well placed bunkers provide interesting features that contribute to the excitement of playing this course.
Fairfield is less than an hour from the greatest urban and rural settings in California: San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, California Delta, and Napa and Sonoma valleys. Stay and play, or tour the region – either way, Fairfield is the perfect “base camp” for a vacation of wonderful discoveries.
Suisun Valley Harvest Trails
Seek and ye shall find all that is bountiful. A short drive past housing, shopping, and golf developments you’ll find Suisun (pronounced sue-soon) Valley’s bucolic lifestyle. Sometimes you have to be willing to take a chance…take the road less traveled. One of these unexpected places, Suisun Valley, is less than 50 miles west of Sacramento or San Francisco, off Interstate 80 near Fairfield. Driving past the suburban and urban elements of the city and, suddenly, spread-out before you is rural California…a beautiful valley bounded by two coastal ranges. There are a handful of vineyards and wineries with tasting rooms in the Suisun Valley appellation – classified as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) by the federal government since 1982 – and wonderful produce stands. Local art at The Clay Station and culinary delights are waiting at the Vezér Family Vineyard and Barista Café, and Vintage Caffé in Mankas Corner.
Suisun Valley’s wine region is small but mighty. Just a handful of tasting rooms are open to the public, but what they lack in numbers they make-up in quality and hospitality. You won’t find anyone but the wine-makers or their families and friends behind the pour. The Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative offers wines from five distinctively different family-owned wineries – Bask Cellars, Blacksmith Cellars, King Andrews Vineyards, Sunset Cellars, and Winterhawk Winery. And the newest tasting facility, Blue Victorian Vineyards, is a private estate owned by the Vezér family. Other wineries offering wine tasting are Ledgewood Creek Winery and Vineyards, Wooden Valley Winery and Vineyards, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2008, and Vezér Family Vineyard. Seasonal produce stands and local festivals provide a window into Fairfield’s agricultural past.
Abundant distractions and pastimes will fill your days and nights on a retreat to Fairfield. Great shopping, waterfront views and events, dining, recreation, and nature adventures make for a complete program. The Western Railway Museum, near Suisun City, houses one of the most extensive electric train collections in the nation, and offers visitors the opportunity to ride authentic historic streetcars and interurban electric trains. Bab’s Delta Diner in Suisun City has been a long-time favorite with locals and visitors. Nearby Suisun Marsh and Grizzly Island offer great hiking options to walk-off Bab’s famous corned beef hash or biscuits ‘n’ gravy! Up the road, Benicia is famous for being California’s third state capitol and an eclectic art community that includes world-famous glass blowers. Vallejo is home to Mare Island Naval Shipyards – now a historic landmark. The tiny St. Peter’s Chapel, built in 1901, contains 29 stain-glass windows of which 16 were designed and signed by Tiffany Studios. Endless open space along San Pablo Bay and marshlands provide wildlife and nature enthusiasts endless recreational opportunities. All within easy reach of Fairfield’s numerous lodging choices.