15 Best Things to Do in Vallejo, CA
Vallejo is a waterfront city in Solano County, located in California’s San Francisco Bay Area on the southwestern edge of the state.
This city is named after Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and was also deeded Mare Island – the neighboring peninsula that is full of tourist attractions due to its military history.
Vallejo was one of the previous capitals of California before Sacramento and has an ethnically, culturally, and racially diverse community!
Being one of the most populated cities in California and only 45 kilometers northeast of downtown San Francisco, Vallejo is complete with cultural, historical, and art-related attractions and impressive sceneries.
Below are 15 of the best things you can do in this beautiful city.
Enjoy the Rides and Shows at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Part of the Six Flags chain of amusement parks, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is an animal theme park and is one of the most popular attractions in Vallejo City.
California houses an impressive number of amusement parks but this particular addition to the Six Flags chain is complete with exhilarating rides and animal attractions.
This fun-filled venue caters to all visitors with age-appropriate rides that are perfect for both young kids and adults alike.
Despite the intimidating size of the rollercoasters, there are plenty of other activities for the younger audience, including live entertainment and performances.
You can also find various dining options for when you’re exhausted from trying out all the rides!
It’s best to allot the whole day for this particular trip because time will pass quickly while you enjoy yourself with all the amenities they have to offer.
There’s so much to see and do at the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, so make sure to book a ticket to this carnival ahead of time!
Have a Glimpse of the Macabre Side of the City at Mare Island Naval Cemetery
Mare Island Naval Cemetery is the final resting place of naval officers, crewmen, soldiers, and more from the 1850s.
Hidden away in this peninsula, this burial place is the oldest Naval cemetery on the West Coast.
Though this graveyard has already reached its full capacity, you can read up on the interesting and intriguing stories of those who were laid to rest here.
Murderess Lucy Lawson, six Russian sailors, and some victims of an explosion in Mare Island are only a few of the approximately 900 individuals entombed in this cemetery.
Mare Island Naval Cemetery has taken its place in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is one of the sites that tourists visit on their trip to Vallejo.
Though this cemetery is small, it is overflowing with history!
Grab a Refreshment at Mare Island Brewing Co. - Coal Shed Brewery
This brewery is best known for its beer although this establishment was originally built to load and protect the coal used for the Navy steamships.
Since steam was eventually replaced by diesel, there was no longer a need for coal, which resulted in the transformation of this shed for other services.
During the shipyard’s closure in 1996, this building was then refurbished into a brewery and restaurant along with an event space for visitors to make perfect use of the historical setting and structure.
This maritime taproom offers beers and food on the waterfront and a view of the Mare Island Strait.
The founders poured their heart, love, and soul into rebuilding and repurposing this once coal shed into a brewhouse, where you can admire the sunset at a rare waterfront location while listening to the live music by featured local artists.
This lounge with indoor and outdoor seating is also a relaxing place to wind down, and they’re also dog-friendly in case you’re traveling with your fur buddies!
Learn about the History of Vallejo at the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum
Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum showcases special exhibits, artifacts, and displays that are rich in information regarding the naval and shipbuilding history of this island.
Located in the old City Hall, this establishment features five galleries devoted to the U.S. Navy history.
It houses an impressive collection of historical photos, model ships, recorded testimonies of those who have previously served and worked on the Navy base.
They’re also dedicated to celebrating and preserving the cultural diversity and traditions of the community of Vallejo.
You can also find a working submarine periscope that will let you see the excellent views of the city.
This museum allows visitors to get involved with the past through the programs and events they host.
They aren’t limited to sightseeing and observations either, as they also have facilities and venues available for rent for events such as parties and meetings!
Watch Live Performances at the Empress Theatre
This premier performing arts theatre in Vallejo is complete with all kinds of entertainment, whether it’s live music, orchestral performances, dance numbers, drama acting, and more!
They also feature impressive architectural structures, art shows, exhibits, and cultural films to cover a wide range of activities.
Following an earthquake in 1989, this theatre temporarily closed for over 20 years prior to its reopening in 2008 and is currently a historical landmark must-see for tourists.
Empress Theatre also has a year-round schedule where many talents and artists take the stage to amaze the audience.
Make sure to visit this impressive entertainment center during your trip!
See Rare Books and Collections at McCune Rare Book and Art Collection
One of Vallejo’s many must-see tourist attractions, the McCune Rare Book and Art Collection is home to beautiful books and archives spanning over five centuries of fine printing.
They also house antique letterpress equipment with one of the largest collections of books admired by bibliophiles, scholars, and graphic artists from around the world.
This museum is a donation to the city of Vallejo by Dr. Donovan J. McCune, who had a passion for the arts, reading, and printing books.
One of the many highlights here is the historical stories of printing in both the United States and Europe, which features a leaf from the original 15th century Gutenberg Bible.
Unlike other rare book collections, this establishment allows students, scholars, and interested readers to handle and use their archives for educational purposes or entertainment.
If you’re a book lover yourself, this book and art archive is perfect for you!
Take a Trip to Vallejo Farmers’ Market
This market is located in the heart of Vallejo and is only open on Saturdays all year round.
All fruits, vegetables, and local goods are provided by farmers and ranchers of Vallejo.
You can purchase a variety of food items here, such as hams, artisan cheeses, and even health and body products, among many others.
A non-profit organization operates this market to empower the agricultural workers of the city and provide communities with healthier food options.
You would be supporting this organization by purchasing their products!
Do Some Wine Tasting at Vino Godfather’s Winery
Located inside a beautiful, historic mansion, Vino Godfather’s Winery offers tourists and visitors some of the finest wine in Vallejo City.
With over 60 years of experience in the industry, this winery produces handcrafted wines that can be enjoyed on any occasion.
They also have older, aged vintage wines in their cellar that only continue to improve after each season.
Their vineyard teams aim to carry on the Vino Godfather tradition that produces award-winning wines in the annual San Francisco wine competitions.
They also host events of all sorts in their spacious garden with enough room to accommodate a large number of guests.
You can taste the delicious richness for yourself by visiting their tasting rooms!
Take Your Young Ones to Children's Wonderland Park
If you’re traveling with children, they’re going to enjoy the magical world in the Children’s Wonderland Park.
This amusement center features play structures in unique shapes, such as teacups, trains, and castles, that will keep your kids entertained!
The playground lives up to the wonderland name, making it a dream come true for active youngsters who love to run around.
Children’s Wonderland Park also hosts special events where your kids can get to meet and play with the new friends they can make here.
There’s so much you can do here with the number of amenities this park provides that will engage your child’s brain and keep them healthy!
Visit the First Navy Base of the United States at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Mare Island
Mare Island is a small peninsula located in Vallejo City that was previously the grounds of a Naval Yard in the 1850s before it was closed in the spring of 1996.
It contains a lot of tourist attractions, as it is the first Naval installation on the West Coast and is only a short 10-minute drive from the city.
Though this navy base is no longer functioning, tourists can still visit these sites to learn about the military history of this peninsula during the wars that occurred then.
You can see this shipyard in its entirety and learn about the workforce that built an astonishing number of naval vessels through a guided tour.
Mare Island Naval Shipyard was also registered as a California Historical Landmark after serving the United States for decades before its closure.
Take in the Sights at Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve
The scenic vistas at Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve are magnets for tourists!
You can find great walking trails while admiring the scenic views in this park that’s overflowing with history.
Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve formerly served as the U.S. Navy’s first Naval Ammunition Depot.
It was then opened to the public in 2008 and has been regularly attracting visitors with its trails that wind around to the highest point on Mare Island (Mare Island Hill), reaching over 300 feet.
This 215-acre property protects the unique and fragile resources that make up this preserve.
You can also drop by the Visitor’s Center in this park to view the displays about Mare Island’s past or see wildlife occasionally walking around the area.
View a Floating Museum Ship at The Landing Craft Support Museum
Home to the USS LCS-102, a ship built during World War II for the United States Navy, this floating museum ship attracts history enthusiasts due to its operational history.
This vessel served the U.S. briefly during the Battle of Okinawa before being transferred to other countries, such as China, Japan, and Thailand after the war.
It was then retired and returned in 2007 to the United States and has since then become a floating museum ship that’s rich with war history.
It was restored to its war specifications, which has intrigued and attracted history buffs from all over the world.
Being the last vessel of its class, The Landing Craft Support Museum offers visitors a complete and guided tour of the entire ship.
There’s so much to learn about the wars in which the USS LCS-102 served!
Drive by the Carquinez Bridge along the Carquinez Strait in South Vallejo
The Carquinez Bridge includes not one, but two bridges connecting the two cities of Crockett and Vallejo.
This pair of parallel bridges carries vehicles across the cities and eventually, a pathway for bikes and pedestrians was also constructed to accommodate them.
Though originally just one bridge, the eastbound parallel was created to manage the heavy and overflowing traffic that was finally completed in 2003.
You get an amazing view of the water from the bridge but you can also drive across the entire overpass by paying the toll fee for a full experience!
Enjoy the View of Ships and Yachts at Glen Cove Marina
Glen Cove is a small, urban neighborhood in the southern area of Vallejo City that offers tourists magnificent views and sceneries of the Carquinez Strait and its surrounding hills and landscape.
This upscale, picturesque neighborhood contains many venues and amenities for tourists and first-time visitors.
The secluded location of Glen Cove Marina is considered one of “Vallejo’s Hidden Gems,” as they are an award-winning marina that houses privately bought ships and yachts.
Visitors can enjoy the common area of this marina.
Be reminded, though, that this dockage is also the home to some people who live on their boats on the water.
Indulge in the Facilities of Glen Cove Waterfront Park
If you’re looking for a nice green space with an amazing view of the water, this park is perfect for you!
Visitors can hike, fish, and bike around this recreation area while absorbing the beautiful displays of nature.
Steps leading down to the beach can also be found where you can enjoy the waves and the sand.
You can also have a picnic on the tables provided with a nice view of the water.
Vallejo City is complete with a wide variety of tourist attractions that are both educational and enjoyable.
From historical attractions to refurbished establishments from the 1800s to amusement parks, you can never run out of sites to visit in this maritime city.
Abundant in scenic views and parks, Vallejo is the perfect destination for tourists who enjoy laid-back leisure activities.
Book a trip to this waterfront city now!