15 Free Things to Do in Vallejo, CA

Free Things to Do in Vallejo, CA
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Located on the San Pablo Bay coast, the city of Vallejo in California bursts with unmatched attractions, from its historic downtown to its beautiful parks.

It was founded in 1851 on General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s Rancho Suscol, an 84,000-acre land grant.

Incorporated in 1868, the city is part of Solano County.

The Coastal Miwok, Suisunes, and Patwin Native American tribes were the first settlers in the area.

Today, the city still has visible remnants of the past, which are all free to the public.

On the city's outskirts, you’ll find rugged beaches that are not only admission-free but also deserve the nod for bringing the Spirit of the Bay!

On that note, here are the free things to do in Vallejo, California:

Cross the Scenic Carquinez Bridge

View of Carquinez Bridge against the twilight sky
Chris LaBasco / Shutterstock.com

The Carquinez Bridge is a pair of essential bridges on Interstate 80, one to the west and the other to the east.

In 1927, the original bridge was built over the Carquinez Strait, a cantilever bridge, the first major crossing of San Francisco Bay.

A second bridge was constructed in 1958 parallel to the first to cater to the continued increase in traffic.

Aerial view of Carquinez Bridge
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In 1927, the bridge became unsafe for traffic and was replaced by a suspension bridge in 2003, officially named after the famous ironworker Alfred Zampa.

Today, the 1927 bridge is named Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge and carries bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles, while the Eastbound bridge only carries vehicles.

If you’re driving through any of the two bridges, don’t miss out on the sweeping views of the Bay.

The Carquinez Bridge often sees heavy traffic, but you’ll enjoy the drive.

Scenic view of Carquinez Bridge
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Bring Your Kids to Free Storytime at Children’s Wonderland Park

Solano Library hosts a free event at Children’s Wonderland Park every second Thursday of the month.

The storytime, titled “The Magic is Back,” is free to the public, where kids can have a 45-minute storytime, songs, and fun activities at the park.

The kids can also explore the park’s amusement facility, which features a castle, an outdoor theater, a dinosaur statue, and fairy tale-themed play areas.

Children’s Wonderland Park opened in 1962 to cater to the Vallejo residents and the entire Bay area.

It’s located off Glenn Street.

Drop by Visit Vallejo Visitor Center

Promoting the city in the finest way, Visit Vallejo Visitor Center offers a travel guide to the public about all the things you can do around.

From venues, climate, historical sites, and the schedule of events in the city, you can check it with the tourism center.

Find out how to get to a tourist attraction, or check out free art and music events downtown.

Enjoying Vallejo gets much easier if you visit the center, which helps uplift the Spirit of the Bay.

Visit Vallejo Visitor Center is located off Mare Island Way.

Check Out Unusual Antique Books at McCune Rare Books & Art Collection

Fascinating, rare, and unique books are available for viewing at McCune Rare Books & Art Collection, a favorite spot for bibliophiles.

Among the popular collections are the 14th-15th century Incunabula, Californiana, and Ephemera.

These collections were printed in all types: ink, paper, binding, and movable type.

All these and many other classics and unusual book prints have made this collection famous.

You can find the McCune collection at the lower level of the John F. Kennedy Library on Santa Clara Street.

Dr. Donovan J. McCune, a physician and book collector, left these collections as gifts to the City of Vallejo.

McCune took up bookbinding and was a board member at JFK Library in the 1960s.

McCune Rare Books & Art Collection was founded in 2006.

Hike the Bay Area Ridge Trail

Signage of Bay Area Ridge Trail
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

Around 400 miles of beautiful meandering trail circle the Bay Area, which connects more than 75 parks and open spaces.

Take a lovely and exciting hike at the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the go-to spot for hikers, bikers, equestrians, and runners.

The first trail opened in 1989 with gorgeous oak-studded grasslands, immaculate wildflowers, unmatched views, and wildlife.

Scenic view of Bay Area Ridge Trail
Kaela Peterson / Shutterstock.com

The Bay Area Ridge Trail was the brainchild of then director of the National Park Service William Penn Mott, Jr. in 1987.

It’s managed, preserved, and protected by the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, which partners with several organizations and the government in the Bay Area counties.

Narrow pathway at Bay Area Ridge Trail
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

Commune with Nature at the Historic Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve

The nature trails at Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve keep you entertained with unparalleled views of the Bay with great history around.

The preserve spans over 200 acres and features the Pacific’s oldest Naval cemetery in the 1800s.

You can also see some ruins of a home, picnic grounds, and panoramic views of the mountains and straits.

What’s not fun about learning the history, culture, and natural resources of Mare Island?

You can bring your pets, but keep them on a short leash and stay on paths to respect the local wildlife, which includes rattlesnakes.

Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve is Vallejo’s best-kept secret, located off O'Hara Court.

Cast Your Line at Vallejo Fishing Pier

One of the best free features at Vallejo Fishing Pier is fishing, which is open to the public.

There are bass, sturgeons, flounders, jacksmelt, bat rays, and other fish that you can catch, especially if you're an experienced angler.

You can also stroll around the paved path with lovely waterfront views at the pier.

It’s best to fish in the early morning or afternoon to catch the ocean breeze away from the big city’s hustle and bustle.

You can find Vallejo Fishing Pier off the Georgia Street exit from Interstate 80.

Let Your Dogs Play at Wardlaw Dog Park

Road leading to Wardlaw Dog Park
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If you’re visiting Vallejo with your pet dogs, take them to Wardlaw Dog Park on Ascot Parkway.

Your pets can enjoy playing and interacting with other dogs in the park’s fenced areas, one for the large dogs and the other for the shy and smaller ones.

The 2.2-acre park has an open green space, picnic areas, comfy and clean benches, shaded areas with trees, and beautiful views.

A bridge also takes you to Blue Rock Springs Corridor, which is a great way to explore the park’s nearby places.

Wardlaw Dog Park opened in 2006.

Explore the Historic Class Landing Craft Support Ship Museum

The Class Landing Craft Support Ship Museum was a warfare vessel constructed in 1945 for the U.S. Navy in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

Its service was cut short because it wasn’t completed until the war was nearing its end.

After being transferred to Japan and Thailand, the ship was retired and sent back to the U.S. in 2007, eventually becoming a floating museum.

The 158-foot-long vessel is the only one in her class that remains intact and is open to the public for viewing.

You can check the engine room, pilothouse, and many other features of the ship, which tell the story of the war and the U.S. Navy's role in the fighting.

The warfare vessel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

The Landing Craft Support Ship Museum is docked at the former site of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on Waterfront Avenue.

Catch a Vallejo Sunset at Delta Meadows Park

Delta Meadows Park is one of the city’s jewels, blessed with beautiful marshland, oak trees, and a gorgeous Vallejo sunset.

The park offers beautiful views of the Napa River, which becomes more magnificent when the sunset becomes the backdrop of the water.

You can sit on a bench to catch the sunset or sit on natural grass in the open space and take advantage of the peaceful atmosphere.

There are also two playground areas for the kids, paved paths for strolls and jogs, and picnic areas.

The four-acre Delta Meadows Park is located off Jack London Drive.

Drop by the Historic Empress Theatre

Visitors lined up outside the Empress Theatre
Kiddo27, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As a historical landmark in Vallejo, Empress Theater remains active today and hosts movie screenings, live performances, and special events.

The one-room theater was built in 1911 but closed down following the 1989 earthquake.

It reopened in 1908 to serve Vallejo and the Bay Area.

Exterior view of Empress Theatre
Kiddo27, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re downtown, drop by Virginia Street and see the historic Empress Theatre.

Its facade remains the same, but the exterior has undergone a facelift and a seismic retrofit.

Take a photo of it from the outside to document this trip!

Join the Vallejo Art Walk

The Solano County Arts Council hosts the Vallejo Art Walk every second Friday of each month, held in the downtown area.

The street is lit with tiny, life-sized art ranging from handcrafts to galleries by local artists, music, and culture.

There are also open restaurants and shops along the street during the event, which makes it easier for visitors.

Listen to the live music by different performers in the Bay area, and see the fantastic works of art by the local artists.

The event is free for all, but if you want to support the local artists, you can buy their art.

To join the Vallejo Art Walk, head to Georgia Street.

Read a Book at Vallejo John F. Kennedy Library

For the bibliophiles visiting the city, Vallejo John F. Kennedy Library gives you the necessary solitude for an afternoon of reading.

The library has large and small reading nooks to choose from, where you can have time with a book you like.

Established in 1970, the library has a vast collection of prints for kids, teens, and adults, as well as a bookstore, study rooms, and story rooms.

You can also find the McCune Collection, which has antique books dating from the 1500s.

The Solano County Library operates Vallejo John F. Kennedy Library, inside an old building owned by the City of Vallejo on Santa Clara Street.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Crossing the city limits will also introduce you to the best places in the Bay area that are equally stunning and filled with history.

After a short drive from Vallejo, you can experience these tourist attractions without spending a dime.

Visit the John Muir National Historic Site

Facade of John Muir National Historic Site
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

John Muir, a naturalist and a writer, lived in the historic 1883 mansion, a 14-room Italianate Victorian architectural style.

You can find the mansion on the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California, a 20-minute drive from Vallejo.

Tour the mansion and see how the Muir family lived in the past.

Vibrant red flower at John Muir National Historic Site
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Its grounds and a nearby 325-acre greenspace offer a natural habitat surrounded by native oak woodlands and grasslands.

The mansion was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

You can find the John Muir National Historic Site on Alhambra Avenue.

Wind powered water pumb at John Muir National Historic Site
Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock.com

Get Your Beach Fix at Alvarez Ninth Street Park

On a fine sunny day, you can also take a ten-minute drive to Benicia, California, to arrive at Alvarez Ninth Street Park, where you can spend time on the beach.

This beautiful tucked-away park has a lovely little beach where you can get some sun and cool off in the water.

You can also picnic here and wait for the gorgeous Benicia sunset.

There are also benches, a play area for the kids, a boat ramp, a small jungle gym, and a nice open space for strolling.

Alvarez Ninth Street Park was established in 1979 and was named after Mike Alvarez, the park’s longtime director.

It’s located off West 9th Street.

Final Thoughts

The city of Vallejo isn’t only filled with history, but it’s also packed with breathtaking destinations for all.

If you’re taking a trip to the Bay area, the city deserves to be on your top list.

Make the most of your budget-friendly vacation with this list of free things to do in Vallejo, California!

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