Between San Francisco and Sacramento, Fairfield is an under-the-radar destination that you’ve probably driven by a hundred times and never stopped. At only about an hour and a half from San Francisco, it’s a great getaway that requires little planning. If you’re looking for a low-key weekend with the kids, Fairfield is where it’s at. From kid-friendly activities like the famous Jelly Belly Factory to delicious wines with beautiful backdrops reminiscent of Napa, you’ll want to bookmark this itinerary for a future trip. Read on for what to do, where to eat, where to sleep, and of course, family tips for all ages.
What To Do
Jelly Belly Factory
A must-see for any candy lover, the Jelly Belly Factory gives families an inside look at how all those tasty little beans are made from start to finish. The self-guided tour is relaxed and at your own pace, with video segments describing the process along the way. With lots of windows so kids of all heights can see what’s happening in the working factory and interspersed games to keep little ones active, it’s a fun tour. There is a candy shop (of course) featuring the famous Belly Flops, as well as a cafe to counter all that sugar.
Family Tip: While the weekends are the most convenient, the factory does not run production on Saturdays and Sundays. Be sure to visit on a weekday to see it all in action. Check the website for most current hours.
Western Railway Museum
Another kid-friendly activity, the Western Railway Museum is home to some of the oldest, vintage trains and streetcars. There are over 50 cars on display and 22 miles of track, along with a shaded picnic area and cafe for snacks. Buy a ticket to the 50-minute train ride, where everyone gets to ride in a vintage car on old tracks with a conductor in full uniform. Afterward, take a tour at the exhibit, where you might get a chance to walk on board a vintage car and see the dining hall, a mock dining table setting with real China, a record player and sleeping quarters.
Family Tip: While the train ride is great for kids, the horn is loud and can be a bit much for the little ones. Be sure to warn kids ahead of time or skip it for sensitive ears.
If you think wine-tasting can’t be family-friendly, think again. Set in a beautiful Victorian white house surrounded by grapevines and open space in Suisun Valley, Tolenas Winery is a must-visit. Parents can sip on delicious wine like their unique white Pinot Noir on the front patio while the kiddos run around on the grass in the front lawn. The family-owned business has gone through three generations, with family at the center of it.
Family Tip: Bring snacks for the little ones to munch on as they play. The tasting experience is really all about relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Since we bet you’ll be there a while, grab some snacks for the kids to avoid the “I’m hungry” requests.
Suisun Creek Winery
Another family-owned winery and vineyard, Suisun Creek Winery is also a must-visit with kids in tow. The large backyard tasting room is set to the backdrop of mountains, vineyards and open space. The wine is just as delicious, like the Verdelho, a sweet wine perfect on a sunny day. Family owners Brian (winemaker) and Katie, along with their three kids, are all super knowledgeable about wines and the grapes of Suisun Valley.
Family Tip: The vineyard has a ton of open space to run and play. Be sure to bring appropriate shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. That way you can enjoy the wine while the kids play.
An expansive 1,200 acres is home to fruits, vegetables, wheat and beans at Larry’s Produce. While locals and businesses grab the amazing produce during the week, visitors are in for a treat, especially the younger set. Not only can you pick fresh produce for the road, but they have a beautiful pumpkin patch with giant, varietal and mini pumpkins. There are also a lot of family activities that are free including hayrides, a corn pit and tons of space to run and play.
Family Tip: The stand is cash-only, so be sure to stop by an ATM before visiting!
Want a spot for the kids to run around, pick leaves, play with sticks, see cows and horses or go on a self-guided walking trail? Check out Rush Ranch on Grizzly Island Road. Purchased by Solano Land Trust in 1988, it’s now a part of the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. About 20 minutes from downtown, the ranch spans about 2,000 acres of marsh and rolling grasslands where kids can just be free with no agenda.
Family Tip: Check out the events calendar on their website. The Storybook Walk is especially fun for both kids and adults- a great way to be out in nature!
Where To Eat
Two60 Kitchen + Bar
Not only does Two60 Kitchen + Bar have delicious food, but the staff is super friendly, making this one a no-brainer. With standard kid menus complete with activity pages and crayons, and entrees like grilled cheese and chicken strips, little ones are set. For the parents, the drinks and wine menu are inventive and hit the spot after a day of touring. Entrees are delicious, but also note-worthy like the vanilla black pepper salad dressing or the Korean fried chicken sandwich.
Family Tip: For meat-eaters, order the lumpia, a recipe created by Chef Joey Jaraba’s mother and made in-house that even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy.
Saffron Indian Cuisine and Bar
If in the mood for Indian food, Saffron is definitely a place to check out. While it doesn’t look like a fancy restaurant on the outside, the inside is decked out with chandeliers and plush booths and tables. The chicken tikka masala is a great choice, along with their naan bread and saffron rice. Great for date night or family dinner!
Family Tip: Lunch is buffet style, which might be a good choice for picky eaters or if you want a bit more variety.
For a dinner that’s casual and fast without skimping on quality, a popular place to eat is Pizza Twist. Here you can get the standard Chicago-style cheese or pepperoni pizza, but the twist lies in their specialty Indian-inspired pies. Order halal chicken, paneer or spicy lamb kabob. It’s also diet-friendly with vegan, keto, gluten-free and vegetarian options available.
Family Tip: Order for take-out or delivery if the kiddos are tired after a long day and make it a movie and pizza night at the hotel.
Where To Stay
Hilton Garden Inn
If you are a fan of the Hilton family of hotels, the Hilton Garden Inn is a good choice for families. Conveniently located next to HWY-80 and Jelly Belly Factory, the hotel has a heated pool, jacuzzi and big family rooms for space. Breakfast is served daily until 10 a.m. for a charge and there is a mini snack stand for last-minute cravings.
Family Tip: Check-out is at noon, but can be extended to 12:30 p.m. if you need extra time to go to the pool in the morning or go have a leisurely breakfast.
—photos and story by Sandra Lee
Editor’s note: This trip was sponsored by Visit Fairfield, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.