Vallejo is home to the most famous naval ship building and repair facility in the entire West Coast for 142 years now and running. Beyond its rich history, Vallejo has much to offer its visitors in terms of recreational activities as well as cultural activities. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.San Francisco Bay Ferry Vallejo
© Eric BVD/stock.adobe.com
What better way is there to take in the beauty of a waterfront city than from the water? The San Francisco Bay Ferry offers routes from the SF Ferry Building to Vallejo, allowing tourists to take in the gorgeous vistas of Vallejo from afar. Perfect for visitors taking a side trip from San Francisco to Vallejo or even for tourists in Vallejo who want to take a quick trip to San Francisco, the ferry is just an hour-long ride and totally worth the time and money. Ferry trips depart regularly throughout the day with varying schedules on weekdays and weekends.
289 Mare Island Way, Vallejo, California 94590, Phone: 707-643-377
A historical landmark in downtown Vallejo, the Empress Theatre was built in 1911 and is arguably the most popular performing arts theatre and venue in the entire city. From movies to live performances, concerts to private events, the Empress Theatre has hosted a variety of shows and has brought world-class entertainment to all of its patrons since it was first opened. The Empress Theatre was built by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and designed by William A. Jones. Apart from the great shows that you can catch at the theatre, guests can also appreciate the beautiful architecture of the building like its two-tiered and gold-leafed ceiling.
330 Virginia Street, Vallejo, California 94590
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3.Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Adrenaline junkies who are eager for a fix in Vallejo will get exactly what they’re looking for and more at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Take a break from the leisure and enjoy high octane thrill rides like Batman the Ride, northern California’s first 4D free fly coaster, the Boomerang Coast to Coaster, which features a trip of loops then flies backwards, and the Dare Devil Chaos Coaster, a brand new inverting roller coaster. There are tons of other thrill rides to experience, but the park also has family friendly rides and slower paced options for kids who aren’t quite ready for the high-speed coasters at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
1001 Fairgrounds Drive SW, Vallejo, California 94589, Phone: 707-644-4000
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4.Mare Island Museum
© Mare Island Museum
History buffs eager for an immersive historical experience in Vallejo should definitely pay a visit to the Mare Island Museum. This amazing museum is part of the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation and features several beautiful and eye catching landmarks within Vallejo’s Mare Island. The best way to explore the Mare Island Museum would be to take a tour, which will allow you to stroll the gardens and see the amazing layouts of various mansions like Building 46 - home to the main exhibits of the Mare Island Museum. Other attractions include the St. Peter’s Chapel, the Admiral’s Mansion, and the Captain’s Quarters.
1100 Railroad Avenue, Vallejo, California, Phone: 707-557-4646
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5.Mare Island, Vallejo, California
Mare Island was once the home of Bay Area’s most massive and well known shipbuilding location. Today, the former Naval shipyard is open for exploration to all those who desire to visit. Photographers, bird-watchers and curious travelers alike can visit Mare Island and wander through bird-filled wetlands and grassy hills, or explore historic buildings and the shipyards famous dry docks. With a mix of perfectly preserved landmarks and buildings that are nearly falling apart, there is a curious, magical but also slightly eerie feel to the island. Other attractions to see in the area include the west coast’s oldest Naval cemetery, the oldest Naval chapel in the USA and the grand officer’s home.
Vallejo, California 94592
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6.Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum
© Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum
Learn about the fascinating stories of Vallejo’s place in the US Navy history at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. Fittingly located on Mare Island, the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum preserves and showcases the diverse and exciting role that the city played in the navy’s western operations. The museum has five galleries that center around the community, the naval shipyard and more. There is also a working submarine periscope at the museum that showcases an incredible view of the city and Mare Island to those that peer through it. With over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space, there’s definitely a lot to see and do at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.
734 Marin Street, Vallejo, California 94590, Phone: 707-643-0077
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7.Mare Island Naval Shipyard
A national historic landmark and one of Vallejo’s claims to fame, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard is a great place to visit for people who are interested in naval history or simply want to see one of the most popular attractions in the city. This naval base has the distinction of being the first naval base on the West Coast and was established in 1854. Guests to the shipyard can learn amazing tidbits about the naval history on Mare Island. For example, did you know that the Mare Island Naval Shipyard holds the record for building the USS Ward destroyer war ship in just 17.5 days? Some other things to see at the shipyard include the Alden Park and several historic buildings.
Mare Island, Vallejo, California 94592
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8.McCune Rare Book and Art Collection
© McCune Rare Book and Art Collection
Most rare book collections can be seen but not touched. That’s not the case with the McCune Rare Book and Art Collection, which welcomes everyone with an interest in books to swing by and have a hand-on experience for themselves. At McCune, anyone can come by and experience the feeling of holding a rare book right in the palms of their hands. Some items that you can come and examine include a page from an original 15th century French Illuminated manuscript, pages from early Chaucer books circa 1551 and 1561, as well as authentic leaves from early printings of plays by none other than Shakespeare himself.
505 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo, California 94590, Phone: 707-674-4082
9.Carquinez Bridge, Vallejo, California
Spanning the Carquinez Strait at San Francisco Bay’s northeastern end, the Carquinez Bridge is a landmark of Vallejo and is actually comprised of two parallel bridges. The bridge was actually a single structure when it was first built in 1927. Later in 1958, the second cantilever bridge was completed. While there aren’t any particular things that one must stop by and see on the bridge itself, the view from the bridge is absolutely spectacular. Driving across the bridge gives you a gorgeous view of the straight and of the neighboring city of Crockett. As such, it’s a must-see for anyone who visits in Vallejo as it is an iconic landmark of the region.
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10.Napa Smith Brewery, Vallejo, California
© Napa Smith Brewery
Situated in the Bay Area of California, the Napa Smith Brewery is a family owned and run brewery that is known for being the private reserve of craft beers in the area. Napa Smith upholds the tradition of classic American craft beer, and they attribute this dedication to what makes their brews so great. In fact, the beer at Napa Smith upholds the same standard of quality set in place by the greatest wineries in the world. They use only the best ingredients and maintain a balanced recipe to create their regular pours. Visit their taproom to taste all of Napa Smith’s 10 featured brews or pick up some growlers to take home with you.
101 Yolano Dr, Vallejo, CA 94589, Phone: 707-666-2592
11.Savage and Cooke
© Savage and Cooke
Savage and Cooke is a delightful craft distillery located on historic Mare Island, owned and operated by acclaimed Napa Valley winemaker Dave Phinney since 2018. The small-batch distillery is known for its production of high-quality brown spirits year-round, emphasizing complex flavors and balanced oak finishes. Spirits on the company's roster include its Burning Chair Bourbon, Second Glance American Whiskey, Ayate Añejo, and Ayate Reposado. Visitors can tour the company's distillery Thursdays through Sundays by appointment and taste a variety of its delicious liquors at its public tasting room. Reserve tasting experiences are also offered, hosted within a private room and led by experienced educators.
1097 Nimitz Ave, Vallejo, CA 94592
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12.Buttercup, Vallejo, California
An east coast style diner with a west coast location, Buttercup is a dinner house that offers fresh food, an upscale ambience, and a family friendly atmosphere in multiple locations around the state. The kitchen makes practically every dish from scratch using the recipes of Debbie, the restaurant’s owner. Buttercup has a breakfast, lunch and dinner service, and makes an exceptional menu of desserts that will satisfy any craving for sweets. One of the things that visitors absolutely must try at Buttercup is, without a doubt, their signature upside-down apple-walnut pie, which is topped off with a delectable and crunchy brown sugar and walnut glaze.
3288 Sonoma Boulevard, Vallejo, California 94590, Phone: 707-643-9030
13.Napa Valley Vic’s Wine Tours
A luxurious and indulgent experience awaits with Napa Valley Vic’s Wine Tours and Car Services. Known for their luxurious getaways and top notch service, Vic’s runs regular tours of California’s world famous wine growing region. They even make sure that you have a smooth ride to and from the wineries with the help of their spectacular and professional car services. Ultimately, the goal of Vic’s Wine Tours is to exceed every single expectation that their clients have and to deliver a memorable experience for every patron. Participants in the wine tours can learn all about how wines are made, explore the beautiful vineyards that grow the fabulous grapes used by the winemakers, as well as sample the best bottles that the state has to offer.
108 Coloma Way, Vallejo, California 94589, Phone: 707-294-0056
14.Napoli Pizzeria and Italian Food
© Napoli Pizzeria and Italian Food
Looking for a great slice of pizza or some mouthwatering Italian food in Vallejo? Look no further than the Napoli Pizzeria, a local favorite. Pizzas at Napoli are award-winning, hand-tossed and cooked to perfection in well-seasoned brick deck ovens. Meanwhile, their pastas and sauces are all homemade in the restaurant’s own kitchen, which has been continuously operating since 1956. Eating at Napoli Pizzeria means dining in a comfortable pizza-parlor setting, which is hospitable and creates a fun dining atmosphere for every visitor. Sink your teeth into amazing pizza creations with traditional and specialty toppings alike. You can also try some of Napoli’s hand-tossed signature pizza combinations like the Tony’s Special, the Chicken Bravo and the Pizza Bianca.
124 Tennessee Street, Vallejo, California, Phone: 707-644-0981
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15.Mare Island Brewing Company
© Mare Island Brewing Company
From a general’s prized mare to a shipwreck, an 1850s shipyard to Rosie the Riveters, there’s no denying that Mare Island has a rich history. Now, two former winemakers toil daily to create handcraft beer worthy of an island with such incredible historicity at the Mare Island Brewing Company. With a taproom located at the northern waterfront of the San Francisco Bay, the Mare Island Brewing Company offers six core beers: The Saginaw Golden Ale, the Coal Shed Stout, the Hydraulic Sandwich IPA and the Shipwright’s Porter, Farragut’s Farmhouse Ale and the Angles and Dangles American Blonde Ale. All of these can be sampled while enjoying the bay’s great view when you visit Mare Island Brewing Company’s stupendous tap room.
289 Mare Island Way, Vallejo, California 94590, Phone: 707-556-3000
16.Michael Warring, Vallejo, California
© Michael Warring
Creating meticulous seasonal dishes and delighting the palates of even the most discerning diners, Michael Warring is arguably one of the most prolific chefs in the city of Vallejo. With a restaurant named after him, Michael Warring has a tiny 20-seater restaurant which allows him to serve 6-course dinners with style and panache. The menu at this restaurant changes every week and is built around produce that is available during the current season. As such, patrons can be sure that they’ll be feasting on unique offerings at every visit. Look forward to dishes like Michael’s eggplant, guanciale, padron peppers and black truffle noodle or a dish of heirloom tomatoes dressed with a refreshing crème fraiche sabayon and a light drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
8300 Bennington Drive, Vallejo, California 94591, Phone: 707-655-4808
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17.Vino Godfather Winery, Vallejo, California
© Vino Godfather Winery
Creating exceptionally delicious wines at an equally exceptionally reasonable prices is the Vino Godfather Winery. Referred to as “The Gateway to California’s world-famous Napa Valley Wine Country”, the Vino Godfather Winery is one of the best kept secrets in California. Their winemaking tradition goes back all the way to the late 1800s, which is just one of the reasons why each bottle they produce is so darn delicious. Visit the winery’s tasting room to sample the best of their vintages and don’t forget to stop by the store after to take your favorite bottles home with you.
1005 Walnut Ave, Vallejo, CA 94592, Phone: 707-552-2331
16 Best Things to Do in Vallejo, California
- San Francisco Bay Ferry Vallejo, Photo: Eric BVD/stock.adobe.com
- Empress Theatre, Photo: Aphotostudio/stock.adobe.com
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Photo: Artem/stock.adobe.com
- Mare Island Museum, Photo: Mare Island Museum
- Mare Island, Vallejo, California, Photo: Joshua/stock.adobe.com
- Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, Photo: Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum
- Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Photo: BGNV/stock.adobe.com
- McCune Rare Book and Art Collection, Photo: McCune Rare Book and Art Collection
- Carquinez Bridge, Vallejo, California, Photo: Diwata/stock.adobe.com
- Napa Smith Brewery, Vallejo, California, Photo: Napa Smith Brewery
- Savage and Cooke, Photo: Savage and Cooke
- Buttercup, Vallejo, California, Photo: Buttercup
- Napa Valley Vic’s Wine Tours, Photo: shoenberg3/stock.adobe.com
- Napoli Pizzeria and Italian Food, Photo: Napoli Pizzeria and Italian Food
- Mare Island Brewing Company, Photo: Mare Island Brewing Company
- Michael Warring, Vallejo, California, Photo: Michael Warring
- Vino Godfather Winery, Vallejo, California, Photo: Vino Godfather Winery
- Cover Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
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