FAIRFIELD — There are at least five good reasons to visit Fairfield and its next door neighbor Suisun City: Beer, wine, jelly beans, kayaking, and trains.
The two cities don’t exactly come to mind when you think of tourism but they do have a number of unique attributes besides being next to bustling Travis Air Force Base.
Its biggest claim to fame based on popular tour rankings is the Jelly Belly jelly bean factory with its abundance of self-guided tours.
Jelly Belly produces more than 100 gourmet jelly beans ranging from root beer float to pink grapefruit. Various combinations of Jelly Belly jelly beans create specific tastes as well. Among the most popular are those combos that mimic specialty beers. To create the taste of a Coffee Stout Beer, as an example, you take three draft beer Jelly Bellys, a chocolate pudding Jelly Belly, and a cappuccino Jelly Belly and pop them into your mouth at the same time.
There are plenty of tried and true combinations such as two green apple Jelly Bellys and a cinnamon Jelly Belly that produces a candied apple taste when eaten together.
The visitors center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the free self-guided tours from an elevated walk available from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For those over 6 years of age who can make it to the factory weekdays given there is no production on weekends, you can enjoy an up close tour of the factory floor and jelly bean production process that takes an hour and costs $59. You’ll be decked out in lab coat and hairnet for the tour limited to groups of six people at a time. The Jelly Bean University tours are scheduled Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m.
Personal guided tours, $39 each, are offered seven days a week at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
There is also a wine tasting room, gift shop, Jelly Bean Cafe, Jelly Bean Art Gallery, and candy store.
For info, go to visitfairfield.com and scroll down to events. You can also call 800-953-5599.
This Bud tour is for you
If your taste is more adult there is the Anheuser Busch Brewery nearby. Hourly tours are offered Thursday through Sunday and cost $5 for adults and $2 for those ages 6 to 20. All participants receive a commemorative shot glass at the end.
There is an upgraded tour for those 21 and older limited to 8 that’s called the Flights of Fairfield. The charge is $10 and includes samples. Then there is the “premium” option — the beer makers’ tour. You’ll get tips on craft beer and are able to sample at various points in the process for a $30 charge.
To book tours go to budweisertours.com or call 707-429-7595 for more information.
Before stopping by two popular Suisun City attractions, check out Driven Raceway with what is arguably home to Northern California’s fastest electric karts and one of the largest indoor raceways. There is also a black light mini-golf course that is a one-of-a-kind experience.
There is also an arcade.
For more information go to drivenraceway.com or call 707-426-3448.
Suisun City accesses unique brackish marshlands
Next door to Fairfield - and before you reach that city of 110,000 if you travel there via Highway 12 — is the smaller community of Suisun City.
It offers a unique water experience that you can’t anywhere else that’s it made more enjoyable with a bustling waterfront complete with dining, specialized shopping, and more.
The Suisun Marsh is the largest remaining brackish marshlands on North America’s west coast. Its 116,000 acres is a hodgepodge of land, bays, and sloughs that are home to 221 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, 40 species of fish, and 11 species of reptiles.
What better way to enjoy the marshlands than gliding along the water in a single-person kayak or a stand up paddle board.
Grizzly Waters Kayaking offers rentals and lessons from its location along the Suisun City Waterfront.
Now that it is the off-season with the weather still pleasant you can rent a kayak for $20 an hour, $60 for four hours or $80 for eight hours. Stand up paddle boards are $5 more.
If you are new to kayaking, they offer hour-long lessons for $45.
The gentle waters and relative absence of heavy motorized boat traffic — most boats just go to and from moorings passing through only a small segment of the marsh to reach the heart of the Delta — making Suisun Marsh a near ideal place to kayak or paddle board.
More information is available at grizzlywaters.com or by calling 707-341-6141.
A different type of railway museum
Before you reach Suisun City and a ways after you’ve left Rio Vista traveling west on Highway 12 is the Western Railway Museum.
This is a different cat than the Sacramento Railroad Museum or Railtown 1897 in Jamestown.
That’s because the Western Railway Museum collection is centered on urban railroad street cars and electrified railroading in general.
The heart of its collection is cars from the Sacramento Northern Railroad, the key system that ran in the East Bay and the pioneering San Francisco Municipal Railway.
There are 50-minute rides in the Interurban that departs at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Fifteen-minute rides on street cars take place every 30 minutes between the starting times of the Interurban rides.
The rides are included in the price of admission - $10 for adults, $9 for those 65 and older, and $7 for children 2 to 14.
The 22-acre site includes 22 miles of track, a museum, static displays, and the Depot Cafe. There is a shady picnic area as the Western Railway Museum encourages guests to make a day of it and pack a picnic lunch.
For more information go to wrm.org or call 707-374-2978.
The drive to Fairfield, via I-5 and Highway12, is worth the trip in itself. It gives you a quick, nice cross-section feel for the delta although a more quintessential Delta experience would be on a sleepy washboard levee road.
It includes driving on the iconic drawbridge across the Sacramento River just before you reach Rio Vista. With a little luck a sailboat - or if you’re real lucky an ocean freighter heading to and from either the port of Sacramento or Stockton - will be passing through.