VALLEJO — Solano County’s largest city is also the one that seems the most like the Bay Area.
For one thing, the city is along the Mare Island Strait and San Pablo Bay, so water dominates its views. Also, the older parts of the city have more of an urban than suburban atmosphere.
One of the county’s biggest tourist attractions is located in Vallejo: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The amusement park features such rides as the Sky Screamer, which spins riders around at 43 mph at a height of 15 stories. Animal shows feature elephants, walruses, reptiles, tigers and other creatures.
The 149-acre Solano County fairgrounds is also located nearby. Besides providing facilities for the annual county fair, it has a golf course and hosts various events during the year.
Vallejo also features a ferry that links it with San Francisco. Riders can take catamaran ferries that reach almost 40 mph and make the trip to the San Francisco Ferry Building in about an hour. Ferries are also available to Pier 41 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
The city also has plans for development and redevelopment in its downtown and waterfront. It wants more higher-density housing within walking distance of the ferry and the stops for the city and regional bus systems, as well as more commercial development.
Mare Island gives people the chance to see a former naval shipyard that was founded prior to the Civil War and closed in 1996. Building from various eras are visible, from the 19th-century brick buildings and Victorian homes to massive, World War II-era industrial buildings. Touro University occupies the old hospital building.
Visitors can hike in Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve. Among the features there are a 284-foot-high hill overlooking San Pablo Bay, the Mare Island cemetery and century old stone buildings at the old ammunition depot.
Vallejo is planning to build a $22 million ferry facility on Mare Island, across the Mare Island Strait from the existing terminal. The new facility is to include maintenance offices and a fueling system and will offer ferry service.
Mariano Vallejo, a powerful civil and military leader when Mexico ruled California, lends his name to the city.
Vallejo in 1850 wanted to establish a city that would become the capital of the newly formed state of California. He saw the location as “the true center of the state, the true center of commerce and the true center of travel,” according to Frank Keegan’s book “Solano: The Crossroads County.”
Modestly, Vallejo wanted to name his city “Eureka.” Others insisted it be called “Vallejo” in his honor and their viewpoint won out.
With just less than 116,000 people, Vallejo is among the nation’s most diverse cities. Its population is 32.8 percent white, 24.9 percent Asian, 22.6 percent Hispanic, 22.1 percent black, 0.7 percent American Indian and 11 percent some other race.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.
Number of rooms: 2,400
More information: Vallejo Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-4-VALLEJO, 642-3653, www.visitvallejo.com; Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, 644-5551, www.vallejochamber.com