"Fairfield - Seat of Solano County" Fairfield by WulfstanTraveller

Fairfield Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 29 photos

Fairfield, California

I have to admit that I a do not like Fairfield very much, for a variety of reasons and these are at least somewhat subjective.

I have been in and through this town many, many times, as one must go through it on the horrid, interminable freeway I-80. The freeway is absolutely jammed with fast cars, often gridlock, and it's simply unpleasant and not scenic. Fairfield mostly typifies much of I-80 between Vallejo and Sacramento: sprawling, ugly shopping centres and housing developments.

The Fairfield-Vacaville area is little more than a matastacised suburban housing development gone haywire, the low-density automobile-oriented, nondescript sprawl dwarfing the formerly very small rural towns these once were. Fairfield has little real soul or culture, and is mostly soulless empty suburban sprawl. The town also has a crime problem and the shopping mall is downright sleazy, dirty, and scary.

However, it is not all bad and there are some places to enjoy as well as a few nice buildings.

County Seat

Fairfield's only real claim to fame is that it is the seat of Solano County. Otherwise, it has not even historically been the primary or most interesting town in the county. The county has two old cities: Benicia, one of the very first cities incorporated in California and briefly the state capital; and Vallejo, for almost all of the local history the biggest town in the county, very briefly state capital, and home to the U.S Naval shipyard at Mare Island. Both were big towns in the 19th century, both have a lot of history from their roles as state capitals and from very old U.S. military bases there, etc., and they have big downtowns with interesting old buildings.

Fairfield, by contrast, was a puny little farming hamlet, even though the county seat, with only a few hundred people even by 1900, when Vallejo had well over 20,000 people. Its downtown and old neighbourhoods are correspondingly small and uninteresting.

However, as county seat, it at least has the courthouse and county buildings and these are actually quite nice, both the old and the new. Although the town itself had little before the post-WWII sprawl hit it, it was the seat of an important and populous county thanks in large part to the Vallejo-Benicia area on the north end of the Bay Area. As a result, the county was able to support some substantial buildings that are worth visiting and which dwarfed anything else in the town in both scale and grandeur. This is pretty much still true.

Small but OK Downtown

However, whilst decidedly unimpressive next to the county buildings, the rest of downtown is actually reasoanbly lively and also has been picked up recently. It's small and unimpressive, especially architecturally, but it's away from the freeway and has some nice buildings and businesses and is fairly pedestrian friendly and pleasant. However, this is all pretty much confined to the east-west stretch of Texas St near the county buildings. Even right on the other side of the county buildings, it's all shabby light industrial, empty lots, and fences, and there are few old houses to see.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Ok, basically pleasant downtown, nice county offices
  • Cons:Not much else, downtown is puny and unimpressive, rest is sprawl and snarled traffic
  • In a nutshell:Ok place to stop, but mostly just a place to go through
  • Intro Updated Jul 15, 2009
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