Magazine article Sunset

A Better Drive to Tahoe; A Guide to I-80's Best Stops: Treats, Leg Stretchers, and a Great Doggie Hotel

Magazine article Sunset

A Better Drive to Tahoe; A Guide to I-80's Best Stops: Treats, Leg Stretchers, and a Great Doggie Hotel

Article excerpt

Detour for family fun Don't bother fighting the kids on this one. Since the Nut Tree Family Park reopened in October with a scaled-down version of its old-time amusement park, the howling for a spin on the carousel has resumed. When the volume crescendos as you hit Vacaville, give in. A few rounds of Skee-Ball and a turn on the hobby horses will pay off when your kids sack out in the backseat for the rest of the drive. In Vacaville, take the Nut Tree Pkwy. exit; closed Tue-Wed and on rainy days; free admission, games from 25 cents, rides from $1.70; www.nuttreeusa.com or 707/448-6411.

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Grab a civilized bite Davis's strollable downtown is lined with dinner spots that leave no reason to tolerate bad fast food. Chef's Market is a friendly European deli with freshly made salads, grilled panini--and tapas on Saturday and Sunday nights. If you need a caffeine jolt, pop into Ciocolat Extraordinary Desserts for a double espresso and a truffle or two. Chef's Market: 117 E St., Davis; take the Richards Blvd. exit and go west under the railroad tracks to E St.; $; 530/756-6888. Ciocolat Extraordinary Desserts: 301 B St.; take the same exit, veer left onto First St., turn right on B St., then go left at Third St.; 530/753-3088.

Drop off the dog--guilt-free Bring your buddy for part of the drive, but leave him in well-trained hands before the road gets twisty. The year-old Wag is the W of dog hotels: 34,000 squeaky-clean square feet filled with private, sliding-door suites, a swimming pool--even a spa with soothing dim lights and a fountain. While you're on the slopes, your pup could be lounging on his leather couch, watching Lady and the Tramp on a flat-screen TV. Cats are welcome too. In separate rooms, of course. 1759 Enterprise Blvd., West Sacramento; take the Enterprise Blvd. exit and turn right on Enterprise; from $30 per night (dogs and cats only); open 24 hours daily; www.waghotels.com or 888/924-5463.

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Stock up on snacks for the weekend When you see Ikedas's weathered red-and-white sign, you think two things. First: Yay, we're (sort of) almost there! Closely followed by: Mmmm, pie. This roadside shop has been the go-to pit stop for the Bay Area's snow-seekers for more than 35 years. Load up on fresh veggies, peach salsa, and still-warm homemade pies. (Strawberry-rhubarb is our favorite.) Adjacent to the store is a counter that cooks up greasy burgers--but hold out, if you can, for 13 miles, when you'll hit Colfax. …

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