This forum has helped me alot with exploring different options at PCS time so I thought I'd try to help others out by talking about where I am - Travis AFB. Travis has been great for us. It is located in northern California about an hour north of San Francisco, 45 minutes south of Sacramento, 2 hrs from skiing and sledding. No snow nearby you have to head to the mountains for snow. Winters are mild but it is when rain is received. Summer is warm and dry. On most days during the summer it is still cool in the morning so it makes running and outdoor stuff doable early. The area around the base gets the Delta breeze from up the bay so it does keep things cool. Commissary, BX, Bowling alley, swimming pool (only opened during summer), fitness center, running trail are all very nice. We live just outside the area so I only go to the hospital for specialty appointments. I can say my experience with orthopedics (daughter broke her angle) and podiatry (I crushed my big toe) was fantastic. Everyone was very efficient, kind, and compassionate.
I don't live on base but there is privatized housing that is brand new as well as base housing which has some nice new town homes.
Families have lot of options as to off base. A lot depends on how long you want your commute to be. Some people live in Napa, Benicia, and Sacramento (the commutes are far). The towns around base are Vacaville and Fairfield. Fairfield is older . Though there are pockets of nice housing most people opt for Vacaville out of the two. Vacaville has lots of restaurants, the outlet malls etc. Just slightly further NE is Dixon. It is more of a small rural town. It has a nice slow pace and the people are very friendly. For shopping and a larger variety of restaurants people in Dixon go to Vacaville. Housing is cheaper though and one of the best Mexican bakeries I have ever been to is located there.
We live in Davis. It is where UC-Davis is located (note: UC-Davis Medical Center is not located there. It is located in Sacramento). It is a small town but offers a lot especially for families (Art Center, Picnic at the Park, bike trails, lots of classes through the city for kids and adults, camps through the university in the summer, great schools, a sweet downtown with a huge variety of small restaurants (Japanese, Nepal, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, Greek, Vietnamese, Ethiopian etc). Besides being a great place to live, we chose Davis for three reasons. 1) The schools (elementary, middle and high school) are fantastic. It does mean an extra $300 tax a year for Measure E to help funding if you are a home owner but it is worth it and voted on by citizens) 2) location. We needed a place between Travis and UC-Davis medical center as my husband has spent time between both locations. Early morning it takes him 25 minutes to get to Travis and 40 to get home (more traffic). 20 minutes to get to UC Davis medical center in Sacramento and 30 minutes to get home. 3) Though more expensive we knew our investment in buying a home was safer. Davis has had a moratorium on new housing so homes for sale go quickly. Currently land that is designated agricultural must be approved by 2/3rds of the voters to redesignate for commercial or residential use. It did cost more to buy a home in Davis but considering what the surrounding area has gone through when the bubble burst Davis was relatively unscathed.
I hope this helps someone. We love Travis. I don't have anything negative to say about it. There are lots of choices as to where to live and it really depends on what you like. The weather is great. I have no problem with running all year and the kids biked to school about 80% of the time. For us Davis was the best option and I recommend it but there are other great places to live too.