Welcome to the Central Valley
There’s a reason California is known as the nation’s fruit basket, and it’s right here in the Central Valley. A land of vibrant orchards, tree-lined back roads and welcoming towns filled with history and culture, this region holds more low-key attractions than the dramatic scenery of the High Sierra or the fast-paced city life of Los Angeles. But there’s value in its simplicity, as traveling through the Central Valley provides a chance to relax, unwind and appreciate the finer things in life.
Start your journey in Fresno, which hosts blooming fruit trees as well as an acclaimed art museum and is a great base for exploring what the region has to offer. Then, start enjoying the region’s culinary delights by heading to numerous farm stands, farmer’s markets and vineyards for wine tasting, fruit picking and more. Stop by Bakersfield to experience Basque food and country and western music, and spend some time looking around the art and history exhibits at the Haggin Museum in Stockton.
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Sacramento River Train
Ride through Yolo County, near the state’s capital, in a slow-moving train that offers a view of the Sacramento River and farm scenery, as well as opportunities for numerous excursions. The Old Vine Express has live music to complement a variety of wine tastings, while the Beer Train does the same for local craft brews. And the Great Train Robbery is a fantastic Wild West adventure with a picnic lunch included.
Fresno County Blossom Trail
This self-guided driving loop shows you some of the best spring blooms the region has to offer. With an endless amount of fruit trees to choose from, spend a day leisurely driving around this area and enjoying the sights and scents. This trail only blooms for about three weeks from mid-February, so if you miss the spring blossom season, try the same trail from May to September, when it morphs into the Fresno County Fruit Trail.
Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area
The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is a birders’ paradise, as it attracts countless waterfowl and migratory birds. Hundreds of years ago, the Yolo Basin was home to herds of tule elk who roamed over 80,000 acres. Today, the wetland stretches over 16,600 acres, about three quarters of which is protected as an official wildlife area. There, you can see ducks, geese, herons, egrets, ibis, shorebirds, songbirds and hawks.