Top 6 Spots in California’s Central Valley

California’s Central Valley is home to elegant stretches of vineyards, winding hiking trails through tall pine trees, emerald green lakes and incredible farm-to-fork restaurants and sustainable culinary experiences.

In this rich agricultural area, you will find gateway cities and towns to world-famous national parks such as Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Stretching 400 miles through the heart of California, this region is perfect for travelers who want a relaxing yet fun-filled holiday with a range of activities to do, sites to see and adventures to embark on. Discover six unforgettable stops on a road trip from Bakersfield in the south to Yolo County in the north.


Dubbed as ‘Nashville West’, the city of Bakersfield is on the scene of country music as the birthplace of country music legends Merle Haggard and Buck Owners. But what people might not know is that Bakersfield is one of the largest agricultural producing areas in the world, with a huge variety of farm-to-fork eateries to choose from and farms to visit.

To learn more about the roots of Bakersfield visit Murray Family Farms which features 28 farmers markets, a bakery, fruit stands, farm animals, picnic areas and a farm restaurant. For animal lovers, pay a visit to CALM – the California Living Museum – a zoo that focuses on education and reintroducing endangered species into the wild. Spend the night at Padre Hotel, Bakersfield’s only 4-Diamond boutique hotel where history meets sophistication.


Visalia is the gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and is an ideal base for exploring some of California’s most iconic scenic natural spots. The vibrant city has a natural charm, offering live entertainment, impressive art displays and farm-fresh restaurants. Lake Kaweah is a hub for watersports including paddleboarding and kayaking – the perfect place to cool down on a hot summer’s day whilst taking in the beautiful surroundings and wildlife.

With over 800 miles of trails in this region, be sure to take a hike for rewarding views in King Canyon or Sequoia National Park. Head to the Chapala Grill to fuel up before embarking on your hiking adventure, or the rooftop cocktail bar at The Darling Hotel to wind down after a long day out in nature. Located centrally, spend the night here for a well-deserved rest in a boutique Art Deco-inspired hotel.


In the heart of California lies Fresno, a diverse county where the sun shines for over 300 days a year. Not only is Fresno within just over an hour of three incredible national parks, but this area offers a mix of outdoor activities, dining experiences and historical landmarks.

Cycling is a favorite way for locals and visitors to explore more of the county and there are a variety of trails to explore. Clovis Dry Creek Trail, spanning 5.8 miles, winds along a calming creek, to the historic town of Old Town Clovis as well as passing through Clovis Botanical Garden.

Take a trip to River Park Farmers Market to pick up some artisanal goods and locally-grown produce, or grab some vibrant Mexican food from the local taco truck. Stay in the Courtyard Hotel by Marriott, conveniently located within walking distance of a variety of restaurants, markets and landmarks.

Yosemite Madera County

Cocktail and dinner at Ducey’s on the Lake in Oakhurst, California

One of many gateway counties to the breathtaking Yosemite National Park, Madera is known for its award-winning wines, fascinating arts and culture scene and extensive range of outdoor activities and watersports. Take a trip to Bass Lake and glide peacefully through the water on a paddle board or kayak and explore the lake’s incredible wildlife whilst surrounded by emerald green waters and majestic pine trees.

Explore the city of Oakhurst for award-winning, locally sourced craft beer and fresh food at South Gate Brewing Company. Be sure to take a tour of the Sierra National Forest on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad for a family-friendly adventure and stay in the stunning lakeside Pines Resort for a spectacular view over Bass Lake.


Modesto is best known for its inspiring public murals, live entertainment and bountiful farm stands. Packed with attractions and activities for all the family, Modesto is surrounded by rich farmland and also home to the largest family-owned winery in the world, E. & J. Gallo Winery whose wines feature in over 110 countries.

The birthplace of George Lucas and the inspiration behind his popular film American Graffiti, visitors can enjoy a month-long celebration each June in Modesto of ‘Graffiti Summer’, with car parades, concerts and live entertainment. For food lovers, head to Sciabica Family California Olive Oil & Gourmet Foods tasting room for an immersive and educational experience or visit one of Modesto’s 50 authentic food and taco trucks. Stay in the recently renovated Modesto Hotel with great access to downtown Modesto, Gallo Arts Center and Tenth Street Plaza.

Yolo County

Winters is a city in rural Yolo County, and the western Sacramento Valley, in northern California.

Yolo County boasts over 1,000 square miles of fertile farmland, quaint historic towns and beautiful scenery. Visit Winters, Yolo County’s smallest town, for award-winning farm-to-fork cuisine and family-run tasting rooms. Take a self-guided walking tour or pay a visit to locals’ favorite eatery Preserve, for a locally sourced hearty meal. One of the county’s most renowned attractions is the vast fields of sunflowers that grow during the spring and summer.

Drive past acres upon acres of the bright yellow flowers, or witness them from above with a scenic hot air balloon adventure. Often referred to as a gateway county to wine country, visit the Great Bear Vineyards for wine tasting and pairing events with local farmers, and cheese and chocolate experts. Stay in a beautifully restored Victorian farmhouse, the Inn at Park Winters, with four elegantly designed guest suites each with its own unique charm and character. Make your stay worth while with a stroll through the farm, meal at the award-winning kitchen or a tour of the organic farm.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo