California Central Valley - Discover 15 of the Most Uncomplicated, Uncongested, & Unspoiled Places to Spend Your Next Vacation

The California Central Valley - spanning more than 400 miles long and some 50 to 60 miles wide... it’s the most productive agricultural area in the state.
Tens of thousands of acres of land - raising crops... together with a peppering of tiny old farming towns - that haven’t changed much in more than a century - scattered throughout the valley.
Each one offering a welcoming sense of small-town friendliness and charm.

Did you know... as much as 45% of the food we serve on our tables - here in the United States - comes from this region of the state?
Actually... it’s really two valleys in one... the south end is the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Valley lies to the north.

Sixteen counties make up the Central Valley. But we’re only going to explore fifteen of them.
You see... Kern County - which is also part of the central valley - is part of Southern California. So it’s outside our theme of places to go in Northern California.

However the rest of them should provide plenty of fun for us to learn about.

Now what other counties are we going to look at. Well, let’s see... there’s...

  • Western Butte County
  • Colusa County
  • Western Fresno County
  • Glenn County
  • Kings County
  • Western Madera County
  • Merced County
  • Western Sacramento County
  • San Joaquin County
  • Eastern Solano County
  • Stanislaus County
  • Sutter County
  • Western Tulare County
  • Yolo County
  • Yuba County

What do you say we pick 2 or 3 counties in the California Central Valley and do some exploring. How about starting with...

Stanislaus County

Every year, the city of Modesto California commemorates summer with Graffiti Summer, a celebration of revered filmmaker George Lucas and his famous movie American Graffiti.

So... if you’re a classic car fanatic or love dressing up in 1960’s garb, you’ll love Graffiti Summer.  The month-long celebration of the George Lucas hit American Graffiti - the movie that started it all!

Enjoy car shows, concerts, special showings of American Graffiti, and a cruise with more than 800 classic cars winding through downtown Modesto.  This is got to be a car lover’s dream. Yes?

Do you enjoy a good cheese?  Then head to Oakdale California and visit the Oakdale Cheese Company.
You’ll see how cheese is made. Take a tour with a guide person who tells you a few cheese making secrets and tricks.

Enjoy browsing through the gift shop with over 30 varieties of cheeses including GOUDA - the most popular one.

Select from...

  • Sliced Meats
  • Cheese Spreads
  • Cheese Curds
  • Lemon Curd
  • Preserves
  • Olives & Peppers
  • Bread Dippers
  • Salsa’s & Sauces
  • Napa, Sonoma & Local Wines
  • And much more

When you done browsing around inside... go enjoy your picnic lunch out on the grounds.

By the way... did you know that Oakdale is the "Cowboy Capital of the World"?

That’s what they say. They even have the Oakdale Cowboy Museum for us to walk around.

Oakdale Cowboy Museum

And each year in April, they hold the  Oakdale PRCA Rodeo - Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association  - and the Oakdale Rodeo Parade. So... all you rodeo lovers be sure to check that out.

Any chocolate lovers out there? Well do we have something for you!

Each year in May, Oakdale hosts the annual Chocolate Festival... a two-day chocolate extravaganza. Mmmm!!  Sounds lip-smacking good doesn’t it?

So if you’re into chocolate - and who isn’t... check out Oakdale in May.

When you’re there, stop by for yummy cookies and delicious pastries at Moss Rose Bakery, operating for more than 100 years.

Now, moving onto the next county in the California Central Valley, let’s discover...

Western Fresno County

The California Central Valley of Fresno County is the #1 agricultural county in the nation, with more than 360 different crops.

It, also, offers unique shopping places, including the city of Fresno’s eclectic Tower district and the upscale Fig Garden Village.

Then there’s the old western-themed Old Town Clovis, and Kingsburg’s Swedish Village too.

Home to an astonishing number of museums, the county showcases the region’s unique artifacts, culture and heritage.

When you visit the city of Fresno, be sure to see the...

  • Fresno Art Museum
  • Legion of Valor Museum - the nation’s only museum dedicated to recipients of the nation’s highest decorations for valor
  • Arte Americas 
  • African American Museum 
  • Hmong Cultural Heritage Center and Museum 
  • Kearney Mansion 
  • Meux Home 
  • Downing Planetarium - at the California State University in Fresno

In other towns of Fresno County you’ll enjoy...

  • Reedley Opera House - in Reedley CA
  • Mennonite Quilting Center  - in Reedley CA
  • Heritage of Eagles Air Museum - a preserved 1942 Army Air Forces training base - in Firebaugh CA
  • Kingsburg Historical Park - in Kingsburg CA

So much more is waiting to be seen and enjoyed in the Central Valley!

Okay ready? How about we touch on the next county in the California Central Valley...

Solano County

Want to escape the mundane of everyday? Then head to a most unexpected destination, Solano County!

What you don’t know about this vacation hotspot may surprise you. And once you discover Solano County, you’ll find there is still plenty more to see and do.

Centrally located between Sacramento and San Francisco, Solano County is a family-and-budget friendly solution for weekend getaways or week long explorations beyond California’s urban gateways.

Themed attractions big or small are every kid’s fantasy.  Such as...

  • Scandia Family Fun and Driven Raceway in Fairfield  California
  • Vacaville’s Nut Tree Amusement Park... and 
  • Vallejo’s Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Each one offers every configuration of amusement imaginable.

Kids love Rush Ranch Open Space - a 2070-acre open space preserve on the road to Grizzly Island.

This place, in the California Central Valley, offers three marked hiking trails with benches at highest points to observe wildlife and birds in the marsh.

Wander around through a restored barn, working blacksmith shop, a tule hut, and a Sears Catalog kit built house.

The house contains a small interpretive museum on the history of Rush Ranch and wildlife displays.

Enjoy a picnic and BBQ area. There’s plenty of interactive exhibits and lots of free parking too.

Interactive exhibits from  the National Estuarine Research Reserve and hand painted murals explain the ranch.

Access Adventure offers free carriage rides pulled by horses on select dates. Modified wagons on wheels have solar-powered wheelchair lifts so everyone can enjoy rides.

Carriage and train rides and interpretive and living history exhibits provide learning experiences that last a lifetime.

If you’re a railroad buff... don’t miss seeing the Western Railway Museum in Suisun California.

Of course be sure to take the kids for a FREE Jelly Belly Factory Tour - in Fairfield California!

Step into their factory and smell the aroma of chocolate, peach, cinnamon, pineapple, or whatever is being cooked up that day. 

So many jelly beans, so little time! Everyone leaves happy.

This is just a small taste of some of the counties in the California Central Valley...

There are many, many more to explore.  So check back often as we continue discovering
each of the other counties. See you soon!

Return from California Central Valley to Home

Related Pages

Panning for gold