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The Central Valley Travel Guide

Plan Your Central Valley Vacation

In California’s family of diverse regions, the 225-mile-long Central Valley is literally and figuratively a middle sibling. Cradled between the popular coastal communities to the west and the national parks in the mighty Sierra Nevada to the east, the "Big Valley" is among the world's most fertile working lands, filled with orchards, vineyards, and farms. The area also supports myriad bird

and other animal species.

The Central Valley encompasses all or part of eight counties. Vineyards, especially in the northern valley around Lodi, and almond orchards, whose white blossoms make February a brighter month, are pleasant sights out motorists' windows. In the towns, historical societies display artifacts of the region's eccentric past, concert halls and restored theaters showcase samplings of contemporary culture, and museums provide a blend of both. Country-music enthusiasts will find a lot to appreciate on the radio and on stages, especially in the Bakersfield area. Summer nights spent at a minor-league baseball park—Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, and Visalia have teams—can be a relaxing, affordable experience. Whether you’re on back roads or main streets, you’ll find the locals proud to help outsiders explore the area.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Down under Forestiere Underground Gardens is not the flashiest tourist attraction in California, but it is one of the strangest—and oddly inspirational.
  2. Grape escape In the past two decades, Lodi's wineries have grown sufficiently in stature for the charming little town to become a must-sip destination.
  3. Utopian spirit A century ago, a small but resourceful group of citizens established the state's first all–African American town. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park celebrates their utopian spirit.
  4. Go with the flow White-water rafting will get your blood pumping, and maybe your clothes wet, on the Stanislaus River near Oakdale.
  5. Hee haw! Kick up your heels and break out your drawl at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, a city some believe is the heart of country music.

When To Go

When to Go

Spring, when wildflowers are in bloom and the scent of fruit blossoms is in the air, and fall, when the air is brisk and leaves turn red and...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

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Fodor's Southern California 2015

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