The Central Valley: Places to Explore

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  • Bakersfield

    Bakersfield's founder, Colonel Thomas Baker, arrived with the discovery of gold in the nearby Kern River valley in 1851. With 355,000 residents, including the country’s largest Basque community,...

  • Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

    In 1908 army chaplain and former slave Colonel Allen Allensworth and a group of African Americans decided to move west to create a community where they would live without discrimination and...

  • Fresno

    Sprawling Fresno, with half a million people, is the center of the richest agricultural county in the United States. Cotton, grapes, and tomatoes are among the major crops; poultry and milk are...

  • Hanford

    Founded in 1877 as a Southern Pacific Railroad stop, Hanford had one of California's largest Chinatowns—the Chinese came to help build the railroads and stayed on to farm. If you arrive on a...

  • Kernville

    The wild Kern River, which flows through Kernville en route from Mt. Whitney to Bakersfield, delivers some of the most exciting white-water rafting in the state. Kernville (population 1,700) rests...

  • Lodi

    Founded on agriculture, Lodi was once the watermelon capital of the country. Today it's surrounded by fields of asparagus, pumpkins, beans, safflowers, sunflowers, kiwis, melons, squashes,...

  • Merced

    The 2005 debut of a branch of the University of California helped spur redevelopment in Merced County’s namesake seat of government. Though not yet complete, the transformation has resulted in a...

  • Modesto

    Modesto, a gateway to Yosemite and the southern reaches of the Gold Country, was founded in 1870 to serve the Central Pacific Railroad. The frontier town was originally to be named Ralston, after...

  • Oakdale

    Oakdale was founded as an orchard community and, in a real stretch, calls itself the Cowboy Capital of the World. Formerly the home of a Hershey's chocolate factory, the city still holds the...

  • Stockton

    California's first inland port—connected since 1933 to San Francisco via a 60-mile-long deepwater channel—is wedged between Interstate 5 and Highway 99, on the eastern end of the Sacramento...

  • Visalia

    Visalia's combination of a reliable agricultural economy and civic pride has yielded the Central Valley's most vibrant downtown. If you're into Victorian and other old houses, drop by the city's...

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Fodor's Northern California 2014

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