Six of the best road trip stopovers in California's Central Valley

Six of the best road trip stopovers in California’s Central Valley

Sunday, 25 Feb, 2023 0

California’s Central Valley is home to elegant stretches of vineyards, hiking trails and excellent farm-to-fork culinary experiences.

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

Stretching 400 miles through the heart of California, this region is perfect for travellers who want a relaxing experience along with a range of thrilling activities.

Discover these six unforgettable stops on a Central Valley road trip.



Dubbed as ‘Nashville West’, the city of Bakersfield was put on the map for its country music as the birthplace of country music legends Merle Haggard and Buck Ownes. Bakersfield is also one of the largest agricultural producing areas in the world, with a huge variety of farm-to-fork eateries. 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.



Visalia is the gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and is an ideal base for exploring some of California’s most iconic 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. With over 800 miles of trails in this region, be sure to take a hike for rewarding views. Head to the Chapala Grill to fuel up before embarking on a hiking adventure, or the rooftop cocktail bar at The Darling Hotel to wind down after a long day in nature.



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 and historical landmarks. Cycling is a favourite 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 historic 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. Stay in the Courtyard Hotel by Marriott, conveniently located within walking distance of a variety of restaurants, markets and landmarks.


Yosemite Madera County  

One of many gateway counties to the breathtaking Yosemite National Park, Madera is known for its award-winning wines, arts and culture and extensive outdoor activities. Take a trip to Bass Lake and glide through the water on a paddle board or kayak. 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 Then stay in the lakeside Pines Resort for a spectacular view over Bass Lake.



Modesto is best known for its inspiring public murals and live entertainment. 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 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

Yolo County boasts over 1,000 square miles of fertile farmland, quaint historic towns and beautiful scenery. Visit Winters, Yolo County’s smallest town. Take a self-guided walking tour or pay a visit to locals’ favourite 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. Stay in the restored Victorian farmhouse, the Inn at Park Winters, with four elegantly designed guest suites each with its own unique character. Make your stay worthwhile with a tour of the organic farm.


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TravelMole Editorial Team

Editor for TravelMole North America and Asia pacific regions. Ray is a highly experienced (15+ years) skilled journalist and editor predominantly in travel, hospitality and lifestyle working with a huge number of major market-leading brands. He has also cover in-depth news, interviews and features in general business, finance, tech and geopolitical issues for a select few major news outlets and publishers.

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