Bite into a just-picked peach from a roadside farm stand overflowing with fresh fruits. Kayak on a shimmering lake and follow trails through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Savor bold red wines at tasting rooms and vineyards. From the artsy nightlife of Fresno to the country music halls in Bakersfield, the Central Valley offers a unique California experience.
Discover the bounty of the Golden State in this broad valley, which stretches over 400 miles through the middle of California. The Central Valley is home to some of the most productive farmland on the planet, providing over half of all the nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are grown in the U.S. But it’s not all sleepy farmland. Explore inviting lakes, amazing wineries, and a welcoming atmosphere in this temperate inland valley.
Apple Orchard in northern California's Central Valley
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Eclectic diversions liven up a trip through the Central Valley. Wander through courtyards and grottos with ornate stonework at Forestiere Underground Gardens. See colorful statues on the elaborate grounds of Wat Dhammararam Buddhist Temple. Kick up your heels at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, a celebrated country music hall with lively shows.
Browse a striking collection of modern works, Mexican art, and Pre-Columbian sculpture at the Fresno Art Museum. Explore immigrant history and religious relics at the Chinese Temple and Museum Complex in Oroville, which was built in 1863. See a giant collection of taxidermy at the Kern County Museum, a pioneer village with dozens of historic buildings in Bakersfield. Children will love the zoo animals at the California Living Museum nearby.
Get out and play on refreshing lakes in the Central Valley, created by large dams that control the flow of water tumbling down from nearby mountain ranges. Go boating, fishing, and waterskiing on Folsom Lake, Millerton Lake, and Lake Camanche. Follow winding creeks to sweeping vistas on horseback rides in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Try windsurfing in the San Luis Reservoir and explore Brannan Island in the Sacramento River Delta.
With rich soil and oodles of sunshine, California’s Central Valley is quickly becoming known for its wines. Grapes thrive in this agricultural epicenter, particularly in the east side of the San Joaquin Valley along the Sierra Nevada foothills. Towns like Madera and Lodi are up-and-coming wine destinations with laid-back tasting rooms. Sample fine Chardonnays across the Central Valley. Don’t miss the award-winning Zinfandel in Lodi or the dessert wines on the Madera Wine Trail.