Travel Guide to California

2015 Travel Guide to California

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2 0 1 5 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A 169 B Y J I L L K . R O B I N S O N T he Central Valley is considered by many to be the greatest garden in the world. The 400-mile-long fertile pocket of land, wedged between the Sierra Nevada range and the coastal mountains in the center of California, is filled with farms, orchards and vineyards. If you haven't visited, it's still likely you've benefited from the region, as it supplies as much as 45 percent of the food eaten in the United States. The Central Valley contains thousands of acres of land under cultivation and small farming communities that seem to have been frozen in time. In the larger cities (Modesto, Fresno and Bakersfield) there's still a small-town friendliness that encourages visitors to slow down and look beyond the farmland. From the quiet, northernmost towns of Orland, Yuba City and Davis to Visalia, Tulare and Maricopa at the southern end of the valley, it's easy to feel at home and see what some call "the Other California." Travelers using Interstate 5 to get through the Central Valley may believe the agri- cultural region is nothing more than a sleepy little farming area, but it also has a wealth of spectacular scenery, opportunities for outdoor recreation, highlights of California history and funky roadside diners. The best way to discover the area is by slowing down and taking Highway 99, which feels more like a back road. Cities and towns cluster along the route, giving you a chance to pull off and explore at your leisure. Two river valleys—the Sacramento and San Joaquin—dominate the majority of the region, and the area waterways serve as opportunities for sport (fishing, rafting, water- skiing) and bird migration rest stops, as well as a necessary element of farming. In the hot summer months, the area's rivers and lakes help residents and tourists alike cool CENTRAL VALLEY TOP CITIES Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, Davis, Stockton, Fairfield, Merced, Visalia, Madera, Vacaville, Manteca, Lodi INTERNATIONAL GATEWAYS Sacramento International Airport (SMF), 80 miles (129 km) from Modesto, 172 miles (277 km) from Fresno San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 94 miles (151 km) from Modesto, 186 miles (299 km) from Fresno Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 118 miles (190 km) from Bakersfield TOURISM WEBSITE POPULATION 4,858,000 CENTRAL VALLEY California's vast and fertile heartland

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