Travel Guide to California

2017 Travel Guide to California

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164 2 0 1 7 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A B Y J I L L K . R O B I N S O N T his fertile green strip in the center of California is considered by many to be the greatest garden in the world. The 400-mile-long Central Valley, wedged between the Sierra Nevada range and the coastal mountains, is filled with farms, orchards and vineyards growing everything from almonds to peaches to grapes. You've likely benefited from the region even if you haven't visited before, as it supplies as much as 45 percent of the food eaten in the United States. California's Central Valley contains thousands of acres of land under cultivation and small farming communities that seem to have been frozen in time. The larger cities of the Central Valley (Modesto, Fresno and Bakers- field), still have a small-town friendliness that encourages visitors to slow down and find out that there's more going on 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 agricultural region is nothing more than a sleepy little farming area, but don't speed by and discount the wealth of spectacular scenery, opportunities for outdoor recreation, highlights of California history and funky roadside diners. The best way to discover the area on a leisurely itinerary is by taking Highway 99, which feels more like a back road. Cities and towns are clustered along the route, giving you a chance to pull off and explore any time you want. 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 grand garden PIA BENZER/SHUTTERSTOCK . OPPOSITE:DAVID LITMAN/SHUTTERSTOCK ; JWAYNE HSIEH/CREATIVE COMMONS/FLICKR

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