October 05, 2020
As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.
The Central Valley is full of surprises. Stretching over 450 miles and comprising 11 percent of California’s land, this fertile region has more to offer than meets the eye—it grows over 250 different crops and produces 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of its nuts and fruits.
Indeed, the heartland of the Golden State is a food lover's haven that’s home to bountiful ranches, U-pick farms, fruit stands, and farmers markets you won't want to miss. Take a detour to these exploratory-worthy Central Valley farms and immerse yourself in Central Valley agriculture.
The Fruit Bowl
With almost 60 peach varieties, plums, cherries, apricots, and apples, The Fruit Bowl is a prime place to stop for a taste of Central Valley produce. The Stockton farm makes dried fruits and nuts, too, so you can snack on your favorites year-round. Aside from fruit, you can also find delectable baked goods, fresh bread, local honey, pasta sauces, gelato, and free-range farm eggs.
Pick up your fresh ciabatta and focaccia along with delicious olive oils from the Fruit Bowl Farm Market for the perfect snack. To satisfy your sweet tooth, grab some muffins, biscotti, or a pie for the road.
High-quality produce is found at Manas Ranch, famed for growing the best peaches on the West Coast. Situated in Esparto, the ranch began operations in the mid-1940s and now grows six different peach varieties. The farm also produces apricots, cherries, peppers, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. You'll even find nuts, honey, and an assortment of T-shirts and hats.
Take a bite out of a delectable peach and relax with the farm's view ahead of you. Munch away on your favorite fruits, and stop by the jam stand for tasty triple berry jam to enjoy at home.
Soul Food Farm Stand
Soul Food Farm, an olive orchard and farm stand in Vacaville, is devoted to everything oil and lavender. In addition to California olive oil, the farm specializes in lavender hydrosol, which is similar to essential oils but gentler and safer. Get egg-cited for eggs, too. The ranch sells organic eggs on a first-come, first-served basis, so come early to get your hands on a fresh dozen.
You can also make a stop at the Soul Food Farm Stand flower garden, where you'll find more than 100 zinnias, over 30 types of roses, lavender, and perennials. This gorgeous garden and its vibrant blooms will make your day, so book your appointment sooner rather than later.
Bravo Farms is a fun and unique place to visit in the Central Valley. Founded in 1995, the family-friendly farm originally produced high-quality cheeses and later expanded to concoct candy, holiday sweets, chocolates, dried fruits, nuts, sugar-free goodies, and customized gift baskets. Now, the farm has three locations—Traver, Tulare, and Kettleman City—but entertainment awaits no matter which one you go to.
Make a day out of it; kids will love climbing the treehouse, feeding the farm animals, eating ice cream, and playing a round of miniature golf. Then, enjoy a delicious dinner at the Bravo Farms restaurant, which serves BBQ, Tex-Mex, salads, wraps, and pizza. You can also plan upcoming events, such as birthdays and weddings, at the farm.
A barn-style store nestled in the San Joaquin Valley, Simonian Farms produces more than 120 varieties of fruits and vegetables as well as dried fruits, jams, and nuts. With so many delights, Simonian Farms is definitely your one-stop-shop in Fresno for all edible things.
On a road trip down Highway 99? Take a break and make a pit stop at the farm for a guided tour. You can fill your bag with everything from chocolate-covered almonds and chile-lemon pistachios to buffalo-ranch corn nuts and dried apples. Don't forget to pick up the homemade fig, pomegranate, and strawberry jams before you go.
California Fruit Depot
Found just outside of Bakersfield, the California Fruit Depot is a magical place to indulge in the Central Valley's natural resources (a.k.a., the Golden State's golden treasures). The farm specializes in oranges, dates, and nuts—three must-have ingredients for a perfect California picnic—but also offers olives, licorice, jams, and Jordanian almonds. If you're in the mood to try something different, we highly recommend the jalapeño-peach jam for your morning toast.
Can't make it to the market? Whether you're at the office or relaxing at home, the California Fruit Depot is ready to deliver tasty treats through its online store, so shop away.
For a fun weekend getaway, stay at Naylor Organics—one of the best California U-pick farms—where you can surround yourself with organic fruits, freshly squeezed orange juice, and muffins. Located in Dinuba, the Naylor Farm gives a magical meaning to farm stays; during harvest seasons, guests may feast on apricots, berries, nectarines, peaches, and plums.
Take a tour of the farm to learn more about the property while indulging in fruit-tasting sessions. Better yet, bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic surrounded by lush greenery and orchards before relaxing in your cozy cottage.
When in Fresno County, stopping by Sanger's Hudson Farms is an absolute must for the ultimate Central Valley farmland experience. Devoted to providing perfect peaches, plums, and nectarines, apricots, and figs, this place will have you in seventh heaven. The farm also grows vine-ripened tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplants, radishes, corn, and fresh herbs (including cilantro, sweet basil, Italian basil, and flat-leaf parsley).
In need of magnificent floral arrangements? Hudson Farms has you covered. Freshly cut flowers—ranging from gladiolus and zinnias to dinner-plate dahlias and sea island statice—are wonderful choices for a beautiful bouquet. For an afternoon treat, pick up a blushing peach pie or a lemon blueberry tea bread. Hudson Farms is only open seasonally, from June to October, so plan accordingly.
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