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Things to do in
Central Valley, California

Our most recommended things to do in Central Valley, California

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

From San Francisco: Day Trip to Yosemite National Park

2. From San Francisco: Day Trip to Yosemite National Park

Escape the crowds of San Francisco on a full-day guided tour to Yosemite National Park. See highlights, including Yosemite Falls and Inspiration Point. Enjoy seamless travel in a bio-fueled mini-coach. Heading east across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge offers great views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. En route to the park the tour crosses through the Central Valley, where you will stop at a fruit stand for some local produce. Famous for its rich volcanic soil, the Central Valley is the largest agricultural region in the United States. The section the tour drives through is best known for specialty fruits and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cherries, and strawberries. After this quick rest stop, you will enter the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Continuing into the mountains brings you to California gold country and the gold rush town of Groveland before the tour winds its way into Yosemite National Park. On your 1.5-hour narrated coach tour of Yosemite's glaciated valley, you will see famous waterfalls and rock formations including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. Continue on past El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome, and much more. During the tour you will see Yosemite Valley from a number of great vantage points, the best of which is perhaps Inspiration Point. After the tour, you will stop for the afternoon near the base of Yosemite Falls. If you have not already picked up picnic supplies, there are many options for getting lunch in the park. You will have 3-4 hours of free time to explore the valley as you choose. You can walk to the base of Yosemite Falls, check out the visitor center, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, stop in at the Ahwahnee Hotel, rent a cruiser bike, or hike some of the trails that originate from the valley. Although you could easily spend 3 weeks in Yosemite, the 3 hours you get on your own is enough time to understand why Yosemite is one of America's most popular national parks.

San Francisco: Half-Day Wine Country Excursion with Tastings

3. San Francisco: Half-Day Wine Country Excursion with Tastings

Discover some of San Francisco's best wines on this half-day outing. Visit 2 wineries and 3 to 5 tastings. Enjoy scenic views from your comfortable coach. Start your day in the afternoon, as you head north to the Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy a scenic drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and marvel at the San Francisco skyline in the distance. Next, drive through the beautiful town of Sausalito, a seaside Mediterranean-like village harbored across the San Francisco Bay and famous for its sweeping views. As the vine-covered hillsides come into view, you will visit 2 favorite wineries of the region for wine tastings and an exclusive estate tour. Experience the inner workings of the wineries and their family history in Napa and Sonoma Valley as an expert wine host walks you through the fermentation process, barrel-aging, bottling, and, of course, tastings of some award-winning varietals. At each winery, enjoy up to 3-5 tastings of their signature blends. Your day concludes with a scenic drive back over the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco as the sun slowly starts to set into the Pacific Ocean.

San Francisco: Wine Country Tastings Tour with Muir Woods

4. San Francisco: Wine Country Tastings Tour with Muir Woods

Savor wine tastings at three wineries in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys on a guided trip from San Francisco. Gaze up at the world's tallest trees at Muir Woods National Monument and strike a pose by the Golden Gate Bridge. Begin your morning with a convenient pickup from most San Francisco hotels. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on your way to Muir Woods National Park. Explore the leafy trails and marvel at the giant sequoia redwood stretching above you. Then, enjoy a scenic ride into the heart of California's wine country. Admire your picturesque surroundings as you relax on board. Listen as the tour guide shares stories from the region's early winemaking history and learn how the industry evolved over the years. Visit three wineries showcasing the diversity of wine and tradition in the region. Meet the winemakers and discover their vineyards, winemaking process, and ingredients. Savor three wine tastings with selected wines produced in the region. At midday, enjoy a lunch break and explore the boutique shops and restaurants that surround the charming Sonoma Plaza. Finish the trip with a photo stop at the Golden Gate Bridge before being dropped off at your San Francisco hotel. If you select the lunch options, please specify your choice of one item per course during the booking process. All courses are paired with wine. First Course - paired with Sparkling Wine, 3 oz • Petite cheese plate with Vella’s Mezzo Secco, Double Cream French Brie, Gruyere, and fresh fruit Second Course - paired with Sauvignon Blanc, 3 oz (choose one) • White bean and vegetable soup topped with almond-arugula pesto • Classic Caesar Salad romaine hearts with the Bistro’s home-made Caesar Dressing Main Course - paired with Pinot Noir, 3 oz (choose one) • Rigatoni Bolognese braised ground beef and pork in a house-made marinara sauce • Fusilli Pasta* tossed almond-arugula pesto and parmesan cheese • Chicken Piccata with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and caper butter sauce • Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with fresh mozzarella and pesto spread on focaccia with a side of baby mixed greens tossed with citrus vinaigrette

San Francisco: Napa and Sonoma Valley Wine Tour

5. San Francisco: Napa and Sonoma Valley Wine Tour

Discover the secrets of winemaking on a guided day trip to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys from San Francisco. All tasting fees are included at 3 wineries, giving you the opportunity to sample local wines at each location. Board the air-conditioned bus. Admire the landscape of rolling hills and vineyards as you drive out of the city. Enjoy guided visits to three different wineries in the area. Learn the region's history, from Spanish missionaries who brought grapevines from Europe, to the Forty-Niners who served wines in their saloons. See how the grapes are picked, crushed, blended, and bottled. Walk through the beautiful vineyards and get the chance to taste the finished product, with wine tasting fees included at each location. During the tour, stop for lunch (at your own expense) in the historic Sonoma Plaza. Lastly, after all these activities, head on back to San Francisco.

From SF: Yosemite Day Trip with Giant Sequoias Hike & Pickup

6. From SF: Yosemite Day Trip with Giant Sequoias Hike & Pickup

Begin your Yosemite National Park day tour by getting picked up at select San Francisco hotels. Cross the Bay Bridge and drive through the Central Valley to the town of Oakdale where you will stop for a short break. Start your day in the park at Tunnel View. Then, go to Bridalveil Falls for a quick walk to the base of the roaring waterfall. Next, proceed onto Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. After, enjoy some free time where you will get a chance to picnic at the base of Yosemite Falls, by a river, or in a granite-enclosed meadow. Chances are high that you will see rock climbers in the spring or fall, bears in the summer, and spectacular ice formations in the winter. After regrouping, head to El Capitan, the center of the rock climbing universe. Depending on the season, you may see some climbers on the rock, but they will appear smaller than ants on the 3000-foot (914 meters) rock. Enjoy a photo stop at Valley View and then head to the Tuolumne Grove to take a one-mile (1.6 km) hike to see a grove of 1500-year-old giant sequoia trees. Please note that the hike to the sequoias may not be available during the snow season. After the hike, head back to San Francisco with a restroom stop along the way.

From San Francisco: Napa & Sonoma Valley Full-Day Wine Trip

7. From San Francisco: Napa & Sonoma Valley Full-Day Wine Trip

Indulge yourself in luxury on this full-day tour of California’s wine regions from San Francisco. Visit 3 different wineries for tasting and a tour, and enjoy a stop at historic Downtown Sonoma Square. Take in panoramic views of California on the way toward Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, 2 of Northern California’s famous wine regions. Enjoy the services as a professional guide for a tour featuring wine tastings at 3 of the local partner's favorite wineries. At each winery, learn about wine-making techniques on a tour of the estate, and enjoy extraordinary wines at your tastings. In addition to visiting wineries, your professional guide will take you to see other famous sites in California’s wine country, including a lunch stop at the historic Downtown Sonoma Square. Here, enjoy eclectic dining options and boutique shopping during your lunch break.

San Francisco: Day Trip to Yosemite with Giant Sequoias Hike

8. San Francisco: Day Trip to Yosemite with Giant Sequoias Hike

Spend an active, fun-filled day learning why Yosemite is one of America’s most popular national parks. Hike through the park with an experienced guide and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature on this tour. Start off by making your way east from San Francisco and heading across the Bay Bridge. Continue toward the Sierras and into the mountains. Learn about California’s rich history as you pass through some of the first settlements built during the Gold Rush. Arrive in Yosemite National Park for a 2.5-mile round-trip hike to see the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Be prepared for a strenuous hike, descending 400 feet into the grove, before turning around and trekking back up. Next, cruise into the famous Yosemite Valley to take in views of Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and more. Capture breathtaking photos at Tunnel View and take in the eastern expanse of Yosemite Valley. Then, enjoy 1.5 hours of free time to explore on your own. You can meander down paved paths, hike around Yosemite Falls, engage further with the park’s history at the visitor’s center, or visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. In the late afternoon, you’ll depart for San Francisco, stopping for a short break before arriving back in the city. Arrive back at your hotel in the late evening to sleep off the day’s adventures.

San Francisco: 1-Day Bike Rental

9. San Francisco: 1-Day Bike Rental

Decide where you want to ride and then head out from Fisherman’s Wharf to discover the sights of San Francisco. You’ll be outfitted with a current-model bike, helmet, front handlebar bag and rear gear rack, map, and route instructions. Just tell the local staff how many miles you wish to ride, and they’ll show you a great route that includes all the best sightseeing stops the Bay Area has to offer. Your tour will take you on bike paths and over mostly flat terrain. You’ll receive a guide that provides recommendations on favorite local rides. You can keep the rental bike for the whole day.

From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park Guided Day Trip

10. From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park Guided Day Trip

Travel through the Great Central Valley into the Sierra Foothills where Forty-Niners panned for Gold. Follow the beautiful Merced River to the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Glaciers cut through these mountains forming spectacular granite monuments you will see throughout the park. Spend a total of 4 hours within the Yosemite National Park: 1-hour on a guided tour and 3 hours to explore on your own. There is the option of selecting a Chinese-speaking guide on certain days. Take advantage of the photo opportunities at: • El Capitan • Bridalveil Falls • Vernal Falls • Yosemite Falls • Cathedral Spires • Half Dome

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Frequently asked questions about Central Valley, California

What top attractions are a must-see in Central Valley, California?

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Other Sightseeing Options in Central Valley, California

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What people are saying about Central Valley, California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,452 reviews

Steven was such a great vibe during this tour. I felt super comfortable at all times, the timings of the tour were great and Steven made it even more enjoyable with his insane knowledge about Yosemite based on his life long experience in the area. Unforgettable day, can recommend 👍

I want to say the diversen guide, willy was great, great driving, ask always the poeple who the want to eat or Hes getting so much Information about the City and the Travel way to yosemite. We dont See the trees, thats beeing sad.

The tour was amazing! Our tour guide was great. He was very flexible with the itinerary and worked it out so we would get the chance to see the best views at each location. Plenty of stops and chances for some great photos!

I had such a great time! Tom was an amazing driver and tour guide, he made sure we were in schedule and was responsible when it came to pick up times. I loved all the three wineries.

Kurt was a very nice and informative tour guide. Highly recommend it, thank you