Carousels, riverboats, blend-your-own ice cream—here’s a kid-perfect drive through California’s farm-fresh heartland.
Trip length: 4 days
WEST SACRAMENTO (22mi/36km; 28min). Find a fishing spot in Sacramento River waterways (get gear and tips at Sacramento Pro Tackle). Watch pro soccer or Triple A baseball at Raley Field . INFO Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 800/292-2334
STOCKTON (17mi/27km; 21min). Ply Delta waters Huck Finn style with Delta Discovery Cruises . Dine on the waterfront, then catch a film at the 1945 Stockton Empire Theatre . INFO Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 877/778-6258
HILMAR (20mi/32km; 25min). Tour the Hilmar Cheese Company , with exhibits about cows, dairies, and cheese-making, then make (and eat) your own ice cream. INFO Hilmar Cheese Company; 800/577-5772
MERCED (23mi/38km; 32min). See native California wildlife at intimate Applegate Park Zoo , or peruse historic Central Valley photographs at UC Merced Library . INFO Merced Visitor Services ; 800/446-5353
BAKERSFIELD (110mi/176km; 1hr42min). Watch funny cars zoom at Auto Club Famoso Raceway . Dine family style at Basque restaurants like Wool Growers and Benji’s. INFO Bakersfield Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 661/852-7282