Farm Country Fun: Vacaville To Bakersfield

Carousels, riverboats, blend-your-own ice cream—here’s a kid-perfect drive through California’s farm-fresh heartland.

Trip length: 4 days
Total distance: 349mi/561km

VACAVILLE. On weekends at the Nut Tree , ride the train and carousel, then indulge in sundaes at Fenton’s Creamery . Browse through fossils and sparkling stones at Consolidated Rock and Mineral. INFO
Visit Vacaville ; 707/450-0500

WOODLAND (30mi/48km; 32min). Board the Sacramento River Train for the Great Train Robbery excursion. Catch a folksy show at 1896 Woodland Opera House . INFO Yolo County Visitors Bureau ; 530/297-1900

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

LODI (37mi/60km; 42min). See cool critters at Micke Grove Regional Park . Have a lakefront picnic at family-friendly Oak Farm Vineyards (some 80 wineries region-wide). INFO Lodi Conference & Visitors Bureau ; 209/365-1195

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

MODESTO (32mi/51km; 37min). Root for the Modesto Nuts baseball team, then munch on real nuts at Blue Diamond Nut & Gift Shop . Visit elegant 1883 McHenry Mansion . INFO Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 888/640-8467

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

FRESNO (58mi/93km; 57min). Visit the Chaffee Zoo , then snack on student-made ice cream at Fresno State’s Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market . Eat at Grandmarie’s Chicken Pie Shop in the lively Tower District. INFO Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 800/788-0836

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