Just outside the city of Visalia, in Tulare County, take a drive along the Visalia Blossom Trail to discover the beauty and diversity of Central Valley farming. Whether you’re staying in Visalia or bound for the nearby Sierra Nevada to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, the scenic route makes for a short and gorgeous road trip. The spectacular display begins in late February when an assortment of fruit and nut trees—plum, peach, almond, and apricot—burst into bloom with fragrant, colorful flowers. And even after the peak bloom, the Visalia Blossom Trail is a great place to pick up the freshest of produce in this fertile region where more than 120 crops grow.
How to Drive the Visalia Blossom Trail
The blossom trail follows country roads north of Visalia and State Highway 198, and it doesn’t take long to get out into some beautiful country. Only 10 minutes from Visalia along McAuliff Road and Road 156, you reach dazzling blossom displays where a veritable cornucopia of fruits and nuts grow: assorted citrus, almonds, plums, olives, and—yes, you heard right—kiwis. Not far from this section of the blossom trail, take a tour at Farmer Bob’s World at McKellar Family Farms, which has been in operation since 1927. The farm is a must for citrus lovers (you can even pick your own oranges) and activity options include rides in a tractor-pulled wagon and in-depth walking tours through the orange groves led by local growers.
While the blossoms are of course the big attraction, especially along such stretches of the trail as Avenue 84’s cherry, peach, and nectarine groves, you’ll also find plenty of stops to taste the bounty of the land. Five generations of family farmers have raised olives at the Bari Olive Oil Company near Dinuba. One of the country’s oldest olive oil companies, it’s where you can taste first-press, cold-press extra virgin olive oils and shop for products such as soaps (which are, yes, made with olive oil).
If you’re bound for Sequoia, stop in at Lemon Cove and the Lindcove Ranch, a citrus operation and home of the Main Squeeze Market, which is a popular destination for the fresh-squeezed lemonade and house-made baked goods. There are also food truck events and Sunday barbecues with tri-trip sandwiches and live music.
Where to Pick Your Own Fruit
After the peak of the blossom season, you can get a hands-on sense of local agriculture at the trail’s u-pick farms. The 10-acre Big L Ranch on the north bank of the Kaweah River grows five varieties of luscious blueberries that begin to ripen in early May. The ranch’s snack stand serves blueberry baked goods and ice cream, while kayaks and canoes are available for gentle paddles along the Kaweah. Naylor’s Organic Family Farm has a three-acre area where visitors harvest apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plums. Learn about the operation on farm tours or for a truly immersive experience, you can stay overnight in Naylor’s cottage or three rooms.
Back in town, don’t miss the Saturday Visalia Farmers' Market, a gathering of 60 farmers and vendors selling the very best of local and seasonal produce, as well as honey, goat cheese, and jams. And at Naturally Nuts, it’s only natural to go nuts for third-generation farmer John Oneto’s incredibly diverse selection of 17 kinds of handmade nut butters, including hazelnut, pistachio, and pecan. You’ll also find chocolates, granola, and tempting caramel pecan logs.