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Sonny Lazzeri/Flickr

Mondavi Center

Mondavi Center
An arts showcase rises from the fields

Clad in sandstone tiles and with a lobby that looks out across surrounding agricultural lands through a wall of glass, this eye-catching multi-story structure on the U.C. Davis campus is a grand, modern arts venue for the region. Formally known as the Robert and Magrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts (the winemaking Mondavis were lead donors for the project, completed in 2002), the venue presents a full calendar of events, ranging from major artists, such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Elvis Costello, to concerts by the U.C. Davis Symphony and other more home-grown events. The main 1,801-seat Jackson Hall is a visual stunner, paneled from floor-to-ceiling in virgin Douglas fir originally logged in the 1800s. (The wood was reclaimed from the bottom of a lake in Canada, and some of the sections may actually be 500 years old.)

Insider’s tip: Free guided tours shed light on the Mondavi Center’s advanced design features, including an orchestra shell that elevates on air casters. Tours are free but require advance reservations.

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Laura Flippen

Central California

Discover the Central Valley

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December
Average (°C)
Dec - Feb
16°
High
3°
Low
Mar - May
28°
High
7°
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June - Aug
36°
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16°
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Sept - Nov
32°
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6°
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California’s heartland offers up one of the state’s most authentic and sensory-rich experiences, a chance to see—and taste—the state’s bounty at every turn. Follow oak-shaded country roads to farm stands overflowing with fresh produce, and meander along wine trails to some of the state’s most productive vineyards and low-key tasting rooms.

Peaches, plums, apricots, and tomatoes—just some of the ultra-fresh produce you will find at farm stands throughout the valley.

Throughout the broad valley, stretching for over 400 miles/644 kilometres down the middle of the state, are cities and towns rich with history, international culture, and “everyone’s welcome” charm. 

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Courtesy of the Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant

Harris Ranch

This Central Valley oasis is a perfect place for a quick pit stop or even a relaxed meal and overnight stay

Looking for a great place to stop on Highway 5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco? Look no further:...

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Jen Siska

Road Trip: Central Valley

Take a drive along Highway 99 to experience honky-tonk culture, culinary delights, urban adventures, and more

Famous for its bountiful produce, quality wine, and country music, the Central Valley is California’s heartland. It’s also a place of...

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Mark Crosse/Getty Images

Fresno County Blossom Trail

Explore this driving loop that bursts with flowers in the spring and fruit during summer

Spring tends to kick off early in Fresno County with a fast-and-frenzied spectacle of blooming fruit and nut trees. Starting in mid-...

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Derrell McCain/Alamy

Best Kept Secret: Solano County

See why this Central Valley region holds its own in terms of good wine, pretty countryside, and cool activities

A treasure awaits about 20 kilometres east of Napa, in a lovely but largely “secret” area of sprawling countryside and bayfront beauty. This...

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Lake Berryessa, located just outside of Winters, has a sunken city underneath it called Monticello.
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Laura Flippen

9 Great Central Valley Farm Stands

Sample fresh, seasonal produce and artisanal foods and chat with local farmers

This fertile valley stretches for some 724 kilometres from roughly Chico south to Bakersfield—the pancake-flat belly of California. Farms and...

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Alex Farnum

Davis

You don’t have to be a student to enjoy the perks of this ag-oriented college town

Eco-friendly, liberal leaning, progressive, impressive professor’s homes and fraternity houses—Davis has the hallmarks of a classic college...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
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Laura Flippen

Haggin Museum

Local history merges with world-renowned art at this must-see museum in Stockton’s Victory Park

Housed in an early-19th-century brick building, this handsome art and history museum is the centerpiece of Stockton’s stately Victory Park. The 34...

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Kodiak Greenwood

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

Map of Shasta Cascade
Some 300 species of birds and mammals make this a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts

Located on the Pacific Flyway 96 kilometres north of Sacramento, Gray Lodge encompasses 3700 hectares surrounded by agricultural flatlands and...

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Houseboating

Take to the water on a deluxe floating home

In California, it’s hard to talk about houseboating without talking about the Central Valley. One of the state’s premier places for vacationing in...

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

California Delta

A boater’s and fisherman’s paradise awaits

Located northeast of the San Francisco Bay, this 1,000-mile network of inland waterways—the major drainage from the snow-capped Sierra Nevada to...

Lodi Wine Country
Dale Goff Photography

Lodi Wine Country

Sample the city’s famous Zinfandels after a day of outdoor fun

Best known for big red wines, particularly old-vine Zinfandels, the American Viticultural Area of...

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Fresno

Discover agriculture and culture in the valley's biggest city

The Central Valley’s largest city makes for a surprisingly lively getaway. Seven stadiums and a pair of arenas satisfy sporty types, and an annual...

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The 10 acres of rooms, passages and gardens at Fresno's Forestiere Underground Gardens were excavated by hand using only farming tools.
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Courtesy of Buck Owens Crystal Palace

Bakersfield

Experience California’s oil-rich history, with Basque food and country western music on the side

This rapidly growing city in the southern Central Valley is full of pleasant surprises. Once known for oil and...

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Courtesy of Séka Hills

Séka Hills Olive Mill and Tasting Room

Taste olive oil and dine on locally sourced fare while enjoying views of tribal lands in the Capay Valley

Intimate Capay Valley is a world apart—with rolling hills and oak woodlands just west of the Sacramento Valley. Like its much larger neighbour,...