Exploring California’s Central Valley – Get A Taste!

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Okay, I admit it. I’m a Valley Girl. Not quite full blown “Gag me with a spoon” Valley Girl, but Valley Girl all the same. I was born and raised in the Central Valley of California, and no matter how far I roam from home, it always calls me back. (Example: Here I am living in Visalia in the Valley, even with hubby in the military!)
Which brings me to the inspiration for this blog post. Military families often face being stationed in Lemoore NAS and the Central Valley as a kind of lifestyle death sentence. “I cried when I heard we got Lemoore.” “I never wanted to be stationed in the Valley.” “This has got to be the worst place to be stationed.” I hear variations on this from dozens of military families that express these feelings without ever venturing too far out of the isolated desert landscape of the famous military base.
No offence to Lemoore NAS, but it is not representative of the entire Valley. The attractions, events and adventure is within easy reach in this little pocket of the globe. The Central Valley is perhaps the most teeming, diverse, and surprising region in the entire state. While the lack of a beachside may be a bit of a shock to established Navy families, I truly do feel you’ll find the Valley’s unique charms make up for the 2 hour drive to the nearest coast!

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About the Central Valley of California

The Central Valley comprises parts of 11 counties and stretches from Kern County in the south (just north of the Tehachapi Mountains) to Fairfield, Vacaville, and Yolo County just west of Sacramento. It is home to three of the largest counties in California, embracing two national parks and part of a third.
It includes some 200 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and one of the busiest rail corridors in the nation: Amtrak’s San Joaquin makes 10 runs a day between Oakland and Bakersfield. The Central Valley is the birthplace of visionary filmmaker George Lucas, the rowdy branch of country music known as “The Bakersfield Sound”, and the California oil industry, itself echoed in the West Kern Oil Museum in Taft.
The Central Valley is also home to a number of landmark attractions, from the Bakersfield Speedway to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, the Minter Field Air Museum for aircraft buffs, and the remarkable Haggin Museum in Stockton, with works by Gauguin to Native American artifacts.
Although it is hugely agricultural – the valley produces, by some estimates, as much as 45 percent of the food served in the United States – this remarkable region is much more than a collection of farms, orchards, vineyards, dairies, and stockyards. If you haven’t yet taken time to visit just a few of the dozens of cities, towns, and natural wonders to discover here, you don’t know what you’ve been missing!
Don’t get me wrong, you WILL find tens of thousands of acres of land under cultivation, scattered with dozens of tiny old farming towns that seem little changed in more than a century, offering you a welcome sense of small town friendliness.

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Food is truly a focus here, from nationally renowned Farmers Markets to unbeatable roadside produce stands. You’ll also find one of a kind cafes and diners, with five star dining in the authentic Basque restaurants in Kern County to steakhouses like Harris Ranch near Coalinga.
You’ll discover world-class artistic and cultural facilities, symphonies, theater companies, and museums. You’ll find virtually unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation and spectacular scenery – rafting the world-class rapids of the Kern River, hiking the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, scrambling through Red Rock Canyon State Park near Ridgecrest, gazing in wonder at the herds of majestic elk protected at the Tule Elk Natural Reserve.
The Central Valley has its fair share of outstanding wineries, rivaling the better known regions upstate. From example, Yolo County is known for its incredibly rich soil, warm days and mild Delta breezes, yielding unforgettable wines of great character and diversity. Yolo County is home to the U.C. Davis Viticulture and Enology Department, and the Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science.
Other prominent wine regions include: Suisun Valley – rustic wine country, nestled in gorgeous, uncrowsed Solano County farmland between San Francisco and Sacramento; Fresno – in the heart of the Central Valley, a surprisingly good destination for wine tasting in rambling Madera County; and Lodi – the self-proclaimed Zinfandel Capital of California, offering a relaxed rural atmosphere, perfectly suited to enjoying exquisite wines that are full of flavor yet soft and supple on the palate.
The Central Valley is also home to Interstate 5 and California Highway 99, which, in it’s heyday was known as “California’s Main Street”.

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The Central Valley is rich in adventures and experiences as it is in agriculture and history. It truly is the Greatest Garden in the World. So take your time and venture out to explore – you will be glad you did!

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

43 thoughts on “Exploring California’s Central Valley – Get A Taste!

  • 16 October, 2015 at 11:32 am
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    I think this post should be printed and handed out to all military families who get assigned to Lemoore! Almost every region has special aspects to it, and exploring what your surroundings can be fun and eye-opening. The winery shot is so beautiful… I’d love to be sitting there right now!

    • 16 October, 2015 at 1:31 pm
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      Yeah, when we were in Pensacola, Florida for awhile, I heard similar “There’s nothing to do!!” exclamations.. and I’m like.. uhhh, you are ON THE BEACH. Surrounded by HISTORY. And there’s a world of adventure around every corner.. haha. I think all it takes is some effort!

  • 16 October, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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    Gingi, first off wow that this place supplies 45% of the food for the USA… you know what I love about the Pacific West Coast is the massive trees and beautiful mountains… I adore that you guys can have lush valleys, dry deserts, and mountains too… it’s incredible. The only other place I would want to live in Canada other than where I live would be in BC which has the same things to offer as the US West coast… The only thing is we seem to have a lot more rain, I would take that over the snow we get in Nova Scotia xox

    • 16 October, 2015 at 1:34 pm
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      Yeah, we’re pretty much the breadbasket to the world here! The one thing I DON’T like about the Valley is the lack of rain. AND we’re in a drought! I CRAVE the rain, so it’s a huge sacrifice for me, haha..

  • 16 October, 2015 at 3:42 pm
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    What a great post to read Gingi, and some lovely photo’s too.
    I kept saying … I never knew that, and now I do!
    So, thank you.

    All the best Jan

    • 18 October, 2015 at 3:07 am
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      Haha, oh man.. my photography classes would be so lame! I am the least technical geek I know haha…

  • 16 October, 2015 at 6:52 pm
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    Yeah, we aren’t the ‘gag me with a spoon’ San Fernando Valley…but our Valley Girls work for a living! With real ‘working farms’ and generational businesses, the ‘materialism’ here is a whole lot different. You forgot to mention the citrus farms to the East of you, the olive farms and heck, Selma is touted as the ‘raisin Capitol of the World!’. So much stuff. My family were crop farmers…cotton, wheat mostly. So, it’s not just what the world puts into their bodies, it’s what they put ON them too. Well done! Oh, and I think part of the heartbreak for the ‘Navy kids’ who look at the map to see where Lemoore is and, not learning the basics of map reading in school anymore (thanks GPS), they come here expecting a walk to the beach. *doh* But honestly, where else can you drive a couple/few hours in any direction and find some national landmark or tourist attraction? But, in the spirit of journalistic integrity, it gets HOT here…and because of our AG endeavors, we get some of the worst air quality in the nation. I think families who have kids with asthma and other lung disorders need to know that if they have any choice in coming here or not. *sorry to be a downer, but it is only one negative to all the positive.*

    • 18 October, 2015 at 3:08 am
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      Yeah, I should have gone over the allergens in the Central Valley… soooo killer. But yeah, driving into Lemoore can be scary since it’s the heart of farmland, but venture out and there’s tons to see and do!

  • 16 October, 2015 at 7:14 pm
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    There are some lovely places to visit in Central Cali – we went spelunking in some beautiful locations.

    • 18 October, 2015 at 3:09 am
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      Ohhhh, share any photos if you have them!! <3

  • 16 October, 2015 at 8:44 pm
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    That’s one part of California I never got to explore. Your photos totally invite me in, though.

    • 18 October, 2015 at 3:10 am
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      <3

  • 17 October, 2015 at 1:45 pm
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    Gorgeous, gorgeous! What a lovely place to explore and live with your family!

  • 17 October, 2015 at 2:19 pm
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    Beautiful pictures and post! I do love the central valley and road tripping through it when we can, there are so many fun stops with just amazing scenery.

    • 18 October, 2015 at 3:12 am
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      Yeah, some of the scenery here is amazing!

  • 18 October, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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    Being an East coaster my whole life, I’m not that familiar with the smaller nuances of California geography. With how beautiful your pictures always are and the cool stuff you are doing, I would have had no idea where you live was deemed undesirable! This post sold me even more. Beauty and positivity is in the eye of the beholder!

    • 19 October, 2015 at 3:20 pm
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      Yeah, the problem with the Valley (if it can even be termed a “problem”!) is that it is so diverse. So when families move into the NAS area (very flat, and wide and filled with crops and dairies).. they are shocked by the view and the smell.. but it’s not a picture of the WHOLE Valley! lol..

  • 18 October, 2015 at 11:19 pm
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    I’ve never been to Central Valley, but now I’m sad I didn’t explore more of California while I was living there…

  • 19 October, 2015 at 2:24 am
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    Thanks for sharing information about the Valley. It sounds like a really interesting place to explore. 🙂

    -Lauren

    p.s. to answer your question about my favorite thrillers (over at my blog), I read more adult thrillers by authors like Gillian Flynn, M. J. Alridge, Robert Galbraith (actually JK Rowling if you didn’t know), but for YA, I love Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.

    • 19 October, 2015 at 3:21 pm
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      I find that when I read thrillers, it’s usually Young Adult.. I don’t know why. I can enjoy them and find more abandon with them somehow..

  • 19 October, 2015 at 2:45 pm
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    Beautiful post and photos on Central Valley. I think the moral of the story here is something along the lines of “choose your own adventure” or “life is what you make of it.” Maybe? Sometimes I think we do a lot of complaining but don’t look at the gems sitting right in front of us. 😛

    • 19 October, 2015 at 3:22 pm
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      Something like that!! Hehe! <3 <3

  • 19 October, 2015 at 8:33 pm
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    very beautiful places
    would you like to pass from my blog?
    I wish you an happy day
    a big kiss

    • 21 October, 2015 at 3:10 pm
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      <3

  • 26 October, 2015 at 7:27 am
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    I love all the looks, they re so beautiful

    • 27 October, 2015 at 4:15 pm
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      <3

  • 19 December, 2015 at 9:40 am
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    Lovely images & post. checking out a few while here. Thanks for leaving a note and joining the linkup party. Hope to see you again soon.

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