Getting off the grid in California can be hard to do, but not if you know where to look. Let us help you discover Yolo County in California’s Central Valley. Here, small town culture hemmed in by beautiful rolling hills and countryside connotes a slower pace of life, perfect for first-time visitors and return travelers alike. Take your time sipping, tasting, and pedaling your way through Yolo County. You’ll be amazed at how much this part of the Golden State has to offer!
This story was created in partnership with Visit Yolo.
Day 1: Explore by bike and overnight in Davis
The city of Davis, California is probably best known for their world-renowned University of California campus, home to roughly 30,000 students during the school year. But you may not know that Davis has recognition as the Bicycle Capital of America with over 100 miles of bike paths and trails and is home to the USA Bicycle Hall of Fame. That’s why Davis and Yolo County is the perfect place to explore on two wheels. Pick up a cruiser from B & L Bike Shop and hit the bike paths. First, stop for breakfast at Delta of Venus, a colorful cafe built into a historic house that has been serving hungry Davis residents for 20 years. Next, pedal on to the Arboretum at UC Davis. This 100-acre public garden features a 3.5-mile path. Park your bike and then walk the trail that winds through 4,000 kinds of trees, plants, and shrubs. Keep an eye out for native wildlife including reptiles, amphibians, and over 135 species of birds.
Afternoon & Evening
Later, wander through downtown Davis on foot. There is plenty of window shopping to be done, and the Avid Reader is a popular local institution for both students and residents. At this point you will have worked up quite the appetite. The eccentric food scene in Davis will not disappoint! Dig in to any number of options from sushi to steak, Mediterranean fare to ramen, Irish pubs and burgers, of course. This is also a great place to venture into the Beer-Muda Triangle of Yolo County featuring craft breweries to tempt your taste buds.
If you find yourself in town on a Wednesday or Saturday, the Davis Farmers Market is an experience in itself. It is ranked as one of the top 10 markets in America. Yolo County is truly all about the bounty of its agricultural offerings, and serves up some of the freshest local produce and craft food products anywhere.
Davis offers an array of lodging options for all traveler comfort levels. Any one puts you centrally located and close to the action.
Day 2: Hiking & Winters Wine Tastings
Journey 15 miles west to Winters, voted by USA Today as #4 of America’s best small-town culinary destinations. It’s also a gateway for a number of activities such as wine tasting and hiking. Enjoy breakfast and locally sourced coffee at Steady Eddy’s, the locals’ favorite, before an active day! Consider picking up some local varietals at Turkovich Family Tasting Room or Berryessa Gap Tasting Rooms, as well as cheese from local Winters Cheese Company for a mid-hike picnic.
Afternoon & Evening
That afternoon, stroll the historic downtown filled with quaint shops throughout its redbrick architecture and small-town charm. Yolo Traders Bistro serves mouth-watering seafood and appetizers like Korean BBQ Pork Belly Flatbread. Other options include: El Verduzco Taco Truck, Putah Creek Cafe, Hooby’s Brewery, Preserve, Buckhorn Steakhouse, or any number of other locally owned, specialty type dining establishments.
Lay your head at Hotel Winters, a boutique suite style property offering countryside luxury and an amazing view from its rooftop bar. You can also find the comforts of home at any number of Airbnbs in the area.
Day 3: Unlimited Adventure & Dining Await in Woodland
Your third day of exploring Yolo County is a make-your-own adventure. Woodland was once the largest county in California and still serves as the county seat. Steeped in history, Woodland is a cornerstone of California’s (and the world’s) agriculture industry. It’s the perfect place to put your culinary adventure hat on! Start out early and head just 30 minutes north to Morgan’s Mill, a craft coffee bar which roasts its own beans from sustainable sources worldwide.
Downtown Woodland sets the stage for unique and diverse global dining experiences with something from just about everywhere in the world. Take a self-guided dining or history tour through the historic Victorian home neighborhoods. Historic buildings such as the Opera House extend the historic architectural experience, along with the well-preserved red brick construction of many of the corridor’s buildings. Quaint and unique shops make for fun strolling (and buying). For something unique, check out Father Paddy’s pub style grub and whiskey vault. More than 60 products from around the world line the bar for your tasting pleasure.
For some afternoon California adventure, check out Velocity Island Park , a great place for kids and families to let loose and play at this one-of-a-kind wake board and water park. Peak summer offers another great water experience choice at Cache Canyon River Trips , just over an hour away with guided access to some of the most fun whitewater rafting in the state. Less active but unique is Reiff’s Gas Station Museum, a local haunt where visitors travel back in time to the 1950’s. You’ll want to pose for photos with retro antique cars, jukeboxes, and more.
After a full day of fun, tuck into dinner at any one of Woodland’s 27 restaurants within a walkable stretch. For after-dinner entertainment, consider taking in a performance at the Opera House theater. Overnight at one of a broad variety of Woodland area hotels, ranging from familiar brands to locally owned, independent hotels.
Day 4: Yolo Countryside
Your final day opens up the window to Yolo’s Countryside area. Activities include exploring wide open spaces dotted with large and small farms, more hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. Afterwards, enjoy restaurants and wineries galore! There are more than 10 locally owned wineries in the area. Each offers a very personal experience in their tasting rooms as well as unique varietals not found anywhere else. Yolo County is a substantial grape growing area with much of its grape volume going to other nearby regions such as Napa Valley. But each winery saves the best for their own visitors.
Finally, don’t forget the Sierra Railroad’s train excursions through the Yolo County farmland and along the Sacramento River. Their new railbikes are definitely a rare experience!
Can’t get enough of Yolo County? Make plans to return in the near future! We recommend venturing out on Highway 128 from Winters west to Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. You might also look to other Central Valley area locations to further your California experience.