The Central Valley is visible from space – a vast expanse of green between the Sierra Nevada and Pacific Ocean. The area is divided in two parts: the Sacramento Valley in the north and the San Joaquin Valley in the south. For millennia, the rivers cutting through these valleys flooded seasonally, creating extremely fertile soil. Today, those waterways are tamed by mighty public works projects that support massive agricultural endeavors. Half the produce in the US is grown in these valleys – including almost every almond, olive and bulb of garlic.
Like the birds that commute overhead, most travelers are just passing through – zipping along the highway to more popular parts of the state. But those who linger are rewarded with stately Victorian-era mansions, uniquely scenic byways and quirky small towns.