Central Valley, California
Day Trips

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Our most recommended Central Valley, California Day Trips

From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park Full-Day Trip

1. From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park Full-Day Trip

Spend an active, fun-filled day learning why Yosemite is one of America’s most popular national parks. Hike through the park with an experienced guide and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature on this tour. Start off by making your way east from San Francisco and heading across the Bay Bridge. Continue toward the Sierras and into the mountains. Learn about California’s rich history as you pass through some of the first settlements built during the Gold Rush. Arrive in Yosemite National Park for a 2.5-mile round-trip hike to see the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Be prepared for a strenuous hike, descending 400 feet into the grove, before turning around and trekking back up. Next, cruise into the famous Yosemite Valley to take in views of Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and more. Capture breathtaking photos at Tunnel View and take in the eastern expanse of Yosemite Valley. Then, enjoy 1.5 hours of free time to explore on your own. You can meander down paved paths, hike around Yosemite Falls, engage further with the park’s history at the visitor’s center, or visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. In the late afternoon, you’ll depart for San Francisco, stopping for a short break before arriving back in the city. Arrive back at your hotel in the late evening to sleep off the day’s adventures.

Oakhurst: Yosemite Giant Sequoia Private Jeep Tour

2. Oakhurst: Yosemite Giant Sequoia Private Jeep Tour

Get ready to ride into the wilderness on a private Jeep tour through the Sierras. Your tour guide will drive you to see some of the Sierra’s most incredible scenery as you venture off into the forest to get to a Sequoia Grove. Crawl over granite plains, drive through dense woodland areas, and splash through creeks. Stop at Bass Lake Vista for a fantastic view of a local sporting lake. Next, head to a secluded Sequoia grove in the Sierra’s. Park up and get out, checking out old cabins from mining in the early 1900s as well as massive Sequoia stumps. This grove has a unique history as it was partially logged before the trees were protected. Then, you'll embark on a 1-mile round-trip hike to see the Bull Buck Tree, which reaches a staggering 270 feet tall and 80 feet around. It's one of the largest Sequoias on earth.

Yosemite National Park: Valley Orientation Tour

3. Yosemite National Park: Valley Orientation Tour

Join an eco-friendly, small group guided tour and witness the stunning Yosemite National Park. Choose between three pickup locations covering hotels on Highway 41, 140 & 120. Then drive 30-60 minutes through Yosemite National Park to reach Yosemite Valley. On the way, your guide will explain the history and geology before stopping at El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith. Your guide will provide a park orientation and hiking briefing so you can wander around alone. Be dropped off either at Curry Village or Yosemite Valley Lodge in the park. During your 5 hours of free time, explore Yosemite either by hiking its most famous trails or biking your way around Yosemite Valley.  Marvel at views of Half Dome, a granite dome known for its distinct shape. Go for a swim in the nearby Merced River to cool down from Yosemite’s summer heat. Your expert guide can recommend the best trails and where to rent a bike.  After a day of exploration, meet your guide back at either Curry Village or Yosemite Valley Lodge to be dropped off back at your original point: Yosemite View Lodge.

From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

4. From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

Travel through the Great Central Valley into the Sierra Foothills where Forty-Niners panned for Gold. Follow the beautiful Merced River to the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Glaciers cut through these mountains forming spectacular granite monuments you will see throughout the park. Spend a total of 4 hours within the Yosemite National Park: 1-hour on a guided tour and 3 hours to explore on your own. There is the option of selecting a Chinese-speaking guide on certain days. Take advantage of the photo opportunities at: • El Capitan • Bridalveil Falls • Vernal Falls • Yosemite Falls • Cathedral Spires • Half Dome

From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip

5. From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip

Escape the crowds of San Francisco on a full-day guided tour to Yosemite National Park. See highlights, including Yosemite Falls and Inspiration Point. Enjoy seamless travel in a bio-fueled mini-coach. Heading east across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge offers great views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. En route to the park the tour crosses through the Central Valley, where you will stop at a fruit stand for some local produce. Famous for its rich volcanic soil, the Central Valley is the largest agricultural region in the United States. The section the tour drives through is best known for specialty fruits and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cherries, and strawberries. After this quick rest stop, you will enter the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Continuing into the mountains brings you to California gold country and the gold rush town of Groveland before the tour winds its way into Yosemite National Park. On your 1.5-hour narrated coach tour of Yosemite's glaciated valley, you will see famous waterfalls and rock formations including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. Continue on past El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome, and much more. During the tour you will see Yosemite Valley from a number of great vantage points, the best of which is perhaps Inspiration Point. After the tour, you will stop for the afternoon near the base of Yosemite Falls. If you have not already picked up picnic supplies, there are many options for getting lunch in the park. You will have 3-4 hours of free time to explore the valley as you choose. You can walk to the base of Yosemite Falls, check out the visitor center, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, stop in at the Ahwahnee Hotel, rent a cruiser bike, or hike some of the trails that originate from the valley. Although you could easily spend 3 weeks in Yosemite, the 3 hours you get on your own is enough time to understand why Yosemite is one of America's most popular national parks.

Yosemite: Valley Hiking Tour from Oakhurst

6. Yosemite: Valley Hiking Tour from Oakhurst

Witness some of the most awe-inspiring views of nature on a full-day trip through Yosemite Valley with an expert guide. See the towering and famous El Capitan, revel in the majestic Half Dome, dine under the tallest waterfall in North America — Yosemite Falls — and hike along the Mist Trail. Meet your guide before heading straight to Yosemite National Park via the south entrance. Arrive at Tunnel View to witness the most well-known views in Yosemite Valley, El Capitan and Half Dome, and be awe-struck by their sheer grandeur and height. Follow the Merced River to Curry Village, where your guide will lead you on a 3-mile (5.4-kilometer) round-trip hike on the most famous trail in the Valley, the Mist Trail, to the Vernal Falls Footbridge. After the hike, head to Yosemite Village to enjoy a boxed lunch while taking in a spectacular view of Yosemite Falls. Next, stroll along the Valley Loop Trail to the Ahwahnee Hotel. See its fascinating design and architecture of this 1927 hotel, which puts it on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. Walk back to Yosemite Village through the meadows before heading over to El Capitan Meadows for more stunning photos. Then, sit back and relax on the scenic drive back to Oakhurst.

From El Portal: Yosemite High Country Guided Hike Day Tour

7. From El Portal: Yosemite High Country Guided Hike Day Tour

Leave the crowds behind and discover pristine wilderness from 10,000 feet in elevation on this small-group tour of the Yosemite High Country. After getting picked up from Yosemite View Lodge, meet your expert guide and begin your full-day adventure.  After pickup, ascend more than 5,000 feet to the glacier-carved, the highest paved highway in California called Tioga Pass. From here, make your way to the Pothole Dome trailhead, where you will have 2 hours to hike a relatively easy 2.5 miles to the sloping granite top of Pothole Dome.  From the top of the dome, you will be greeted with stunning panoramic views of the Tuolumne River, sweeping views of the Tuolumne Meadows, and Yosemite's craggy, high-elevation peaks towards the east. In the early summer, the Tuolumne Meadows are known for their wildflowers that bloom near the end of June and the start of July. After the hike, indulge in lunch along the shores of Tenaya Lake. You will then have the choice to swim in the crystal clear waters or soak up the sun from the picnic tables along the beach. Taking a dip in the refreshing water is the perfect solution to a hot summer's day. You'll have 2 leisurely hours to swim among the polished granite domes, relax along the sandy beach or go for stroll among towering cedars. With a fraction of the people that crowd the lower elevations of Yosemite Valley, it won't be hard to find a quiet place to yourself to enjoy the pristine beauty of California's first National Park. After lunch, you'll stop at Olmstead Point, one of the most famous viewpoints in the Park, before making your way back towards El Portal for a timely drop off at Yosemite View Lodge. Enjoy seeing Half Dome from an all-new perspective as you search for black bear and mule deer along the scenic mountain road.

Monterey: Salinas Valley Guided Tour to Pezzini Farms

8. Monterey: Salinas Valley Guided Tour to Pezzini Farms

Learn about the Salinas Valley agricultural industry during a 3-hour outing with a guide. See workers harvest vegetable fields and pack different crops and learn about these processes from your guide. Start your experience with a convenient pickup from your accommodation. Hop aboard an air-conditioned van and set off on your adventure. Stroll through the Pezzini Farm on a guided walking tour. Learn about irrigation, planting, and the rules of organic farming. Hear about the 40 different crops Pezzini Artichokes farm produces, including lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, spinach, asparagus, strawberries, and grapes. Before you leave, enjoy a deep-fried artichoke heart or a delicious artichoke cupcake. Throughout your tour, learn about the Monterey Bay region's wine, agriculture, fascinating history, and beautiful environment.

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What people are saying about Central Valley, California

Yosemite was beautiful! Unbelievable beauty! The tour guide Alex was a good guide, was fun and informative. He took us to 2 different locations for photos, absolutely breathtaking. The only downside for this tour is that you only get 3 hours of exploration time for yourself, which may seem a lot but in reality is no where near enough given the size of the park. That’s not to say it’s the tour guides fault, the journey is roughly 4 hours. Overall a brilliant experience and would highly recommend

A great day pout. The guide was very informative of yosemite national park and also of any landmarks/areas on route to the park. The only down side was the AC on the bus want working on the way back but these things happen.

An extraordinary tour and with a guide, Denise, fantastic !! His advice to take advantage of the time at each stop was essential to be able to go through everything and not leave any place without knowing.

Awesome day exploring Yosemite. Plenty of free time and a great tour guide taking us there and back.

The guide was very knowledgeable about the area and friendly.