Central Valley, California
Outdoor Activities

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Our most recommended Central Valley, California Outdoor Activities

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

2. 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 National Park Full-Day Trip

3. 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.

Yosemite National Park: Valley Orientation Tour

4. 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.

Giant Sequoia Snowshoe & Yosemite Valley Tour

5. Giant Sequoia Snowshoe & Yosemite Valley Tour

Experience the best that winter in Yosemite National Park has to offer in just one day. Enjoy snow-topped Yosemite Valley and a picturesque snowshoe hike to the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias. Get picked up and go straight to Tunnel View, one of the best panoramas in all of Yosemite National Park. While here, grab some photos and take in the beauty of this glacially-carved valley in winter.  Next, travel to another area of the park to reach the trailhead to the Giant Sequoias. Once at the trailhead, it's time to layer up and strap on your snowshoes. If appropriate snow conditions do not exist, you will complete the hike in your regular hiking boots. On this 3-mile round-trip hike, make your way down the serene trail to reach the cluster of ancient Giant Sequoias. Find around 20 mature trees in one of Yosemite's most peaceful groves. Once you've worked up an appetite, enjoy your provided picnic lunch surrounded by the towering trees. Next, make the gradual uphill return of 600 feet elevation back to the trailhead. Change out of your layers, get comfortable, and relax on the scenic drive back to your hotel.

From El Portal: Yosemite High Country Guided Hike Day Tour

6. 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.

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What people are saying about Central Valley, California

Was an excellent experience! The crew was knowledgeable and careful - we had an amazing experience - the whales were SO CLOSE to the boat, and we saw SO Many! The crew had such interesting facts and stories - really made the whole trip come alive. I highly recommend this! Our crew: Danny, Caila & Isaiah - were out of this world!

Just wow! We thoroughly enjoyed our whale watching experience. We were incredibly lucky to come across whales feeding; our guide estimates we saw 60 whales on our tour. The staff were all lovely and the boat was very comfortable. Would highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to see some whales!

Whale watching with Discovery Tours was a great experience. I have never done this before, the crew was knowledegable and gracious, the boat clean and acomodating. I recommend this tour wholeheartedly. Thank you for a great day!

Fantastic day. Saw lots of whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and a sea otter! Highly recommended

Great boat, whales everywhere, very friendly crew. we had a great time.