Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (2024)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (1)

We live in the heart of East Sacramento, which means that Yolo County is right in our backyard. Yolo County is located directly west of the urban Sacramento city blocks and across the Sacramento River. Surprisingly West Sacramento is technically part of Yolo (go figure!) and is the most populated and developed part of Yolo. The further west you travel, the more rural the landscape becomes with quaint countryside scenes.

This blog post guide is filled with photos and stories from our family adventures in Yolo County. Here you’ll find my top recommendations for agritourism farms to visit, foodie and restaurant eats, photography spots and unique shopping experiences.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (3)

An Introduction to Yolo County

Sacramento is a modern-day metropolis full of hustle and bustle, and in such an urban environment, it's easy to lose sight of the natural beauty surrounding us. So, if you're getting tired of the urban-ess of Sacramento and looking for an exciting weekend getaway from the city, look no further than Yolo County.

From small towns and farming communities to pastoral landscapes and farmland, the region is bursting with fascinating sights and experiences. It also provides a serene atmosphere for visitors within easy driving distance from Sacramento, so don't worry if your plans are made last minute.

Every small town in Yolo County has its own unique personality. From the people who live there to the historical landmarks, each town has its own story that adds to the beauty of this lovely countryside. So next time you plan a weekend trip to Yolo County, here are some hidden town gems you shouldn't miss out on!

The Seasons and Weather in Yolo County

One thing to keep in mind is that the weather in Yolo County can vary greatly depending on the season. This area of Northern California has four distinct seasons with all the highlights (and pitfalls) you can expect from each season.

Winters are cold and rainy, while summers get very hot with temperatures over 100 degrees. In the springtime you'll see plenty of blooming blossoms, sunshine weather and lush green fields. In the autumn you will be charmed by the colorful fall foliage.

I would say that the best months to visit Yolo County are March, April, May and June. I would avoid the peak heat in July and August and even early September (Labor Day is usually crazy hot). During the second half of September, October, November and December you’ll find great fall and holiday cozy vibes. January and February tend to be cold, overcast and rainy. If there’s an early spring season, you may be able to catch the almond blossoms blooming early in late February.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (5)

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Agritourism, Farm Experiences, and Farm Stays in Yolo County

Agritourism combines agriculture and tourism into one activity which allows visitors to learn more about small-scale farming while also enjoying themselves! Agritourism is a fast-growing industry in California, and Yolo County offers visitors plenty of opportunities to get involved. It's known for its rich agricultural history, as well as its beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

In Yolo you can find vineyards, farms, and ranches throughout the countryside and learn about the area's history and heritage by visiting local businesses that offer tours, workshops, and other fun activities. Some farms even have lodging available for overnight guests, allowing you to experience farm life firsthand. Read on to see our favorite agritourism destinations in Yolo County.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (8)

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Park Winters in Winters, California

Located in the tranquil north countryside of California, Park Winters is a private country estate near the charming town of Winters. The estate offers visitors a chance to experience the best of both old and new: a historic Victorian inn, an elegant white barn, a chic pool, and a hot tub, as well as a fresh organic farm with local produce and majestic views of the countryside.

It's also an award-winning Northern California wedding venue with an intimate and luxurious bed and breakfast, so love birds can earmark it for the future. If you're planning a day trip to Yolo County, these one-of-a-kind activities in Park Winters should definitely be considered.

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Pick Your Own Bouquet in Park Winters

What's more romantic than picking your own bouquet of flowers? At Park Winters, you'll find a lush garden with an array of seasonal flowers so that you can create the perfect arrangement for any occasion.

Depending on the time of year, you may find the following: cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, dahlia, poppies, dianthus, sweet peas, love in a mist, agrostemmas, snapdragons, blooming artichokes and cardoons, ranunculus, sunflowers and more!

Once you've picked out your favorite flowers, they'll be carefully arranged into a beautiful bouquet that's perfect for sharing with someone special or just enjoying yourself!

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (12)

Garden Tours in Park Winters

The magic that you'll experience at the Park Winters Garden is unmatched. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland, it's hard to believe that you haven't walked straight into a painting. The contrast between the original trees planted when the land was first settled and the modern additions is truly a sight to behold.

You'll also see their amazing Kitchen Garden, where the yummy organic produce never goes to waste! You'll find it cooked into delicious dishes at the onsite farm-to-table experience. Garden tours take place exclusively on Saturdays and last about 2 hours.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (14)

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Farm and Harvest Tours at Park Winters

Depending on the season, the Farm Tour at Winters Park can take you through either new growth, mid-growth, or seed harvesting. You'll learn about farming and composting techniques and what they grow each season! Their philosophy and mission are to not just grow produce but to educate people on the benefits of organic farming and how it impacts the environment while trying their best to spread awareness of sustainable farm practices.

They have even renovated their Old Barn into their very own seed bank that's built of walls made of fruit drying trays that are historic to the area. All fields are also nourished by compost cultivated on the farm from kitchen scraps and garden clippings. It's incredible to see such commitment and dedication to sustainable farming and how it can truly be beneficial for the environment, while at the same time giving a chance to visitors to learn about it firsthand.

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Seka Hills Olive Mill and Tasting Room in Brooks, California

Séka Hills is one of the most diverse farming operations in Yolo County. Their Tribe, known as the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, named for their ancestral village meaning 'Home by the Spring Water, is also one of the few tribes with expanding agriculture in California. The tribal community has been developing their agriculture for decades, and they have a unique relationship with the land that's evident in how they farm. By tending the natural resources around them and honoring the traditional wisdom passed down over generations, they create an eternal bond of mutual respect with the land. No wonder the land is thriving, and they can produce such exceptional quality products.

A staple in the local community, Séka Hills offers a full range of olive oils, vinegar, wines, wildflower honey, and other specialty products. The Séka Hills brand is focused on bringing to life high-quality, organic products that are sustainable and produced in harmony with nature.

Of course, your trip to Séka Hills is not complete without a visit to their store, where you can purchase some of their finest wines and other local products such as olive oils, honey, fresh produce, and other artisanal items.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (21)

Wine Tasting and Olive Oil Tasting at Seka Hills Mill

Wine and olive oil tasting are held at different Séka Hills locations in Yolo County, so be sure to plan depending on where you want to go. Start off with Olive oil tasting inside their 14,000 square-foot olive mill facility and get an inside perspective into the farming, milling, and bottling process that makes Séka Hills extra virgin olive oils among the best in the world. Located in a rural orchard in the heart of the verdant Capay Valley, Séka Hills is surrounded by rolling blue mountains that inspired its name.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I really wanted to go wine tasting. Being that you shouldn’t drink alcohol when pregnant, we went to the Seka Hills tasting room so my husband could drink wine and I could enjoy the olive oil tasting. We also had a leisurely lunch on their scenic terrace. Scroll down to see photos from our visit!

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (23)

Seka Hills Clarksburg Tasting Room

Then get ready for some serious business with Wine Tasting at the Séka Hills in the Old Sugar Mill, conveniently located in Clarksburg just minutes from downtown Sacramento. Visitors can see where the Séka Hills wines are made and get a taste of their labor, sampling vintages, estate olive oils, and more of their signature products. For the wine connoisseurs that want to immerse themselves in the natural environment that inspired their favorite vintage, there are also picnic grounds where you can lounge with family and friends while sipping on some of the finest creations of the area.

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Visit the Blooming Blossom Orchards and Sunflower Fields in Yolo County

Some of my all-time favorite photography moments have been in Yolo County when the almond blossoms are blooming, and then later in the year when the sunflowers are in full-bloom. Read on to see how to get granted access to these farms.

Seka Hills Sunflower Fields and Almond Orchards

Séka Hills is one of the rare farms that allow visitors to visit their blooming almond blossom orchards and sunflower fields. Walking through the fields and experiencing the natural whimsy of these beautiful blooms is a truly unforgettable experience. They also have olive tree orchards which are a fresh shade of green.

Scroll down in this blog post to see my maternity photos taken in the Seka Hills blooming almond orchards and lush green olive orchards.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (28)

Experience Passes to View the Sunflower Fields

The valley of Yolo County has the ideal conditions for these delicate yet cheerful flowers. With about 70,000 acres of sunflowers grown annually by local farmers, it's no surprise that large crowds often gather in the area to admire their beauty. It's important to remember that most sunflowers bloom in private properties, and it takes great care and patience to grow them.

You can view these blooms driving by from the road, or to get a proper taste of the sunflowers' beauty, you can book a tour that is often on offer on the county's website. The best time to visit Yolo County if you want to see the sunflowers is when the weather is getting warmer. Depending on planting and weather conditions, the flowers will remain in bloom from mid-June until the middle of July.

Experience passes are seasonal and for a limited time. When the summer months are coming up, check this link and this link to find out when the sunflower passes are live. I suggest bookmarking this blog post or saving it on Pinterest so that you can easily come back to find it.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (30)

When and Where to Find the Blooming Almond Orchards

The blooming almond orchards are very popular for family portraits and Instagram travel photos. These blooms create a soft and whimsical “snow like” effect which is especially magical in photos.

These trees bloom in the early spring months, often between late February and March. The timeframe is very short for peak blooms, and rainy days can make all the blossoms fall to the ground which is not ideal for photos.

I have to be honest and say that these photos have become very controversial because not all of the almond farmers are cool with people coming onto their private property to take photos. I have even heard rumors of tickets being issued for trespassing. I know Seka Hills has farm tours in their almond orchards so I would follow their social media account. If you sign up for the Yolo County newsletter, you can receive alerts for farm tours and Experience Passes.

To find the Woodland spot where we took our almond blossom photos, see our dedicated guide here.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (32)

West Sacramento in Yolo County

West Sacramento is a top trending area with a vibrant riverfront view of the Sacramento River, separating it from the rest of the Sacramento region. West Sacramento is a bustling community home to many of the region's top attractions and events. There's an abundance of local wineries and breweries to explore, as well as parks and trails to hike or bike through. Here's a little roundup of some things you can do in the area.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (34)

Drakes The Barn in West Sacramento

Drakes Barn is a two-acre waterfront community destination located in the heart of West Sacramento. The Barn features a large outdoor beer garden with lawn games, food trucks for all cravings, and a fire pit where you can get cozy year-round. It's the perfect place for brunch on Saturday mornings or an after-work co*cktail on Friday nights.

Drakes is the place to be if you want to enjoy live music in a relaxed atmosphere while sipping your favorite craft beer. Events are on multiple weekly nights, ranging from cinema nights to yoga sunset sessions, and are free for all participants. This is also a kid-friendly beer garden, we've taken our kids and many other families have their children with them as well.

See photos from our visit to Drakes Barn in our Sacramento Breweries Guide.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (36)

River Fox Train in West Sacramento

The River Fox Train is a diesel-powered locomotive, a sister train to the vintage steam-powered Skunk Train in Mendocino County. It takes riders on a scenic journey among elements of a classic era. Rides begin at the River Fox Train station, located on the Sacramento River and there are many experiences you can choose from.

One of the more popular experiences includes the Pumpkin Patch Express, where you'll get to celebrate the fall harvest on a ride through the Yolo County farmland. The fun continues at the Fox Train's private park with trick-or-treating, carnival-style games, photo opportunities, and more.

For a more mature crowd, the beer train might be a fun and unique way to enjoy themselves. You'll get to try a taste of 8 different beers and leave with a beer-tasting souvenir glass as a reminder of your adventure. There’s also a wine train tour available for guests 21 and over.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (38)

Davis, California

If you're looking for a place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the fresh air, Davis is a great choice. Home to the prestigious California University UC Davis, it's quiet yet still lively and full of fun things to do. It's full of shops, restaurants, and businesses that cater to students and families alike.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (40)

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (42)

Things to Do in Downtown Davis

When you're in downtown Davis, there's always something going on. Whether you're looking for food and drink, art and culture, or just to take in a walk with some fresh air, here's the scoop on where to go.

Pachamama Coffee Shop

Consider yourself to be a coffee aficionado? If so, then a Pachamama pitstop is a must on your Davis visit. With deep respect for the production, farming, and roasting of the coffee and its people, Pachamama offers an organic, fair trade, and sustainable product that's sure to leave you feeling energized. The interiors of their cafes are bright and colorful, great for foodie photography. They even have a cute little patio where you can kick back and relax while you sip on your cup of heaven. Scroll down to see photos from our visit to Pachamama Cafe in Davis.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (44)

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (46)

Temple Coffee Roasters

Temple Coffee is a trendy local Sacramento coffee house chain with locations all over Midtown, Davis and Folsom. At Temple Coffee Roasters, they know that good coffee is not an accident and put incredible care and meticulous focus on reaching the pinnacle of flavor and aroma of each roast harvested. They are truly a leading light in the specialty coffee industry and have managed to bring together a community of coffee lovers while positively impacting the local community and global farming environment. Scroll down to see photos from our visit to Temple in Davis.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (48)

Cafe Bernardo in Davis

If you're looking for a place to fill up on some delicious food and even get some work done, I'd definitely recommend Cafe Bernardo. With its bright, cozy interior and extensive menu, you'll undoubtedly find something that appeals to you. They specialize in seasonal farm-to-fork cuisine and serve mostly dishes of European influence. They also have multiple locations in Sacramento.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (50)

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (52)

Burgers and Brew in Davis

Whenever we are in Davis, Burger and Brew is my husband’s must go spot for a hearty meat lover’s lunch. They have been dedicated to crafting the perfect burger since its opening 15 years ago. All burgers are 1/2 pound all-natural Niman Ranch beef with no antibiotics or hormones and served with only the freshest ingredients. They also have a huge selection of craft beer with over 50 taps flowing for you to choose from and a warm and inviting atmosphere. Scroll down to see photos from our lunch at Burger and Brew in Davis.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (54)

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (56)

Davis Farmers' Market

I am always a sucker for a good farmers' market with fresh produce and local goods. Davis Farmers' Market is a weekly outdoor market in Davis, founded in 1976 by three Yolo County farmers as an alternative to the larger supermarkets in the area. Today, it's grown to over 80 farmers and 20 food vendors that sell local produce and is well beloved by all in the community. Getting there early in the morning will help you avoid the crowds and get your hands on the best product.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (58)

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (60)

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

Visiting the UC Davis arboretum and public garden is a beautiful way to spend some time lost in the beauty of nature and get some fresh air. The park spans over 5300 acres, while the historic arboretum takes up around 100 acres that operate as outdoor museums and living laboratories. You can walk, run, bike, or simply sit on the beautiful green and enjoy a picnic while taking in the sights. There is no entrance fee to the premises, and all ages are welcome, so make sure to bring family and furry friends along with you!

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (62)

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Woodland, California

Woodland is the last hidden gem on our list of small towns you should visit, but it's surely not the least! The historic nature of Woodland's downtown district and surrounding neighborhoods is reflected in the many well-preserved buildings throughout town that are home to many small businesses, restaurants, and shops. You can spend hours exploring the quaint little town or just walking around admiring the old town architecture.

Outside of the downtown streets of Woodland is mostly rural farmland, and this is where you’ll find the famous almond orchards and sunflower fields.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (66)

Historic Downtown Woodland

Woodland's downtown is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although it retains an old-fashioned charm, it showcases a thriving and booming local economy. Woodland Historic Downtown is the vibrant centerpiece of Woodland, CA. It offers visitors a rich history and culture that begs to be explored through its food, activities, and entertainment options. Here's a roundup of things you can do in the historic Downtown Woodland.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (68)

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Eat at Doggeros

When we are in the mood for some guilty pleasure eats, Doggeros really hits the spot. This is a super family-friendly restaurant serving American comfort food with a unique and creative Mexican twist. Like their one-of-a-kind 'Chorri Doggo,' a hot dog served on a brioche bun and topped with mozzarella cheese, chorizo, grilled onions, tomatoes, chipotle mayo, and avocado signature sauce. Or their mouth watering 'Quesa-Burger,' a beef patty served between two flour tortillas and crowded with mozzarella cheese, chipotle mayo, pico and avocado signature sauce, tacos, elote, and fries. Serving times are super quick and the atmosphere is very laid back and chill.

My Mexican husband grew up eating chamoy and he especially loves the Mangonadas from Doggeros. It’s the perfect combo of sweet and super tart!

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (72)

Gallery Coffee Roasters

Born out of the owner's, Ben's, love for coffee and after working over ten years as a barista, Gallery Coffee Roasters is a tribute to coffee and aims to highlight the natural and distinct flavors found in each seed of coffee. The Woodland Gallery coffee house vibe is modern and rustic, with a welcoming cozy vibe. If you're a true coffee enthusiast, this is not one to skip.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (74)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (75)

Avila Winters Design & Co

The thing about Avilla Winter Designs and Co. is that it's not just a home decor boutique shop. It's an experience. Karla, the mastermind behind the shop and brand, is a true artist and loves to share her passion for design with customers. From custom designs to one-of-a-kind pieces, Avila can help you create the space you've always wanted!

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (77)

Embellish Decor and Gifts

When it comes to gifts, souvenirs, and home decor, Embellish is the place to go in downtown Woodland. Their selection of modern rustic farmhouse home furnishings and accessories will make you want to buy everything - it's just so cute and on-trend! Not to mention that the space is inviting and comfortable, so you'll feel right at home while shopping.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (79)

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (81)

Antique Shopping in Woodland

Multiple antique stores line the streets of Downtown Woodland, making it easy to spend several hours browsing through all the hidden treasures you can find on their shelves. The stores are filled to the brim with vintage gems from decades ago. From antique furniture to jewelry and art to tools and clothing, you'll never know what you may stumble upon.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (83)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (84)

Little Chances Baby and Children’s Boutique Store

Little Chances is a premier baby, toddler, and kids boutique located in historic downtown Woodland. With clothing, accessories, and gifts for every stage of childhood, we're sure you'll find what you need to dress your little one from top to bottom! They also have very cute tees and goodies for us mamas living the Mom Life.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (86)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (87)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (88)

Sawyer's Sweet Spot in Woodland

A long day of shopping and getting lost in the streets of Downtown Woodland calls for a stop at Sawyer's Sweet Spot. Needless to say our kids were ecstatic when we decided to wrap up our Woodland visit with gelato from Sawyer's. They not only have some of the best candies and delicious treats in town, but they also work to promote a very sweet cause. Founded after the passing of the owner's son, Sawyer, to Burkitt Lymphoma, they have been able to carry on the spirit of Sawyer by funding related charities.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (90)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (91)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (92)

Rumsey, California

Rumsey is a very back-country area of Yolo County, about 45 minutes outside of Woodland. For the adrenaline junkies out there, this may be a spot to put on your travel bucket list. The Cache Canyon River Rafting Company offers whitewater rafting tours in the Cache Creek river. On their website they say that all levels are welcome, even beginners. So you shouldn’t feel intimidated or discouraged if you want to give it a try.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (94)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (95)

Where to Stay in Yolo County:

If you’re coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, or even locally in the Sacramento area, you may want to book a weekend getaway with memorable accommodations. See some of our favorite Yolo County hotels below.

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Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (97)

Travel Guide to Yolo County - Hidden Gems & Small Towns to Visit (98)

See More Northern California Travel Guides:

  • Family-Friendly Guide to Sonoma County

  • Top 35 Hidden Gems in Placer County

  • A Weekend Guide to Half Moon Bay

  • Travel Guide to Folsom, California

  • Family-Friendly Guide to Sacramento - Top Things To Do with Your Kids

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