10 reasons to love Yolo County (and why you should visit now!)

Last updated on August 21, 2023

We fell in love with Yolo County, a lesser known area of California that feels like it’s on the brink of being the next big thing in California tourism. With charming towns, a forward-thinking university, and a huge bounty of agricultural land that’s giving rise to all sorts of experiential farm experiences, it offers a perfectly laidback California getaway.

Where is Yolo County?

Yolo County is just outside Sacramento, nestled between the city and Napa. It’s also just two hours or so from San Francisco.You could easily visit Yolo as part of a trip to Sacramento, but we recommend staying there for a few days as it’s a destination in its own right. It’s an ideal place to incorporate into a California road trip (don’t miss our mega California road trip planner).

Here are the reasons we fell in love with it, and our guide to the best things to do in Yolo County, CA.

Yolo County Map

10 things to do in Yolo County, CA

1. Davis Farmers Market

Davis Farmers Market

To my mind, the Davis Farmers Market is a kind of utopia. One of the first farmers markets in the USA, it championed the buy-local movement that formed part of the hippy sixties and seventies, and that legacy survives today. Some of the stalls are still the same as the ones that started it all, only with the next generation manning the stand.

It’s meticulously curated and has stayed faithful to its roots, focussing on locally grown produce, and with a only a few stalls given over to crafts (and even those must have some sort of food/farm-related element).

Given its location in Davis, surrounded by farmland, you know that high quality goods are guaranteed, and everything is served with a smile.

We particularly loved the market’s setting, next to a park with two fun playgrounds for kids, and the perfect place to bring a picnic gathered from the market. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Davis, CA.

Pick-your-own bouquet at Park WInters

2. Pick-Your-Own Bouquet Experience

One of the most unique things to do in Yolo County is a pick-your-own bouquet experience at The Farm at Park Winters, part of the Park Winters country estate.

Run by the fabulous flower farmer Rafael Galiano, this is a gorgeous way to spend an hour or so, picking your blooms and arranging them into the perfect bouquet. Our kids loved it as much as us and spent ages trying to find their favourite flowers (we’ve included it our guide to the best family attractions in California)

The flower garden itself is gorgeous, backed by the peaks of the Capay Valley and with a lavender edged path leading to its entrance. And there’s an impressive rustic barn, filled with dried flowers, space for floral arranging and an assortment of locally produced oils and cosmetics for sale.

Park WInters flower barn

The Farm at Park Winters feels like it’s only just starting its journey into experiential tourism and Rafael told us of more exciting plans to come, including an amazing sounding farm stand and more farm-to-table dining experiences (they already offer these at Park Winters).

I can see the whole Park Winters estate becoming an increasingly popular destination venue for travellers looking for a “getting away from it all” countryside break. And it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Yolo County.

3. Stay or dine at Park Winters

Inn at Park Winters

So we’ve talked about the wonderful Farm Winters and its charming farm experiences. And next door is its parent property, the sophisticated Park Winters, a country estate with a luxury guesthouse and popular wedding venue.

The five-star bed and breakfast, Inn at Park Winters, is housed in a restored 1865 farmhouse and is a romantic spot, perfect for a couple’s getaway.

And the venue is first class, complete with an elegant white barn, pristine lawns, and a chic pool and hot tub. Don’t miss the rustic barn, which is filled with dried flowers, mostly bouquets from previous weddings. It’s photography heaven in there.

They also do amazing evening dinners where you can choose indoor or al fresco dining, and enjoy an indulgent farm-to-fork menu.

4. Turkovich Family Wines

Turkovich Tasting Room, Winters

The tasting room for Turkovich Family Wines was like a breath of fresh air after some of the more overpriced experiences in Napa Valley. The down-to-earth tasting room in the charming town of Winters is a friendly place to do a guided wine tasting in casual surrounds. And the wine itself is affordable too. I was a huge fan of the white Albariño – so much so that I took a bottle back to the UK.

Also in Winters is the Berryessa Gap Tasting Room, another friendly venue and a wine family that has been growing rootstock since the 1960s. And there’s also Patio 29, a family spirits distillery with a bar and tasting room. Visiting one of these tasting rooms is definitely one of the best things to do in Winters.

5. The charming town of Winters

Piano in Winters, CA

If you’re a fan of that American small town idyll – the kind of place where everything is family owned and there’s a bandstand in the park – then Winters is the place for you (hands up, I am that person!).

The sweet little town has a handful of charming cafes, restaurants and shops, including the tasting rooms mentioned above.  And other highlights include Steady Eddy’s Roastery and Café and Putah Creek Café. There’s even a piano on the street that anyone is free to play.

The family-friendly brewpub, Hoobie’s Brewing Company, is a fun place to hang out, and they also have a farm where they host a pop-up pub with food trucks throughout the summer months.  

There’s a stylish boutique hotel, Hotel Winters, so it’s a good place to base yourself on a trip to Yolo County.

6. The HIVE Tasting Room

HIVE tasting room, Woodland CA

For a change from wine, and for something kids can enjoy too, head to The HIVE where you can do a mead and honey tasting. Otis loved trying the honey while I sampled the mead.

The stylish tasting room in Woodland has over 30 honeys from all over the world, and they also serve food, including a mead fondue!

There’s an outdoor courtyard for whiling away some time and you can also explore the pollinator gardens and learn about the production of honey. It’s our top pick of things to do in Woodland, CA.

7. Most bike-friendly city in the USA

Varsity theatre, Davis

Davis is unusual in America in that it’s been built with bikes in mind. Something like 20% of trips are made by bike, which is more than 10 times the national average. And the whole university campus is car free. This is partly the result of activism in the 1960s and 70s, when the community pushed for the city to become the bicycle capital of America.

Nowadays, you can see bike lanes and people on bikes on practically every street. Squint and you might think you’re in Amsterdam. It’s a refreshing change from what is normally a very car-heavy country.

8. Capay Valley Lavender Farm

Capay Valley Lavender was started by the inspirational Sherri Wood after she was widowed and decided to follow a life-long dream of being a farmer. The 28-acre farm specialises in fresh organic lavender, but there are also herbs, figs, pomegranates, citrus and olives.

There are tours, picnic spots, workshops and 5-acres of lavender to roam.

9. Farm-to-fork dining

Savory Cafe

Given its location among miles of farmland, you can trust Yolo County to have plenty of fresh and local produce. And there are plenty of restaurants that celebrate that bounty. Try Savory Café in Woodland where chef Juan Barajas has championed the slow food movement and serves a popular breakfast and lunch menu.

Or in Davis, there’s The Mustard Seed, Seasons Kitchen and Bar, and Osteria Fasulo. And of course, you shouldn’t miss the farm dinners at Park Winters.

10. Lots of fun farm tours on offer

As well as Park Winters and Capay Valley Lavendar Farm, there are also lots of other fun farm and countryside tours and experiences to enjoy in Yolo County. You could try this Capay Valley Farm Tour, which visits three farms (wine, olive oil and lavender) and includes a farm-to-fork lunch.

Or do this tour that includes visiting a sunflower farm in Woodland, going to the California Agricultural Museum, doing a honey tasting with a beekeeper  and having lunch at Savory Café.

Or simply enjoy the views of the Yolo countryside from this fun railbike tour.

All in all, Yolo County is an amazing place to spend a weekend getaway, absorbing yourself in the countryside and all the bounty it has to offer. Book your trip now!

Where to stay in Yolo County

Hotel Winters

Hotel Winters

For a stylish stay, head to Hotel Winters, a 78-room hotel in the heart of charming Winters. It’s popular for weddings, and includes a spa, Italian restaurant and cute courtyard with a small plunge pool. It’s black and white façade is picture-perfect.

Inn at Park Winters

Inn at Park Winters

The ultimate luxury farm stay can be found at the Inn at Park Winters, a five-star bed and breakfast in a stylishly restored farmhouse. There’s a chic outdoor pool onsite, plus it’s right next to the gorgeous Farm Winters (see points 2 and 3 above).

Best Western Davis

Palm Court Best Western Davis

If you fancy a more bustling but still laidback alternative to Winters, stay in Davis. We recommend the Best Western Plus Palm Court in the city centre as it’s just minutes away from a whole host of cafes, restaurants and bars. Plus it’s super convenient for the Davis Farmers Market, which will be an unmissable part of your stay.

We stayed in a one-bedroom suite, which was ideal for our family of four. It even had a balcony overlooking the street, which was a fun place to people watch. It’s right next to a popular restaurant, Cafe Bernardo that serves casual farm-to-fork cuisine.

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Our California travel guides

We also have detailed guides to loads of California destinations that can help you plan even more. They’ll especially suit you if you’re a bit like us, keen on discovering the creative side of a destination and in pursuit of all the best cafes, ice creams, doughnuts, bookshops, murals and beauty spots. And we have lots of family guides if you’re travelling with kids.

Road trips: California Road Trip | Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip | San Francisco to Seattle road trip | San Francisco to Seattle road trip

Handpicked travel guides: Laguna Beach | Mendocino |San ClementeSan Diego  | Santa Barbara  | Santa Cruz|Shasta Cascade and Redding Sonoma |Tuolumne County Yolo County

California family travel guides: California with kidsLos Angeles with kids | Sacramento with kidsSan Diego with kids | San Francisco with kids

California accommodation guides: Joshua Tree Airbnb | Laguna Beach Airbnb | Hip Palm Springs Hotels | Palm Springs Airbnb | Palm Springs VRBO | San Diego Airbnb | Santa Cruz Airbnb | Santa Barbara Airbnb |Santa Monica Airbnb | Sonoma Airbnb | Venice Beach AirbnbHip San Francisco Hotels

California attraction guides: How to get the most out of Disneyland with toddlers | The ultimate guide to Universal Studios with babies and toddlers

If you’re heading elsewhere in the USA or even worldwide, see more of our family travel tips here.

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