Stanislaus State is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley - one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Cities just north of Turlock have become bedroom communities for the San Francisco Bay Area.

A three-hour drive in any direction will take you to some spectacular sights: Yosemite National Park and the Gold Rush county to the east; Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley to the North; Point Reyes, Big Sur, Monterey Bay, and coastal redwood forests to the west; and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to the south.

In addition, you can find much to do within a reasonable drive: the state Capitol in Sacramento, the urban life of San Francisco. Wine tasting in Napa Valley, and the coastal recreational life of Santa Cruz and Monterey.

Within the immediate Turlock, Modesto and Stockton areas, you can find international foods and cultural events. You'll also find the Central Valley is a family-friendly place, with many programs and activities for children and young people, from soccer, swimming, and baseball, to choirs, bands, and dance. The following is an introduction to many of the attractions. Talk to your department chair or anyone else at the university to find out more about the recreational-leisure opportunities in the area.

National and State Parks:

Yosemite National Park

Approximately a two-hour drive from the university or 83.5 miles.

Visitors from around the world travel to Yosemite National Park to enjoy the spectacular beauty. Top-notch climbers come for the challenges of Half Dome, which towers 4,733 feet above the valley floor, and El Capitan the earth's largest exposed granite monolith, measuring 3,592 feet. The area that is Yosemite National Park has always been considered special. Its Native American inhabitants, the Ahwahneechees, viewed it as a sacred place. European explorers wrote of its awesome beauty. In 1864, Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees were set aside for protection. Naturalist John Muir and photographer Ansel Adams devoted years of their lives to ensuring the park's preservation and to documenting its beauty. Day hiking trials are abundant from easy to difficult in the valley and other parts of the park. The 4-mile hike to Glacier Point (moderately difficult) is particularly nice.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Approximately a three-hour drive from the university or 162 miles.

From atop Moro Rock, you can grasp the multiple superlatives that brought Sequoia, and eventually Kings Canyon, into the National Park System. To the north lies the Giant Forest plateau, where giant sequoias rise above their forest neighbors. In cathedral-like Giant Forest stands the 2750 foot-tall General Sherman giant sequoia tree, whose trunk weighs an estimated 1,385 tons and whose circumference at the ground is nearly 103 feet. To the west, in contrast to these gargantuan conifers, are the dry foothills with their oak trees and chaparral vegetation descending toward the San Joaquin Valley. To the south, and down more then 5,000 vertical, the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River threads through its rugged canyon. To the east, snow-capped peaks of the Great Western Divide and the Kaweah Peaks top out on Mount Kaweah at 13,802 feet. Just out of sight, beyond the divide, the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, Mount Whitney, reaches 14,494 feet of elevation. There are big trees, high peaks, and deep canyons in North America's longest continuous mountain range; superlatives abound amidst glorious scenery. Day hikes, overnight lodging, camping, and backpacking are great in these parks, and often less crowded than Yosemite National Park in the summer.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Approximately a three-hour drive from the university or 132 miles.

The Point Reyes area contains unique elements of biological and historical interest in a spectacularly scenic panorama of thunderous ocean breakers, open grasslands, bushy hillsides and forested ridges. Native land mammals number about 37 species and marine mammals augment this total by another dozen species. The park beaches are also excellent places to view the annual gray whale migration, January though April. The biological diversity stems from a favorable location in the middle of California and the natural occurrence of many distinct habitats. Nearly 20 percent of the bird species are represented on the peninsula and more than 45 percent of the bird species in the North America have been sighted. The Point Reyes National Seashore was established by President John F. Kennedy on Sept. 13 1962. Great hiking trails and four established campgrounds operate year-round.

The Pinnacles National Monument

Approximately a two-hour drive from the university or 108 miles.

The spires and crags that inspired the name Pinnacles are apart of the remains of an ancient volcano that helps tell the story of the San Andreas Rift Zone and the forces of erosion. The area as a whole preserves the plants and animals of a chaparral community. Hiking, climbing and picnicking are available as well as evening talks during spring and fall weekends. Facilities include picnic areas, drinking water, restrooms, self-guided trails and hiking trails. The monument never closes. This national monument is located in Paicines.

John Muir National Historic Site

Approximately a two-to-three-hour drive from the universityor 96 miles.

Located in Martinez, the John Muir National Historic Site is the 17-room mansion where the naturalist John Muir lived from 1890 to his death in 1914. While living in Martinez, Muir did many things: He tried to prevent Yosemite National Park's Hetch Hetchy Valley from being dammed; he served as the first president and one of the founders of the Sierra Club; he played a role in the creation of several national parks; and he wrote many articles and several books expounding the virtues of conservation and the natural world. The Muir house and historic Martinez adobe became part of the National Park Service in 1964. In 1992, Mount Wanda was added to the site. The 325-acre tract of oak woodland and grassland was historically owned by the Muir family.

Big Basin Redwood State Park

Approximately a two-three-hour drive from the university or 127 miles.

Big Basin Redwood State Park is the oldest state park in California, established in 1902. The park has miles of trails that serve hikers and equestrians, and that link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the sea trail threads its way though the park along the Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh. The park has surprising numbers of waterfalls, a variety of environments from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes, many animals (deer, raccoons, and an occasional bobcat) and an abundance of bird life (including Steller jays, egrets, herons, and California woodpeckers.) The park is also the home to stately redwood groves. The park is 20 miles north of Santa Cruz via Highways 9 and 236.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Approximately an hour-and-a-half drive from the university or 79 miles.

Millions of years ago, the ancestors of today's redwood trees dominated the cone-bearing forests of the entire Northern Hemisphere. Today, however, due to worldwide changes in climate, pine trees have taken over - more than 600 different species of them - and redwoods have all but disappeared. Just three species remain, the dawn redwood in central China; the coast redwoods along the coast of Northern California and Southern Oregon which grows at Calaveras Big Trees State Park and other widely scattered groves along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The primary purpose of the Park is to make the two groves of Sierra redwoods within the park boundaries accessible to people while maintaining the groves in condition of ecological integrity. Secondary purposes include providing quality camping, hiking, picnicking and fishing experiences to the public. The park is on State Highway 4 in Arnold.

Indian Grinding Rock State Park

Approximately two-hour drive from the university.

Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills eight miles east of Jackson. The park is nestled in a little valley 2,400 feet above sea level with open meadows and large valley oaks that once provided the Native Americans of this area with an ample supply of acorns. The 135-acre park was created in 1968 and preserves a great outcropping of marbleized limestone with some, 1,185 mortar holes- the largest collection of bedrock in North America. Trails make it easy to explore the meadows and surroundings forest. The Chaw'se regional Indian Museum features a variety of exhibits and an outstanding collection of Sierra Nevada Indian artifacts. A Mewuk village, complete with roundhouse, has been reconstructed in the middle valley. There are petro-glyphs carved on the stone. This association of rock art and bedrock mortar pits is unique in California.

Columbia State Historic Park

Approximately a one-hour drive from the university.

The population of Columbia burgeoned after gold was discovered in 1850, transforming it almost overnight into California's Second Largest city at that time. Since, then this 'Queen of the Southern Mines' has changed very little. More then 40 buildings from this era still stand. Costumed guides provide walking tours. Call 523-4301 for information. Brochures for a self-guided tour of the town are available at the William Cavalier Museum.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Approximately a one-hour drive from the university.

Railtown is located on Fifth Avenue at Reservoir Road in Jamestown. Operated by the California State Railroad Museum, this 26-acre park features a roundhouse, steam locomotives and several vintage railroad cars. The collection includes steam engines from the 1890s, parlor cars from the 1920s and rolling stock used in about 200 films, including "Back to the Future III" and "High Noon," and several television series such as "Petticoat Junction," '"Wild, Wild, West," and "Little House on the Prairie." Guided roundhouse tours and train rides are available April through December. It's open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

San Luis Wildlife Refuge

Approximately 45 minutes south of Turlock.

Take highway 165 south of Turlock about 45 minutes till you get to Wolfsen Road. Left on Wolfsen Road for about 2 miles. The refuge has a driving route, several viewing platforms, and short walking trails. The refuge is set on the scenic grasslands and riparian habitats of the San Joaquin River. Observe excellent wildlife, including birds and a rare herd of Tule Elk as a part of the larger San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area

Approximately a one-hour drive from the university.

Nestled in the grassy hill of the western San Joaquin Valley near historic Pacheco Pass, San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area is noted for boating, board sailing, camping, and picnicking. But it's anglers who find the unit's three lakes most inviting. San Luis Reservoir was constructed as a storage reservoir for the federal Central valley Project and the California State Water Project. It stores run-off water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that would otherwise flow into the ocean. The water arrives through the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal, and is pumped from the O'Neil Forebay into the main reservoir during the winter and the spring. A visitor center at the Romero Overlook provides information on the reservoir and water project through audio-visual and printed materials. Telescopes also are available for viewing the area. The dam is located on highway 152, seven miles west of Intestate- 5.

Caswell Memorial State Park

About 45 minutes north of Turlock on Highway 99.

From Ripon take South Austin Road, six miles south of Highway 99. The park features 250 acres of wildlife, native valley oak forest, hiking trails, camping, and picnic areas. Fishing is available from January through September. Call 599-3810 for more information.


Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula

Approximately a two hour-drive from the university.

Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula are located on the scenic Central Coast of California- the most popular travel destination in the United States. Other attractions in the area include Big Sur, Carmel Valley, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, 17-mile drive, and much more. Monterey is the home of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The exhibits take one into the hidden world of Monterey Bay, a spectacular ocean realm at the heart of the nation's largest marine sanctuary. The exhibits re-create the bay's habitants, from shallow tide pools to the open ocean and the deep sea. The Jazz Festival at Monterey in September is excellent. Call (831) 648-4800 for more information. This area is truly a beautiful and educational place.

San Francisco

Approximately a one-hour and a half drive from the university.

The "City of the Bay" is continually experimenting, working on self-improvement, getting into shape. There is much to take in, yet it all seems manageable when taken neighborhood by neighborhood. The hills are steep, but the streets are close. Whether you hit then rolling, striding or driving, you will fall in love with this city. So many places to see-Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Cliff House at Seal Rock, Twin Peaks, Golden Gate Park, and a shopping stop at Union Square. There are a number of great restaurants throughout the city and the Bay Area. Music festivals start in April and end around November and include jazz, blues, reggae, Irish, etc. Bay cruises, ferries to Sausalito, and tours to Alcatraz, Angel Island, and other places are available at or near Pier 39.

Berkeley and Oakland

Approximately a one-and-a-half-hour drive from the university.

Just across the Bay from San Francisco are two other large metropolitan areas. If one enjoys the coffeehouse and bookstore atmosphere, want to take in the ambiance of a large university town, or if you like to stroll around funky shops, Berkeley is a short drive away and competes with the best. In addition to the University of California at Berkeley, the shops and stores of Telegraph Avenue, the northeast hills of Berkeley contain Charles Lee Tilden Regional Park, with excellent views of the Bay Area, hiking trails, and Environmental Educational Center. Directly adjacent to Berkeley is the larger metropolitan city of Oakland, where you will find Jack London Square, and a fine zoo.

Napa Valley Wine Tasting

Approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the university.

From the moment you drive into Napa Valley, you will begin a threefold adventure: an enjoyable and relaxing journey through California's historic and scenic wine country, a deliciously crafted culinary experience offered in the restaurants throughout the valley, and a true wine-tasting experience with more than 200 wineries. A wine -tasting train ride is available at Napa Valley.

Santa Cruz

Approximately a two-hour drive from the university.

Looking for beaches, a turn-of-the-century seaside amusement park, redwoods, rolling hills, mountain steam trains, agriculture, Victorian homes, vineyards; Santa Cruz and the surrounding county have all of these. Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Santa Cruz County offers an array of California microclimates minutes from one another. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the only major seaside amusement park on the West Coast. Located on a mile-long stretch of beach, the boardwalk features 30 rides, including the thrilling 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster and the classic 1911 Looff Carousel.

Local and Regional Wineries
Most of the local and regional wineries are small and family owned.


San Francisco Legion of Honor

Located in Lincoln Park near 34th avenue and Clement Street, the Legion of Honor offers a full calendar of events, including gallery tours, lectures, and children's art classes. The Legion of Honor displays an impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an unforgettable setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

De Young Museum

Set in Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum houses an acclaimed American art collection as well as fascinating exhibitions of African art, Oceanic art, textile arts, and pre-Columbian art from the Americas. The de Young is located in Golden Gate Park near 19th Avenue and Fulton Street.

California Academy of Sciences

Set in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences includes a planetarium, the Natural History Museum and an aquarium. This is an excellent science museum and can easily take a day to tour.

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian Art, with a collection of over 17,000 artworks spanning 6,000 years of history. The museum is a public institution whose mission is to lead a diverse global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture. The Museum is located at 200 Larkin Street (between Fulton and McAllister Streets,) San Francisco, CA 94102.


The Exploratorium is located in the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco. It contains several interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the worlds of science, math, and technology. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

The museum offers interactive exhibits and programs for children to explore the world of science. It's located at the intersection of Woz Way and Auzerais Street in San Jose. It's open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday and some Monday holidays from noon to 5 p.m. There is an admission fee.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Located on Cannery Row in Monterey, this Aquarium contains more than 500 species of marine life in more than 100 galleries and exhibits. This well-known Aquarium is a must for everyone.

Local Points of Interest:

The Gallo Center

A 20-minute drive from the university.

In spring 2001, architectural planning began to create a new community treasure, a performing arts center that promised to be one of the most important downtown projects in Stanislaus County's history. Then in the spring of 2004 construction of a premier civic complex began in the center of this leading agricultural region. The programs at the Gallo Center for the Arts reflect the interests, diversity and history of the people that call the Central Valley their home. It is a landmark in the region for decades to come. The Gallo Center for the Arts opened in the fall 2007.

McHenry Mansion

A 20-minute drive from the university.

Built in 1833 by one of Modesto's first families, this beautiful Italian Victorian mansion is constructed completely of redwood and fir. The 10,000-square-foot building, distinguished by its crowning cupola, is furnished with a number of 19th century antiques, including original landscape paintings and mirrors belonging to the McHenry's. Guided 45 minute tours are offered Sunday through Thursday.

Castle Air Museum

A 30-minute drive from the university.

Aviation history takes off at Castle Air Museum, located adjacent to the former Castle Air Force Base. The museum features 46 restored vintage military aircraft, including B-17, B-29, and B-52 bombers, an RB-36 Peacemaker and an SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane. Army Air Corps and Air Force uniforms are also on display. Along with equipment, medals, and photographs.

Turlock Community Auditorium

This Auditorium presents a variety of performance from September through May. You can pick up a program at the Box Office (1574 E. Canal Drive, Turlock), or for more information call 668-1169.

State Theater

This theater in Modesto shows vintage and classic films as well as foreign films and newly released "off-the-beaten track" films. The State also has live presentations of music and theater.

Pageo Lavender Farm

At Pageo Lavender Farm you can fine unique varieties lavender and produce from over 20 types of peppers to eggplant, squash and tomatoes. Also grown is a selection of herbs consisting of basil, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and parsley.

Turlock Farmers' Market 

The Carnegie Art Museum

Community Events:


  • Almond Blossom Festival, Ripon: 599-7519.


  • Motherlode Gem and Mineral Society Show, Turlock: 571-3185
  • Oakdale Rodeo, Oakdale: 847-2244
  • Stockton Asparagus Festival, Stockton: 943-1987
  • Native American Pow Wow, Turlock: 667-3591


  • Cherry Blossom Festival, Lodi: 953-8800


  • Chocolate Festival, Oakdale: 847-2244
  • Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival, Hughson: 883-2800


  • Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans, Modesto: 538-0821
  • Patterson Apricot Fiesta, Patterson: 892-3118
  • Hilmar Dairy Festival, Hilmar: 632-4700


  • Stanislaus County Fair, Turlock: 668-1333


  • Strawberry Spring and Fall Music Festival Groveland, near Yosemite: 533-0191
  • Oktoberfest, Modesto: 571-6480


  • Pumpkin Fair, Manteca: (800) 872-6546
  • Riverbank Cheese and Wine Exposition, Riverbank: 869-4541

Child Friendly Activities:

The following section highlights additional activities especially suited for younger children.

Stockton Children's Museum

Located in downtown Stockton, this "hands-on" museum gives children of all ages the opportunity to play, visit, and learn about the many services that are part of a community. The museum includes a miniature grocery store, bank, restaurant, dentist's office, hospital, and factory, as well as a fire truck, police car and motorcycle, city bus, and ambulance. Children are encouraged to play, touch, and explore everything in the Museum.

Pixie Woods Wonderland

Located in Louis Park just outside of downtown Stockton, this children's playland features rides and play structures from popular children's stories and legends. The playland include a train, water structure, merry-go-round, swigs, slides, and more.

Roeding Park

Located in the heart of Fresno, this park contains both the Fresno Zoo and Storyland. The Zoo offers a nice array of animals in a quaint setting that allows children to see and appreciate the animals. Storyland features rides and play structures from popular children's stories and legends.

Sacramento Zoo & Fairytale Town

Located in Land Park near downtown Sacramento, the Zoo features more that 350 animals. For information on directions and prices, call (916) 264-5885. Fairytale Town is a 2.5-acre theme park featuring rides and play structures from popular children's nursery rhymes.

Hilmar Cheese Factory

Located just fifteen minutes from Turlock, the Hilmar Cheese Factory is the largest single plant cheese producing company in the world. Learn and observe through large viewing windows how cheese is made. You can take a tour of the plant, sample a variety of cheeses, and purchase lunch, snacks and gifts.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Located in Vallejo, this 160-acre wildlife park and oceanarium offers shows and attractions with killer whales, dolphins, sea lions, elephants, and tigers. Additionally, the attraction contains an impressive amusement park, complete with rides appropriate for all members of the family.

Outdoor Activities:

In addition to an almost unlimited selection of backpacking and hiking trails, camping sites, biking expeditions, fishing spots, lakes for boating and swimming, rivers for rafting, and winter sports that you can explore on your own or with your family and friends, look in to the following sample of resorts and sports clubs.

Ski Resorts:

Bear Valley Mountain Resort

Approximately a two-hour drive east of the university.

Bear Valley Ski Area provides a scenic view of the Sierra Nevada. Views from the resort drop 3,800 feet into the deep, granite cut of the Mokelumne River. With 60 trails serviced by 11 lifts that accommodate 12,000 skiers per hour, you'll spend more time skiing and less time waiting in line. Bear Valley blends home-town service, affordable prices, and mountain to challenge every breed of skier, with a rustic, traditional High Sierra setting. The ski area is on scenic Highway 4.

Dodge Ridge Ski Area

Approximately a two-hour drive from the university.

Dodge Ridge Ski Area is the closest snow to home from the Central Valley. It is 30 miles east of Sonora off Highway 108 near Pinecrest. Families love the low-key atmosphere and low lift ticket prices midweek. The SKIwee Children's Ski College for ages 3 to 8 has been rated the best in California. Kids 9 to 12 will love the Trackers programs, designed especially for them. Dodge Ridge has more than 1,200 pairs of skis, boots and poles, and for the snowboard skier, more than 120 snowboards are available. The resort has 815 acres of new trails. Dodge Ridge also maintains cross-country trails. Fully certified technicians are on duty to adjust bindings, wax skis, or do repairs.

Kirkwood Ski Resort

Approximately a three-hour drive from the university.

Kirkwood is located on all-weather Highway 88, 35 miles south of South Lake Tahoe. At 7,800 feet, Kirkwood has the highest base elevation of all Northern California ski resorts, with a 2,000-foot vertical drop and an average of 450 inches (37 feet) of snow each year. The resort features 13 lifts and 2,300 acres of skiable terrain, offering beginning, intermediate, and advanced skiers and snowboarders challenging chutes, wide open bowls and panoramic view of the Sierra. It also has 80 kilometers of cross-country terrain, a new skier development center, ski programs, family pricing, and two retail ski shops. Kirkwood offers something for all winter sports.

Sports Clubs:

Stanislaus County Bicycle Club
Sierra Club - San Francisco Bay Chapter
Turlock Fitness Club
Brenda Athletics
Crossfit ParaBellum


The following is a selection of area restaurants.