| 04/20/2020 | National Parks, Road Trips & Scenic Drives, Take a Tour


There is nothing like the excitement of a road trip. Whether you are heading out for the weekend or exploring for a week, road trips fuel our souls and restore the balance in our lives.  The best things about road trips are that they don't take a lot of planning, there are no airline tickets to buy, just a tank of gas in the car, some snacks and drinks in the cooler and you’re on your way. 

Within about 3 hours from Los Angeles and from San Francisco, (both are within about 200 miles) Visalia beckons with its charming and vibrant Main Street and is the gateway to two national parks and Sequoia National Forest all just a short drive away (and Yosemite National Park is just up the road.) With ample hotel choices, Visalia restaurants that draw their inspiration from the surrounding farms where over 200 crops grow, and friendly locals, Visalia makes a great road trip destination and an excellent basecamp for exploration.

Some of the best family vacations start with a road trip. And with so many things to do in Visalia, your national park vacation becomes so much more than just a trip to the park.

Once you are here, you will discover many options for exploration. We have curated 3 of our best picks for day trips around Visalia and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Once you experience these, you will understand why Visalia is the ultimate road trip destination.

From your basecamp in Visalia, there is so much to explore especially along Main Street, the walkable and charming heart of the city. Component Coffee Lab is a great place to start your day. This local favorite roasts their own coffee beans and brews up some of the best cups. The ambience is also a huge draw for visitors and locals a like. Located in the historic planing mill, the vibe is relaxed yet arty. From here you can choose your next steps. Here are your best choices on what to see and do in the local area.

Family Attractions

History & Art Lovers:

Outdoor Fun:

Fresh From the Farm Goodness:

From Visalia, visitors head to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Though the General Sherman Tree, the largest living thing on the planet, is its most popular site, there are many other things to see and do. The view from the top of Moro Rock is breathtaking as is the climb up the 400 stairs carved into the mammoth granite dome! Though challenging, we promise that the view from the top is worth it. For a little less strenuous of a walk, head to Tunnel Log where you have the chance to walk (or even drive if the road is open to cars) through a massive sequoia tree. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, enjoy the wildflowers and be in awe of the fallen giant. 

In Kings Canyon, the trip to Road’s End is spectacular. As you drive down into one of the deepest canyons in North America, you will be in awe of the granite cliffs and the thundering Kings River. And, if you want to extend the road trip on foot, take a hike around Zumwalt Meadow for an appreciation of the scenic valley floor.

There are many other sites to see and stops to make in these majestic national parks. Spend the day discovering and exploring these amazing places.  But to continue on your road trip, exit the parks through the “Big Stump” gate at Highway 180. From here you can loop back to Visalia, taking the turn south at Highway 63. Along the way, you will see fields and farms as well as look back toward the mountains to savor the view, reflecting on your day among the “big trees.”

As an added bonus, you will pass through a portion of the Blossom Trail as you head back to Visalia. Orange groves in bloom release their heady scent and beautiful flowers, making this spectacular in the springtime. Worth planning a day just to experience the spring bloom, the blossom trail is a seasonal display that is a road trip all in itself. 

Time saving and trip enhancing tips:

In today's digital world, specialized apps can make your journey much easier. From getting your park entrance pass ahead of time to using a GPS-based app to navigate trails and top sites, apps are a travelers best resource. The learn more about the apps and digital tools we recommend to make the most of your trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, click here.

If meandering along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, on a slower paced drive appeals to you, then take the drive through Yokohl Valley. The turn onto Yokohl Valley Drive is from Highway 198, just east of Visalia. The road winds through the Sierra foothills past ranches and open space. Springtime will put on a show of glorious wildflowers. The rugged terrain is home to wildlife as well as some interesting rock formations and hogwallows. The Blue Oak Ranch Preserve can be found out here. This 928-acre nature preserve is nestled among public lands, including Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Park. This is not open to the public on a regular basis, yet. Special events are offered throughout the year, so check their website for dates and activities. 

Yokohl Valley Road ultimately will reach Highway 190. You can circle back to Visalia by taking Highway 65 north and connecting with the 198. From orange groves to cattle ranches and amazing views of the Sierra Nevada, this road trip will soothe your soul.

Take your trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park one step further for one of the most epic road trips ever: the Majestic Mountain Loop. Three national parks in as little as three days, it is the ultimate for exploring California’s most iconic national parks.

From your home base in Visalia, Day One starts at Sequoia National Park. We recommend that you see the following. There is more to explore, but be sure to check these sites off your list.

Stop 1 - Giant Forest Museum

Stop 2 - Moro Rock

Stop 3 - Tunnel Log

Stop 4 - General Sherman Tree

Stop 5 - Tokopah Falls

At the end of the day, head back to Visalia. Downtown Main Street awaits with a variety of restaurants that are locally owned and use fresh-from-the-farm ingredients. And if you still have the energy, you will find entertainment, craft beer pubs and more.

On Day Two head to Kings Canyon National Park via the Big Stump/ Highway 180 entrance. In this magnificent park, you will see the General Grant Tree, a living shrine to the men and women of the armed forces. Here we recommend you see these top sites:

Stop 1 - General Grant Tree

Stop 2 - Boyden Cavern

Stop 3 - Roaring River Falls

Stop 4 - Zumwalt Meadow

Stop 5 - The Road's End

With its canyon that is one of the deepest canyons in north america, you will be amazed at the sites and sounds. The roaring Kings River, especially in the spring, is a sight to behold and to hear! At the end of the day, head to Oakhurst, gateway to Yosemite National Park, the last park on your tour. Book your hotel, and get some rest because Day Three is the final day of this epic trip. 

Yosemite National Park is filled with iconic views. You may have seen them in a photo but it is nothing compared to seeing it in person. Since you only have one day to spend here (feel free to extend your visit if you have time) we recommend the following sites as must sees:

Stop 1 - Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Stop 2 - Wawona Pioneer Village

Stop 3 - Glacier Point

Stop 4 - Tunnel View

Stop 5 - Yosemite Valley

©2024 Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 2734 Visalia, CA 93279
112 E Main St, Visalia, CA 93291
(800) 524-0303 : (559) 334-0141
Visitor Center Hours
Monday - Friday 8am-5pm