Just before spring officially begins, Yolo County offers a beautiful sign. Around mid-February, the almond orchards start bursting with pink-and-white blossoms. By early March, their petals start blanketing the ground with what locals refer to as the Yolo County snow.
For those itching for spring, the weeks from mid-February to mid-March are a great time to explore Yolo County. Visitors can use our self-guided map to make their way through the many almond orchards throughout Yolo County, taking in some stops along the way. Check out historic downtown Winters for its steakhouse, wine and beer tasting rooms, and the small shops along Main Street. Explore the Yolo Countryside with a drive through the lush Capay Valley to see more almond blooms, then take in a wine or olive oil tasting at Seka Hills. Head back through Woodland for some downtown shopping, Mexican food, or a visit to the California Agriculture Museum. Stop by Davis to take in the Davis Farmers Market and stroll the UC Davis Arboretum. Make sure to download our exclusive savings passes as you explore Yolo County.
Are you all about the almond? Those blooms and the much-loved nut will be the focus of the 2022 Capay Valley Almond Festival, Feb. 26 and 27, 2022.
The event includes a parade on Saturday, Feb. 26 in Esparto, with activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. like live music, food trucks, and an almond-themed bakeoff. The Sunday festival has events all over Capay Valley from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you go that Sunday, pick up a passport in Esparto. After checking out the town and park, head back onto Highway 16. Meander through Capay, Books and Guinda, with a final stop at the Rumsey Grange Hall. Those who get stamps in each small town can turn in their passports at the grange hall for entry into a drawing for a giant gift basket.
Don’t miss the many farms, stores and other stops in Capay Valley. As you view more blooms, stop by places like Seka Hills, with wine, olive oil and specialty foods from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. On Feb. 27, it will have live music, Buckhorn BBQ Truck, almond cookie ice cream sandwiches with olive oil ice cream, and guided tractor tours to view almond blossoms.
This is the 107th year since the start of the Capay Valley Almond Festival. The first event was in October 1915, celebrating the almond harvest. In 1964, the Esparto Regional Chamber of Commerce took over the festival, moving it to the last Sunday in February to coincide with the almond bloom.
Festival organizer Laura Gordon was born and raised in Rumsey and served as the 1982 Almond Queen. “I love almonds and I love the Capay Valley. It’s huge to be able to keep this tradition going.”
As you drive among the blooms, do keep in mind that the fields are private property and should only be viewed from the road. The large crowds that have come in the past have done considerable damage to farmers’ businesses, which is especially frustrating for them. We understand the desire to be among the blooms, but please DO NOT wander into the orchards. Make sure to read through our viewing tips here.
Parade: Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The parade will go down Yolo Avenue in Esparto, leading to Esparto Community Park for music, food trucks, a bakeoff, and nonprofit vendors.
Festival: Sunday, Feb. 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 107th Capay Valley Almond Festival includes food, crafts and fun in Esparto, Capay, Books, Guinda and Rumsey. Pick up a passport from the Esparto Regional Chamber of Commerce and get it stamped along way for a chance to win a large gift basket.’
Check our round up of other almond themed events here.
When? February through early March is the best time of year to view Yolo County almond blossoms.
Directions: From Sacramento, take I-5 north to Exit 541 (CA-16), then Highway 16 west to Esparto. From the Bay Area, exit west on Highway 16 from northbound I-505.
Photo etiquette: Do not trespass. Do not park or walk on private property, and do not pick or cut blossoms (both damage the trees, land and irrigation).
Be safe: Drive carefully and pull over to a safe spot to take photos. Highway 16 is a two-lane rural road without shoulders, and has few pullouts.
– Farmers pronounce it “aa-monds” not “all-monds.” They joke that they’re “all-monds” until they’re harvested by the tree shaker, which knocks the “L” out of them.
– Almonds were Yolo County’s top crop in 2018 and 2019, but a drop in prices knocked them to third in 2020, after tomatoes (the longtime leader) and wine grapes.
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