Do you prefer museums over malls? Antiques over amusement parks? Then you just might be a history buff! Luckily, Yolo County has plenty of things to do for those who are passionate about days gone by.
Yolo County was one of California’s original 27 counties when it was admitted to the union in 1850. Since then, it has grown to become the agricultural powerhouse it is today, its rural farmlands turning out every type of crop imaginable and its charming cities and towns supporting those who work the land.
Long before Yolo was a county, it was inhabited by native peoples, including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. In fact, Yolo comes from the Patwin word, Yo-loy, meaning “place abounding in rushes.”
Today, the tribe owns the world-class Cache Creek Casino Resort, Yocha Dehe Golf Club, and one of the most diverse farming operations in Yolo County where an abundance of olives, nuts, wine grapes and other crops are grown on their land near the town of Brooks. You can visit Séka Hills, an olive mill and tasting room, where you can learn more about their agricultural past and pick up olive oil, wine, honey, nuts and other products.
Yolo County has several unique history museums to check out. In Winters, a good place to start is the Winters Museum, which has rotating exhibits focusing on various topics ranging from “The Wide World of Winter Sports” to “The Lost Japanese Community of Winters.”
Another great museum in Yolo County is the Hattie Weber Museum in Davis. Exhibits focus on different aspects of the city’s past, including its Native American heritage and the construction of the railroad.
Another unique museum in Davis is the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. It’s no secret that Davis is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the entire nation, so it makes sense it has a museum dedicated to the sport. The museum has antique bicycles (including the penny-farthing), photographs, posters, and racing apparel.
If you’re interested in the history of firefighting, West Sacramento has the museum for you! The Sacramento Regional Fire Museum is dedicated to the preservation of fire service history in the area, showcasing artifacts, uniforms, and equipment from decades past. They have several vintage and antique firetrucks on display as well.
One of the most charming historic towns in Yolo County is Winters, which has a quaint, walkable downtown — in fact, the downtown area itself is named on the National Register of Historic Places. You can pick up a Historic Winters Main Street Walking Tour pamphlet and learn more about the buildings in town. Some highlights include the Hotel De Vilbiss building, built in 1889 and now housing The Buckhorn Steakhouse, and the Bank of Winters Block, a two-story Queen Anne/Classical Revival structure now home to Putah Creek Café.
Davis also has a self-guided tour of its historic heart. The Historic Pedestrian and Biking Tour takes you past some of the city’s most notable structures, most dating from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Spots on the itinerary include the Southern Pacific Depot, built in 1913, the Anderson Bank Building, from 1914; and the Davis Cemetery, with graves dating to 1855. The cemetery also has a self-guided history tour with stories of the city’s pioneer families.
There’s no better way to step back in time than to hop aboard a charming train for a ride through the Yolo countryside. The River Fox Train, which boards in West Sacramento, chugs along a track originally constructed in 1911. The train provides great scenery in a nostalgic setting that harkens to the classic era of railroad travel. Themed excursions include a murder mystery train, a wine train, and dinner trains, among others.
With so much to see in Yolo County, you may want to stay a few days. Luckily, there are plenty of lodging options where you can rest and unwind after a long day of sightseeing. There are also several historic inns in Yolo County, including the charming Abbey House Inn in Winters, built in 1905, and Park Winters, a restored 19th-century farmhouse. There are also lodging specials to be had, so book your trip today!
-Published February 2023
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