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Stops on the Way

Find Western Heritage in Oakdale

Tucked along Hwy. 120 on the way to Yosemite, Oakdale holds its heritage close. From local artisan producers and farmers to Western culture, this town is a great place to spend some time on the way to the park.

Start your day at Oakdale Cheese, where you can take a tour and learn how cheese is made, visit a petting zoo and enjoy local wine and beer underneath the property’s sprawling willow trees alongside snacks like charcuterie. Don’t miss the grilled cheese, made with award-winning gouda.

Oakdale Cheese Factory in California
Oakdale Cheese Factory under the willows (Photo: by Quinn Gagos courtesy Visit Oakdale)

Next up, the small Gold Rush town of Knight’s Ferry. While you could take the highway to your next destination Austin Romito, president of Visit Oakdale, suggests taking the backroads.

“You’ll get a glimpse of the California most people don’t know exists,” says Romito. “It’s so serene.”

From Oakdale Cheese, take Rodden Road to Orange Blossom Road. You’ll pass through beautiful country on your way to the quaint town of Knight’s Ferry. The many parks along the way are perfect for a picnic. Located along the Stanislaus River, this historic town is home to a beautiful 19th century covered wooden bridge. Grab an ice cream at Knight’s Ferry Creamery or enjoy lunch and a drink on the patio of River’s Edge Bar & Grill overlooking the water. If you want to take your visit up a notch, book a trip with Sunshine Rafting Adventures to experience the town by raft.

Covered bridge over the Stanislaus River in Knight's Ferry
Covered bridge over the Stanislaus River in Knight’s Ferry (Photo: Getty Images)

At the end of the day don’t miss winding down at one of the town’s three breweries. Each has its own distinct vibe. Grains of Virtue Brewing Company is located in an old movie theater and has high ceilings and murals adorning the walls. You’ll find lots of creative beers here and monthly comedy nights. At Dying Breed Brewing, don’t miss the chance to discover up and coming musicians on Friday and Saturday nights. At Last Call Brewing Company, experience all that Downtown Oakdale has to offer and swing by for their trivia nights Tuesdays.

Dying Breed Brewing in Oakdale, California
Dying Breed Brewing in Oakdale, California (Photo: Courtesy of Dying Breed Brewing and Visit Oakdale)

When it’s time to head to the park, make sure to stop at SONS Farm Fresh on the way out of town. This family run farm stand has a little bit of everything. You’ll find local products like Oakdale Cheese and Sconza Chocolates along with tons of local produce. Stone fruits are a favorite but as you pick out picnic supplies for your time in Yosemite, don’t miss some of the more unique offerings like yellow watermelons.

Oakdale Chocolate Festival

Oakdale used to be home to a Hershey’s Chocolate factory. When the company closed its California doors, local fourth generation Italian chocolatiere Sconza Chocolates moved in. The company uses local fruits and nuts in their delicious chocolate candies and hosts the annual Oakdale Chocolate Festival the third weekend in May, located in downtown Oakdale. There’s carnival rides, a car show, vendors and, of course, Chocolate Lane where you can try and buy not only Sconza Chocolate, but chocolate from tons of other local artisans.

Oakdale’s Cowboy Heritage

While you’re in town, check out the Oakdale Cowboy Museum where you can learn about the valley’s ranching and rodeo traditions.

Located at 355 East F Street, this small museum in the historic train depot is just steps away from the H—B Saloon, pronounced “H Bar B” by locals and cowboys in the know. With leather booths, cowboy memorabilia covering the walls and strong drinks, it’s a must stop.

Cowboy Museum in Oakdale, California
Visit the Cowboy Museum (Photo: Courtesy Visit Oakdale)

Learn more at VisitOakdale.com.