Published on Dec 5, 2018 by Tom Owen

You’ve bought the plane ticket, scheduled your vacation time, and maybe even popped for VIP passes to a couple of stages of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California. You’re all set to experience America’s Greatest Race up close and personal. However, the excitement doesn’t have to end after the riders head back into their team bus for the day. There’s plenty to do and see to get the most out of your trip to sunny California.


The Secrets of Sacramento

Dubbed “the most hipster city in California,” the state capital of Sacramento offers a countless variety of restaurants and cultural sites to dive into. Not only is Sacramento the capital of the Golden State, it is also the “farm-to-fork” capital of America. Known for its locally produced agriculture, you’re sure to find some delicious delights throughout Sacramento. When your foodie adventure is complete, we recommend a stop at the Sacramento History Museum to enjoy a dose of what life was like during the gold rush boom of the 1860-70s. The Museum offers a one of a kind underground walking tour where visitors can see how the city ingeniously lifted itself out of flood water. Curious? Check out for more details on tour dates and tickets. 


Lake Tahoe: Something for Everyone

When it comes to spectacular vistas, South Lake Tahoe can’t be beaten. The resort town has plenty of recreational activities to enjoy, including a variety of water sports, hiking and cycling. If you’re feeling up for an adventure around Lake Tahoe, set off on the same 117km route the UCI women race tackled in 2017, culminating in a captivating win by US champion and California resident, Megan Guarnier. Not an outdoorsy person? South Lake Tahoe has something for everyone, even a variety of exciting clubs, casinos, and nightlife if glitz and glam is more your thing, or for those just looking to unwind after a long day celebrating the majestic Sierra Mountains. has all the information you need to plan your day in one of the most pristine spots in the U.S.


Cruise through California’s Central Valley

Before setting the GPS back west towards the seaport city of Stockton, take a wine journey through California’s central valley rich with more than 85 wineries and beautiful agricultural landscapes. When you’re done stocking up on wine, head to Stockton and enjoy a boat ride on the Delta or cheer loud and proud at a Stockon Ports game!


A Literary Landscape

The journey continues to move slowly south over the week of racing at the Amgen Tour of California, and after leaving the high-tech city of Morgan Hill, Laguna Seca is the next stop on the map. At the point in the trip, you’re deep in the agricultural nucleus of California, full of history and mystic. Before reaching Laguna Seca visit the sleepy town of Salinas where John Steinbeck, one of the most influential American authors of the twentieth century, was born. Protected by the National Register of Historic Places, the novelist’s Victorian style home now serves as a small restaurant and gift shop. After a few pictures in front of Steinbeck’s immaculately preserved home, head just two blocks over to the National Steinbeck Center to learn more about the author’s legacy. The museum houses more than 45,000 documents, including original manuscripts, letters, photos and more of Steinbeck’s life. Hours, exhibit information and more can be found at While you’re heading south and towards California’s central coast, be sure to hop on California’s Highway 1 and experience the breathtaking coastal scenery that never fails to leave both visitors and natives in awe. And don’t forget to stop by the many national parks along the way!


Hearst Castle Splendor

Host cities Morro Bay and Pismo Beach are only a 30-minute drive apart, but the unique, rugged beach panoramas each place greets us with are a must see. On the way down to both sleepy, seaside towns, it’s worth taking a detour to the unforgettable Hearst Castle in San Simeon, home to the media giant William Randolph Hearst. However, “home” may be an understatement, the compound is an elaborate estate with 165 rooms, more than 125 acres of surrounding gardens and plenty to discover. Tours of Hearst Castle can be purchased through up to 60 days in advance.


Southern California awaits

The final series of host cities, Ventura, Santa Clarita, and Pasadena means we’re officially in southern California. All are within an hour or so of each other, depending on that infamous Los Angeles traffic, so be sure to plan accordingly. Working your way South, catch a breathtaking sunrise at the Ventura pier and enjoy the day exploring the city’s Spanish mission-based history and continue with a ferry ride to the Channel Islands National Park. Drive inland to Santa Clarita and spend a day at Six Flags Magic Mountain for nonstop thrills and your favorite Looney Tunes characters. The final destination for Amgen Tour of California is Pasadena, a historically rich city famous for the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade. Whether you decide to spend a day indoors visiting one of Pasadena’s museums or outdoors visiting Descanso Gardens, Pasadena is a great destination to take it slow after a full week of exploring California.


No matter what you decide on seeing, doing and eating while visiting the Amgen Tour of California, even if it’s snapping a few pictures of the Sacramento Capitol building, we’re just glad you’ve decided to share in this celebration of all things cycling and the great state of California. After all, that’s what it’s all about.

About the Author

Tom Owen

Tom Owen is a cycling writer who has worked with some of the cycling world's biggest media brands, covering everything from the top levels of the professional sport to bikepacking adventures in the Balkans.