Perched on the edge of one of California’s most significant wetland reserves, Los Banos is an excellent place to establish a home base as you explore the Californian desert. Enjoy the rich atmosphere of this small city of 35,000 residents. Mexican migrants originally settled Los Banos in 1840 and a large percentage of the town’s population remains Hispanic.
The town’s name translates to “the baths,” referring to the spring that feeds into the surrounding wetlands and the San Joaquin Valley. Visit the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge to see fowl and other game in their natural habitat.
Los Banos has a desert climate. If you’re hiking or enjoying other outdoor activities, be aware that temperatures are dry and hot during the day and can become incredibly cold once the sun goes down. Drive south to reach the San Joaquin Valley where you can hike and visit the river gorge.
Head back to Los Banos to explore the city streets. Many historic buildings date back to the early settlement years, when Los Banos was part of the “Wild West.”
Mexican, Basque and Portuguese communities host a number of lively festivals throughout the year, including the May Day Fair at the beginning of the month. With its large Mexican population, Los Banos is a great place to sample traditional Mexicali cuisine. Pick up a hearty burrito or a plate of tacos, coupled with a tropical-flavored soda or ice-cold beer.
While you can drive to Los Banos from major Californian cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, a regional airport also serves the city. Once you arrive, rent a car for the freedom to explore the natural landscape surrounding the city. Find accommodation in downtown Los Banos, close to many local restaurants and cafés.
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