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Stories from the valley

5 for 5

Contributed by Jim Morris

I’ve lived and worked in the Sacramento Valley my entire life, but admit my time on I-5 most often featured getting from Point A to Point B as fast as I could without unnecessary delay.

Fortunately, I’ve been trying to slow down a bit and enjoy its unique qualities. Here’s a simple day trip you can take that my top goals for adventure: affordably priced good food and interesting things to see.

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Located near Willows, about 90-minutes north of Sacramento, this place is especially amazing in winter.

Sac National 122215

It’s terrific what you can see right from your vehicle. I took the loop recently and saw no other vehicles along the way – it was my private wildlife sanctuary for the morning!   In 45 minutes, I saw several dozen different wildlife species, including a Bald Eagle, three deer, a Ring-necked Pheasant and too many geese and ducks to count.


This town about 10 minutes east of I-5 via Highway 20 has so much history and interesting architecture, not to mention outstanding restaurants and the mandatory stop at Kittle’s Outdoor & Sport.  For good measure, head to the Colusa Levee Scenic Park, which is tranquil and provides a glorious view of the Sacramento River.


Visit when you’re hungry, curious and need to shop for gourmet, eclectic foods. Their deli and craft beer selection will astound you. They also have a wide selection of olives you can taste and a host of foods you may not have heard of but must try – like Muffaletta Olive Salad, Lupini beans, Balsamic Barbeque Hot Sauce and Porcini Mushroom Oil. Here’s one example: check out all of your caper options below.

Granzellas- Capers

Williams Chinese Restaurant

You could do well eating in Colusa or Granzella’s but one of my favorites is this Chinese food restaurant that’s sandwiched between a farm equipment dealer and rice dryers.

Williams Chinese 122215

This is lunch special 14 out of a list of 50 and it cost me six dollars.

Pilot Travel Center

Inexpensive gas and a huge store with plenty of things I never knew I needed. There are old movies, camo baseball caps, more than 50 types of beef jerky and a Cinnabon stand (you heard me right!).  It can be busy, but it’s worth a fill up and browse.

Pilot 1

While you’re on the interstate, keep watch for the ever present and awesome Sutter Buttes, abundant wildlife and hardworking small towns along the way. Another place to visit is the excellent Sacramento Valley Museum in Williams, which provides a treasure trove of area history. I encourage you to take some time and a few detours to find your special stops in the Sacramento Valley.