Interstate 5 and California State Route 99 run roughly parallel through the county, providing the main north-south routes for travelers heading north to Sacramento or south through the Central Valley. Interstate 580 branches west from Interstate 5 for those going to/from the Bay Area.
- 1 Sacramento County - Bordering San Joaquin County to the north, Sacramento County stretches from the wetlands at the edge of the San Francisco Bay to the rolling hills of Gold Country. The Sacramento and American Rivers played prominent roles in the county's development, and today offer outdoor opportunities ranging from boating to fishing to birdwatching. The capital city of Sacramento sits at the rivers' confluence, and visitors will appreciate its historic districts and more than 25 museums.
- 2 Amador County - San Joaquin County's neighbor to the northeast, Amador County was home to several mines during the Gold Rush, including the Kennedy Mine in Jackson which was the deepest gold mine of its time. Today the county is known for its Zinfandel, with the Shenandoah Valley home to over forty wineries. Visitors may also enjoy Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, historic buildings, and outdoor activities such as skiing, camping and fishing.
- 3 Calaveras County - East of San Joaquin County lies sparsely populated Calaveras County, which inspired author Mark Twain's first successful story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"; today visitors can visit Twain's cabin and enjoy the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee in the tiny town of Angels Camp. The county is also home to several natural caves, a handful of wineries, Gold Rush history, and giant sequoia trees in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
- 4 Stanislaus County - While still primarily an agricultural county known for its almond trees, parts of San Joaquin County's southern neighbor have become a bedroom community for people trying to escape the high housing costs of the Bay Area. Travelers will find plenty of amenities, although most only see Stanislaus County while passing through on their way elsewhere.
- 5 Santa Clara County - San Joaquin County's southwestern neighbor is home to Silicon Valley, headquarters to hundreds of tech companies including giants like Apple, Intel and Hewlett Packard. Visitors will appreciate the massive array of restaurants, museums, and cultural opportunities offered by the huge city of San Jose, while at the other end of the spectrum the tiny town of Gilroy is famous for garlic, with its annual festival attracting over 100,000 garlic lovers.
- 6 Alameda County - Alameda County is located to the southwest of San Joaquin County. The densely populated northern part of the county is home to the many parks and museums of Oakland, the counter-cultural hub that is Berkeley, and a historic aircraft carrier in Alameda. The county's southern region provides a chance to experience dozens of immigrant communities, particularly in Fremont, while the eastern part of the county is rural, with the windmills and rolling hills surrounding Livermore offering opportunities for outdoor activities.
- 7 Contra Costa County - San Joaquin County's northwestern neighbor is a primarily residential county that offers a vast array of food, shopping, and lodging options for Bay Area visitors. The landscape is dominated by Mount Diablo, a peak that provides excellent hiking opportunities and, on clear days, summit views that stretch for well over 100 miles (160 km) in all directions. Other attractions include the John Muir Historic Site in Martinez, the estate of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill in Danville, and a World War II shipyard, now a national historic site, in Richmond.