Kings County was formed in 1893 from the western part of Tulare County, and expanded in 1909 with 208 square miles of Fresno County. Historically the county was home to Tulare Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, but by 1899 diversions for agriculture had caused the lake to dry up except for occasional flooding and some residual wetlands.
Oil was discovered in the county in 1928, and the Kettleman North Dome Oil Field became one of the most productive oil fields in the United States. Today the county's economy is dominated by agriculture, although the Naval Air Station Lemoore also provides a significant economic impact.
- 1 Fresno County - Kings County's neighbor to the north, sprawling Fresno County is home to Fresno, California's fifth-largest city, and vast agricultural areas. The eastern side of the county is mountainous, featuring the remote wilderness of Kings Canyon National Park, which attracts visitors to its giant sequoias and unspoiled meadows that lie at the crest of the Sierra Nevada range.
- 2 Tulare County - Neighboring Kings County to the east, Tulare County has two distinct personalities. The western half of the county lies within the agricultural Central Valley, offering rural landscapes as well as plenty of hotels and other amenities for travelers. The eastern portion of the county features the wilderness and high elevation of the Sierra Nevada range, including the largest trees on earth in Sequoia National Park, and the western slopes of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower-48 states.
- 3 Kern County - Bordering Kings County to the south, Kern County extends across a number of geographic regions: the western portion is in the San Joaquin Valley, the northeastern portion is in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the southeastern part is in the Desert. Visitors to the county are most likely to be heading to Bakersfield, one of California's largest cities, or traveling along Interstate 5 past oil fields and agricultural areas.
- 4 San Luis Obispo County - San Luis Obispo County is located to the southwest of Kings County, and it marks a noticeable shift in landscape from areas to the south, with a dramatic and remote coastline that draws nature lovers. Hearst Castle is located here, the massive and historic former home of the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. The town of San Luis Obispo is a college town that is the last large city for over 100 miles for those traveling north along the coast.
- 5 Monterey County - Located west of Kings County, Monterey County is what many people think of when they think of the Central Coast - the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the beautiful 17-Mile Drive, Cannery Row, Pebble Beach golf course, and the rugged beauty of Big Sur. The northern part of the county contains every manner of amenity for travelers, ranging from chain motels to five star resorts, while the southern portion of the county is remote and accessible mainly by Highway One or on foot by hikers.