The fifth largest city in California, Fresno was formed in 1856 after the California Gold Rush. The bustling site lies in the center of the San Joaquin Valley and is named after the collection of ash trees lining the San Joaquin River. In the 80s, Fresno flourished with an addition of more stylized architecture and electric streetcars. Many of these structures can be seen today as visitors walk down Fulton Street and explore Downtown Fresno. Other sites of interest in Fresno, CA include the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Forestiere Underground Gardens, and Warnors Theatre. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Forestiere Underground Gardens
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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Forestiere Underground Gardens was built by Baldasare Forestiere over a period of 40 years. The Sicilian immigrant started dedicating his time to the 10-acre man-made creation in 1906 and continued until his death in 1946.
Visitors are invited to explore the spectacular features, which include a winter bedroom, a summer bedroom, a kitchen, a parlor with a fireplace, and a fishpond. Lovers of architecture will be enthralled with the archways and beautiful stone walls. Visitors will enjoy browsing the innumerable number of plants, some of which are over 90 years old.
5021 W. Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722, Phone: 559-271-0734
2.The Discovery Center, Fresno, California
© The Discovery Center
The Discovery Center is a science education center founded in 1954 that offers memorable hands-on learning experiences. Visitors will find themselves curious about and stimulated by the many hands-on exhibits that discuss the mysteries of physical and environmental sciences.
Visitors can explore the 5+ acre park that houses the museum as well as outdoor attractions such as the Miwok Indian houses, a historical barn, the Deutsch Cactus Garden, a Dino Dig, and a tortoise enclosure. The exhibit areas focus on electricity and magnets, paleontology, natural sciences, space, and Native American basketry and artifacts.
1944 N Winery, Fresno, CA 93703, Phone: 559-251-5533
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3.Woodward Park, Fresno, California
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Woodward Park is the largest regional park in Central Valley and is packed with amenities, promising visitors a wonderful outdoor adventure. A majority of the land was donated by a Fresno resident upon his death in hopes that the park would be a sanctuary to those who visited it.
Visitors will find that it has in fact lived up to its purpose; other than the expansive bird park, you can find a 2,500-seat amphitheater, a fenced dog park, an exercise course, an authentic Japanese garden, a walking trail, and picnic areas for visitors to relax in.
7775 Friant Road, Fresno, CA 93720, Phone: 559-840-1264
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4.Shinzen Friendship Garden, Fresno, California
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Located inside of Woodward Park in Fresno, Shinzen Friendship Garden was constructed to honor Fresno's sister city Kochi, Japan and to promote cultural and educational awareness. The traditional northwestern American Japanese Garden was designed around the four seasons, and the five acres are filled with structures that focus on rock, stone, and water.
Some of the features visitors might enjoy include the Mon Gate and Entry, Ume Grove, which is filled with waterfalls and walking paths, the Double Moon Bridge, which goes over a Koi pond, and the Clark Bonsai Collection, which was donated in 2015.
114 W Audubon Drive, Fresno CA 93720, Phone: 559-840-1264
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5.Fresno Art Museum
© Fresno Art Museum
A group of local artists initially established the Fresno Art Museum in 1940 as a place for them to exhibit and critique each other's work. Now, it is an active venue for art exhibitions as well as a host of educational programs, workshops, and artist talks. Visitors of all ages and skill level can take part in various art classes throughout the year.
Some of the spectacular exhibits found in the museum's permanent collection include Kenneth E. Stratton's Collection of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art: Earth, Fire & Stone and the Andean Pre-Columbian Textiles and Artifacts.
2233 North First Street, Fresno, CA 93703, Phone: 559-441-4221
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6.Things to Do in Fresno, CA: Fresno Chaffee Zoo
© Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Families visiting Fresno will find the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to be one of the most fun-filled attractions during their vacation! There are exciting animal exhibits that are the perfect combination of adventure and education, so little ones will learn a thing or two as they make memories that last a lifetime.
The engaging environment is home to over 190 species of animals. 94 are part of the Species Survival Plan, which focuses on breeding and protecting rare animals. Visitors can get up close and personal with the animals in the African Adventure safari, the Valley Farm petting zoo, and other exhibits.
894 West Belmont Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728, Phone: 559-498-5910
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7.Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre, Fresno, California
© Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre
Since its opening in 1978, the Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre has been entertaining Fresno's locals and visitors with refreshing productions of some of the nation's favorites. The theatre has only improved with time and now boasts of having over 180 productions under its belt.
Past productions include Bye Bye Birdie, Guys & Dolls, and The Sound of Music. The beloved institution is a must-visit for most as its reputation for superb shows and dining is something that must be verified in person to appreciate. Visitors will not only enjoy the food and the show, but the amazing architecture of the theatre as well.
1226 N. Wishon Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728, Phone: 559-266-9494
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8.Arte Americas, Fresno, California
© Arte Americas
Now the largest non-profit Latino cultural center in the Valley, Arte Americas started off in a modest one-room office in 1987. The organization is now an integral part of Downtown Fresno's Cultural Arts District. Visitors can enjoy exploring the center, which brings together an eclectic collection of works from Latino filmmakers, musicians, poets, photographers, and artists.
The 10,000 square foot gallery and performance, classroom, and meeting spaces provide a great place to spend the day exploring Fresno's Latino art culture. During summer months, visitors can spend their evenings in the adjoining La Plazita and enjoy a number of scheduled concerts each Friday night.
1630 Van Ness, Fresno, CA 93721, Phone: 559-266-2623
9.Fresno Grizzles Minor League Baseball - Chuckchansi Park
© Fresno Grizzles Minor League Baseball - Chuckchansi Park
Chuckchansi Park, which opened its gates in 2002, is the home of the Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball team. The ballpark is an intricate part of Downtown Fresno and comes alive in the spring when visitors can enjoy one of the 72 home games played there annually. Visitors who are not fans of baseball would still enjoy an evening at Chuckchansi Park as it offers stunning views of Fresno's skyline against the majestic backdrop of the Sierra Mountains.
The ballpark also has a full-service restaurant and bar, 33 luxury suites, a pool and spa, and a Fun Zone for young Grizzlies fans complete with an inflatable slide, interactive pitching and batting activities, and a carousel.
1800 Tulare Street, Fresno, CA 93721, Phone: 559-442-1047
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10.The Blossom Trail
If you would like to explore Fresco County’s beautiful Blossom Trail you will need to plan a visit during mid- February to mid-March when acres and acres of fruit trees burst into flower. The Blossom Trail is a self-guided trail which you can follow by car or bicycle, stopping here and there to admire the brilliance of the flowers from the side of the road. There are usually a lot of fun community activities planned for the weekends too. Just a few of the blossoms you will see include brilliant white Almond and Plum Blossoms and bright pink and red peach and nectarine blossoms. You can also view the colorful spectacle from the comfort of the Blossom Trail Train.
11.Meux Home Museum
© Meux Home Museum
A tribute to Victorian architecture, the Meux Home Museum is a place for Fresno visitors to go back in time and understand a bit of Fresno's history. The two-story edifice is an architecture lover's dream come true; visitors can explore, in detail, the exterior walls of clapboards, shingles, and floral relief work or marvel at the skyward roof with numerous chimneys.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is worth a visit not only because of its architectural exterior but because of the trinkets and treasures that can be found inside the home as well.
1007 R. Street, Fresno, CA 93710, Phone: 559-233-8007
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12.Kearney Mansion Museum, Fresno, CA
© Kearney Mansion Museum
Visitors are invited to have an exciting learning opportunity at the Kearney Mansion Museum either through a scheduled educational tour or by exploring it themselves in a leisurely walk or picnic on the grounds. The Kearney Mansion is an important historical site in Fresno as it was part of the proposed architectural design of M. Theo Kearney, a pioneer in California's agriculture known as the "Raisin King."
Visitors can see 50% of the original furnishings in the house, including the art nouveau light fixtures and the wallpaper. Historic replicas have been created of any furnishings that were lost over time. Visiting the museum is a great way for people to better understand Fresno's history, and it will be a memorable day for all.
7160 W Kearney Blvd, Fresno, CA 93706, Phone: 559-441-0862
© Fresno Philharmonic
The Fresno Philharmonic, one of the leading arts organizations in the Central San Joaquin Valley, is Fresno's professional symphony orchestra, and they are going on their 63rd season. Visitors will be awed at the live musical experience that the Philharmonic offers, whether it be in the form of a performance or one of the many music education programs.
For the 2016-2017 season, the Fresno Philharmonic invited six conductors to conduct a masterworks concert and compete for the opportunity to become the next music director; it will make for an exciting concert for those visiting Fresno
7170 N. Financial Drive, Suite 135, Fresno, CA 93720, Phone: 559-261-0600
14.Things to Do in Fresno, CA: Rotary Storyland & Playland
© Rotary Storyland & Playland
Rotary Storyland & Playland initially opened in 1962 as a place to inspire children by bringing the wonderful world of storybooks to life. Converting make-believe to reality, the theme park once took children on an adventure through castles and cottages and aboard pirate ships and rockets. After having closed, the theme park was renovated and reopened for Fresno residents and visitors to come enjoy with their families.
Attractions include the Fairytale Exhibits, which take visitors through the worlds of the three little pigs, Humpty Dumpty, Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, and much more. Other attractions include the historic WIllis B. Kyle Express Train and the Daniel R. Martin Children's Theater, which is filled with storytellers, magicians, musicians, and more!
890 West Belmont Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728, Phone: 559-486-2124
15.Millerton Lake State Recreation Area
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Twenty miles northeast of Fresno lies the Millerton Lake State Recreation Area (SRA). The 40-mile stretch of land and lake came into being in 1944 when the Friant Dam was constructed. Since then, it has been a place for families to spend the day together during the summer and winter months. On warm, sunny days visitors can go swimming, fishing, boating, or indulge in a number of other water activities.
There are special boats that take visitors on tours of the lake during winter months, which is also a great time to view the nesting bald eagles. The park is great for hikers and nature enthusiasts as the trails provide an opportunity to view wildlife such as cottontails, badgers, mule deer, and bald and golden eagles. Visitors can also camp on site, on boat, or on land.
19305 Winchell Cove Rd, Friant, CA 93626, Phone: 559-994-4880
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16.Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center
© Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center
The Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center is the site of Fresno's most anticipated events. The premier performing arts and convention center is located in the heart of California's Central Valley and hosts memorable concerts, professional sporting events, and hit Broadway shows.
Events and shows that have been scheduled at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center include the Old School Party Jam with Salt-n-Pepa, Phantom of the Opera produced by Cameron Mackintosh, and The Nutcracker presented by The Lively Arts Foundation. There are a score of events to attend throughout the year, and Fresno visitors can check the center's calendar to prepare for their visit in advance.
848 M Street, 2nd Floor, Fresno, CA 93721, Phone: 559-445-8100
17.Vineyard Farmers Market, Fresno, CA
© Vineyard Farmers Market
The Vineyard Farmers Market has been providing Fresno residents and visitors the finest in locally grown vegetables and fruits for over 35 years. They're dedicated to providing healthy, quality products all year round and have been open every Wednesday (3pm to 6pm) and Saturday (7am to noon) rain or shine. Visitors not only get to stock up on fresh produce, but they can also walk away from the farmer's market with a range of treats from the many prepared food vendors that are there. Many of the baked goods are made from organic or locally sourced ingredients and are delightful treats!
5132 N. Palm Avenue, #359, Fresno, CA 93704, (Farmer's Market is held on the North West corner of Shaw and Blackstone)
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18.What to Do in Fresno, CA: Tower District
© Tower District
The Tower District is a world of its own located within Fresno. It consists of a collection of galleries, performing art venues, theaters, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, delis, and specialty shops that all offer something unique and memorable to a Fresno vacation. Renowned as the dining and entertainment district, the district invites visitors to walk the few blocks in which all the excitement takes place.
Exploring the Tower District is a great way for visitors to truly experience the vibrant nightlife that Fresno offers; they can do everything from exploring new and stunning pieces in the galleries and taking in a show to listening to a live band or purchasing a locally produced treasure. Everything can be done in this one-of-a-kind location.
E Olive Ave & N Wishon Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728, Phone: 559-497-8362
© Island Waterpark
Singapore Tsunami. Mumbai Monsoon. Tokyo Typhoon. These sound frightening, don't they? Frighteningly fun that is! The Island Waterpark in Fresno is the perfect way for people to cool off on a hot summer day while letting the kids have a great time in a safe and fun environment.
The Central Valley water park is filled with slides, pools, water rides, and kids play areas, ensuring that there's something for everyone no matter how young they are. Open only in the summer, the park allows visitors to rent out a cabana and create a memorable experience for the entire family.
6099 W Barstow Avenue, Fresno, CA 93723, Phone: 559-277-6800
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20.Sam's Italian Deli, Fresno, California
© Sam's Italian Deli
Sam and Angel Marziliano were a young Italian couple living in Canada in 1968. They decided to open up their very own grocery business so they could provide the community with local and fresh produce, meats, and breads alongside delicious foods from their native land of Bari, Italy. Now, nearly 50 years later, locals and visitors flock to Sam's Italian Deli in search of olive oils, pastas, and specialty groceries.
The bakery holds a variety of freshly-baked breads the family makes in Old Italian style, and the deli counter has imported cheeses, fresh cold cuts, Sam's homemade sausages, and Angela's take-home pasta dinners. Visitors can leave with a bottle from the specialty and boutique wine section, which has over 700 bottles.
2415 N First Street at Clinton, Fresno, CA 93703, Phone: 559-229-9346
21.Old Fresno Water Tower
The historic Old Fresno Water Tower is one of the town’s most prominent landmarks. The tower was designed by Chicago architect George Washington Maher in 1891 and building was completed three years later. The tower had a remarkably complex structure including a 3-foot wide passage between its inner and outer walls. The tower served to provide Fresno County residents with water for 69 years until its pumping machinery could no longer cope with demand. Built in the American Romanesque style, the lovely old structure was remodeled in 2001. The water tank was removed and it is nowadays home to the Fresno County Visitor’s Center.
Old Fresno Water Tower, 2444 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93721, 559 449 3929
22.Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company
© Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company
Founded in 2007, the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company has been producing world-class beers for Fresno's locals and visitors. But what they produce is more than just beer; visitors will see that the brewing company is actually creating a sense of awareness of the Southern Sierras by conserving and preserving the resources of the region in which they live.
Each bottle of fresh local craft beer, created by award winning brew master, Kevin Cox, is filled with local flavor and culture. Visitors can sit back and enjoy a chilled one after a day of exploring Fresno's many sites and attractions, or even during the many live concerts, art shows, and food truck festivals hosted at the Beer Garden.
745 Fulton, Fresno, CA 93721, Phone: 559-486-2337
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23.Moravia Wines, Fresno, CA
© Moravia Wines
No trip to Fresno is complete without a visit to the San Joaquin Valley and the many wineries found there. One that stands out of the crowd is Moravia Wines, a family-owned and managed winery that opened in 2012.
The family had been farming in the valley for over thirty-five years, but it wasn't until four years ago they decided to convert their delicious San Joaquin Valley grapes to good wine. Visitors are invited to come explore the grounds and the winery or to just relax and enjoy one of the many entertaining programs scheduled weekly.
3620 N Bishop, Fresno, CA 93723, Phone: 559-843-2140
24.Wild Water Adventure Park, Fresno, CA
© Wild Water Adventure Park
Wildwater Adventure has rides and attractions for people of all ages. The GhostSlider is the park's most extreme ride, and visitors come from all over to have a go at the high speed slide that swirls in the sky and then drops visitors with a huge splash into the pool.
The 30,000 square foot wave pool is the largest in California and is a family favorite! The Adventure Bay kiddies area is perfect for toddlers and young ones as they explore the tropical paradise decorated with colorful sea creatures and children-friendly rides and slides. The rides and attractions amount to endless fun at Wild Water Adventure Park, and visitors will enjoy their time there.
11413 E Shaw Ave, Clovis, CA 93619, Phone: 559-299-9453
25.Fashion Fair Mall
© Fashion Fair Mall
Fashion Fair Mall was built and opened in 1970 and two of the original departments stores, Macy's and JCPenney, are still available at the mall today. Other than those two, an array of children's favorites can be found at the mall from the little ones at Gymboree to the teens at Claire's.
Visitors need not worry, as adult favorites such as Sephora, Lush, Michael Kors, and Anthropologie are also available. After a tiring day of shopping, visitors can reenergize themselves at one of the many tempting food and snack outlets including Auntie Anne's, BJ's, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Cinnabon.
645 East Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA 93710, Phone: 559-224-1591
25 Best Things to Do in Fresno, California
- Forestiere Underground Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of tortoon - Fotolia.com
- The Discovery Center, Fresno, California, Photo: The Discovery Center
- Woodward Park, Fresno, California, Photo: Courtesy of rck - Fotolia.com
- Shinzen Friendship Garden, Fresno, California, Photo: Courtesy of Kit Leong - Fotolia.com
- Fresno Art Museum, Photo: Fresno Art Museum
- Things to Do in Fresno, CA: Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Photo: Fresno Chaffee Zoo
- Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre, Fresno, California, Photo: Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre
- Arte Americas, Fresno, California, Photo: Arte Americas
- Fresno Grizzles Minor League Baseball - Chuckchansi Park, Photo: Fresno Grizzles Minor League Baseball - Chuckchansi Park
- The Blossom Trail, Photo: hitdelight/stock.adobe.com
- Meux Home Museum, Photo: Meux Home Museum
- Kearney Mansion Museum, Fresno, CA, Photo: Kearney Mansion Museum
- Fresno Philharmonic, Photo: Fresno Philharmonic
- Things to Do in Fresno, CA: Rotary Storyland & Playland, Photo: Rotary Storyland & Playland
- Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of bulashenko - Fotolia.com
- Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center, Photo: Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center
- Vineyard Farmers Market, Fresno, CA, Photo: Vineyard Farmers Market
- What to Do in Fresno, CA: Tower District, Photo: Tower District
- Island Waterpark, Photo: Island Waterpark
- Sam's Italian Deli, Fresno, California, Photo: Sam's Italian Deli
- Old Fresno Water Tower, Photo: David/stock.adobe.com
- Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company, Photo: Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company
- Moravia Wines, Fresno, CA, Photo: Moravia Wines
- Wild Water Adventure Park, Fresno, CA, Photo: Wild Water Adventure Park
- Fashion Fair Mall, Photo: Fashion Fair Mall
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kit Leong - Fotolia.com
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