Situated towards the middle-center of California, Fresno is a great place to visit and plan a vacation. Because of its location, a trip there means you can also drive a little to get to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. While you’re in Fresno, however, the various neighborhoods, museums and theaters are historical and must-see spots that are bound to keep you busy for the majority of your visit. Keep reading to learn about the best things to do in Fresno!
1. Walk through Downtown Fresno
Downtown Fresno contains the largest amount of historical buildings throughout the entire city, dating back as far as the 1800s. If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to view the Fresno Water Tower, the Bank of Italy Building, the Pacific Southwest Building, the San Joaquin Light & Power Building. Many other buildings that were built before World War II have since burned down or been demolished, but on a nice day it’s pleasant to walk amongst the historical buildings that are still standing and see some of the public art available on the streets.
Address: 845 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721
Website: Downtown Fresno
2. Visit the Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Especially if you visit Fresno with any little ones in tow, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a highly rated attraction for the entire family. The zoo is open every day from 9 am to 6 pm, and one hour later on Fridays until 7 pm. Ticket prices are very affordable, ranging from 5.50 USD to 10 USD. It’s home to more than 100 species of mammals, birds, amphibians and plants. Some of the main attractions within the zoo include the African Adventure, where you can view cheetahs, African elephants and giraffes, or Stingray Bay, where you’re allowed to touch and feed stingrays for a small additional fee.
Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Address: 894 W Belmont Ave, Fresno, CA 93728
Website: Fresno Chaffee Zoo
3. Stroll through the Forestiere Underground Gardens
The Forestiere Underground Gardens provide a unique view of ancient Roman architecture as well as a variety of trees, shrubs and vines - some being as old as 90 years. Ticket prices range from 8 to 17 USD. With admission, you’re able to walk through underground passages and rooms created in the 1900s by a single Sicilian immigrant. Baldassare Forestiere’s dreams of becoming a citrus farmer manifested into the underground gardens, which now provide a taste of the Mediterranean right in the middle of sunny California.
Forestiere Underground Gardens
Address: 5021 W Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93722
Website: Forestiere Underground Gardens
4. Visit the Fresno Art Museum
The Fresno Art Museum may be small, but it has quite the offering of pieces and exhibits that everyone can find joy in. If you happen to be visiting Fresno on a rainy day, the museum is a great option to have fun while staying dry. The exhibits always strive to represent diversity, including something from almost every culture and location.
Past exhibits have included art from the Sikhs in India’s Punjab region, the Hmong from Southeast Asia, Mexican and Peruvian cultures and Greek Orthodox iconography. Tickets are only 10 USD for adults, 5 USD for children 6-17 years of age, and free for children five and under.
Fresno Art Museum
Address: 2233 N First St, Fresno, CA 93703
Website: Fresno Art Museum
5. See a show at the Warnors Theatre
The Warnors Theatre is a historic venue located in downtown Fresno, often presenting a variety of musicals and children’s shows. It is a 2,000-seat venue that originally opened in 1928, and is also well known for its historic pipe organ that was installed with the original structure, also in 1928. In addition to musicals and plays, the theatre often puts on movie series and comedy shows. The venue is also available for special events and weddings.
Address: 1400 Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93721
Website: Warnors Theatre
6. Walk through Woodward Park
Woodward Park is the third largest in the Fresno area, and offers a multitude of activities for visitors. Simply take a stroll along the San Joaquin River, or venture into the five-acre (2 hectare) Shinzen Japanese Garden, which includes a tea house and more than 100 bonsai plants. The park also offers the perfect picnic spot, with six park shelters, one gazebo and two activity areas.
Address: 2125 Kern Street, #101 Fresno, CA 93721
Website: Woodward Park
7. Dinner and a show at Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Roger Rocka’s is a decades’ old theatre known for its superb shows and dining as well as exquisite architecture. The theatre has produced more than 100 shows, including Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, Annie, and many more classic favorites. Executive Chef Eric DeGroot was born and raised in Fresno, and makes sure to use local produce in many of his menus, which are made to match each show.
Season tickets at Roger Rocka’s range from 90 USD to 270 USD, while individual show tickets are usually 32 USD if you’re just seeing a show, and 60 USD for both dinner and a show.
Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre
Address: 1226 N. Wishon Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728
Website: Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre
8. Visit the historic Meux Home Museum
If Downtown Fresno didn’t do it for you, you’re sure to get your history fill at the Meux Home Museum. The two-story, victorian-style 1890’s home is itself something to marvel at, while the staged indoors will give you a feel for the history of Fresno as well as what it was like to live in the 1800s. While most historic museums already make you feel like you’re in a different era, the Meux Home Museum authentically submerges you.
The hour-long tours of the museum include a costumed docent that makes you feel like you’re simply following them around their own home. Tickets are only 5 USD for adults, 4 USD for juniors and 3 USD for children.
Meux Home Museum
Address: 1007 R Street at Tulare, Fresno, CA 93721
Website: Meux Home Museum
9. Bask in the beauty of the iconic Yosemite National Park
When in California, and after a more nature-filled itinerary, a must add to your list is the iconic Yosemite National Park. This nature park is one of California’s most popular attractions, with over three million visitors annually. Yosemite also happens to be tagged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which covers a vast 3.026 sqm (747,956 acres) which extends all the way to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Yosemite’s remarkable granite cliffs and beautiful waterfalls are what’s often visited when in California, as well as the multiple trails that adventure seekers hike or trek for an active day out in the outdoors. See this world wonder and experience the mountainous beauty first-hand as travelers alike make their way into Fresno.
Yosemite National Park
Address: Califonia, USA
Website: Yosemite National Park
Opening hours: 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM, Sundays to Mondays
Price: 20 USD to 80 USD
Full Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour - with Hotel Pickup !
Duration: 9 hours
10. Catch a punkrock show at Strummer's
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
This Fresno institution is for the punk rock music lovers who enjoy live music and entertainment. When in this part of California, consider making plans and seeing a punk rock show at Strummer’s. The establishment which was named after The Clash’ renowned punk rock visionary, JoeStrummer, this resto-bar, and club is surrounded by a cultural community that enjoys this unique yet classic type of music genre. Catch daily shows and events like the Monday Mixer with music and art musings, as well as the Tuesday night karaoke session which groups reserve very early. Entrance is free and guests will be given the chance to enjoy one of a kind drinks from the bar like their topnotch White Riot cocktails, Spanish Bomb cocktails, and even their authentic beer, the Belgian Style Golden Ale. Bop your head to the best punk rock tunes, enjoy your fine cocktail, and dance your night away at Strummer’s.
Strummer's Bar & Grill
Address: 833 E Fern Ave, Fresno, CA 93728, United States
Opening hours: 5:00 PM to 2:00 M, Tuesdays to Saturdays; 12:00 PM to 12:00 AM, Sundays, Closed on Mondays
11. Taste Fresno's local brew at Tioga Sequioa Beer Garden
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Situated in the heart of San Joaquin Valley in California, this one of a kind beer garden is a crowd favorite, where many travelers book tours to experience world-class beers right from Southern Sierra. Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden was established back in 2007 and is spearheaded by award-winning “brewmaster,” Kevin Cox who is known for his 20 years in the brewing industry, creating high-quality ales sold in various stores all over California. Some of the best sellers include craft beer, Half Dome California Wheat, Gen. Sherman Ipa, California 99 Golden Ale, and Zorro Especial Lager.
Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden
Address: 745 Fulton Street, Fresno, CA 93721
Website: Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden
Opening hours: 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Mon to Wed) / Thurs: 2:00 AM - 11:00 PM; Fri - Sat: 12:00 AM - 11:00 PM; Sun: 12:00 AM to 8:00 PM
12. Catch a classic film at the Visalia Fox Theatre
California is all about the sun, beaches, Hollywood glitz, and glam, as well as the historic entertainment background many people have grown accustomed to. As early as 1930, Fresno has had its fair share of visitors from all over California for they are the premier destination for arts, old Hollywood, and cultural entertainment. This historic movie theatre is managed by a set of volunteers who stands as the Board of Directors known a the “Visalian Friends of the Fox Theatre.” This age-old institution continues to host classic and modern movies to date some of which include classics like the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947), M.A.S.H. (1970), and The Big Lebowski (1998) among many iconic others.
Visalia Fox Theatre
Address: 300 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291, 559.625.1FOX (1369)
Website: Visalia Fox Theatre
Opening hours:12:00 PM to 6:00 PM, Tuesdays to Fridays
Price: 5 USD to 99 USD
Something for everyone
Fresno has a little bit of something for everyone, whether you’re on vacation with family, traveling solo, or on a quick weekend getaway. Fresno may not get as much buzz as its neighbors, such as L.A. and San Francisco, but it’s definitely not a city to take for granted. A trip to Fresno will give you all the history, entertainment and culture you desire on your trip.
Frequently asked questions about best things to do in Fresno, California
1. What are the top attractions to visit in Fresno?
If you only have to choose which attractions to visit in Fresno, then you better not miss these top sights to see: the Forestiere Underground Gardens, Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and Woodward Park.
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Fresno?
Fresno offers plenty of outdoor activities, but what you shouldn’t miss while you’re here is visiting Fresno Chaffee Zoo and meeting new animal friends. Another is exploring the beautiful Yosemite National Park.
3. What are the most popular things to do in Fresno with kids?
Are you looking for the top kid-friendly thing to do in Fresno? If so, bring them to Fresno Chaffee Zoo and let them meet different species of animals. Another option is watching a children’s show at the Warnors Theatre.
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