Fresno is located in the San Joaquin Valley, in the heart of California: it is the fifth largest city in the state and is located in a particularly favorable position to visit the parks of the Sierra Nevada, which is why you will most likely find it on your way during a tour of the West Coast. But the interest of this town is not only of a strategic nature, so to speak. Fresno offers those who decide to stop by a nice Old Town, a neighborhood full of life, museums, gardens and a nice choice of hotel where to sleep. Finally, there is no shortage of restaurants, bars and wineries that produce excellent local wine, outdoor markets, craft beer producers: in short, Fresno is not only a place to rest after visiting the parks, but also an excellent stop for the curious and gourmets.
- A strategic town for visiting Yosemite and Sequoia
- What to see in Fresno
- Downtown Fresno
- Outside the center of Fresno: neighborhoods, museums and attractions
- Tower District
- Kearney Mansion
- Forestiere Underground Gardens
- Fresno's museums
- Fresno parks and gardens
- Woodward Park
- Roeding Park
- Where to eat in Fresno (and where to drink!)
- Where sleeping in Fresno
A strategic town for visiting Yosemite and Sequoia
If you are traveling from San Francisco to the southeast, from Los Angeles to the north or from Death Valley – Las Vegas to the coast, you have probably included a visit to the famous Yosemite National Park and / or the coupled Sequoia/Kings Canyon (if you are still undecided, I recommend that you read our article on how to choose between Yosemite and Sequoia). Either way, you'll need to choose a California outback town to spend the night breaking up the journey.
Well, as we have already anticipated in our in-depth study where to sleep between Yosemite and Sequoia, Fresno it might be the suitable place: it is located west of the Sierra Nevada, approx an hour and a half from the Visitor Center of Sequoia national park and just over 2 hours from the Visitor Center of Yosemite National Park.
What to see in Fresno
Fresno was founded in 1856, immediately after the Gold Rush, and in a short time its importance grew for the construction of the railway in 1872. In the city you will find many interesting testimonies of this historical period: here what to see in Fresno, the best little city of the USA!
In this area there are most of the historic buildings, some of which date back to the founding period of the city. To be seen:
- la Saint John’s Cathedral at 2814 Mariposa Street: it was built in 1903 in Romanesque Gothic style thanks to the project of the architect Thomas Bermingham. Its red brick facade has three entrances and two particular cone-shaped square towers;
- la Fresno City Hall, the town hall designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson: the modern style with which it was built aroused various controversies as it contrasts with the ancient buildings of the historic center of Fresno;
- the ancient Fresno Water Tower, the water tower-cistern built in 1894 and in operation until 1963, today a city information point;
- Fulton Street, the main street in downtown Fresno;
- Chukchansi Park: at 1800 Tulare Street, the stadium completed in 2002 where the Fresno Grizzlies, the Fresno baseball team. From the stadium there is a beautiful view over the city center and the Sierra Nevada mountains;
- Warnors Center, a stunning 2000-seat Spanish Colonial Revival-style theater. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was opened in 1928 and sold in 1929 to the Warnors Brothers. Even today it is used as a cinema and theater for shows and live music;
- Americas art: located at 1630 Van Ness Street, it is the largest non-profit center on Latin American culture in the valley: the cultural center's exhibits range from music, filmography, poetry, literature, photography and Latin art in general. The downtown area, called La Plazita, is home to live events and concerts every Friday night;
- Meux Home Museum at 1007 R. Street is an exceptional tribute to Victorian architecture: the staff dressed in period clothes welcome guests to the building and illustrate the history of the house and the Fresno of the era. Guided tours are carried out from Friday to Sunday from 12 to 15.
Outside the center of Fresno: neighborhoods, museums and attractions
If Downtown Fresno is the historic district in the center of the city, Tower District it is the hub of nightlife and entertainment. Here you will find theaters, night clubs, restaurants, bars and art galleries. To see the Tower theater, which opened in 1939 and considered by some to be the best theater of its kind in California. It is located at 809 East Olive Avenue and can accommodate just over 76o people.
At 7160 West Kearney Boulevard we find another historic residence registered in the National Register of Historic Places. There Kearney Mansion, which can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays, is divided into two buildings: the villa and the annex with original pieces in art nouveau. But what makes this place special is the park, considered one of the most beautiful in the state.
Forestiere Underground Gardens
Maybe themost particular attraction of the city, these underground gardens are located at 5021 West Shaw Avenue. Baldassarre Forestiere, a Spanish of Sicilian origins who emigrated to America in 1901, dedicated 40 years of his life, from 1906 to 1946, to the creation of a underground tunnel with stone-walled rooms, caves and gardens housing various plants, including lemon, orange and grapefruit trees. Some of the specimens you can see today were even planted by himself: they are therefore almost 100 years old! Visits are from Wednesday to Sunday: at this link you will find prices and opening hours.A mandatory photo! If you want to take a picture of the quaint Van Ness Arch, of which you see a detail on the cover, you have to go to the intersection of Railroad Avenue and S Van Ness Avenue.
Among the museums of Fresno, I point out the Fresno Art Museum at 2233 North First Street. Opened in 1940, it houses exhibitions, educational programs, workshops and Kenneth Stratton's interesting permanent collection on pre-Columbian art.
Il Discovery Center, al 1944 by North Winery, is a museum featuring interactive exhibits related to botany, geology, electricity and history. Turtles, cacti, dinosaurs, Miwok Indians' homes… the interactive museum is Ideal for families with children!
Fresno parks and gardens
At 7775 Friant Road, in the north of the city, it is located the largest park in Fresno and the Central Valley, donated by Ralph Woodward to the city in 1968. Inside you can find, among other things, an amphitheater with 2500 seats, a Japanese garden and a large picnic area. In November, the Woodward Shakespeare Festival (or Shakespeare in the Park) is organized in this park, with live theater performances.
Lo Shinzen Friendship Garden it is located within Woodward Park and precisely at 114 West Audubon Drive. This 5-acre Japanese garden is a magical place: designed following the 4 seasons, it conceals waterfalls, streams, a lake and 7 Japanese-style bridges. In spring the cherry blossom trees are a sight not to be missed. Fresno is twinned with Kochi in Japan and the garden was created in honor of this twinning.
To the west of the city is another large city park: the Roeding Park. This large green space is characterized by the presence of a lake and various waterways, tennis courts, picnic areas and lo Zoo di Fresno Chaffee.
The zoo was inaugurated in the early twentieth century as a refuge for abandoned animals, and only in 1929 did it officially become a zoo. Today at the Chaffee it is possible to see the African Adventure, an area with elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and other exotic animals from the African continent. In total there are more than 190 species of animals, and among these 94 are in danger of extinction, thus falling within a program of protection and safeguard. The entrance to the zoo is located at 894 West Belmont Avenue and the cost of the ticket is $ 7.95 for children ages 2 to 11 and $ 12.95 for adults.
Where to eat in Fresno (and where to drink!)
If you're in town on a Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning, take a stroll through the stalls of the Vineyard Farmers Market (5132 North Palm Avenue, market on the northwest corner of Shaw and Blackstone), a market that has been offering local produce, especially fruit and vegetables, for over 35 years. Here you will also have the opportunity to have lunch or dinner with typical local products.
If you are a lover of craft beer, visit the Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company at 745 Fulton Street. The company, founded in 2007, offers various beer tastings as well as numerous events with live music and street food served by the famous American food trucks.
If you prefer wine, Fresno has some famous wineries that have produced award-winning and award-winning wines over the years. Among these, Moravia Wines at 3620 in North Bishop, founded in 2012: it uses only grapes from the San Joaquin Valley and is open for tastings and events on weekends and Friday evenings. I also recommend the LoMac Winery at 2674 North Westlawn Avenue, where the owners themselves present their wines… try the merlot!
Where sleeping in Fresno
Fresno will delight lovers of vintage signs! Many of the old historic houses are now closed, but today the city still offers a wide range of hotel and motel to choose from. Given that Fresno is not to be considered just a mere point of passage, it is advisable to choose the accommodation based on the distance from the key areas of the city: you could opt for a hotel closer to Downtown Fresno, Tower District, the Woodward Park and Roeding Park.
Here are some recommended facilities:
- Best Western Village Inn: the excellent value for money of the chain is also confirmed by this structure. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, free parking and a varied breakfast. The property is well located in downtown Fresno, between Downtown, Tower District and parks.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson: the property is ideal for those traveling on the main road between the two parks, halfway between Woodward Park and Downtown. It offers a semi-covered swimming pool with whirlpool, free parking and a fitness center.
- Double Tree Hilton: In downtown Fresno, this nice hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, bar, restaurant, free parking and is the ideal choice if you want to visit Downtown Fresno - all major attractions are within walking distance.
All accommodations available in Fresno