Published April 11, 2011
Some think of Fresno as the forgotten city of California; a place where you're more likely to step in a cow patty than a boutique. But that's not giving it nearly enough credit. As the breadbasket of America, Fresno makes the fine dining in LA and San Francisco possible. In fact, the surrounding Central Valley is the nation’s leading food provider. But farming is only part of what makes Fresno worthwhile; there's also nearby national parks, cultural festivals, and underground gardens.
5… Taste Mexico
Not only is the Mexican food in Fresno delicious, it’s also cheap. Your best bet is to go to Don Pepe’s Taqueria, which is across the street from CSU Fresno. The salsa bar might be the largest attraction inside this petite place. You can create your own unique salsa combination, smother your food, and eat your fill for less than $10. The taco trucks around town are yummy and great to try, but they are illegal, so eat at your own risk. Fortunately there are plenty of sit-down Mexican restaurants, so you can try the carne asada tacos and shrimp burritos in a comfortable and clean setting.
4… Return to nature
Fresno is the gateway to three national parks: Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, and Kings Canyon. These parks are just a couple of hours a way and are wonderful places to take in scenic views and enjoy the Sierra Nevada mountains. At Sequoia National Park, you can see some of the largest trees in the world, including the park namesake--the Giant Sequoia. Be sure to take in the General Sherman tree, which is the largest tree on earth. For those looking for waterfalls and an array of hiking options, there is Yosemite. If you’re unafraid of heights, Glacier Point Road is a must-see. The entrance fee is $20 per car.
3… Get cultural
Fresno is rich with ethnic heritage and tradition. To experience Fresno’s diversity, there is no better place to start than by attending a Cultural Festival. Hmong New Year, Grand Armenian Festival, and Baile Folklorico Chicana Dance Festival are a just a few of Fresno’s popular celebrations. If you’re in the area during the holidays, Hmong New Year is certainly worth the trip. Fresno boasts one of the largest populations of Hmong in America. Taking place during the last week of December, the celebration features entertainment and delicious food. Also, be sure to check out the dancing and singing competition, or enter it yourself to show off your talents. Last year more than 100,000 people attended the ceremony, many coming from the Hmong homeland of Southeast Asia.
2… Go underground
In the early 1900s, a Sicilian immigrant, Baldassare Forestiere, came to Fresno and decided to build an underground arboretum. He worked for nearly forty years carving the earth to create a striking subterranean world. The Underground Gardens features intricate passageways, patios, and rooms that are on nearly ten acres - there’s nothing like it in America. Forestiere drew inspiration from the catacombs of Rome, but we can guess that he also wanted a place to escape Fresno’s 100-degree weather. The result of his handiwork is cool in more ways than one. Cost of entry is $10.
1… Smell the Flowers
The Central Valley is one of the top fruit producers in the country. If you want to fill your senses, the Fresno Blossom Trail is a spectacular sight that stretches miles long all around Fresno County. The trail is a place where people drive and walk to see local farmer’s beautiful fruits blossom – an annual event that rivals the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. for it’s sheer beauty.