Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Frequent Visitor's Guide to Fresno

Fresno isn't known as a top California tourist destination, but there are still interesting things to see and places to eat. Rob and I come out to Sanger, east of Fresno, a couple times a year to visit his family's ranch and see his grandmother in Reedley.  If you're visiting family or headed through on the way to Yosemite, here are a couple of my recommendations for the Central Valley:

SIGHTS
  • Underground Gardens - One of the first things I saw in Fresno and still one of the most memorable. In the middle of the hot summer, you can escape to the Forestiere Underground Gardens. What started as a Sicilian's personal root cellar became a 10 acre sunken grotto. 
  • Kearney Mansion - This is a historical estate from 1890 with docent run tours, surrounded by a large park. The large bedrooms with fireplaces upstairs are especially pretty. In the summer, Civil War re-enactments are held on the grounds. 
  • Old Town Clovis - Especially around the holidays, when the downtown area is decorated brightly, it's fun to explore the various antique stores in Clovis Old Town. One Sunday a month, they have a flea market on the closed-down streets. 
  • Reedley Opera House - We went to see a show at this dinner theater a few years ago. Originally built in 1903, the Reedley Opera House is a piece of valley history. 
  • Hanford - Almost an hour south of Fresno, you can visit the tiny town on Hanford. It looks straight out of Mayberry with a town square in front of city hall. Stop at the soda fountain, Superior Dairy Products, for a banana split. 
  • Blossom Trail - In early spring, explore miles and miles of blossoming pink and white fruit trees in the Fresno valley. Stop at various farm stores along they way to pick up local almonds and raisins. 
  • Pine Flat Reservoir - Pretty much all the open parks in the rolling oak foothills east of Fresno are nice, especially in spring. Rob and I biked a 40 mile route from Sanger to Pine Flat Reservoir one winter. Auberry and Millerton Lake, where Rob races the Big Sandy, are also pretty. 
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park - A bit further out from Fresno, you can explore giant redwood groves in the Kings Canyon National Park. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest tree in the world by volume! 


FOOD
  • Yosemite Ranch Restaurant - We just went to this local steakhouse on Monday. Yosemite Ranch Restaurant serves an overwhelming amount of good and buttery food. I had grilled artichokes, wedge salad, a baked potato stuffed with butter, chives and bacon, ranch steak wrapped in bacon and cooked "Chicago style" with herb butter, and creme brulee cheesecake. 
  • Sanger Schoolhouse Restaurant - In a converted 1920's brick schoolhouse 20 miles east from Fresno, the Sanger Schoolhouse Restaurant serves up modern farm-to-table cuisine, even with french press coffee. The chef is a Reedley native who trained and worked in the Bay Area before returning to the valley. 
  • Curry House Indian Bistro - India Oven, near our house in Lower Haight, was the top rated Indian restaurant in San Francisco for years and years. The owners moved out to Fresno and opened North Indian Bar & Grill, which is now Curry House. The food is really good, but you have to overlook their weird decision to serve beef to meet the demands of the local market. 
  • Fresno State Farm Store - A new one that we visited just this week. The Fresno State Farm Store is student run and has meet, jerky, almonds, raisins, cheese, milk, produce, jams, honey and plants for sale all made on campus. Get an ice cream cone and explore the tiny nursery. When we visited they had about 20 varieties of heirloom tomato plants for sale. 

Have you been to Fresno? I'm always looking for new things to explore here and would love your suggestions!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Visitors guide to Stockton?

-Marga