California, the Golden State, is home to a number of exciting major cities, charming towns, and has some of the most stunning landscapes. Fresno is the fifth largest city in California with a population of over one half million. This mid-sized city in central California is known to be California’s “Year-round Playground” with its multitude of outdoor activities. Whether you need a romantic getaway or a family vacation, you’ll find that Fresno will check off everything on your list for a fun-filled vacation. It’s a fantastic destination for budget travelers.
There’s a vast range of affordable and fun activities for the whole family. Explore the Forestiere Underground Gardens, Shinzen Japanese Gardens, and a number of national parks and national forests including the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. You’ll fall in love with everything Fresno has to offer and you may never want to leave. According to the New York Times, Fresno is one of the country’s most affordable places to live. This is due to the low housing prices and cheaper cost of living. Fresno has the luxury of being close to recreational areas yet it is an affordable community. Check out some of the beautiful homes for sale in Fresno. Whether you want to move to Fresno or just simply visit, you’ll definitely want to explore the phenomenal landscapes that Fresno has to offer. Here’s a list of only 4 of the many family-friendly places to visit in Fresno California.
1. EXPLORE THE BEAUTY OF WOODWARD PARK
The Woodward Park is the largest park in Fresno. It’s an amazing 300-acres that’s packed with excitement for the entire family. This is a great place to escape to and spend quality time with your loved ones. There are designated areas for barbeques with picnic tables, children’s play areas, dog parks, and a fitness course. They even have 5,000 meters and 10,000 meter Cross Country courses. Bring your bikes and enjoy the Woodward Park BMX course or the Woodward Mountain Bike Skills Progression Park. Later, you can enjoy a fun round of 18 holes at the wooded and hilly Woodward Legacy Disc Golf Course.
For a more relaxing time, head to the Southeast corner of the park which is a hot spot for bird watching. Or you can visit the parks most exotic destination at the Shinzen Friendship Garden. If you’re visiting during the spring, you will see camellias and ume trees blooming. While in the autumn, you’ll see vibrant red leaves from the maple trees. This peaceful 5-acre garden includes a Tea House made of Japanese red cedar. Here you will learn about the significance of tea ceremonies and tea houses to the Japanese. There’s also a Double Moon Bridge which overlooks a pond filled with colorful koi.
In 2015, the Clark Bonsai Collection was opened. This area is a place for exploration, learning, reflection, serenity, and renewal. This notable collection of over 100 special bonsai has enriched the experience and learning for those who visit Shinzen. With landscape views at every turn of the path, your stroll along the walkways is a pleasant and rewarding experience.
While you’re visiting the Woodward Park, you may want to see if there’s any entertainment happening at the 3,500-seat Rotary Amphitheater. This is an open-air venue with both covered seating and lawn areas.
2. TAKE A GUIDED TOUR OF THE FORESTIERE UNDERGROUND GARDENS
Enjoy an hour-long guided tour through 10-acres of the Forestiere Underground Gardens. In 1979, it was designated a California State Historical Landmark. It’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant, spent his life digging Fresno’s vast underground garden by hand. From 1906 to 1946, he used only shovels, picks, and other hand tools to craft a subterranean complex of patios, grottos, and garden courts. He thought living underground was the best way to keep cool during the Century Valley’s hot summers.
This underground maze features open-air skylights for the fruit trees and grape vines so they can grow and bear fruit. You’ll find lemon, orange, and grapefruit trees throughout this underground garden. You’ll even find a variety of fruits growing together on the same tree. Some of the most unusual varieties you’ll find are loquat, kumquat, carob, jujube, quince, and dates.
The Forestiere Underground Gardens have been featured in a variety of magazines and on television shows like HGTV’s Xtreme Gardens. CNN also included it on one of their articles showcasing the world’s coolest underground attractions.
3. FIND FAIRY TALES AND WILDLIFE AT ROEDING PARK
The Roeding Park is 159-acres featuring cool blue lakes, several ponds, and groves of ash, pine, cedar, eucalyptus, redwood, and maple trees along with beautiful flower gardens. The park contains championship tennis courts, horseshoe pits, dance pavilions, playgrounds, and picnic areas complete with picnic tables and barbecue pits. It’s said that this park attracts 600,000 visitors annually. The Roeding Park is most known for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Japanese War Memorial, and the Rotary Storyland & Playland Family Amusement Park.
At Storyland, fairytales come to life. Follow the path through the park to find Mother Goose stories and nursery rhymes, including favorites like Alice in Wonderland, Jack and Jill, The Three Little Pigs, Peter Pan, Humpty Dumpty, Hansel & Gretel, Goldilocks & the Three Bears, King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table, Noah’s Ark, and more! Use your magic key to unlock the talking boxes and listen to stories of amazing adventures and heroic journeys. Hop aboard the Willis B. Kyle Express Train to take a ride through Storyland and Playland. Find special character appearances and performances in the children’s theater.
Get up-close looks at roughly 200 species of animals at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. This 13-acres of land was designed to re-create the plains and savannah landscape of Africa. This is the home of lions, cheetahs, white rhinos, African elephants, monkeys, anteaters, seals, sea lions, tigers, wolves, warthogs, and more. You can also find a giraffe feeding station with 360-degree views of the savanna. The zoo recently announced back on April 12, 2018, that they welcomed a new Masai giraffe named Betty Lou. The 10-year-old giraffe came from the Santa Barbara Zoo. She was the first Masai giraffe to reside in Fresno since 1994.
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4. BE WOWED BY NATURE AT THE SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS
Nature-lovers will enjoy the seeing the colossal trees at both the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Both of these parks lie adjacent to each other and they have a combined size of 1,353 square miles. They are well known for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons, and roaring rivers. Within the parks is Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. There’s also the Kings River Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in North America. When measured by volume, the General Sherman Tree is the biggest on the planet at 275 feet tall with a stout 36-foot diameter base.
In the Grant Cove section, you’ll find “the nation’s Christmas tree” as named by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926. This tree is also known as the General Grant Tree, named after Union Army general and 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. Recreation.gov refers to the tree as “The official Christmas tree of the wild, wild west”. This tree’s circumference measures a whopping 113 feet and the height is 286 feet or more, making it the second largest tree in the world. This giant sequoia is among the tallest, widest, and longest-lived of all organisms on Earth.
Not only will find the second largest tree in the world but you’ll also see the first! The General Sherman Tree stands 275 feet tall and is over 36 feet in diameter at the base. There are two trails that lead to the Sherman Tree. The trail runs half a mile down to the three. The walk back is uphill.
Don’t forget to visit the Crystal Caves! It’s a limestone cave of rock metamorphosed into marble. This secret underground world is a landscape of glittering mineralogical features. This is just one of the 275 or more marble caverns found within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Most of the caves have limited access as they are for scientific research purposes. However, the Crystal Cave is open to the public for guided walking tours. The standard tour is about 50 minutes through paved paths and solar-powered electric lights. There are different tours throughout the year. The biggest thrill of them all is only available on Saturdays. The “Adventure Tour” is a 4 to 6-hour belly-crawling trek. You’ll stoop-walk, crawl, and climb through off-trail passageways. Another popular tour in the “Explorer’s Lantern Tour”. This is where they turn off all the lights and the visitors carry candle lanterns.