The 10 Best Things to See and Do in Fresno

Whether you plan to visit or have just moved to Fresno and want to start exploring, California’s fifth largest city just behind San Francisco with a population of around 520,000, offers lots of options, but these are arguably the first you should check off your must-see and -do list.


Forestier Underground Gardens


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Forestiere Underground Gardens offers a unique view of ancient Roman architecture along with a variety of trees, vines and shrubs, some of which are nearly a century old. Built over 40 years by Sicilian immigrant Baldasare Forestiere, visitors walk through underground passages and rooms for a glimpse of the Mediterranean in the heart of California.


Fresno Art Museum


Established in 1940, this small but impressive museum offers a wide range of exhibits with works from nearly every culture and location around the world, from Peru and Mexico to the Punjab region of India. It also hosts artist talks, workshops and educational programs.


Fresno Chaffee Zoo


Popular with all ages, Fresno’s zoo is home to nearly 200 species of animals, about half of which are part of the Species Survival Plan that focuses on protecting and breeding rare creatures. Some of the highlights include the African Adventure in which visitors can view giraffes, elephants and cheetahs, a petting zoo and Stingray Bay which offers the chance to touch and feed stingrays.


Woodward Park


A wonderful place for a stroll, Woodward Park is a sanctuary in the city which hosts an authentic Japanese Garden with over 100 bonsai plants and a tea house, an expansive bird park, walking trail, picnic and activity areas.


Meux Home Museum


This museum sits inside a grand Victorian home which brings the history of Fresno to life. It’s worth a visit to see the exterior alone, but you’ll discover many treasures inside as well.


Kearney Mansion Museum


Another great way to explore Fresno’s history, the 1903 Kearny Mansion is one of Fresno’s most important historical sites, made up of two buildings, a main residence and adjoining servants’ quarters, built at the bequest of M. Theo Kearney, one of California’s agricultural pioneers, referred to as the “Raisin King.” The home still contains half of its original furnishings, including the wallpaper and art nouveau light fixtures, while replicas help to create the full picture of the period.


Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre


Enjoy dinner and a show at this long-time dinner theater, opened four decades ago featuring popular productions like Guys & Dolls, The Sound of Music and Footloose, with an award-winning chef preparing an especially mouthwatering menu to go along with the entertainment.


The Historic Warnors Theatre


The historic Warnors Theatre opened its doors back in 1928. Known for its historic pipe organ installed the year it opened, it features a variety of musicals, children’s shows, movies and comedy performances.


Vineyard Farmers Market


This nearly 40-year-old market offers locally-grown fruits and vegetables on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, along with fresh, local honey and a wide range of treats from prepared food vendors, including lots of baked goods made from organic and/or locally-sourced ingredients.


Downtown Fresno


Just taking a walk through sunny downtown Fresno is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, with its historical buildings like the Bank of Italy Building and the Fresno Water Tower, along with impressive public art spread throughout.

Touring the Natural Beauty of California

travel in CA

Those planning their very first trip to California probably think it is a state that is overflowing with celebrities and that the main attractions are theme parks and beaches. Actually, for many that may be the case, but if you have never been to this amazingly beautiful state that has some of the nation’s most diverse topographical features you are in for a real treat. Of course you may want to see Hollywood, LA and San Francisco with their nationally famous dispensaries, but you will not want to miss any of these five amazingly beautiful landmarks.

Sequoia National Park

Located in the southern Sierra Nevada area of the state, Sequoia National Park is a destination that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each and every year. What most visitors come to see are the gigantic old Sequoia trees among which is the famous General Sherman tree noted as being the largest tree on the planet. Along with contiguous Kings Canyon Park, Sequoia National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the year 1976.

Kings Canyon Park

Contiguously neighboring Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon Park is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is thought to have one of the deepest, if not the deepest canyon in the nation. Here you can find miles and miles of trails upon which to ride horses, hike and camp. There are two separate parts to the park: Grant Cove in which you will find the General Grant tree and Cedar Grove where photography enthusiasts have a field day taking pictures of the magnificent Sequoias.

Napa Valley

Who isn’t familiar with some of America’s most famous brands of wine such as Robert Mondavi and Beringer that have both been award winning vintners year after year? If you are going to visit the natural beauty that is California, you will want to tour several of the Napa Valley vineyards and wineries. You can go on guided tours much of the year and some do allow self-guided tours but you must call ahead. Because of the amazing wines coming out of Napa Valley, American wines have begun to rival their European counterparts.

Death Valley National Park

With an odd distinction from all other U.S. national parks as the lowest, hottest and of course the driest of all, this is one park that is not for the faint at heart. Extremely cold in the winter and hot in the summer, Death Valley has some of the most remarkable scenery in North America. Even though it has a morbid name, an amazing number of species do survive and thrive here.

Yosemite National Park

Last, but certainly not least, Yosemite National Park is the one you must see if there is only time to visit one of these breathtakingly beautiful sites. Also within the Sierra Nevada Mountains there are also ancient Sequoias throughout the park and a number of waterfalls among which is the majestic Bridalveil Fall that measures a phenomenal 617 feet in height. With majestic trees and breathtaking waterfalls, it is no wonder that Yosemite National Park sees more than a million visitors a year.

Because of the sheer size of California, there is so much to see and do that you will want to spend an extended vacation touring the state. These are just 5 of the most remarkable natural landmarks to visit on your trip through the state but if you want shopping, dining, dancing and entertainment, California has that too. Whatever it is you are looking for, you’ll find it in the Golden State.

July at SF Zoo!

Major events every weekend in July, plus bonus activities throughout the summer


Red, White & Zoo!
July 4, 5, and 6
11:00 am – 4:00 pm

This July 4th weekend, show your patriotism and your commitment to conservation by celebrating the Zoo’s red, white, and blue animals. See special animal feedings and hear Keeper Talks about our adorable red pandas, white pelicans, polar bears, and blue-tongued skink. Get your face painted like your favorite one! Also, don’t miss live animal shows all weekend at the Wells Fargo Wildlife Theatre and musical performances by kids’ folk band Hanna Banana at the new Elinor Friend Playground. All activities are free with paid Zoo admission.

Teddy Bear Festival
July 12 and 13
11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Pete the Polar Bear and Baxter the Brown Bear will be on hand to greet children of all ages for a weekend of live music by the Raytones, take-home crafts, and a special photo opp with the whole family of Berenstein Bears. Plus, visitors can see a special animal enrichment activity at Grizzly Gulch: Grizzly sisters Kachina and Kiona will be searching for food in a simulated campsite. This fun learning opportunity gives us the chance to talk about camping safety and the importance of respecting wildlife during summer travels. What’s more: Kids who bring their own teddy bear to the Zoo to get checked out at the Teddy Bear Clinic receive $2 off the price of admission. Join us for this weekend filled with fun and adventure. All activities are free with paid Zoo admission.
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Headed to San Fran? Stay at The St. Regis San Francisco

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Planning a visit to San Francisco gets me excited, from the culture to the style of the city, I can barely wait to arrive. Knowing I will be staying at The St. Regis San Francisco only adds to my anticipation. They also have a very cool program being offered at this exquisite hotel, my son had a great time and I know your kids will as all.

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The Family Traditions Program has the youngest traveler in mind. With amenities and activities designed for youngsters,  The St. Regis San Francisco takes luxury to a kid friendly level.

Upon check, in children receive a gift basket curated with their age in mind. Babies will enjoy lotions and toys, toddlers will love coloring books and teddy bears while older children might receive a puzzle and TCHO artisan chocolates.

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When you are ready to begin the adventure of experiencing San Francisco kid style, The St. Regis San Francisco has tailored family excursions that will not require a lot of travel thanks to the central location of the hotel. From a nearby park complete with sandboxes, swings and an indoor ice skating rink to IMAX theaters keeping the kids busy and happy is a breeze. You might want to fit in time to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, or take in a ball game, so turn to the concierge team of The St. Regis San Francisco. They are happy to assist you in creating a itinerary that is customized to your interests.
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The San Francisco Marriott

Disclosure- I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Marriott Rewards. I received Marriott Points to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

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When I hear the words San Francisco I think of the Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay, Alcatraz, and Chinatown. Naturally if I am visiting San Francisco I want to stay in a hotel that is not too far away from the tourist attractions I associate with the city, but I also don’t want to be right in the middle of the action. Finding a hotel with easy access to the parts of the city that I want to visit is important to me. Lucky for me the Marriott has a conveniently located hotel that meets my logistical needs and has the amenities I desire.

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The San Francisco Marriott Union Square is located at 480 Sutter Street. With a close proximity to Chinatown and Nob Hill, the hotel is ideal for meetings, touring, and shopping- Union Square style or hopping on a cable car.

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The Marriott Union Square offers spacious rooms as well as numerous suites that offer breath taking views of the bay. The luxuriously appointed rooms have 32″ HDTVs, in room coffee makers and amazing pillow top mattresses. As a Marriott Rewards® member I was able to utilize the complimentary breakfast offered at the hotel as well.  The hot buffet offered to guests is the perfect start to any day. Another thing that I enjoyed about my stay was that I could park on site and did not have to take a long hike to get to my rental car.
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What To Do In San Francisco with Kids

When visiting the famous “City by the Bay”, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the variety of activities and dining options that you will be presented with.  Everything you see looks like fun, all the food smells amazing- so if you only have a few days or week, where are the best places to spend your time and money on your family vacation?

If you like to take a tour of the city you are visiting, let me suggest the Ride the Ducks Tour. This is a chain that can be found in several states, with San Fransisco being one of the newest places to tour on an amphibious WW II DUKW.  Yes, this is definitely “touristy”- and it’s also extremely family friendly, and a good way to see the sites of the city in a way that adults will enjoy and kids will love.  The DUK Captain (yes, your knowledgeable, often funny guide and driver is certified by the US Coast Guard, you are in good hands) knows the city inside and out, and will not only point out landmarks, but also fun spots you might like and good places to eat or shop.  They also let the kids have a turn driving the DUK while it’s in “boat mode” in the bay, which will thrill them.  Since they “guarantee” they are “cheaper then other” sites in San Francisco, you won’t spend as much to see and do what you’d like to.

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You and your family will see the best of San Francisco from land and water. Get up close and personal with the iconic Bay Bridge, float by Alcatraz, see Fisherman’s Wharf, roll through Chinatown, wave at cafe patrons in North Beach (San Francisco’s answer to New York City’s “Little Italy”), as well as taking in great views of the city skyline.

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To see as much as you can for as little as you are able spend, continue saving by purchasing a San Francisco CityPASS.  Available for $84, the pass gives you access to many of the most popular sites in the city, as well as 7-Day unlimited-use Cable Car and Muni transportation pass to help you get around.  If you don’t have a car, this is the best way to get from place to place.  If you have a car with you, be aware that most venues require payment for parking, and many of them are none too inexpensive.  You could rack up the price of the pass in a day or two very easily.

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Another spot included in the CityPASS booklet is the famous California Academy of Sciences ,where you can climb into the treetops of a man-made rainforest to see life on literally all levels, see what it feels like to be in an earthquake, check out eggs that are bigger then your kids, view the bones that show the evolution from ape to human, and see a rare Albino Alligator (Claude, in case you’d like to get formal).

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Also included in your pass is the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure, which gives you a tour of the city via boat.  See the sights from the inside or outside of the boat, which ventures out several times a day.  This hour long tour is scenic and narrated (so that you know exactly what it is that you are seeing) and available in 9 languages via audio tour as well. The children will love being on a boat as they cruise past the Pier 39 sea lions, which are a must see for any visitor to the city.  You can also see them on land when you visit the pier later on (and make sure you take a spin on the merry go round).
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