Fresno California

Fresno California is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, right in the middle of California's most active agricultural region. As a result, it is a great place to find huge farmers' markets and fresh produce, as well as specialty gourmet items and wines. Yet in addition to being an agricultural center, Fresno is also a vibrant college town with plenty of live music being performed and a lively nightlife. There are even a few casinos where you can see if luck is in the cards for your trip. For families, there is a popular water park and a unique local attraction, the Forestiere Underground Gardens.

For the best that Fresno California has to offer, head straight to the downtown core, which is a pedestrian-friendly, revitalized area with tons of shopping and dining options. This is also where you'll find a lot of conveniently located Fresno CA hotels. The tree-lined Fulton Mall is the heart of the downtown retail district, with cute boutiques and shops where you can find that perfect souvenir. Don't miss Retro Row, a street full of vintage stores at Van Ness and Mono where you can pick up a pre-loved vintage treasure or some retro inspiration. Fulton Mall is also where to go for one of the most popular regular events in Fresno—the twice-weekly certified farmer's market, Market on the Mall, which occurs on Fulton Mall every Wednesday and Friday.

The downtown area is also where you'll want to head for a variety of great restaurants. Fresno has had a diverse history, and you can find everything from Armenian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants, to Italian bistros, and European-style cafes. If you're looking to do a bit of gambling, Club One, one of the Central Valley's most popular casinos, is conveniently located downtown and has a large restaurant as well as poker, blackjack, and baccarat.

Fresno is also a center for sports fans. The Fresno State Bulldogs represent Fresno California and the California Central Valley and play at Bulldog Stadium on the California State University-Fresno campus. Downtown, Chukchansi Park stadium is where the Grizzlies play, the minor league baseball team linked with the Giants in San Francisco.

Another one of Fresno's most interesting historical attractions is the Forestiere Underground Gardens. Built in the early 1900s, these underground catacombs were hand-carved by Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere as a cool retreat from the hot summer sun. But these are no dank caverns; instead, sun filters into the underground passageways, while grapevines and fruit trees flourish among the courtyards and living chambers. A parlor with a fireplace, two bedrooms, and a fully-equipped kitchen display the amazing craftsmanship and thoughtfulness of their creator. The Underground Gardens showcase true genius at work, as Forestiere patiently excavated ten acres of living space and planted a lush oasis with little more than a pick and shovel.

Forestiere isn't the only person to want a respite from the blazing Fresno summers. You and your family might want to consider a trip to the Wild Water Adventure Park located in the small town of Clovis next to Fresno. This large park has plenty of water slides, a wave pool, and many other rides, as well as an extensive picnicking area for families. In Fresno itself, the Island Water Park is a good option for an afternoon of watery fun—though it is a small water park, it does the job of cooling you off, and good deals on admission prices can be found locally. You can also drive into the mountains near Fresno, for cooler weather and the chances to hike in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

As for Fresno CA hotels, there are plenty of moderately priced, but clean and convenient hotels, from national chains such as La Quinta, Holiday Inn, and Courtyard, among others. There are relatively few luxury Fresno CA hotels, but it might be a good idea to look for a hotel with a pool if you're there in the summer, to cool off after a hot day.

Image: Mel B. (flickr)

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