FRESNO, CALIFORNIAOct 25, 2018 09:00AM ● By Kerri Regan
By Kerri Regan and Ronda Alvey
• Fresno was founded in 1872 as a railway station of the Central Pacific Railroad, and was incorporated 13 years later.
• Bankamericard – the first successful credit card – was launched in Fresno in 1958. It later spun off into what is known today as Visa.
• “Walking into Fresno,” a song written by guitarist Bill Aken, reflects the hardships faced by migrant workers he saw as a child.
• Some of the famous folks who have called Fresno home include Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, actor Slim Pickens, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Pulitzer Prize- and Oscar-winning playwright and novelist William Saroyan, and “Werewolves of London” singer Warren Zevon.
Things to do in FRESNO
Cultural Experience: (Photo courtesy of Warnors Theatre)
If you’re inclined toward the theatrical, you’ve got some options downtown. Volunteers have been working to make Warnors Theatre a world-class venue, and the Saroyan Theatre has become a premier cultural arts destination (if you haven’t heard the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra here, might we suggest that you mark your calendar?). Or take in a concert at the Fulton 55 – they’ve always got an impressive lineup of artists waiting to take the stage.
Play Ball! (Photo courtesy of Fresno Futbol Club)
The Fresno Grizzlies are the Triple-A affiliate for the Washington Nationals, and it’s a fun, inexpensive way to watch some great baseball. Is soccer more your speed? Check out the Fresno Futbol Club Foxes. Both teams play at lovely Chukchansi Park.
A Night (Or Day) At the Museum:
Explore art, history and more at various museums scattered throughout downtown. The Legion of Valor Museum honors the military, the Meux Home Museum pays tribute to gothic Victorian architecture, Arte Americas is the valley’s largest Latino cultural arts center, and Bitwise Industries bills itself as “the mothership of technological education, collaboration and innovation” in Fresno.
Who's Hungry: (Photo by Juan Verduzco)
Downtown has you covered. HoP PK married House of Pendragon Brewing Company and Pita Kabob and Grill, and created a gastropub. You can also enjoy a craft brew and some fantastic food at Tioga Sequoia Brewery. CArthop is another solid spot to get your grub on – it’s downtown’s biggest food truck event, and it happens every Thursday, rain or shine, at Mariposa Plaza. Or check out the urban cafeteria, Tree of Life Café and Bakery, which celebrates renewal and restoration not just in their carefully prepared menu items, but also in their commitment to hiring staff who are recovering from addictions.
Crowd Pleasers: (Photo by Jesus Sepulveda)
Downtown Fresno almost always has something going on to draw a crowd. There’s the Taco Truck Throwdown in July, a huge taco-eating party that features music, competitions and more. The springtime Grizzly Fest is billed as Central California’s premier music and arts festival, and spring is also when you’re invited to join a huge block party for FresYes Fest, which includes beer, food trucks and music. If you’re a beer fan, grab your Ale Trail passport and visit downtown’s breweries, collecting a stamp at each stop for a chance to win some swag. If art is your thing, the Fresno Arts Council hosts ArtHop on the first and third Thursday of each month – chat with the artists and enjoy a reception and music as museums, studios and galleries open their doors to visitors.
Things to do in FRESNO
Tower District/ Old Fig Garden
The Heart of the District: (Photo courtesy of Old Fig Garden’s Christmas Tree Lane)
Old Fig Garden’s Christmas Tree Lane tradition dates back nearly 100 years, when North Van Ness Boulevard becomes a one-way street lined with trees and homes decked out for the holidays. The Rogue Festival celebrates independent performers in a “First Amendment Zone.” The Swede Fest film festival showcases Hollywood movies or TV shows that have been recreated on low budgets, and the St. Peter Serbian Food Festival has been a tradition in the valley for more than 20 years.
This section of Fresno boasts plenty of historic places – the Porter Tract Historic District was the city’s first official historic district. Fresno High School still operates in its original location built in 1920, and Fresno City College has been standing since 1915. Wilson Island encompasses 80 historic properties that include examples of Period Revival and Prairie architecture, and the Tower Theatre opened in 1939 as a movie house.
Treat Yourself:(Photo courtesy of Ampersand Ice Cream)
The Spokeasy Public House serves craft brews that you won’t find in most places, or check out The Library at Detention, where a reservation gets you the password to this quiet, unmarked bar that’s reminiscent of a speakeasy. Feeling less gangster? The Italian-inspired Annex Kitchen creates culinary artwork from farmers’ harvests for an unforgettable feast. Wrap up your meal with a scoop from Ampersand Ice Cream, a small-batch creamery made by hand (and heart).
Dinner and a Show: (Photo courtesy of Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre)
If you’re looking for a truly memorable evening, Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre has the hook-up. Each show features its own special menu and drink specials – and if you’re not sure which show to choose, take advantage of season tickets.
Foodie Paradise: (Photo courtesy of Underground Suppers)
Creative themes and intimate guest lists set the scene for truly unique culinary experiences through Underground Suppers. Membership in this themed dining club feels more like an adventure than a meal.
Things to do in FRESNO
Woodward Park – River Park
Mark Your Calendar: (Photo courtesy of Fresno Margarita Madness 5k)
Woodward Park and River Park play host to several popular annual events. Food, fashion and fun are the name of the game at the annual Taste of Riverpark, where guests sample food and beverages while enjoying a fashion show. Meanwhile, the Fresno Margarita Madness 5K is a nighttime run where participants celebrate crossing the finish line with a margarita (don’t worry – you’ve already burned off the calories!).
All the World’s A Stage:
The Woodward Shakespeare Festival presents classic works by The Bard on its Festival Stage in Woodward Park from June to September each year. The best part? All the shows are free!
Hello, Friend: (Photo courtesy of Shinzen Friendship Garden)
Shinzen Friendship Garden includes about six acres of manicured trees and shrubs, as well as a bonsai collection, ceremonial tea garden and tea house. This cultural destination is a delightful place to bring a guest, and it’s part of the picturesque Woodward Park.
Grab a Bite: (Photo by Kailyn Julianna)
Enjoy a steak at historic Tosemite Ranch, sip a spot of chamomile in Teazers Tea Room, or sample a rich merlot or pint of beer at The Tasting Room - it will hit the spot.
Shop ‘til You Drop: (Photo courtesy of River Park Farmers Market)
The River Park outdoor shopping center features retailers, dining and movies, but also hosts a variety of community events. A senior walking club, Salsa Night, Farmers Market, yoga and more are among the offerings.
On the map: FRESNO
1. The 109-foot-tall Old Fresno Water Tower was built in 1894 in the American Romanesque style, and in its heyday, it could hold a quarter-million gallons of water. Today it’s the city’s visitors center.
(Photo courtesy of Tower Theatre)
2. The Tower District is Fresno’s dining, arts and entertainment district. It has a wide variety of locally owned restaurants, theaters, galleries, bakeries, and many specialty retail shops all within walking distance of each other.
(Photo courtesy of Fresno State University)
3. Fresno State University, home of the Bulldogs, is one of the 23 campuses of the California State University system. It serves more than 24,000 students seeking bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
(Photo courtesy of Fig Garden Village)
4. Fig Garden Village has been a one-stop spot for shopping needs for more than half a century, and it’s a pleasant place to wander around on a lazy afternoon.