Despite their difference in size, next door neighbors Fresno, CA and Clovis, CA are the perfect pair. Balancing big city living with the latter's small town feel, California's Central Valley is home to the best of both worlds. From super stores to local boutiques, big national parks to community trails, the arts, culture and local sports the Central Valley truly has it all. Here are the top 10 things to do in the Fresno/Clovis area:
1) Visit a National Park Blessed with an incredible natural landscape, California is home to many natural parks that showcase a broad array of wonders. At just an hour's drive outside the Central Valley are Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Home to very different majestic wonders, Yosemite is famous for its stunning waterfalls and glaciers in the heart of the Sierra Mountains while Sequoia & Kings Canyon, which lie side by side, features canyons, caverns and rugged foothills. Known as the “Land of Giants"?, both are home to the world's largest trees.
2) Enjoy the Water California is known for its beaches, but further inland, there's still plenty of water-side fun. Lakes, rivers and water parks enable activities like fishing, sailing, water-skiing, rafting, kayaking and canoeing. Millerton Lake, Bass Lake, Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake offer great views with additional grounds for camping, hiking, picnicking and relaxing. Two nearby rivers, the San Joaquin River and the Kings River, and two nearby water parks, the Wild Adventure Water Park in Clovis and the Island Water Park in Fresno round out the water-rich experience.
3) Walk, Bike or Take a Hike Fresh air and the opportunity for some light exercise is just a stone's throw away at one of the area's many stunning trails. Visit the Lewis S. Eaton Trail for views of the Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin River and the Jensen River Ranch. The Fresno Sugar Pine Trail, or Clovis Old Town Trail, offers the opportunity for joggers and cyclists to ride along the city's commercial side, exploring the local businesses. For a glimpse of the area's mountainous side, the China Peak Mountain Resort offers rugged mountain biking and hiking in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
4) Explore Local Parks & Gardens The Central Valley is home to more than just your average park. Creativity abounds producing some of the most colorful parks around including the Rotary Storyland and Playland; a theme park based on Mother Goose stories and nursery rhymes. A state landmark, the Forestiere Underground Gardens showcases underground architecture intended to mimic the arches, vaults, rooms and courtyards of the ancient Romans. The city's largest park, Woodward Park sits on 300 acres and houses a bird sanctuary, dog park, and the Shinzen Japanese Gardens, dedicated to a history of friendship and cross-cultural relations with Fresno's sister city, Kochi, Japan. But don't forget the Clovis Botanical Gardens, a four-acre site housing plants that are friendly to the area and promote water conservation.
5) Check out the Wildlife Take a walk on the wild side with a visit to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Home to over 125 species, this zoo carefully watches over some 18 endangered species through its Species Survival Plan. Additionally, it's the only North American Zoo where you will find a Northland green gecko and a Southern tent tortoise. For the cat lover, Project Survival's Cat Haven features 38 species of wild cats. Specializing in jaguars, this habitat helps teach youth an appreciation for the natural world.
6) Cheer for the Home Team There's a lot of local pride when it comes to area sports. Nearby university, Fresno State boasts many popular athletics programs including football, softball, baseball and men's and women's basketball. Games are open to the public, so get out and cheer for the Bulldogs! Also a community favorite, the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team is the local Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. Enjoy a hot dog and America's favorite pastime in style at Chukchansi Park.
7) Enjoy a Concert or Show On top of its outdoor attractions, the Central Valley is brimming with artistic culture as well. The Savemart Center is Fresno's biggest, multipurpose arena. Home to both sporting events, and big name music stars, this venue is a great place to catch a show. For a great entertainment experience, a visit to the Saroyan Theatre delights guests with hit Broadway and dance performances, The Fresno Grand Opera and the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra. The Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater is a treat for diners, showcasing local talent over the course of a delicious meal.
8) Support Your Local Farmer's Market The San Joaquin Valley has been called “the food basket of the world"?, and the Fresno/Clovis area excels with farm-to-table cooking year round. Great local farmers gather to sell seasonal and organic produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, jams, sauces and baked goods. Four main farmer's markets service the Fresno/Clovis area, including the Vineyard Farmer's Market, the Old Town Clovis Farmer's Market, the River Park Farmer's Market and the Fresno State Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market. Subject to the rise and fall of seasonal output, these markets operate unique hours, and often add to the flavor with live music and family friendly entertainment.
9) Participate in Area Events An undying local spirit encourages the success and continuation of many area events. In addition to events that celebrate major national holidays like the Clovis Freedom Fest (a July 4th celebration), Christmas Tree Lane and the Old Town Clovis Children's Christmas Electric Parade, there are many specialty events unique to the Central Valley area. The Madera Wine Trail celebrates the region's strong wineries with tasting and seasonal events, while BIG Hat Days celebrate local artisans, businesses and nonprofits with food, fun and a carnival. The Clovis Rodeo shows off the area's 100 plus years of ranching success, while the Big Fresno Fair showcases area livestock in a carnival-like atmosphere.
10) Shop & Dine Foodies and shopaholics will thrive on the wide variety of restaurants and stores found in the Central Valley. From elegant to casual dining and large national chains to small boutiques, the Central Valley has it all. The cuisine varies greatly from American at Ruth's Chris, Veni Vidi Vici, Livingstone's, Dog House Grill and Soups & Scoops to Italian at Luna Pizzeria and More Than Pizza, Mexican at Toledo's and Bobby Salazar's, Asian at Sakura Chaya and Dai Bai Dang and fusion cuisine at the Elephant Bar. Shoppers will love the specialty shops in Old Town Clovis, and the big name brands found at The River Park Shopping Center, Fashion Fair Mall and Sierra Vista Mall.