Top 10 Things to Do In and Around Madera County

Posted: June, 30, 2022 | Categories: Lifestyle

Located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, Madera County is the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park and a fun-filled region of outdoor adventures, wine tasting, farmers markets, and more.  There are lots of exciting activities for all ages at any time of year.  Whether you’re new to the area or a longtime local, here are our top ten ideas of outings to entertain the whole family. 

  1. Yosemite National Park.  How lucky are we to live just over an hour away from one of the country’s most spectacular national parks?  It’s an easy day trip to check out the dramatic waterfalls, giant sequoias, abundant wildlife, and awe-inspiring cliffs.  It truly is one of America’s most beautiful places.
  2. Bass Lake.  Great fishing, boating, and swimming await you at the nearly five-mile-long Bass Lake, just a one-hour drive.  You can catch kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, snag bass, and more here.  In the summer, the surface waters are a warm 75 degrees, the perfect place to take a dip. 
  3. Millerton Lake.  With more than 40 miles of shore land, there are plenty of water sports here and hiking as well.  You may spot bald and golden eagles, mule deer, cottontail rabbits, and badgers.  It’s an easy drive near the town of Friant and a great way to spend the day.
  4. Madera Wine Trail.  The 51-mile Madera Wine Trail stretches along from Madera to Oakhurst.  Here you’ll find family-owned wineries making award-winning wines in one of the state’s most notable growing regions.  You’ll usually be served and educated by the winemakers making it a more immersive wine tasting experience.
  5. Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias.  Located in the Sierra National Forest 10 miles south of Yosemite’s south entrance, this 1,540-acre grove of Giant Sequoias includes the 209-foot Bull Buck Tree, which is taller than famous Grizzly Giant in Yosemite.  You can also walk through the Chimney Tree and on many trails ranging from 0.2 miles to 5.5 miles.
  6. Forestiere Underground Gardens.  This network of underground rooms, courtyards, and passageways is one of Fresno’s best-kept secrets.  You can see fruit trees growing underground and explore this underground home, which was designed and hand-sculpted over a period of 40 years.  The temperatures are pleasant here even on a hot summer day. Book ahead for a guided tour.
  7. Fresno Chaffee Zoo.  Over 200 species of animals reside here in award-winning habitats from tigers to orangutans and giraffes to bears. Founded more than a century ago as a rescue center for unwanted animals, it’s grown into a nationally recognized zoo.  Attractions include Stingray Bay, Dino Dig, African Adventure, Sea Lion Cove, and more.
  8. Tesoro Viejo Farmers Market.  This wonderful farmer’s market held on Sundays from 9am until noon features delicious locally grown fruits, vegetables, and more.  In addition to the freshest produce, you’ll find local honey products, fresh-made jams, flower arrangements, and goods from local artisans. 
  9. Hiking & Biking Trails.  Madera County and the surrounding area are full of trails for all levels.  From wheelchair accessible trails to difficult hikes, there are dozens of options to choose from.  Some are open to dogs and horses as well, like the Pa’san Ridge Trail near Auberry. Tesoro Viejo has 14 miles of trails, ranging from easy to challenging, which are open to the public for hiking, biking, walking, and running. 
  10. San Joaquin River.  Central California’s longest river is a wonderful place to kayak, canoe, or paddleboard on the calm waters. You can access the river from Tesoro Viejo’s trails which wind through the natural landscape.  The river is part of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, where a variety of animals live year-round.  Spectacular concentrations of geese and sandhill cranes can be seen from autumn through spring. 


1. Yosemite National Park

2. Bass Lake

4. Madera Wine Trail

5. Nelder Grove

8. Tesoro Viejo Farmers Market

9. Tesoro Viejo Trails

10. San Joaquin River