Thinking of visiting Central California? Be sure to make a stop in the beautiful city of Fresno. Nestled in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, Fresno is surrounded by pastoral farmlands and lovely landscapes. Established in 1856, just after the California Gold Rush, the city has a rich history. You’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Fresno, California.
Named after whispering ash trees along the banks of the San Joaquin River, Fresno is a city of delights. Explore enchanting gardens, world-famous state parks, wonderful museums, and historic theaters. You’ll be hard-pressed to find spare time to relax on your visit with so many tourist attractions to explore!
You can hike to your heart’s content in Yosemite National Park and explore subterranean passages in the Forestiere Underground Gardens. Splash around with the kids at the Island Waterpark and meet the residents of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
Whatever your fancy, create lasting memories with some of these best places to visit in Fresno, California!
Got more travel plans on the horizon? Check out all our other attractions guides and our California Travel Guide for more ideas on where to go, when to visit & what to do!
Best places to visit in Fresno, CA
Forestiere Underground Gardens
Alluring and intriguing, the Forestiere Underground Gardens have long been one of Fresno’s most unusual attractions. Established by Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere in 1906, the 10-acre arboretum took over 40 years to complete and is well worth exploring.
Step into the underground world of the gardens and explore the maze of subterranean caverns and grottos. Meander through the catacomb-style labyrinth of passageways and tunnels that lead to underground rooms. Imagine sleeping in the bedroom and cooking in the kitchen! You’ll also find 100-year-old citrus trees, some of which still bear fruit today.
Learn about the man behind these intriguing gardens and the methods he used to create them. The Forestiere Underground Gardens are much cooler than the surface, so be sure to take something warm to wear when you head underground.
Fresno Chaffee Zoo
If you’re traveling with the kids, head to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo for a fun-filled afternoon. Founded in 1908 as a home for unwanted pets, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is now home to 190 species of animals. It also has a fantastic Species Survival Plan focusing on breeding and protecting rare animals.
Meet roaring lions and cheeky warthogs at the African Adventure exhibit. Venture into the Tropical Rainforest to see brightly colored macaws and terns. Grab some tools and excavate dinosaur bones and ancient fossils in the Dino Dig site. The little ones pat a pig or feed a donkey at the Valley Farm petting zoo.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in the pretty Roeding Park surrounding the zoo. Relax beneath shady trees while the kids have some more fun at the Rotary Storyland Playland Family Amusement Park. They’ll love the park’s theme based on classic children’s books.
Yosemite National Park
This is one state park not to be missed! One of California’s top attractions, Yosemite National Park, covers 1,200 square miles of breathtaking landscapes of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and massive sequoia trees.
Make the magnificent Bridalveil Falls your first stop. Take a gentle hike to the falls and marvel at the stunning backdrop of rugged cliffs behind the falls.
The Yosemite Falls are also worth a visit. (You can hop on the park’s shuttle to the falls.) Take a hike to the impressive Yosemite Falls and feel the mists wash over you as you marvel at its tumbling cascade.
If you love climbing, head to Half Dome or El Capitan, two of the park’s most famous sites, and hit the rock. If you prefer something less life-threatening, take a peaceful drive up to Glacier Point for some incredible views.
There are also amazing hiking trails to explore in Yosemite National Park, as well as tranquil picnic spots with beautiful views. It’s the perfect place to get close to nature and enjoy the silence.
Woodward Regional Park
Another lovely spot for a hike and a picnic is Woodward Regional Park. The largest regional park in Central Valley, Woodward Park, is packed with outdoor activities. You can walk the pups in a fenced dog park, work out on an exercise course, or stroll around a tranquil Japanese garden.
This Fresno County regional park boasts 300 acres of landscapes crisscrossed with trails for hiking, biking, and jogging. Kids can go wild on a BMX course and play some disc golf. If you’re a twitcher, a bird sanctuary promises to delight numerous species of birds.
Find a gazebo and relax over a picnic lunch. In summer, the annual Woodward Shakespeare Festival is held at the impressive Rotary Amphitheater. Watch a professional play production under the summer night sky.
Love classical music? Then you shouldn’t miss a concert by the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra. One of the top-rated arts institutions in the Central San Joaquin Valley, the Fresno Philharmonic has been delighting patrons for 63 seasons.
The orchestra’s 2022/2023 season features Ignite & Inspire concerts where you can enjoy a variety of performances. Listen to a classic overture by Bach or watch “Ghostbusters” with an orchestral soundtrack. The Fresno Philharmonic line-up promises something for everyone.
Concerts are held in the historic William Saroyan Theatre in Downtown Fresno. You’ll find plenty of parking in the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center, where the theater is based.
You’ll know when it’s baseball season in Fresno: Chukchansi Park is packed with Fresno Grizzlies fans! Home to the minor league baseball team, Chukchansi Park is a beautiful open-air stadium with spectacular views of downtown Fresno.
It’s not only baseball that the stadium hosts – but you can also watch football, soccer, motorcycle supercross, and live concerts. Beyond the field, there are luxury suites, a swimming pool, and a spa, and kids can enjoy a 1,500-square-foot-water park in the right field.
After the game, have a meal and a few drinks at the Phoenix Club against a backdrop of stunning downtown views.
When it’s ‘fun-day-out-with-family’ time, head over to Island Waterpark. Packed with rides, slides, pools, and a lazy river, Island Waterpark promises a world of fun in the sun. Rent a cabana to make your base for the day, and then hit the water!
Exhilarating rides like the Mumbai Monsoon, Singapore Tsunami, and Tokyo Typhoon offer heart-stopping excitement. If you prefer something gentler, float down the lazy river on a tube. Body surf in the wave pool where a wave machine creates the perfect wave. The little ones can splash around safely in the kiddie’s pool while you watch them from the shade of your cabana.
Worked up an appetite from all that water work? There are several stalls selling food and drinks where you can fill your tum!
Fresno Blossom Trail
If you love beautiful blooms, plan your visit to Fresno between mid-February and mid-March to see the spectacular Fresno Blossom Trail. The 62-mile trail bursts into life for a few short weeks every year and it’s a show like no other. Acres of fruit trees begin to bloom into a brilliant show of color and myriad fragrances float on the air.
You can drive or cycle this self-guided trail, stopping off whenever you like to admire nature’s show. Almond, apple, and nectarine blossoms mingle with peach, plum, and pears; it’s truly a remarkable sight!
Watch out for family-friendly, fun community activities that are usually held during this time.
Take in some of Fresno’s rich cultural history and watch a performance at the timeless Warnors Theater. Located in downtown Fresno, Warnors Theater dates back to 1928 when it was opened as the Pantages Theater. The theater hosted vaudeville performances before being bought by the Warner Brothers – hence the new name – and now shows classic movies and hosts live music performances.
Stepping into the theater will take you back in time with its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture and plush red velvet seating. You can see a variety of performances, from Broadway favorites to comedy shows and children’s performances.
Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts
Architecture and entertainment come together in the striking Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts. Designed by S. Charles Lee and built in 1939, the theater boasts an 80-foot tower with neon tube lighting and an orb crown. The district around the theater is aptly named the Tower District, as the column can be seen for miles.
Admire the Tower Theatre’s beautiful Streamline Moderne style. Marvel at the intricate murals on the ceilings and walls illuminated by ultraviolet lights. When you’re done taking in the beauty of the building, enjoy a live performance or a popular show.
Time to hit the town for a night out? Head over to the Tower District. This buzzing entertainment district takes its name from the historic Tower Theatre on the corner of East Olive Avenue. With galleries, restaurants, and theaters, you’ll find plenty to do here!
Take a stroll down the main thoroughfare of the Tower District, where you’ll find coffee shops, restaurants, and art galleries. There are some great little antique and vintage clothing stores, as well as high-end boutiques for burning that credit card.
The Tower District comes alive at night with live music flowing out onto the streets from bars and clubs. Catch dinner and a show at the popular Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, or watch a live production at the historic Tower Theatre.
Sequoia National Park
Take a day trip out to the Sequoia National Park to marvel at some of the world’s largest trees. Just an hour’s drive from Fresno, Sequoia National Park is packed with beautiful landscapes, giant sequoia trees, and a load of outdoor activities.
Pack your hiking boots: There are plenty of trails to explore throughout Sequoia National Park. You can enjoy gentle hikes through the sequoia forest or more challenging ones with steep climbs. Follow the trail up to Moro Rock for some spectacular panoramic views. Rock climbing is another popular activity in Sequoia National Park and there’s a range of climbs for all levels.
If you’re the sedentary type, there are plenty of scenic drives on well-paved roads with evocative names like the Majestic Mountain Loop. If you happen to be visiting in winter, take your skis and hit the slopes.
Shinzen Friendship Garden
Feel like some peace and quiet? Shinzen Friendship Garden in Woodward Park is the perfect place to escape and unwind. Tucked in the corner of Woodward Regional Park, Shinzen Friendship Garden promises to leave you feeling calm and refreshed.
Amble through the Japanese garden beneath flowering, fragrant cherry trees. Koi ponds gently ripple with the flick of fish tails, and waterfalls cascade down stony faces in the Ume Grove.
Wander across the Double Moon Bridge and feed the fish below. Admire the four-seasonal American Japanese Garden and the rotating potted trees in the Clark Bonsai Collection.
End your walk with a cup of tea and a sweet treat at the ceremonial teahouse overlooking the gardens. Check out the garden’s event calendar, as they several cultural events throughout the year that are worth noting.
River Park Shopping Center
When the urge to spend some money hits, head to the River Park Shopping Center north side of the city. The sprawling shopping center is Fresno’s go-to place for shopping, entertainment, and dining out. You’ll find everything from a farmer’s market and IMAX theater to brand stores and spas.
Begin the day with breakfast at one of the many cafés and coffee shops in the center and then hit the stores. Target, REI, and Macy’s are just a few of the big names based in the center, as well as smaller boutique stores.
Have a massage or a manicure at one of the spas or watch a movie with the kids at the Regal Edwards Fresno movie theater. Browse around the Art Groove Gallery or have a few laughs over silly selfies at SelfieLand.
Fresno Art Museum
Learn about Fresno’s burgeoning art scene and admire some great art at the Fresno Art Museum. Established by local artists in 1940, the museum is home to a fascinating and diverse collection of art.
Take a self-guided or guided tour through the Fresno Art Museum and explore the collections of contemporary and modern art. Some of the exhibits in the museum’s permanent collection include Andean Pre-Columbian Artifacts and Textiles and Mexican and Mexican American art. The Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art collection is also worth a visit.
Browse the museum’s gift shop on your way out, where you’ll find an array of art pieces created by local artists. Head over to Radio Park next to the museum after your visit to enjoy a picnic lunch beneath a shady tree.
Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company Beer Garden
When in Fresno, taste Fresno beer! There’s no better way to meet the locals than over a cold beer and the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company Beer Garden is just the place to do that. Located in downtown Fresno, the craft brewery has a laid-back beer garden where you can relax over one (or a few) of their award-winning ales.
The Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company produces a diverse range of craft beers, from easy-drinking Pale Ales to rich, barrel-aged Imperial Stouts. Book a tasting in the beer garden, where you can sample the brewery’s current line. Don’t forget to grab a growler before you go!
The beer garden also hosts monthly events such as art shows, live music, and food truck festivals. These are lively events that draw a crowd, so be sure to check their event calendar.
Kearney Mansion Museum
For a deeper insight into some of Fresno’s history, pay a visit to the Kearney Mansion Museum. Based in Kearney Park, the Kearney Mansion was owned by M. Theo Kearney, aka the “Raisin King.” Kearney was a pioneer and played a key role in the agricultural development of Fresno County.
Tour the turn-of-the-century Kearney Mansion Museum to gain insight into the life and times of M. Theo Kearney. Explore the lodge that was once the headquarters of Kearney’s Fruit Vale Estate. Many of the original furnishings are still in the house, like the Art Nouveau light fixtures.
Once done, take a stroll around the grounds of the estate now known as Kearney Park. The main boulevard of the park is lined with trees that Kearney planted for an arboretum. Find a shady spot and enjoy a picnic lunch or have a game on the 18-hole disc golf course.