About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Fresno offers the best of both worlds: a fun downtown with shopping and dining, but opportunities for plenty of outdoorsy pursuits as well — all in that pleasant and mild California climate. Here are just a handful of the must-see stops that you’ll want to add to your itinerary.

Forestiere Underground Gardens

Two 100 year old grapevines growing underground.

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Located off of Highway 99, the Forestiere Underground Gardens is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s a hand-built network of cave-like rooms and corridors, originally constructed in 1906. The structure served as the home for artist and builder Baldassare Forestiere. There are also a number of one-of-a-kind vines, shrubs, and trees that produce fruit throughout the gardens.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Walk on the wild side! The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is home to more than 190 different species, and spans 39 acres. Get up close and personal with elephants, kangaroos, monkeys, zebras, and a variety of fish and birds, too. Make sure to visit special areas like Sea Lion Cove, Stingray Bay, and Dino Dig, which lets little ones play paleontologist for the day.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Waterfalls behind Sequoias in Yosemite National Park,California


Okay, so it’s not quite in Fresno, but if you have a day to spare, it’s worth the 61-mile drive to see one of our most beautiful National Parks. You can get to Yosemite┬ávia Highways 41 or 140. One suggested spot to visit? Mariposa Grove, where you’ll find yourself among beautiful Sequoia Trees.

Shinzen Friendship Garden

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This traditional Japanese Garden, incorporated in 1981, was designed not only as a home for beautiful trees and flowers, but also as a community space that promotes cultural awareness and education. From the grove of bright pink Ume trees to the garden’s impressive Bonsai collection, there’s no shortage of sights to see here. Make sure you also stop at the Double Moon Bridge, which is ideal for photo-ops.

Discovery Center

Fun for kids and adults alike, the Discovery Center encompasses a Children’s Museum, a park, and the Deutsch Cactus Garden. Science takes center stage at the children’s museum, which includes hands-on exhibits dedicated to geology, botany, electricity, and more. At the garden, you can marvel at cool, unique cacti and rare plants.

Quick Guide to Fresno, California