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What are Some Things to do in Fresno, California?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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You're not likely to run out of things to do in Fresno, California. Three national parks — Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia — offer many opportunities for all types of outdoor sports such as skiing, hiking, biking, fishing and much more. You can also view popular attractions such as Shinzen Japanese Friendship Garden, the African-American Historical and Cultural Museum, the Kearney Mansion and the Chaffee Zoo.

Visiting the Chaffee Zoo, in Roeding Park, is one of the oldest things to do in Fresno since the Zoo has been here since its opening in 1929. It was first called the Roeding Park Zoo before the name was changed to the Fresno Zoo in 1985. The name was again changed, this time to the Chaffee Zoo, actually the Chaffee Zoological Gardens, in 1990 when the founder and first zoo director, Dr. Paul Chaffee, died in that year. The Chaffee Zoo is known for its bird shows called "Winged Wonders." Roeding Park has playgrounds and an amusement park as well as picnic areas.

The Kearney Mansion in Kearney Park is designed in the French Renaissance style on the outside and has Victorian decor inside. The grand home, with its double pointed roof and dormer windows, belonged to Martin Theodore Kearney, a Fresno agricultural developer. The surrounding Kearney Park is known for its beautiful trees and flowers. Run by the Fresno County Historical Society since 1962, the Kearney Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fresno's African-American Historical and Cultural Museum has displays by some of Fresno's African-American artists. The exhibits range from permanent to temporary and focus on African-American culture and history. The Museum was started in 1995.

Walking through the Shinzen Japanese Friendship Garden is one of the best things to do in Fresno for those who enjoy beautiful landscaping. Shinzen is divided into four sections to represent the four seasons and has seven bridges, a koi pond, waterfalls and a tea house. The Garden is located in Woodward Park and may feature seasonal events such as a floating lantern ceremony in August and a spring blossom festival in March.

Yosemite National Park is known as a great place for fun outdoor things to do in Fresno such as biking, horseback riding, camping and hiking. Guided horseback tours and bicycle rentals may be available depending on the season. Yosemite National Park has wildlife such as mountain lions, coyotes, black bears and bobcats. The Park features four visitor centers and scenic beauty including sequoia trees.

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Discussion Comments
By parmnparsley — On Jun 01, 2011

Does anyone know what the nightlife in Fresno is like? I am enrolling in CSU Fresno and I am looking for fun things to do in the city. I like clubs, sporting events, concerts, and the likes. I also like good restaurants. Also, can someone tell me what the cost of living is like compared to the rest of California? I am looking forward to moving there, but I have not spent much time in the city.

By submariner — On May 31, 2011

I have family that lives in Fresno so I go to Millerton when I visit. My favorite time of year to go to Millerton is during the fall or winter. In the fall, the hills around Millerton are green from the rains, and the picnic weather is amazing. The scenery is very picturesque, and it is not as hot as the summer. This makes hiking much more enjoyable.

In the winter, Bald eagles come to Millerton Lake to overwinter. I took a bald eagle boat tour a few years back and the guide said it was the largest winter population of bald eagles in the San Joaquin valley. If you are ever in Fresno, Millerton State Park is definitely a good place to stop.

By Georgesplane — On May 30, 2011

Just outside of the City of Fresno is Millerton Lake State Recreation Area. The lake is only about a half hour from downtown and offers all kinds of water and park activities. The recreation area has plenty of activities for all types. If you are into mountain biking or hiking, there are a number of scenic trails that meander through the woods around Millerton. Birdwatchers can see bald eagles, golden eagles and all types of other birds. There are also a number of horse trails, nature trails, and guided tours.

For those who enjoy water sports, the area provides boating, windsurfing, fishing, and boat camping. There are even boat rentals, boat tours, and a boat launch.

Overnighting at the areas is also nice. There are group campsites, family campsites, and full RV hook-ups. The park is beautiful any time of year, and it offers an easy escape from the city.

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