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Introduction

Fresno is located in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The city has a population, as of 2010, estimated at 505,479 and around 1 million live in the county.
Many visitors find themselves stopping in Fresno on the way to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, or other destinations in the Sierras. The Save Mart Center at California State University, Fresno ("Fresno State") has also played host to concerts featuring high-profile acts. Fresno's most famous son is the writer William Saroyan, after whom a local theater is named. The city has a large Hmong community.

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Sights and Activities

  • Forestiere Underground Gardens, 5021 West Shaw Ave, ☎ +1 559-271-0734, e-mail: ahforest@hotmail.com. Summer Schedule: Wednesday through Sunday. Off-Season: Weekends (Weather Permitting). Call for times and reservations (required). The Forestiere Underground Gardens are a complex of underground gardens and rooms built by Sicilian immigrant Baldasare Forestiere between 1906 and his death in 1946. Seniors (59+) $8, Adults $9, Teens (13-17) $7, Children (4-12) $6.
  • Fresno Chaffee Zoo, 894 West Belmont Ave, ☎ +1 559-498-5910, e-mail: info@fresnochaffeezoo.org. November–February 9AM-4PM daily, March–October 9AM-6PM daily. A zoo in Roeding Park near downtown Fresno that features many popular animal exhibits including the Winged Wonders Bird Show.
  • Fresno Art Museum, 2233 N. 1st St, ☎ +1 559-441-4221. The only modern art museum between Los Angeles and San Francisco. FAM's collection includes contemporary art, and a large collection of Mexican art from pre-Columbian times to the present.
  • Nonini Winery, 2640 N. Dickenson, ☎ +1 559-275-1936. Wine tasting and tours M-Sa 9AM to 4PM. Call ahead to schedule a tour.
  • Fresno Grizzlies, 1800 Tulare St, ☎ +1 559-320-4487. Triple-A Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the Washington Nationals. 1 Chukchansi Park is located downtown, built in 2002 specifically for the team. From $7 to $44.
  • Fresno State Bulldogs, 1600 E. Bulldog Ln. (south entrance to Bulldog Stadium), ☎ +1 559-278-DOGS (3647). M-F 9AM-4:30PM (in person), 8AM-5PM (phone). Football game days, 10AM-halftime. The sports teams of Fresno State (formally California State University, Fresno), competing in a total of 20 sports (8 for men, 12 for women), with almost all teams in the Mountain West Conference. Football has traditionally been the highest-profile sport, with men's basketball a close second, but many other sports are nationally competitive, notably baseball and softball. Essentially all venues are on campus, most notably Bulldog Stadium (football) and the city's main indoor venue, Save Mart Center (basketball).
  • Fulton Mall, Fulton St. As of 2016, traffic is being reintroduced to this formerly traffic-free six-block pedestrian mall. The mall features a large collection of public art and holds a spot on the California Register of Historical Places. Though the area does not have a robust retail or restaurant scene, it is home to Fresno Brewing Company (coffee and craft beers), Twee (artsy, hip, and often local home goods and gift items), and several other retail and dining outlets.
  • Fresno FC (Fresno Soccer Team), 1800 Tulare Street Fresno, CA 93721, ☎ +1 559 320-2525. Fresno Football Club is the first professional soccer team in the San Joaquin Valley. They are a member of the United Soccer league (one division below Major League Soccer). Their first season was in March 2018 and they play in Chuckchansi Parki in down town Fresno. $17 to 77 USD.
  • Reel Pride. The sixth oldest Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in the country takes place every year in Fresno's Tower District.
  • Island Water Park, ☎ +1 559-277-6800. Water slide park open between June and mid-September.
  • Blackbeards Family Fun Center, 4055 N. Chestnut, ☎ +1 559-292-6386. Has batting cages, bumper boats, paintball, miniature golf, sprint cars, water slides and arcade games.
  • About Town Taste - Walking Tours of Fresno, e-mail: info@AboutTownTaste.com. F 6PM, SA 10AM. Unique walks through Fresno, featuring art, architecture, food, and local history. Advance reservations needed via info@AboutTownTaste.com. Four tours available: Downtown Art & Architecture; Art Born of Graffiti: Murals; Art & Antiques: Old Town Clovis; and Tower Art Taste. $25pp.
  • Back Country Off Road Tours, 37604 Cardinal Ln. Squaw Valley, Ca. 93675, ☎ +1 559-470-8086. Tour eastern Fresno County and the Sierra Nevadas with a local who has 30 years of experience as a guide of nearby parks. Tours may include waterfalls, meadows, fishing, camping, beautiful vistas and trails, and also information about historical logging operations, efforts to preserve the world-famous redwood groves, and stories of historical figures. Tours can be tailored to areas of specific interest. Call for details.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Winter weather typically features highs around 16 °C, and "extreme" lows around 0 °C, often with morning fog and sometimes frost. Rain fall is sparse and occurs exclusively in winter and early spring months. Most rain storms last less than 2 days and are often spread weeks apart. It is not uncommon to experience hail, however it is very rare to see snow fall on the valley floor. The few times it does snow, the snow rarely sticks over night. While winter temperatures can reach below freezing, most all storms feature "warm fronts" that more or less eliminate the chance for snow (mid to low 40s F is a typical "cold" rain storm).

Summer temperatures average around 35 °C. Days with high temperatures 43 °C or above are not uncommon. Humidity is only around 20% in the afternoon, though, making for a more bearable dry heat. The chance to find days over 43 °C commonly occurs beginning late July and continuing to mid August. During these days the low nighttime temperature will only get down to just below 30 °C. It is common for a heat wave to last two weeks.

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Getting There

By Plane

Fresno/Yosemite International Airport (FAT IATA former name, "Fresno Air Terminal"). Served by carriers: Allegiant, American Airlines/American Eagle, Delta Air Lines/Skywest, Horizon, Mexicana, and United/United Express. Non-stop flights to Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and to Guadalajara, Mexico. Flights to Los Angeles or San Francisco may seem overpriced, but if you are continuing your journey, you might find that the Fresno leg of the trip won't dramatically increase the cost of your ticket.

By Train

Amtrak serves Fresno with six trains a day via its San Joaquin route, running south to Bakersfield and north to either Sacramento or Oakland. 2 Fresno station is in a historic Santa Fe Passenger Depot at 2650 Tulare St.

Fresno is also planned to become one of the first stops of the LA to San Francisco high speed rail system that is under construction, with a planned partial opening in 2022.

By Car

Almost everybody gets to Fresno by car. The drive to Fresno takes about 3 hours from San Francisco, 3.5 hours from Los Angeles, and 5.5 hours from San Diego. Coming from the southern Peninsula or South Bay, most people take U.S. Highway 101 to Gilroy, State Highway 152 over Pacheco Pass and through Los Banos, then State Highway 99 south to Fresno. From the northern Peninsula, one might take highway 92 over the San Mateo Bridge, to 880 North, then 580 East to 205 East to 5 North to 120 East to 99 South. From Los Angeles, take Interstate 5 north and State Highway 99 north. Fresno is accessible from the southern Central Coast by State Highway 41, usually used with State Highway 46. Fresno is the largest city in the United States without an Interstate highway running through it, but 99 provides much of that function and is slated to be upgraded to Interstate status.

By Bus

Greyhound has a terminal next to Amtrak in downtown Fresno. Exercise caution in this area at night.

Yosemite Area Regional Transit System (YARTS). Year-round. The YARTS shuttle travels on Highway 41 between Fresno and Wawona and Yosemite Valley, with stops at the Fresno Amtrak/Greyhound station, Fresno airport, CSU Fresno (Shaw & Barton), North Fresno (Howard & Fresno), and the Highway 145 Park & Ride. Ticket prices include park entry, and can be purchased from the shuttle driver.

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Getting Around

By Car

As is typical in California Central Valley cities, a car is useful and often necessary to access most parts of town. There is a modest bus system, Fresno Area Express (FAX), but a car would be advised. Traffic congestion in Fresno is not as bad as larger places in California, but Shaw and Herndon avenues can get quite crowded, especially since there is no east-west freeway through the north side. CA-99 runs along the west side of the city, becoming semi-rural before exiting Fresno County on the northwest side of Fresno. CA-41 runs down the middle of the city. Until the late 1990s and early 2000s these were the only freeways in Fresno, but a surge in growth has spurred the development of the CA-180 and CA-168 freeways.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Bike

In 2011, Fresno became the first town or city in the Central Valley to earn a Bronze Medal Designation from the League of American Bicyclists, recognizing Fresno as a bicycle friendly community. The city is in the process of further expanding its bike lanes in an effort to improve bike access.

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Eat

River Park Plaza contains many popular chain restaurants, including The Elephant Bar, Tony Roma's, Logans Steak House, Yoshino's Sushi House, and Hooters. For a large and diverse concentration of local establishments, head to the Tower District (http://www.towerdistrict.org/). There are also many notable restaurants sprinkled elsewhere throughout the Fresno area.

  • Campagnia, 1185 E. Champlain Dr, ☎ +1 559 433-3300. Upscale dining with great food and a nice bar.
  • Dai Bai Dang, 7736 N. Blackstone Ave, ☎ +1 559 448-8894. Great Chinese cuisine.
  • Dusty Buns, 608 E. Weldon Ave (Fresno High Area), e-mail: chefs@dustybuns.com. W-Sa 5-9PM. Gourmet sandwiches with local, seasonal ingredients.
  • George's Shish Kebab, 3045 W. Bullard Ave, ☎ +1 559 449-0100. Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • Giulia's, 3050 W Shaw Ave, ☎ +1 559 276-3573. Slightly more "upscale" Italian eatery.
  • Grandmarie's Chicken Pie Shop, 861 E. Olive Ave (Tower District), ☎ +1 559 237-5042. Serving breakfast and chicken pot pies; go for the mid-century-era electric green booths and stay for the food.
  • Irene's Cafe, 747 E Olive Ave (Tower District), ☎ +1 559 237-9919. A traditional coffee shop, known for its breakfast.
  • The Landmark, 644 E. Olive (Tower District), ☎ +1 559 233-6505. Basque and traditional American food. Often live music.
  • Luby, 1075 E Bullard Ave, ☎ +1 559 439-8357. Chinese food. Only has a few tables.
  • Max's Bistro & Bakery, 1784 W Bullard, ☎ +1 559 439-6900. French-inspired California cuisine.
  • Mone`s International Market & Deli, 7975 North Cedar Ave, ☎ +1 559 438-8975. Great Armenian, Russian, and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as some very interesting international products.
  • Parma (Herndon & Marks), ☎ +1 559 432-3389. Italian food, with homemade pastas.
  • Slates, 7455 N. Fresno St, ☎ +1 559 256-4141. One of Fresno chef Roy Harland's creations, featuring contemporary American cuisine.
  • Tahoe Joe's, 7006 N. Cedar and 2700 W. Shaw, ☎ +1 559 299-9740 (Cedar), +1 559 277-8028 (Shaw). Steakhouse that now has multiple locations in the state, but started in Fresno.
  • Taqueria Don Pepe, 4582 N. Blackstone, ☎ +1 559 224-1431. Look for the old style of KFC building. Fast food (but good) style Mexican fare.
  • Thai House, 1069 E Shaw, ☎ +1 559 221-7245. Thai food.

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Drink

Night life in Fresno is great if you're in the right areas.

  • Dirty Olive, 9455 North Fort Washington Road #104, ☎ +1 559 434-3077.
  • Elephant Bar, 7965 N. Blackstone Ave, ☎ +1 559 226-2110.
  • Five, 1110 E Champlain Dr, ☎ +1 559 434-5553.
  • Last Call @ Zapp's Park (Blackstone & Olive).
  • Organic Pastures, 7221 South Jameson Avenue (20 minutes outside of Madera), toll-free: +1 877 7296455 (RAWMILK). California's last and only raw (unpasteurized) milk dairy. The owners are a family farm who are passionate about raw milk. You can buy fresh cold just milked milk and dairy products right from the farm itself.

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Sleep

  • Courtyard Fresno, 140 East Shaw Ave, ☎ +1 559 221-6000. Near Bass, Shaver & Huntington Lakes for fishing, boating & hiking and also convenient to CSUF, Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Wildwater Adventures and the Muex Home Museum. $174-199.
  • Four Points Sheraton, 3737 N. Blackstone, ☎ +1 559 226-2200.
  • Homewood Suites, 6820 North Fresno St, ☎ +1 559 440-0801. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Suites with full kitchens, large work desk, free internet, flat screen TV. Guests have access to free hot breakfast, pool and fitness center. From $95.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites Fresno Hotel California, 330 E. Fir Ave, ☎ +1 559 449-0928. Free Wi-Fi and breakfast.
  • Piccadilly Inn University, 4961 N. Cedar, ☎ +1 559 224-4200.
  • Piccadilly Inn West Shaw, 2305 W. Shaw, ☎ +1 559 226-3850.
  • Quality Inn, 4278 W. Ashlan, ☎ +1 559 275-2727.
  • Residence Inn Fresno, 5322 N Diana Ave, ☎ +1 559 222-8900, fax: +1 559 222-9089.
  • SpringHill Suites, 6844 North Fresno St, ☎ +1 559 431-0004. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Suites with microwave, mini-fridge, free internet, flat screen TV. Guests have access to free parking, free hot breakfast, business center, pool and fitness center. $130.
  • Benson's Lakeside Resort, 32451 E. Trimmer Springs Rd, toll-free: +1-888-328-9588. Sanger.
  • Comfort Suites (Herndon Ave between Blackstone Ave and Freeway 41), 102 East Herndon Ave, ☎ +1 559-435-5650. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. All suites include micro/fridge, coffee/tea maker, free Wi-Fi,desk, two phone lines and sofa sleepers. Free hot breakfast served every morning, fitness room, indoor pool and hot tub. $99.
  • The Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 2233 Ventura St, ☎ +1 559 268-1000. 321 guestrooms with Sleep Number beds, beauty salon, Pizza Hut, Java Stop, gift shop, airport shuttle, and dry cleaning service.
  • Vagabond Inn Fresno, 2570 S. East Ave., ☎ +1 559 486-1188, fax: +1 559 486-2743. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM.

View our map of accommodation in Fresno

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Learn

Fresno State University is noted for its agricultural programs, and many Fresno State students and faculty travel to developing nations on agricultural assistance programs. Fresno City College, a 2-year community college, is also in the city. Fresno Pacific University is an accredited private Christian university offering many bachelors and master's degrees as well as other satellite locations across Central California (Merced Regional Center, North Fresno Regional Center, Visalia Regional Center, Bakersfield Regional Center).

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Fresno

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Fresno searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 13. Last edited at 9:58 on Jun 12, 19 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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