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Fresno

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Fresno County : Fresno
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Fresno is in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The city proper has a population of about 481,000 and around 1 million live in the county.

Understand

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 Sierra. The Save Mart Center at California State University, Fresno ("Fresno State") has also played host to concerts featuring high-profile acts.

Winter weather typically features highs around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, often with morning fog and sometimes frost. Rain falls almost always in winter and early spring. Summer temperatures average in the mid-90s. Days with high temperatures 100 degrees or above are not uncommon. Humidity is only around 20% in the afternoon, though, making for a more bearable dry heat.

Fresno's most famous son is the writer William Saroyan, after whom is named a local theatre. The city has a large Hmong community.

Get in

By plane

Fresno/Yosemite International Airport [1] (the FAA designator is "FAT", for its former name, "Fresno Air Terminal"), served by carriers: Allegiant, American Airlines/American Eagle, Continental, Delta Airlines/Skywest, Horizon, Mexicana, US Airways and United/United Express. Non-stop flights to Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even service 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's San Joaquin [2] route serves Fresno with six trains a day, running south to Bakersfield and north to either Sacramento or the Bay Area.

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 6 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 in downtown Fresno. Exercise caution in this area at night.

Get around

As is typical in California Central Valley cities, a car is pretty much a necessity to get around. 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.

See

  • Bentley's Patio, 9439 N. Washington Road, +1-559-892-4200 (), [3]. M-Su 8AM-9PM. This 10,000sf European patio has two hugh fountains surrounded be big trees and live music Th-Su. Bentley's conveys an atmosphere of the old world European markets, where you can experience a wide variety of fresh foods among 9 departments: Bakery/Café, Sandwich Bar, Service Delicatessen, Prepared Foods Bistro, Fresh Seafood Counter, Old-style Butcher Shop, Fresh Sushi, Farm Fresh Produce, Salad Bar and Specialty Cheese & Charcuterie department. Also a selection of specialty foods, imported groceries, wines, beers, coffee, tea, candies and fresh-cut flowers that are truly unique to the Fresno area.
  • Forestiere Underground Gardens, 5021 West Shaw Avenue, +1-559-271-0734 (), [4]. 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) $7.00, Children (4-12) $6.00.
  • Nonini Winery, 2640 N. Dickenson, +1-559-275-1936, [5]. Wine tasting and tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is requested that you call ahead to schedule a tour.
  • Fresno Grizzlies, [6]. Minor league baseball team affiliated with the San Francisco Giants. Chukchansi Park (formerly called Grizzlies Stadium) is located downtown, built in 2002 specifically for the team.
  • Island Water Park, +1-559-277-6800, [7]. Water slide park open between June and mid-September.
  • Blackbeards Family Fun Center, 4055 N. Chestnut, +1-559-292-6386, [8]. Has batting cages, bumper boats, paintball, miniature golf, sprint cars, water slides and arcade games.
  • Riverpark Shopping Center, Corner of Blackstone Ave. and Nees Ave.. The most popular shopping center and hangout in the city of Fresno. Contains Edwards Movie Theatres, the famous Dai-Bai-Dang Chinese restaurant, Lowes, Sam's Club, Barnes & Noble, Pier 1 Imports, Target, and many more stores.

What to Do

  • Rogue Festival, [9]. March. Modeled on the Canadian and North American Fringe Festivals, the Rogue showcases both local and national artists, with dance, music, comedy, film, art, and theatre at venues around the Tower District. Performers come from around the state, and even as far as as Vancouver and London.
  • Shakespeare in the park, [10]. Othello: the Moor of Venice* June 28 through July 28, 2007 The Taming of the Shrew* August 16 through September 15, 2007
  • Tower District Mardi Gras Parade, [11]. Sunday, February 18, 2007
  • Annual International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Fresno’s Tower District, [12].
  • Bentley's Farmers Market and Live Music Every Friday night April 18th - November 14th, 2008, [13].

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 also has three school districts: Fresno Unified, Clovis Unified, and Central Unified.

Buy

As long as you're right in the middle of California's agricultural heartland, try the local produce. Fresno State's Farm Market [14], at the corner of Chestnut and Barstow, sells the produce grown by the university's agriculture department, plus fresh cheese, ice cream and wine. If you're looking for a souvenir of the San Joaquin Valley, try the Sierra Nut House [15], for dried fruit, nuts, jams & jellies, and coffees & teas.

The Vineyard Farmer's Market [16] at Shaw and Blackstone (Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons) is the largest and most extensive of the farmer's markets in the area. Open Year Round Twice a week on Wednesday afternoons from 3-6PM and Saturdays 7Am till noon. During summer, there is also one in Old Town Clovis every Friday evening.

The Bentley's Live Music, Farmer's Market and Family night [17] This Farmer's Market is set underneath large umbrellas, trees and with Live Jazz playing on the Courtyard. Courtyard Picture [18] (Thursday evenings from 6 - 9 pm).

Eat

The River Park Plaza has plenty to offer when it comes to food. You have the Macaroni Grill [19], The Elephant Bar, Tony Roma's, Logans Steak House, Yoshino's Sushi House, and all your typical fast food restaurants including In-N-Out Burger and Hooters.

If, however, you want unique food, not the predictable chains, there are many delightful choices, including:

  • Bentley's Bistro 9447 N. Fort Washington Road, 559-892-4220. [20]
  • Campagnia 1185 E. Champlain Drive, 559-433-3300. Upscale dining with great food and a nice bar.
  • Dai Bai Dang 7736 N. Blackstone Ave, 559-448-8894. Great Chinese cuisine.
  • Mone`s International Market & Deli 7975 North Cedar Avenue, 559-438-8975. Great Armenian, Russian, and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as some very interesting international products.
  • George's Shish Kebab 3045 W. Bullard Ave, 559-449-0100. Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • Giulia's 3050 W Shaw Ave, 559-276-3573. Slightly more "upscale" Italian eatery.
  • Irene's Cafe 747 E Olive Avenue (Tower District) 559-237-9919. An old-fashioned coffee shop, known for its breakfasts.
  • The Landmark 644 E. Olive, 559-233-6505. An upscale dining place. Has a great bar inside, and has great New Year's Specials.
  • Luby 1075 E Bullard Ave, 559-439-8357. Chinese food. Only has a few tables.
  • Max's Bistro & Bakery 1784 W Bullard, 559-439-6900. French-inspired California cuisine. [21]
  • Parma Herndon & Marks, 559-432-3389. Italian food, with homemade pastas.
  • Senses World Cuisine 1110 N. Van Ness, 559-445-1957. Features tapas, organic foods and many vegetarian selections. [22]
  • Slates 7455 N. Fresno St, 559-256-4141. One of Fresno chef Roy Harland's creations, featuring contemporary American cuisine.
  • Tahoe Joe's 7006 N. Cedar, 559-299-9740 and 2700 W. Shaw, 559-277-8028. Steakhouse that now has multiple locations in the state, but started in Fresno. Website at tahoejoesdotcom
  • Taqueria Don Pepe 4582 N. Blackstone, 559-224-1431. Look for the old style of KFC building. Fast food (but good) style Mexican fare.
  • Thai House 1069 E Shaw, 559-221-7245. Thai food.

Drink

Night life in Fresno is great (if you're in the right areas) head to The Bar or the The Other bar at or Landmark or Elbow Room or On the Rocks.

  • Dirty Olive, 9455 North Fort Washington Road # 104, +1 559 434-3077.
  • Elephant Bar, 7965 N. Blackstone Avenue, (559) 261-0325, +1 559 226-2110, [23].
  • Five, 1110 E Champlain Dr, +1 559 434-5553.
  • Last Call @ Zapp's Park, Blackstone & Olive.

Sleep

  • Four Points Sheraton 3737 N. Blackstone, +1 559 226-2200, [24]
  • Piccadilly Inn Airport, 5115 E. McKinley, +1 559 251-6000, [25]
  • Piccadilly Inn University, 4961 N. Cedar, +1 559 224-4200, [26]
  • Piccadilly Inn West Shaw, 2305 W. Shaw, +1 559 226-3850, [27]
  • Quality Inn, 4278 W. Ashlan, +1 559 275-2727, [28].
  • Residence Inn Fresno, 5322 N Diana Avenue, +1 559 222-8900, Fax: +1 559 222-9089, [29].
  • TownePlace Suites Fresno, 7127 North Fresno Street, +1 559 435-4600, Fax: +1 559 435-4613, [30].

Nearby

  • Benson's Lakeside Resort, 32451 E. Trimmer Springs Rd., Sanger, 888-328-9588,[31].
  • SpringHill Suites Fresno, 6844 North Fresno St, 559-431-0004, [32].
  • Courtyard Fresno, 140 East Shaw Avenue, 5592216000, [33]. 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.


Contact

Cope

  • The Fresno County Public Library has its main branch downtown, at 2420 Mariposa Street.
  • Woodward Park is a large grassy park on the north side of Fresno, on Friant Road. There is an entry fee of $3 per car,but if you get there early enough (usually before 7am) there is no charge.
  • Roeding Park is another large park in southwest Fresno. It contains the Chaffee Zoo [34] and small amusement parks Storyland and Playland.

Get out

The adjacent town of Clovis has a small "old town" with numerous antique stores. The last weekend of April the town hosts the Clovis Rodeo.

Millerton Lake is about 20 miles northeast of Fresno on Friant Road. It's a popular site for fishing and waterskiing.

Many locals escape the summer heat at the lakes in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. These lakes have recreation areas, campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts:

  • Shaver Lake
  • Huntington Lake
  • Bass Lake
  • Pine Flat Lake
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