17 TOP Things to Do in Fresno → by a Local

An aerial view of a church

Most people who visit California come for the big 3 – San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, not necessarily Fresno. So, come along with me, and I’ll take you on a guided tour of the most FUN things to do in Fresno, CA, and tell you fine details and tips & tricks along the way!

Hear it from a Cali local: this Central Valley city in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley is definitely worth your time.

Now, let’s go.

Quick Picks for Your Stay

When you get to Fresno, you’ll want to hit the ground running, not spend hours online making reservations. Get ahead of the game and book your hotels and activities in advance:

And here are the best hotels: Courtyard by Marriott Fresno Clovis (luxury), Hampton Inn Fresno Airport (mid-range), Townhouse FSU (budget)

If you’re using Fresno as a jumping-off point to explore other amazing places in California, take a look at our article on the BEST places to stay throughout Cali. 🌴

1. Monkey around at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Fresno Chaffee Zoo, in Roeding Park, is the perfect place for us to start our adventure in Fresno! 🦒 The zoo itself invites exploration of exotic flora and fauna right in the heart of Fresno, CA, an urban oasis.

Enjoy the lush landscapes that mimic the natural habitats of these phenomenal creatures – like the mesmerizing lion and giraffe exhibits.

Roeding Park Zoo, as locals call it, shows the amazing biodiversity of the San Joaquin Valley.

Kids will love the Valley Farm petting zoo, where you can interact with friendly farm animals, feeding and petting them.

PRICE: US$14.95 for adults (12 and up), US$8.95 for children (ages 2 – 11)

2. Have fun at Forestiere Underground Gardens

people looking at a tree

When you visit Fresno, you have to go to the Underground Gardens.

Forestiere Underground Gardens, situated right in the heart of Fresno, is a subterranean, otherworldly wonder.

Crafted by Baldassare Forestiere, an Italian immigrant, in the 1800s, these gardens are a playground for adults and kids alike to get lost and have fun!

Delve beneath the surface (literally!), and you’ll find a labyrinth of underground passages and chambers adorned with breathtaking, handcrafted architecture.

No joke, it feels like you’re in a storybook here!

Underground, there’s also a thriving garden, complete with flourishing citrus trees! 🍋

PRICE: US$23 for adults

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3. See the superbloom at Fresno County Blossom Trail

two rows of blossomed trees

In the heart of California’s Central Valley, you can witness something truly magical that happens each spring – the Fresno Blossom Trail bursts into a paint pallet of spectacular colors!

The Fresno Blossom Trail, winding its way through Fresno’s agricultural center, looks like an explosion of blossoms from a variety of nut and fruit trees.

As you travel along the Fresno Blossom Trail, you’ll have the opportunity to spot almond, plum, apricot, and citrus trees, the perfect backdrop for leisurely walks and romantic picnics.

Approximately 70 miles long (113 km), there’s often an array of festivals and events that happen all along the way during different seasons.

4. Get artsy at the Fresno Art Museum

In the heart of downtown Fresno, the Fresno Art Museum is the perfect place to get a taste of Central Valley’s art and culture scene.

With an unwavering focus on modern art, I love that this museum really mixes the region’s heritage with contemporary creativity from outside the community.

This museum is a monument to Central Valley’s artistic pulse, celebrating its stories, traditions, and unwavering innovation.

You’ll love the thought-provoking installations, striking paintings, and vibrant exhibitions.

The museum is where the Central Valley’s lively spirit and modern art come together, showcasing regional art and culture at the Fresno Art Museum.

NOTE: Closed Mon & Tues

PRICE: US$10 per person

5. Catch a baseball game at Chukchansi Park

the entrance of a stadium park

Play ball! ⚾

At Chukchansi Park, you’ll hear the cheers of baseball fans echoing through the warm Fresno air.

This is not just a sports arena, it’s the sporting pulse for the whole area of California.

With a prime location in the central valley, the Fresno Grizzlies Minor League Baseball Team is the go-to destination for fans of baseball in the area.

Beyond the baseball field, the park hosts a variety of events throughout the year – concerts, cultural festivals, and community gatherings.

PRICE: varies

6. Snoop through Meux Home Museum

One of the best things to do in Fresno, the Meux Home Museum, is an enchanting window into the city’s past.

Don’t miss this well-preserved 1800s Victorian-era home, originally owned by Thomas Richard Meux, offering intriguing historical exhibits at the Meux Home Museum.

The museum feels meticulously preserved, with ornate furnishings, intricate woodwork, and period-specific decor.

PRICE: US$10 per person

7. Take in the grandeur of Yosemite National Park

hiker at yosemite park

If you have the chance to check out Yosemite National Park when you visit Fresno, I highly recommend you jump on it! Dedicated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is AMAZING!

Have the opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring power of Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. Hike the iconic Mist Trail for an up-close encounter with the thundering Vernal Fall.

Get an amazing vantage at Glacier Point for unparalleled views of Half Dome and the Sierra Nevada.

Stroll through Mariposa Grove at Yosemite National Park and check out the giant sequoia trees, including the massive Grizzly Giant.

Rather have an expert lead the way? I don’t blame you! I loved this Yosemite National Park Guided Tour that takes you on an all-day adventure through Yosemite.

TOUR PRICE: US$350 per person

Join the Yosemite Tour

8. Play all day at Fresno Discovery Center

One of the most fun attractions in Fresno, the Fresno Discovery Center is an interactive wonderland for the kiddos.

Bring the whole family and let them experience science, technology, and nature in a compelling way. With hands-on exhibits and exciting displays, they’ll love to explore, question, and experiment all around them.

From budding scientists to nature lovers, the true theme here is a commitment to hands-on learning.

NOTE: Closed Tues-Thurs

PRICE: US$6 per person

9. See the tallest tree in the world at Sequoia National Park

Two people standing in front of a giant sequoia tree.

If you visited Kings Canyon already, good news – you also have admission here to the phenomenal Sequoia National Park, where you’ll see more awe-inspiring giant sequoias.

Explore Crystal Cave, an underground mystery, and ascend Moro Rock for jaw-dropping views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Take a hike on the famous Congress Trail and see the great giants like General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world!

Rather someone else take the guesswork out of the day for you? Try this awesome half-day tour through Sequoia!

TOUR PRICE: US$350 per person

Save Your Spot

10. Make a big splash at Island Waterpark

Island Water Park’s the ultimate of FUN things to do in Fresno, conveniently located near the Fresno airport. You can stay busy all day with the thrilling water attractions and relaxation zones that cater to all ages at this amusement park.

You’ll love the lazy river at Island Waterpark, where you can unwind on a float, gently drifting along. If you’re in the mood for excitement, the wave pool is where the action is AT!

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or looking for a tranquil escape, an excited kiddo, or a kid-at-heart, you’ll love this spot!

PRICE: US$39.99 per person

11. Observe the beauty of Saint John’s Cathedral

Erected in 1882 when the new Catholics of Fresno realized they had no place to worship, this stunning attraction, Saint John’s Cathedral, is a gorgeous testament to architectural beauty.

The cathedral’s awe-inspiring interior and breathtaking stained glass windows create an atmosphere of reflection. Take a break from the crowded tourist attractions, sit down in one of the pews, and enjoy the exquisite beauty.

Saint John’s Cathedral is a symbol of Fresno’s rich religious heritage and displays much of that history on its walls and plaques.

PRICE: free

12. Do some retail therapy at River Park Shopping Center

River Park Shopping Center is a sprawling shopping center with diverse shops and yummy restaurants.

This bustling shopping destination is not just a place to shop. You have a vibrant mix of stores, from popular retail chains to unique boutiques, as well as a great selection of cozy coffee shops and cute cafés where you can refuel with an iced latte. 😉

Parking is a breeze here, and free – so don’t worry about that!

13. Uncover the beauty of Kings Canyon National Park

A river surrounded by rocks and trees.

In the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Kings Canyon National Park is a natural treasure!

Offering world-class rock climbing opportunities against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Sierra Mountains, Kings Canyon is super unique – and less traveled – than some of the other parks.

Marvel at General Grant Tree, a living titan among giant trees, or chase waterfalls like Roaring River Falls.

If you love to hike, check out Rae Lakes Loop and Bubbs Creek Trail for an incredible journey through the redwood forest.

Rather someone else lead the way through this extraordinary natural wonderland? I highly recommend this super fun half-day tour exploring Kings Canyon!

TOUR PRICE: US$200 per person

See Availability

14. Experience the Kearney Mansion Museum

One of the most interesting things to do in Fresno, the Kearney Mansion Museum is a historical gem that invites you to step back in time.

Explore the well-preserved Kearney Mansion, an architectural masterpiece built in 1903, and home to a prominent figure in Fresno’s agricultural history.

The mansion hosts 22 rooms and is a perfect example of late 19th-century California architecture.

PRICE: US$10 per person

15. Discover the beauty of Woodward Park

a fountain in a lake in a park

This stunning, sprawling green space sitting along the San Joaquin River promises natural beauty, at the Woodward Regional Park.

You’ll love this urban oasis with tons of serene lakes, vibrant gardens, and over 3,000 trees!

Woodward Regional Park also hosts fun events like the Annual Woodward Shakespeare Festival and the Big Fresno Fair, which brings food truck festivals, live music, and more.

Enjoy disc golf, playgrounds, and scenic hiking trails with views of the iconic, historic Fresno water tower.

16. Take in the serenity at Shinzen Friendship Garden

view of a bridge in a park in autumn

To me, there is nothing more peaceful than a Japanese garden, and Shinzen Friendship Garden is the perfect example of that serenity.

Wander through the gorgeously manicured gardens, and gaze at the beautiful koi fish ponds, scenic bridges, and tranquil sitting areas.

Don’t miss the Japanese teahouse, Torii gate, and Zen rock garden!

NOTE: Closed Mon & Tues

PRICE: US$5 per person

17. Experience the Historic Tower Theatre for Performing Arts

a theatre with a tower

In the middle of the vibrant Tower District in downtown Fresno, the Historic Tower Theatre sits as an icon of theater and performing arts history.

This historic landmark has hosted legends and musicians from California’s extensive and colorful past.

Immerse yourself in live performances, from concerts to theater productions, where you’re at the center of the action.

If you’re looking for more of an after-hours scene, you’ll find it in the vibrant nightlife and dining in the Tower District.

PRICE: varies

👪 Family-friendly score:Medium
🏛️ Best museum:Kearney Mansion Museum
🏞️ Top paid attraction:Half Day Kings Canyon Tour
🌻 Best free attraction:Fresno Blossom Trail
👧 Best attraction for kids:Fresno Discovery Center
🕺 Nightlife:Tower District

Where to stay in Fresno

There are awesome places to stay in Fresno, so let me help you save time and share my top picks in every price range. The prices start from US$100 for 2 adults/night.

collage of three hotel photos: bedroom, lounge area, and outdoor pool

Luxury (US$280 and up)

  • Courtyard by Marriott Fresno Clovis – you’ll love this modern, super comfortable, high-end option in the peaceful town of Clovis. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool, large rooms, and relaxing lobby area.
  • Sonesta ES Suites Fresno – like the name says, this hotel is all about the “suite” life 😉. You’ll dig the large apartment-style suites with kitchens, and a beautiful pool area!

Mid-Range (US$180 – US$280)

  • Hampton Inn Fresno Airport – pop right over to and from Fresno Yosemite International Airport from this convenient, clean, and comfortable Hampton Inn. They have an outdoor pool too!
  • Confort Suites Fresno River Park – minutes from Safe Mart and other Fresno attractions, this hotel is the perfect choice for a comfortable stay while visiting the area. The fitness center is a great bonus, too!

Budget (up to US$180)

  • Townhouse FSU – awesome little townhouse with free Wi-Fi, on-site pool, tennis courts, and fitness center, and a minute’s drive to all the area’s top attractions. It’s a great budget option!
  • La Quinta by Wyndham Fresno Clovis – you’ll appreciate this budget option in the quiet town of Clovis, with free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, and an on-site hot breakfast!

Check the Rates

FAQs about things to do in Fresno

a 'welcome to fresno' sign on the street

🌟 What is Fresno best known for?

Fresno is best known for its gardens, like the unique Forestiere Underground Gardens, its parks, like the sprawling Woodward Regional Park, and its museums, like the Kearney Mansion Museum in Kearney Park.

💸 Is Fresno, California, worth visiting?

Yes, Fresno, California, is definitely worth visiting. Check out the amazing gardens, parks, and museums!

🌊 How far is Fresno from the ocean?

Fresno is about 100 miles (160 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean.

💰 What are some free things to do in Fresno, CA?

There are many free things you can do in Fresno, California. My top favorites are strolling through its incredible parks, like Woodward Park, and enjoying some peace at Saint John’s Cathedral.


aerial view of a city in the evening

There are so many awesome things to do in Fresno, and it also just happens to be absolutely stunning!

If you’re lucky enough to spend a few days in Fresno, now you are prepared with a list of all the cool possibilities that await you!

If you’re heading to Fresno soon, book hotels, and activities – all in advance!

Once you get back, drop me a line and tell me which ones you loved and which you maybe loved less! 🤣

Aloha & safe travels,

Hayden G.

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collage of two photos: city skyline, and a bridge in a park in autumn

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a theatre with a tower

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