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Eingang Van Ness Avenue in Downtown Fresno, Bild: stellamc / shutterstock

Fresno – wild animals, underground gardens and regional specialties

If you’re looking for an authentic glimpse into the California way of life , Fresno is the place to be. The largest city in the Central Valley region right at the foot of the Sierra Nevada has retained its traditional charm. Endless plantations, fresh regional products and rustic farms characterize the cityscape. But that’s not all. Fresno has much more to offer than a rural idyll. How about the biggest highlights?

A visit to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo invites you to take a little trip around the world through the animal world. Directly in the city’s Roeding Park, there are extraordinary creatures around the planet to discover. From stingrays to giraffes, everything is represented. The African Adventure makes a particularly big impression. The imitated savannahs extend over more than 5 hectares. Lions roll on the mighty rocks, elephants roam the desert-like steppes and orangutans shimmy from vine to vine.

Of course, there is also a look behind the scenes of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. The keepers are happy to report on their daily work with sloths, rhinos and giraffes. You can even watch them live feeding, petting or mucking out. Another spectacle are the many training shows. Interested visitors can get up close and personal with the training with sea lions and seals.

Good to know: Occasionally, exciting temporary exhibitions move into the Fresno Chaffee Zoo – for example about reptiles, dinosaurs or creatures from the Ice Age.

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A stroll through the Underground Gardens

Downtown Fresno
Downtown Fresno, Image: Matt Gush / shutterstock

If you want to experience Fresno from a completely new perspective, head to the famous Underground Gardens. The underground tunnels, grottos and gardens are of course no coincidence. On the contrary, the approximately 4-hectare sites can be traced back to Baldassare Forestiere. From 1906 onwards, the Sicilian immigrant painstakingly built the underground system by hand for the Californian city. It took him a proud 40 years for the major project.

The many artistic gardens with their high stone walls, imposing round arches and light-flooded atriums immediately stick in the memory. They almost resemble an ancient temple that came to light by chance during an archaeological excavation. But appearances are deceptive. In fact, the Underground Gardens are amazingly vibrant and green. After all, some fruit trees and vines are at home here – from cherry blossom trees to lemon trees. So it’s no wonder that the detailed tunnel system in Fresno has long been a listed building.

Experience the Fresno County Blossom Trail

For a few weeks a year, the Fresno countryside is transformed into an enticing spectacle of color, from mid-February to March to be precise. That’s when the apple, pome and nut trees on the Fresno County Blossom Trail begin to bloom. The many shades of pink, red and white immediately cast a spell. Of course, they not only look good, but also smell good. The whole air is filled with a fruity sweetness.

Good to know: It smells particularly fruity and sweet in the section through the orange groves.

Enjoy regional snacks and delicacies

Llerton Lake by Pincushion Trail in Fresno, California.
llerton lake from Pincushion Trail in Fresno, Image: Happy Human / shutterstock

Throughout California, Fresno is known for its fresh, regional snacks. The locals and visitors especially like to enjoy the nuts and dried fruits. But the seasonal fruits are also well received – from nectarines and peaches to pomegranates and boysenberries. Jams and honey are also in demand.

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With a particularly impressive variety of regional fruits, snacks and delicatessen, Simonian Farms can serve. The traditional farm near Fresno has been causing a culinary sensation since 1901 – and is now in its 5th generation. If you visit the charming farm, you should not miss old model steam trains. High above the heads of the visitors, it drives its 60-metre-long main route, again and again. Of course, the old escort car, a relic from 1946, is also worth seeing.

Barbecues are a must

Fresno is a barbecue town. Whether at home in the garden, in the hip trendy restaurant in the city center or in the old farm at the gates of the city – barbecues are held almost everywhere. Visitors must definitely enjoy a few of the grill specialties.

The Californian region is famous for its delicious rib-eye steak. Directly from the wood-fire stove with homemade porcini mushroom marinade and a fresh craft beer, you get to know Fresno’s culinary side best. The ideal side dish is also quickly found. Grilled corn on the cob goes perfectly with rib-eye steak.