The index looked at the availability of attractions (national parks, historical landmarks), the probability of good weather and affordability of hotels and motels during the summer months. The results were collated and released last week – with a snazzy info-graphic and everything.
“We were pleased to see that both traditionally popular and lesser-known summer destinations made the list,” says Alan Cunningham, Travelocity’s director of marketing analytics, in the release.
One assumes Fresno falls under that lesser-known category.
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It ranked as a “surprise contender,” No. 6 on a list that had Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas as the top three.
“With temperate, rain-free summers, affordable lodging and a nearby national park, Fresno could be a pleasant surprise for summer vacationers as well as their wallets.”
While this ranking will no doubt get put to good use by the Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau (I am writing about it after all), it comes on the heels of a similar survey from personal-finance website WalletHub, which ranked Fresno 144 out of 150 cities for Staycationing. That survey looked at 28 metrics, including the prices of movies and bowling, the number of golf courses per capita and the cost of house-cleaning services.
Taken in tandem, the two surveys might lead one to conclude what some no doubt think already: Fresno is a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live here.
Of course, these kinds of surveys are, by nature, skewed.
Take apart the methodologies of the each study and you can see holes in the logic. For instance, Fresno is indeed rain-free during the summer months. Also, nearly every other month. That’s not good weather, it’s a drought. And while the city’s summer weather may seem temperate when averaged out and looked at as a simple statistic, live one week in 100-plus heat and you will think differently.
That fact that Fresno continues to pop up in these surveys does tell us something.
All things equal, we are a major city with plenty to offer visitors and staycationers. The Bee’s Features editor Kathy Mahan has written about 104 options, but here are few Fresno-themed “vacations” I put together for you to try this summer.
One of the high points from the Wallethub survey was Fresno’s rank (75th) in the number of beer gardens per capita. While Fresno isn’t quite San Diego, there has been an up-tick in the number of craft breweries popping up lately. You could plan a trip around hitting them all.
Here’s a partial list to get you started:
▪ Tactical Ops Brewing (formerly Black Ops)
This is one for the out-of-towners, but also anyone who has lived in Fresno and has never been to the Forestiere Underground Gardens, Storyland or Playland, Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Meux Home or Kearney Mansion. This is for anyone who has never eaten from a taco truck, or had Fresno State corn, or bought locally buzzed honey from a farmer’s market, sweated profusely while watching “Hamlet” in the park or done any of the things that are truly and authentically Fresno.
Pick any two (or more) and have at it.
The National Park-ation
Seriously, nature is awesome and Fresno is surrounded by it. Contrary to the Travelocity index, the city actually has more than just Yosemite within a two-hour car ride. There is also Sequoia and Kings Canyon, though Yosemite’s been in the news recently and is getting a visit this weekend from the President of the United States in advance of the park’s 100-year anniversary. You may want to wait a week or two before you visit.
While Fresno ranked relatively low (123rd) in the Wallethub survey for the number of cultural attractions (that’s theater and concerts) per captia, this week’s concert choices should prove that number is bunk. Later this summer we’ll see the return of the Summer Sweat concert series, which brings dozens of band to downtown, plus tour dates from Pitbull, James Taylor, Gwen Stefani and Carlos Santana, who just announced a date at Selland Arena. There are also weekly bar club shows from lesser known, but no less amazing, touring bands like the Joy Formidable, Bear Hands and Skatalites.