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35 things to do in the Fresno area this summer

Bailee Dunbar of Fresno takes a sip of wine while learning to paint at a Paint Nite class at DiCicco’s in Old Town Clovis. The class encourages participants to get a drink at the bar and “drink creatively.”
Bailee Dunbar of Fresno takes a sip of wine while learning to paint at a Paint Nite class at DiCicco’s in Old Town Clovis. The class encourages participants to get a drink at the bar and “drink creatively.” ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

In Fresno, you’re only bored if you’re boring.

The city is gateway to some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world, but it also has plenty to do for the inside cats in town. The local music, art and food cultures are all on the rise. The live music scene is better than ever.

Summer is here, and contrary to diminishing popular belief, there’s actually so much to do in the Fresno area over just the next few months that listing it all would be next to impossible. Here is The Bee’s best shot, but be sure to point out anything we are missing. We’ll humbly beg your forgiveness and add anything we skipped over, so check back often.

1. Bless the rains down in Africa. If you haven’t seen the Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s African Adventure exhibit yet, stop reading this instant and go. It’s one of the best things to do – for any age group – in the entire central San Joaquin Valley. You could check out an Evening on the Savannah or grab some ice cream. The zoo also offers educational summer camps.

With the next round of Measure Z projects, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo plans underway for new projects and improvements. Fresno Chaffee Zoo director Scott Barton talks about the new plans for the tiger compound, while Ciara Casellanoz, marketing manage

2. Eat your body weight in tacos. It’s never been any easier to do than it is now, as Fresno’s favorite food is everywhere. The seventh Taco Truck Throwdown will now be two days – one of which doesn’t even include a baseball game. Let’s face it: The game is always secondary on these, the most holy of days. If you can’t make the event, just throw a rock in any direction south of Shields Avenue and you’ll probably find a truck or restaurant serving up decent-to-phenomenal level tacos.

3. Take in a fine art exhibit or six. The Fresno Art Museum debuted five summer exhibits, including two geared around fashion and feminism by local favorites Nancy Youdelman and Leslie Batty. CSU Summer Arts also returned to Fresno this year with dozens of exhibitions and lectures across a variety of mediums.

4. Try out a new sport. The Spot and Impact Archery both offer classes and leagues for anyone looking to be handy with a bow. Play a few rounds of golf at Riverside, Dragonfly or Pheasant Run in Chowchilla. Join a recreational softball or basketball through Team Sideline, or sign up for a bowling league at AMF Sierra Lanes.

5. Indulge your sweet tooth. How do you take your ice cream? Rolled? Sandwiched? Punctuation marked? Frozen with liquid nitrogen? We have it all, and we have the weather necessary to truly enjoy it.

Roll Me Some makes ice cream in front of your eyes by pouring cream and toppings onto a below-freezing surface. Then they roll it up.

6. Go to a paint party. Pinot’s Palette hosts them pretty much every night, and a growing number of venues allow patrons to bust out the easel on a semi-regular basis.

7. Take your kids to a movie at a local theater without breaking the bank. Sierra Vista Cinemas 16 will offer kid-friendly screenings for the next seven Tuesdays at 10 a.m. for $1.50 a piece. Edwards Fresno Stadium 22 will charge $1 per ticket for Tuesday and Wednesday morning shows until Aug. 9. Maya Cinemas Fresno 16 also has two $1 screenings per week until Aug. 10. And FresYes will host its annual free movie night near its North Palm Avenue location on June 24.

8. Visit a national park or monument. They belong to all of us and none of us, and they’re all gifts. Enjoy some stargazing at the Dark Sky Festival or tour the Crystal Cave at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Hike the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park. Walk through groves of the largest trees on earth at The Giant Sequoia National Monument. And don’t forget to stop at the various attractions on your way, such as the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

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Hikers along the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park approach Vernal Fall on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE Fresno Bee Staff Photo

9. Attend a (or host your own) game night. Crazy Squirrel Game Store has dozens of board, tabletop and card games available for purchase, or you can come to one of the store’s many, many, many game nights. There are nights for specific games, as well as free play events. We at The Bee recommend Munchkin or one of the various iterations of Cards Against Humanity. Both are easily to learn, though Cards Against Humanity is for adults only. Don’t try and play it with former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. Just trust us.

10. Enjoy a community theater show. If you’d like dinner with your show, Good Company Players are performing “Damn Yankees” and “Sister Act.” If you prefer something a little darker, the Golden Chain Theatre in Oakhurst has begun its annual summer melodrama, and Selma Arts Center will be hosting the musical version of Stephen King’s “Carrie.” And if you want to see a side of a few of your Fresno neighbors you’ve really never seen before, you can check out StageWorks’ “Full Monty” production.

11. Explore a different exercise routine. Just because you hate the gym and it’s 400 degrees outside doesn’t mean you can’t stay in shape. Cyclebar and Ride54 offer between 4-6 indoor cycling classes per day, and Orangetheory Fitness puts you firmly in the driver’s seat of some swanky orange rowing machines. Fit36 Fitness will get you in and out in less than an hour, or you can stretch it out at The Bar Method. If you’re interested in martial arts, Aikido of Fresno offers both self-defense and weapons classes in addition to general Aikido.

12. Bathe yourself in sweat running that 5K you’ve been putting off. Sole 2 Sole hosts a variety of themed runs once every two weeks at Woodward Park for those who want – no, need – to dress like their favorite Disney character while exercising in public. You can also take your dog along.

13. Go underground. The Forestiere Underground Gardens are unique to Fresno and a must-see for anyone passing through. It’s also quite a bit cooler down there. No, really. It is. There’s like, science behind it or something.

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File photo of The Forestiere Underground Gardens, taken in May 2015. MARK CROSSE/THE FRESNO BEE Fresno Bee Staff Photo

14. Become a ninja. Or just jump around. Jump around. Jump up, jump up and get down. The trampoline park craze is exploding, and there are plenty of places to bounce in the Fresno area. Aerozone, 2xtreme and SkyWalk offer general bouncing as well as themed events and extreme sport nights. SkyWalk even offers ninja classes.

15. Check out a rock concert. Take your mom to see Train at the Save Mart Center or Huey Lewis and the News at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. She does a lot for you. Or you can check out Incubus and Jimmy Eat World at Selland Arena. If that doesn’t take your pain away, venues like Full Circle Brewing, Fulton 55, The Tower Theatre and Strummer’s host live music pretty much every week.

16. Take part in the food truck renaissance. Maybe you like eating plants near plants at Gazebo Gardens, or Thursday-afternoon CArtHop in downtown Fresno. Many line the streets of The Tower District late into the evening, and pretty much every event at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s beer garden has at least one. Many line Fulton Street and the surrounding areas during ArtHop every first Thursday, and don’t sleep on Old Town Clovis or River Park – especially on farmer’s market nights.

17. Laugh in a beautifully air conditioned theater. “Saturday Night Live” writer and Comedy Central roast favorite John Mulaney will be at the Saroyan Theatre, with Brian Regan following him just two days later and country-infused Rodney Carrington coming the following month. Jo Koy also hits Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville.

18. Attend a river party. Respite by the River provides monthly concerts along the San Joaquin River, and the Kings River Conservancy hosts themed parties, picnics and wine tastings.

19. Check out the public portion of the Fresno Food Expo. The Fresno area has a lot more to offer than just tacos, so try something new at Expolicious. The July event will also teach foodies about where their food comes from and how it comes together on their plate.

20. Get wet. Wild Water Adventure Park’s Sidewinder and Island Waterpark’s Lazy River are primed and ready to go. If water slides aren’t your thing, four Fresno parks, and several more have learner pools and splash areas. If you like swimming where fish poop, you could also try one of the half-dozen lakes within an hour’s drive. Don’t swim in the rivers, though.

21. Enjoy something a little different than the occasional dog walk at Woodward Park. The Woodward Shakespeare Festival will feature the gender-bending comedy “Twelfth Night” until July 8, then resume with the provocative “Titus Andronicus” in August. You could also scream it out at the A Day to Remember show or hook into Reel Big Fish and a ton of craft beer. Don’t forget to visit the Shinzen Japanese Garden or play a round of disc golf. Maybe you feel like getting your zen back at regular meditation events or engaging in some pug networking?

22. Watch a soccer match. The Fresno Fuego and Fresno Freeze provide a unique, exciting experience at Chukchansi Park. Make sure you visit the Tioga-Sequoia beer garden before and march with the Fire Squad for the full experience. And visiting these top-level amateur teams will prepare you for when Fresno adds a professional soccer team in 2018.

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Fire Squad Fresno begins to march into the arena at a second-round U.S. Open Cup match at Fresno State’s soccer field on May 17, 2017 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

23. Catch a movie. In addition to the number of fine summer blockbusters on their way to your local cinema, a number of underground film series have popped up across Fresno.

24. Get a little bit country. Country singer Chris Stapleton had to postpone his June 1 Fresno show due to a hand injury, but he will make the concert up Aug. 31. Boots in the Park also returns to Woodward Park on Aug. 11 with a lineup headlined by Billy Currington.

25. Check out an ArtHop show (even if you don’t like art). Most people know that the first and third Thursdays of each month are for ArtHop. But if you haven’t hit the streets of downtown Fresno or the Tower District lately, you may not know that ArtHop has become a major hub for food trucks and (sometimes impromptu) musical performances. And did you know Old Town Clovis has added an ArtHop to its popular farmers markets?

26. Go to one (or all?) of the Fresno Grizzlies’ masterfully crafted themed nights. If the increasingly popular Taco Tuesdays weren’t enough, the team continues to add special one-night-only promotions geared around “Star Wars,” “The Simpsons” and more. Keep your eyes fixed to social media, as who knows what the team will announce next. Let’s demand a “South Park” event in which the Grizzlies dress as the South Park Cows and the visitors don North Park jerseys.

27. Use your brain to escape certain death in a locked room. OK, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but the Fresno area’s escape room market is booming. There are at least four: Fresno Escape Room, Breakout Fresno, Xcape Room Fresno and Mind Games Clovis.

28. Watch borderline famous people tango. “Dancing with the Stars: Live” hits the Saroyan Theatre on Aug. 13.

29. Stir your competitive juices. Assert dominance over your friends at MB2 Raceway or the soon-to-open No Surrender Laser Tag in Sierra Vista Mall. The new Dave & Buster’s is a major hit. The inside of Boomers has been completely redone, and Blackbeard’s is still the place for fun (fun).

MB2 Raceway
Brendin Thomas, right, 11, of Auberry, tries to speed away from his father, Steve Thomas, behind him, during a father-and-son outing at MB2 Raceway at Sierra Vista Mall. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

30. Enjoy a pluot at a local farmers market. That’s a cross between a plum and an apricot, by the way. Old Town Clovis, River Park and Vineyard (Blackstone and Shaw avenues) are the big ones, but there are almost a dozen others in Fresno County alone. Or check out the Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee.

31. Drink a locally made craft beer or six. Did you know downtown Fresno has an Ale Trail? Not only do we have several dozen breweries and home brews, but the amount of bars and stores carrying local beers continues to grow. If you need something to do while you drink, keep your eye on Toga-Sequoia, Full Circle and House of Pendragon’s locations in Clovis, Sanger and (hopefully) soon to be downtown Fresno.

32. Challenge your DYI side. Try one of these projects: portable fire pit, chalk paint, macrame plant hanger, flower clip, or making play dough. Or you could hit one of these DIY spots for upcycled ideas: 3 Oaks Studio, Evolve! Vintage, This-N-That Boutique, or attend an event by Get Crafty With Me.

33. Hit the mountain. Snow may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of China Peak, but the resort flips into mountain biking mode once summer hits.

34. Visit a winery. If you like cover songs with your alcohol, ApCal in Madera County hosts a tribute band pretty much every weekend. Engelman Cellars also hosts live music, as well as family movie nights. Toca Madera will offer a free dance class with its wine (no partner required).

35. Check out a race. The Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford hosts sprint car racing in July. There’s a race or event pretty much every Saturday at Madera Speedway, and the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway has a race scheduled for July 22.

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