52 things to do in or near Fresno in 2016

No. 1: StageWorks Fresno’s production of the period musical “Dogfight,” received top reviews in 2015. Plan to attend one of the company’s show in 2016.
No. 1: StageWorks Fresno’s production of the period musical “Dogfight,” received top reviews in 2015. Plan to attend one of the company’s show in 2016.

No matter how many times I hear the remark, “There’s nothing to do in Fresno,” I’m shocked.

I mean, really? You live in the fifth-largest city in California and you can’t find anything to do?

Maybe I’m shocked because as the entertainment editor of The Bee I’m in the business of knowing what’s going on around Fresno. Every week The Bee publishes dozens of items on www.fresnobee.com and a 20-page print section highlighting things to do near Fresno, and we share it all over social media. There is no shortage of entertainment choices.

Still, I shouldn’t have been surprised when that “nothing to do” sentiment cropped up again a couple weeks ago at a dinner party I attended. Instead of grumbling about it, I decided to act – to debunk the notion with this list: 52 Things To Do In Or Around Fresno. These are 52 ideas that you can do over the next year (a couple are pegged to specific events) that will get you off the couch and out into the community.

No more excuses! Fun awaits.

RELATED STORY: 52 more things to do in or near Fresno

1. Attend a StageWorks Fresno play. Every summer I look forward to seeing at least one of its shows, which are intimate and top-notch.

2. Go on a Clovis Wine Walk. What’s not to like here? You buy a ticket, take a map and a glass and hop from store to store, tasting wine around Old Town. It’s a great girls’ or guys’ night out.

3. Visit the new African Adventure at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. I haven’t yet explored the 13-acre expansion that opened in October, but my colleagues and friends who have gone rave about it. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Even renowned wildlife expert Jack Hanna was impressed.

4. Attend a H.O.W. dinner. What better way to feel good than to help someone in need? These Helping One Woman monthly dinners at a local restaurant let you give back while hanging out with friends for dinner. Plus, each month features a local business/vendor where you can shop.

5. Try a local exercise studio. My passion is Bar Method Fresno (and Clovis, coming in 2016). I love the workout, which makes me strong and fit, and the women, who create a positive community spirit. Fitness centers are a great way to meet new friends and to build a community.

6. See a Broadway show. I love the “Phantom of the Opera,” and I can’t wait until the new touring show comes to the Saroyan Theatre in October. There’s a full season of Broadway in Fresno starting in February.

7. Try the much-loved bread pudding at Cracked Pepper Bistro. There is no food I hear more about in Fresno than the bread pudding at Cracked Pepper. People go there for this alone, and they even order it as takeout. If you haven’t indulged: Do it! It’s delicious.

8. See a show at Fulton 55. If you haven’t seen a show here, you’re missing out on one of Fresno’s best small live-music venues. Think small, intimate shows with local, cover and touring acts.

9. See a show at Strummer’s. This is Fresno’s other big player in small venue concerts. It’s known for bringing in some top touring acts you hear on the radio, both rising stars and classic acts. It’s a fun atmosphere for a concert.

10. Sample food trucks, enjoy the beer garden and hear music at Gazebo Gardens. This is a great place to take in a bunch of Fresno’s culture at once. It’s also family and dog friendly, a hip option for Saturday night. It has events Thursday-Saturday.

11. Attend an event at Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden. This is Fresno’s premiere craft brewer, and it’s a hot ticket. This place is all about sampling great craft beer and having fun with parties, game nights, concerts, special releases and more.

12. Go to the Rogue Festival. This is by far one of Fresno’s coolest festivals. It features off-beat, weird entertainment from fringe artists and performers. You get everything from comedy to dance to one-person storytelling shows. It’s awesome fun. And it lasts two weeks (March 3-12).

13. See an art film with Fresno Filmworks. Every month this group screens an acclaimed movie you won’t find at your neighborhood movie theater. And, as a bonus, it hosts an extended film festival once a year, usually in the fall.

14. See the AAA baseball champions, the Fresno Grizzlies. From spring to fall, there are games at Chukchansi Park, including specialty nights like the popular Taco Truck Throwdown. Look for the fun pop culture theme night promotions and discount family packs.

15. See a movie on a bigger screen. Fresno’s theater wars mean there’s a lot of top tech at local theaters. There’s the IMAX at Edwards, MPX at Maya, and triple-screen system at Sierra Vista. These offer a different moviegoing experience.

16. Go to the public portion of The Fresno Food Expo. This is a foodie paradise. You get to sample food and drink products from the Valley’s best producers and meet the folks behind the new products.

17. Explore Fresno’s boutiques. Lots of great local shops have popped up around Fresno in the past year or two, so try shopping somewhere new. Try: Revival 23 and The Foundry Collective in Old Town Clovis, Pum Bum Society, Three Graces and Shabby Abby in River Park, Kiss A Frog in north Fresno, Free Bird Co. in Tower District, Fun Factory in downtown Fresno, and Enjoy The Store in Visalia.

18. Go on a pub crawl. Dressing up and cruising the Tower District is fun and full of laughs. The Fresno Zombie Society hosts several events a year, including the annual Zombie Crawl and Comic Crawl.

19. See a classic movie on the big screen in a cool historic theater. Both the Warnors Theatre in downtown Fresno and Visalia Fox Theatre in downtown Visalia screen classics throughout the year.

20. Explore your creative side at a paint party. Paint-while-you-sip wine events are popping up all over. You can find them at popular restaurants, via Paint Nite, or at established places like Artist In Me, or at some local art studios like Sublime Time and Brush & Easel Gallery.

21. Speaking of art, you shouldn’t miss monthly ArtHop events. Held on the first (Tower District and downtown Fresno) and third (Fresno metro areas) Thursdays, ArtHop is a tour of local galleries and artists. The idea is to hop from one gallery to the next to check out the art, meet the artists, listen to music and mingle.

22. Play a game. Crazy Squirrel Game Store is the place to get started. Nearly every day it hosts gaming groups for both role-playing and board games.

23. Create a “swede” and attend Swede Fest. This is nerdy cool at its best. Local filmmakers create low-budget remakes of popular movies, trailers and TV shows and then get together for laughs and fun. This is a big deal.

24. Gather a team and compete in a local pub quiz. Several bars host them, including Fresno Pub Quiz on Wednesdays at The Landmark, Sequoia Pub Quiz on Tuesdays, House of Pendragon Pub Quiz on Tuesdays and Geeks Who Drink on Wednesdays at Tioga Sequoia BeerGarden.

25. Support one of Fresno’s biggest names in music, Fashawn, at his annual Grizzly Fest. This is all about the music – local and touring groups. This year’s event is May 7.

26. Take a bike ride. I love seeing the Valley from the perspective of a bike. With all the bike trails and routes linked up around Fresno and Clovis, it’s easy to cruise and rack up the miles. I’d suggest riding the Old Town Clovis Trail to Woodward Park to the Eaton Trail. It’s especially gorgeous in spring. Or, hook up with the Fresno Cycling Club.

27. Sip a craft cocktail and try a plate of seasonal agnolotti pasta at The Annex Kitchen. This is one of Fresno’s newest and most buzzed about restaurants. It’s really good.

28. Go to an event at Peeve’s Public House. This Fulton Mall bar/restaurant is changing the adult entertainment experience in Fresno. It hosts everything from adult coloring nights to lectures to soccer fan meetups and bands and trivia events. It’s an intimate place to hang out with friends.

29. Go to The Big Fresno Fair concert series. The fair lineup is always eclectic. You’re sure to find at least one show to see in the two-week run. While you’re there, be sure to sample the wacky fair food.

30. Explore DIY culture at Glorious Junk Days in Old Town Clovis. This massive fair is all about repurposed and handcrafted stuff. There’s also Craftapalooza in Fresno.

31. Try a new music experience at the opera. It may sound old-fashioned and stodgy, but the hip music director of the Fresno Grand Opera is shaking things up. First with the bold opera remix shows, and with two more modern shows, “Sweeney Todd” and “Dead Man Walking.”

32. Explore craft beer culture at one of the region’s beer events. They include: Old Town Clovis Craft Beer Crawl, Fresno-Madera Craft Beer Festival, Tower Brewfest or Sudz in the City.

33. Visit the new-improved Storyland/Playland. This is all about good, family fun and exploring the land of stories.

34. See an exhibition of photography on artist Frida Kahlo at Fresno Art Museum.

35. See a Good Company Players musical at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. This year’s show include fun romps, such as “9 to 5” and “The Little Mermaid.”

36. Take a cooking class. Young Chefs Academy of Fresno caters to kids, mostly, but chef Shayna Telesmanic has started hosting adult workshops too. Whole Foods also offers adult classes.

37. Try a new exercise. lululemon athletica Fresno hosts free classes at its Fig Garden showroom, and it promotes community events, such as run clubs.

38. Take a trip to Yosemite National Park. Think about going in spring, when the waterfalls are flowing strong, or in fall, when the trees change color. You don’t even have to drive yourself; there’s a shuttle from Fresno.

39. Attend the Central California Women’s Conference. It’s a great way to focus on work-life balance and network with successful women around the Valley. The keynote speaker and vendor fair aren’t too shabby, either.

40. Go to the symphony. I’m a fan of the Fresno Philharmonic pops series, which is a little less formal. But there are some amazing soloists invited as part of the masterworks series.

41. Take a tour of one of Fresno’s historical gems. There’s Kearney Historic Site, The Meux Home Museum and Fresno Underground Gardens.

42. See a concert at Woodward Park Rotary Amphitheater. It’s a different kind of venue that attracts some interesting shows such as the alternative/reggae group Iration.

43. Take a hike. There are plenty of places to hit the trail, including our three national parks, Yosemite, Kings and Sequoia, that offer world-renowned hikes. But there are places closer to home too, such as Woodward Park, Millerton Lake and River Parkway.

44. Sample wacky ice cream flavors at Ampersand Ice Cream. This local ice cream shop specializes in handcrafted, small-batch ice cream. It opened in 2015 and has fast become a favorite with its innovative flavors that change daily. Look for choices like whiskey caramel, Scout olive oil or oatmeal stout.

45. Go to the Day of the Dead events at Artes Americas. This Latino cultural center has a lot to offer all year, including its summer concert series. But one of the highlights is its annual Dia De Los Muertos art exhibition and processional.

46. Hear a faculty or student recital at Fresno State, Fresno City College or Fresno Pacific. Beautiful music, cheap tickets!

47. See a NOCO performance. The Fresno Dance Collective has created some of the most original entertainment experiences in Fresno the past few years.

48. Go wine tasting. Whether it’s ApCal and its summer concert series, or one of the many wineries in Madera or Fresno, there is an abundance of homegrown wine to sample in the Valley. Plus, many local wineries offer special events, including concerts, yoga and art. The Wine & Chocolate events in Fresno and Madera for Valentine’s Day are particularly fun.

49. Go to a local music festival. It’s a great way to take stock of the local music scene and see some on-the-rise bands. There are several to choose from, including: Summer Sweat, Catacomb Party and Spanspek Music and Arts Festival.

50. Go to a Fresno State sporting event. I recommend football, my favorite, for the tailgating opportunities alone. But there’s basketball, volleyball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer and more.

51. Pick an annual festival to attend. They include: Big Hat Days, Vintage Days, ClovisFest, Kingsburg Swedish Festival, Fresno Greek Fest, The St. Peter Serbian Food Festival, Tastemakers, Reel Pride Film Festival, Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival, Cinco de Mayo, The Fiestas Patrias.

52. Walk Christmas Tree Lane. This street of decorated houses is one of Fresno’s holiday highlights. It’s best on foot. Two walk nights are scheduled each year in December.