In January, I started off the year with a column debunking the idea that there is “nothing to do in Fresno” by providing 52 ideas – one for each week of the year – to encourage people to get out and explore the Valley’s entertainment and culture.
My “52 things to do in or near Fresno” generated a lot of interest and feedback, including some suggestions and criticisms. How could I forget the Clovis Rodeo? Or Woodward Shakespeare Festival, Shinzen Gardens or Keyboard Concerts, farmers markets, and so on. All good ideas, indeed.
So I’m back, three months later, with 52 more things to do. Here goes.
1. Go to the Clovis Rodeo (April 21-24). Last year, I spent an entire day behind the scenes getting a better feel for the rodeo and all that goes into it. I walked away with a new appreciation for the physicality and sportsmanship it takes to do this sport. Plus, there are lots of vendors for those who love to shop, two concerts, a pretty lively dance and a parade.
2. See a production at the Woodward Shakespeare Festival. This festival, which runs June through September, is known for its twists on the classics, often giving a modern or fresh spin to longtime favorites. And you can’t beat the view on the bluff at Woodward Park. You can also catch some other fun Shakespeare inspired events in April.
3. Explore Fresno’s gardens. I love the Shinzen Garden in fall when the trees are turning. As an amateur photographer, I’m drawn to the gorgeous color there. But there are things to explore in every season, including an impressive new feature with the addition of the Clark Bonsai Collection. Other gardens to explore: Clovis Botanical Garden, Garden of the Sun and The Deutsch Cactus Garden at The Discovery Center.
4. See one of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts: This Fresno State staple draws some of the top pianists in the world, including some rising stars. If you enjoy classical music, this is an intimate setting to enjoy world-class music. There is a show coming up in May.
5. Watch an opera live in Fresno, or catch a concert on the big screen. For several years “The Met: Live in HD” has taken people around the world into New York City’s premiere opera. Edwards cinema is among the theaters to show these special screenings. There are also arts, museum and concert specials planned, too.
6. Explore Fresno’s soccer culture by attending Fresno Fuego games at Chukchansi Park or hang out with fan clubs, such as the Arsenal fans at Peeve’s Public House or Chelsea fans at Hook & Ladder Bar in Clovis.
7. Check out the Cherry Auction. This giant swap meet is full of surprises, including some fun foods to try.
9. Explore the Valley’s farmers markets. There are year-round and seasonal markets that give you direct connects to regional farmers. This is a great way to practice the farm-to-fork movement. You can also check out these farm stands for fresh strawberries and other produce.
10. Visit one of the region’s casinos. Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino is open again, with a bunch of games and restaurants on tap. Plus there’s Table Mountain Casino, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino and Eagle Mountain Casino, Mono Wind Casino, 500 Club and Club One Casino.
11. Have dinner in an old school house. Schoolhouse Restaurant in Sanger offers a unique dining experience. The restaurant, which serves homemade seasonal American food, is inside a 1921 brick school house. The food gets raves and the atmosphere is fun.
12. Take a class at Fresno Ideaworks. With special events and regular classes in things like wood and machine work, welding, sewing, ceramics and more, there are ample opportunities to work on projects in a supportive environment. Also, check out this year’s Fresno Mini Maker Faire.
13. Make a TV show, or volunrainteer on one, at CMAC. Community Media Access Collaborative gives Fresnans an opportunity to create their own shows for community access TV stations. They offer classes in TV production and editing, and offer networking opportunities for people interested in producing quality video projects.
15. Go to a parade. The Valley has a bunch: Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival (June 4), Clovis Rodeo Parade (April 23), Children’s Electric Christmas Parade (December), Candy Cane Lane Parade in Visalia (December), Downtown Fresno Christmas Parade (December), Fresno Veterans Day Parade (Nov. 11)
19. Go to a comedy show. This is a growing area of entertainment locally, with a good mix of regional comedians and big stars booking shows in the Valley. Coming up, there’s Steve Trevino (May 8), the Comedy Get Down (May 14) and Jim Jefferies (July 29), or regular local nights at places like Mother Mary’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria. Check The Bee’s online calendar weekly for new shows.
20. Go to brunch at Erna’s Elderberry House Restaurant in Oakhurst. This is the region’s only five-star restaurant, known for its innovative French cuisine. This is a place where meals come in courses, and it’s a fun indulgence.
21. Hop around the Tower District for Taste and Toast of the Tower. This year’s event is May 12. It’s a food & drink lover’s paradise, with 50 sampling stations at 16 locations around the neighborhood.
22. Attend a poetry slam. The Inner Ear celebrates the spoken work with regular events.
23. Go extreme at a LuchaXtreme match. This local professional wrestling group has all the drama and fun of televised national wrestling events, just right here at home.
24. Hear a lecture from a national expert at the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series. Admiral James Stavridis speaks April 20.
25. See a free movie in the park. There are a couple of options during the summer geared toward wholesome family fun. Last summer’s movies in the park were at downtown Fresno’s Eaton Plaza and Visalia’s Riverway Sports Park. Regional movie theaters also offer summer movie specials.
26. Explore nightclubs. Fresno has a lot of nightclubs, including Fab, which has a Sunday brunch dance party, Club Legends, Aldo’s Nightclub, The Standard Restaurant and Lounge, Mezcal Lounge, Club Imperio.
30. Test your endurance on a mud run. There’s the China Peak Mud Run (August).
32. Go on a dessert date at Max’s Bistro, The Sea Salt Creme Brulee is simply amazing. Presented in three parts on a wood plank, the dessert includes a Lynnie B’s Handmade Local Caramel, fresh fruit and jar of custard.
33. Explore Fresno’s tea houses. Tea seems to be a growing favorite locally. There’s 1920 Tea Station, Raizana Tea Co. Little Leaf Tea, Taipei 101, Quickly, Tapioca Express and Teazer World Tea Market.
35. See a star show at the Downing Planetarium at Fresno State. Public shows are scheduled on Friday and Saturday nights and include topics like black holes and space aliens.
36. Celebrate comics, toys, movies and gaming all in one spot at ZappCon. Usually in October, this convention that mixes all things gaming and comic books encourages fans to celebrate their geekhood.
37. Go shopping at the Tulare Outlet Mall. I always hear people rave about finding great deals at outlet malls all over California, Why not try the one right in your own backyard? It’s 50 stores including Coach, Calvin Klein and Nike.
38. Sample Valley grown food. A good place to start is the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market at Fresno State, where you can find fresh produce, milk, ice cream, butter, sausage, wine and more. Other good ag-tourism places include Simonian Farms, Enzo’s Table (which hosts food trucks on Saturday and Sunday mornings), Bravo Farms, Sierra Nut House, Rancho Notso Grande and Farley Farms (where you pick your own fruit), and Basilwood Farm (where you can learn to make goat cheese), And don’t forget Producer’s Dairy.
40. Explore Sierra Art Trails (Oct. 2). It is one of my favorite art events in our region. You buy your ticket book and set off to explore the foothills and its many talented artists. The best part is seeing the artists studios.
42. Channel your inner Katniss Everdeen at a local archery range. I tried to hit the bullseye at Impact Archery in Clovis. There was no appointment needed for a lesson and an hour of target practice at this indoor range. There’s also The Spot Archery in Fresno.
43. Do a zipline adventure in Yosemite.
44. Go whitewater rafting. It’s a good year.
45. Try out rock climbing at MetalMark Climbing and Fitness. They offer classes.
49. Go fishing. Just follow The Bee’s Roger George’s weekly report for everything you need to know about fishing in Central California.
52. Test your brain power by trying to solve a puzzle at Breakout Fresno. This new business brings online puzzle games to life.