Life is busy and expensive! We all want to do fun and exciting things with our kids but between time and money it can be challenging. Challenging to find something exciting to do beyond the Boomers or water parks! At least for many people I talk to. So here are some great 1/2 to 3/4 day activities to do with the whole family. None of them are more than an hour away from Fresno and quite a few are right in town. I haven’t been to all these places but I am hoping to this summer!
1. Fresno Chaffee Zoo: This is a local treasure that is not visited nearly often enough! They continually get new animals and now have the Sea Lion Cove. If you get a zoo membership it can pay for itself in just a couple trips. They also have Wells Fargo Wednesdays on the first Wednesday of the month so kids 2-11 get in free with their families. There are also daily giraffe feedings and the Winged Wonders Bird Show.
2. Forestiere Underground Gardens: Located on Shaw in West Fresno there are acres of underground gardens dug out! As a kid I always thought Forestiere must be some fancy word for forest but in reality it is the creator’s last name;). If you ever needed proof that the hard pan in Fresno is hard, this is it;). These are court yards and patios with the occasional fruit baring tree. The temperature is 20-30 cooler than above ground so it is a nice way to get out of the heat a little. They have 1 hour tours and a schedule on their website.
3. McDermont Field House: If you just have to have that amusement park experience head out to Lindsay which is about an hour outside of Fresno. The Field House has everything you can imagine to do for fun and all inside. They have wave pools, gym, a skate park, a giant rock climbing wall, an arcade and more! The most expensive admission is only $29 but there are cheaper options that give you access to specific attractions.
4.Discovery Center: The Discovery Center has been around in Fresno since I was a kid yet many people have never been there! They have a 4 acre park that is free to visit with a pond, a space capsule, a cactus garden, a maze and a ton of other stuff in addition to shade trees, picnic areas and indoor bathrooms! They also have a museum inside and sometimes various classes. And while they call it a museum it really is more of a science discovery area. They have a variety of exhibits with hands on areas. There is a cost associated with the museum but it is a ton of fun.
5. San Joaquin Fish Hatchery: The Fish Hatchery is up 12 miles outside of Fresno up at Friant. There is no charge!! You can go up and see the various life stages of Rainbow Trout. You can even feed them and watch them jump. It opens at 7:30 am so you can get out there while it is cool. Did I mention that it is cooler up in Friant and it is free?
6. Castle Air Museum: The Castle Air Museum is about an hour north of Fresno in Atwater. This is a former air base that became a museum when it closed. There is an indoor museum with all types of memorabilia but for me, that isn’t the fun. They have all types of aircraft and even restore old military planes! On May 26th they are having an Open Cockpit day. They will be opening up the planes, having helicopter rides and all kinds of other fun. They also have a calendar on their site so you can see the other activities they have planed.
7. Meux Home Museum: The Meux Home is a home that was built basically from a catalog. It is decorated in authentic Victorian style and is gorgeous. You can take a tour through this house with a docent who explains everything. You will see the Victorian kitchen with the pie safe. They do seasonal events like a Mother’s Day tea and decorate for Christmas. If you have daughters who love the Samantha series in the American Girl series, this is perfect. But even if not this is a great historical outing.
8. Downing Planetarium: Did you know that we have a planetarium here in Fresno? Well we do over at Fresno State! They have a variety of weekend shows (all the summer schedule isn’t out yet). They also have free star gazing on Fridays outside and a free fun with physics class after the 2pm show on Saturdays. The big downer when it comes to their summer schedule is that they are closed for the whole of July for facilities maintenance. But it is ope the rest of the year. Prices are pretty low. It is educational for all ages and a little awe inspiring for all ages…. Or I am just a huge science nerd;).
9. Fresno Flats Village and Park: Located up in Oakhurst this village looks at life in the late 19th century. They have homes from the 1870′s along with a one room schoolhouse and a jail. You can go up for a self guided tour or schedule on. This isn’t aimed a the gold rusher but the people who moved into the are to build a life. Just a little outside the valley heat and very historical, this would be a great history experience! You would learn about not only California history but also construction and life in the 19th century. You also will be outside and moving! A win-win for this mom when looking at outings to take the family on. There is also an official museum that is open 10am – 2pm daily.
10. Sugar Pine Railroad: Up at Fish Camp (up towards Yosemite) is the Sugar Pine Railroad. This is an institution in the Fresno area. You can go and ride on an honest to goodness open rail cars! You can ride on a steam engine. There are a variety of choices and prices associated but they are all very affordable. There are also special events like dinner trips you can take (my parents did that one year for an anniversary when I was a kid;). I think my kids would even enjoy the Jenny railcar! You can also pan for gold while you are there too!
There is just a quick list of 10 fun and affordable outings around Fresno! Who ever said there isn’t anything to do here just wasn’t paying attention! So what are you summer plans with your kids?