Visalia is a city of nearly 140,000 residents located in the geographic center of the state.
The San Joaquin Valley, where Visalia is located, is mainly used for agriculture. It supplies most of the fresh produce consumed across the country each year.
Visalia is about 300 kilometers east of San Francisco, the same distance to the south as Los Angeles.
It’s also close to some of the state’s most iconic state and national parks, making day trips a popular option for those interested in visiting some of the West Coast’s major natural attractions.
Here are 15 things to do in and around Visalia, California.
1. Sequoia National Park
Although it’s technically outside Visalia’s city limits, it’s a shame to pass up a visit to one of the country’s most majestic national parks just because it’s an hour away.
The main attraction of Sequoia National Park is the towering giant redwood forest. They often exercise tree trunks over 50 feet in circumference.
Other popular amenities include well-marked walking trails, restrooms, covered seating areas, and a regular shuttle that runs between the park’s visitor center and other attractions.
Many guests choose to spend the whole day in the park hiking, sightseeing, climbing, picnicking and fishing.
2. Visalia Farmers Market
The Long Valley between Los Angeles and Fresno has some of the most fertile soils in the world and grows a variety of produce year-round.
While most of these are shipped to other parts of the country, the region’s farmers markets are always full of fresh fruit and vegetables, even as the Midwest and East Coast are mired in ice and snow.
Visiting the Visalia Farmers Market is a great way to support the local economy and rub shoulders with hardworking farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs.
The market is held on West Caldwell Avenue in Visalia. It also has plenty of non-agricultural products for sale, such as prepared foods, health and body products, jewelry and crafts.
3. ImagineU Children’s Museum
Conveniently located on North Tipton Street in downtown Visalia, the ImagineU Children’s Museum is a fun, engaging, and educational family attraction filled with interactive exhibits designed for children.
The activities of the museum involve local agriculture, water conservation, science and history. Its attractions include the clubhouse, fort, arts and crafts center and U-pick orchard.
During the summer months, the area around Visalia can experience sweltering heat, and the museum is a great place to spend a few hours in the elements.
It’s also generally popular with older kids and adults.
4. Visalia First Friday
Visalia comes alive on the first Friday of every month, with revellers and art lovers exhausted from a long week heading downtown for a little evening fun.
The first Friday is sponsored by many civic organizations. It features vibrant artwork done in a variety of mediums by local and regional artists.
The event took place at the city’s creative hub. It was originally established to provide creative opportunities for local residents with disabilities.
Evenings also include family-friendly activities and excursions to local bars and restaurants for refreshing drinks and food.
5. Mooney Grove Park
More than 100 years ago, a civic-minded resident had the vision to carve out a large swath of undeveloped land in downtown Visalia.
Now, Mooney Grove Park is the city’s premier urban green space. Worth a visit for those looking to experience the great outdoors without wasting precious vacation time driving to far-flung state and national parks.
It features walking trails, covered seating areas, a disc golf course, historic buildings and an idyllic lagoon that guests can explore by paddle boat.
The park’s main entrance and parking lot are located on South Mooney Avenue in town.
6. Leisure court
Visiting a Major League Baseball stadium with your family for the regular season can cost a fortune these days.
But for the savvy traveler looking to enjoy an American pastime, downtown Visalia has better options.
The Recreational Ballpark is located on North Giddings Street and is home to the California minor league team known as Visalia Hides.
The stadium has enough seating for nearly 2,500 spectators and has been around for over 70 years.
It has recently undergone several upgrades, which means its facilities are in line with those of Major League Parks, just smaller and less pretentious.
7. Fox Theatre
Downtown Visalia is home to many historic buildings, from courthouses and baseball fields to museums and theaters.
The Fox Theatre has been a local landmark since its construction in the 1930s. Although it struggled in the late 20th century, it has been in business for the past 20 years.
The theater is one of the premier live entertainment venues in the area. Its performances range from theatre and contemporary music to comedy and symphonic orchestral productions.
It’s located on West Street in Visalia and is open year-round, and tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.
8. Downtown Mural
Like many rural towns looking to renovate and revitalize aging urban areas, Visalia has turned to local artists for help.
With its many large, unpainted, and unremarkable surfaces that don’t lend itself to local character, Visalia is the perfect place for up-and-coming artists to showcase their work.
While the artistic renaissance was initiated by a single individual, it has evolved into a collective effort and now features several large and powerful works by many artists.
Most works are located on Main, Court and Church streets. Some of them are as big as billboards, so they’re hard to miss.
9. Barrel House Brewing
With an assortment of delicious beers, indoor and outdoor seating, and several food trucks in its backyard, Barrelhouse Brewing is a must-see for foodies visiting.
Past guests have been delighted with the Barrelhouse’s attentive staff, rustic yet modern decor, and relaxing music that’s loud enough to allow you to enjoy the music without interfering with conversation.
Their beers range from light, crisp and refreshing low alcohol content to hoppy IPAs and stouts with chocolate and malt flavors.
You’ll also find some new fruit blends, like mangoes and apricots, that are especially delicious after a day in the sun.
10. Ingredient Coffee Labs
California may have more coffee shops than any other state in the league, but very few coffee labs.
That might be a nice distinction, but the founders of Component Coffee Lab have been roasting coffee beans for nearly a decade—and they take it more seriously than most.
They specialize in small batch roasted single-origin beans, which is why they attract a large number of coffee fans during their limited hours of operation.
The components are centrally located and also serve cold drinks. Unlike most competitors, they don’t use artificially flavored syrups that mask the coffee’s natural flavor.
11. Visalia Christmas Tree Auction
For nearly four decades, the City of Visalia has hosted an annual Christmas tree auction to help charities that support residents in need.
While most visitors don’t want to buy a tree to take home after the holiday, it’s still a fun activity and a great way to support the community.
Events include dancing, silent auctions, and food and wine tastings from local restaurants and wine merchants.
For those interested in moving to town or making business connections, auctions are a great way to meet some of Visalia’s movers and shakers.
12. Valley Oaks Golf Course
The Valley Oaks Golf Course in Visalia has three different 9-hole courses offering golfers both traditional and modern layouts.
The course’s 27 holes are spread across some of the least developed areas of the town, including large tracts of oak and pine trees, abundant lakes and narrow fairways leading to large multi-tiered greens.
The latest 9-hole section was completed in the mid-90s and is built with the modern linkage style, which is more common in Europe.
There are many tees to choose from on each hole to accommodate most players, but those who play from the longest blue tee will have to do the work for them.
13. Allensworth State Park
The Town of Allensworth is the only borough in the country established and run entirely by African Americans.
It was established more than 110 years ago by visionary pioneers, including a minister, professor and a U.S. Army officer who is now named after them.
Attractions in Allensworth State Park include several restored buildings such as the Colonel’s home, library, historic church and schoolhouse.
Although the town’s population has plummeted due to a lack of drinking water, it is a unique, fun, and educational place to explore. Plus, it’s only a 45-minute drive from Visalia.
14. Forestiere Underground Garden
From Visalia, the city of Fresno is about 60 kilometers north of California Route 99.
It has many attractions worth the drive, but for those interested in experiencing something unique and quirky, the Forestiere Underground Gardens may be just what the doctor asked for.
The gardens and underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers were originally constructed decades ago to protect people from the harsh California sun.
Many of these are located nearly 30 feet below the Earth’s surface, where temperatures remain cool and constant throughout the year.
The facility is located on West Shaw Avenue and can only be accessed as part of a guided tour.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Visalia, CA
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