4 Hours in Fresno County
By BARRY EITEL
Visiting Fresno for a business trip or conference? Don’t spend your idle hours in your hotel room—a whole world of Californian delight awaits just outside. Fresno is a walkable, wonderful destination. With more than 300 days of sunshine every year, Fresno was built to be enjoyed outdoors. With great California cuisine, world-class shopping and plenty of activities, Fresno has enough fun to fill a weekend or an afternoon. Here’s what you can do for a few hours between conference events or before a flight.
Fresno has some great dining options, whether you enjoy a well-crafted meal or a delectable cocktail. The unique, upscale Elbow Room in the Fig Garden Village Shopping Center serves up an artisan approach to comfort food like tortilla soup, spiced deviled eggs and grilled steaks. The Rio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse at the Sierra Vista Mall in nearby Clovis is worth the short trip, with sizzling meats cut right before your eyes. Enjoy a refreshing microbrew ale or wine at Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co., a California BBQ Brewhouse that loads every meal with flavor. Downtown, Zest California Grill and Bar serves lighter cuisine made with ingredients sourced from the surrounding area alongside well-crafted cocktails.
Explore Bustling Downtown
The downtown Fresno area has the cosmopolitan flourishes of a much bigger city, but the welcoming friendliness and charm of a small Californian town. With window shopping in the daytime hours and a thriving nightlife scene, you could spend a whole trip and never leave the neighborhood. The downtown Fresno event calendar is usually stacked with activities, especially on weekends. Farmers from miles around join in to The Neighborhood Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays to sell some of the best produce in the valley.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Along with the downtown area, Fresno claims several great shopping destinations. Fulton Mall contains six full blocks of boutiques, food trucks and restaurants.An outdoor shopping center with plenty of places to relax and enjoy the Fresno sunshine, River Park contains dozens of shops. In nearby Clovis, the Sierra Vista Mall also includes an indoor go-kart track alongside stores, eating and drinking. Finally, the Fig Garden Village Shopping Center offers a cozy shopping experience with upscale clothing stores and terrific dining.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Since the weather is so fantastic, some of the best Fresno activities are outside. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a great place to start, sprawling over nearly 40 acres and housing almost 200 different species of animals. And the admission is $10 or less, making it one of the most affordable zoos in the country. Fresno is lush with gardens -- Forestiere Underground Gardens, a hand-built network of underground rooms and gardens, and Shinzen Garden, a relaxing Japanese garden complete with koi pond. The downtown area is also perfect for relaxed strolls, as is Roeding Park near the zoo.
Visit Fresno County, California’s year-round playground!