California’s Central Valley has a plethora of nearby national and local parks and recreational areas. Check your community’s parks and recreation listings to see more of what your local area has to offer.
Forestiere Underground Gardens
5021 W. Shaw Ave. Fresno, CA 93722.............................559-271-0734
Forestiere Underground Gardens was listed by the CNN Travel website as one of the Top 10 coolest underground wonders. This underground garden’s distinctive features include a hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards and passageways similar to the ancient catacombs. It also boasts unique fruit-producing trees, shrubs and vines growing underground.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Highway Three Rivers, CA 93271.............559-565-3341
These two side-by-side parks with their huge mountains, rugged foothills, plunging canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees lie in the southern Sierra Nevada just east of the San Joaquin Valley. California’s majestic sequoias grow above the usual snowline, at 5,000 to 7,000 feet up. Park elevations range from 1,370 feet to 14,494 feet above sea level, with weather varying accordingly. Enjoy hiking, overnight wilderness trips, ranger-led programs, Crystal Cave tours, three snow play areas, skiing and snowshoeing, horseback riding, river sports and rock climbing. Bears are active year-round.
Shinzen Friendship Garden
114 W. Audubon Drive Fresno, CA 93720.......................559-840-1264
The Shinzen Friendship Garden of Fresno is a traditional northwestern American Japanese garden in Woodward Park, bringing the essence of Japan to the San Joaquin Valley. In 1975, construction began on the garden, which was first opened to the public in May 1981 to honor Fresno’s sister city, Kochi, Japan. The original flat, dry valley floor was transformed with man-made hills, waterfalls, streams and a lake, and the lush plants have turned it into an oasis of distinctive beauty. The 5-acre garden embodies the four seasons.
Yosemite National Park
P.O. Box 577 Yosemite, CA 95389.................................209-372-0200
First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls and Half Dome, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area and much more. In addition to the breathtaking sights, you can also go backpacking, bird-watching, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and rock climbing.