Visalia is a city in the San Joaquin Valley in California, almost halfway between Bakersfield and Fresno. It is a major gateway to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as well as the Sequoia National Forest. The city itself has a vibrant arts community and unique dining experiences due to Visalia’s location. The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country and as such you have access to local produce, wines, ranches and farms. Wine tastings are common, and the farmer’s market is open downtown twice a week during summer.
Visalia’s Fox Theatre is a relic of the early days of cinema when studios owned the screens and the halls felt more like performance spaces than the modern dark rooms. The theatre was restored by a local non-profit in the 1990s and is home to the Tulare County Symphony. The interior is a unique experience, built to evoke the experience of being outside in an Indian or South Asian temple garden with murals, sculptures and a genie hand-carved during the restoration using old photographs of the original.
Museums art galleries and boutique shops are all around downtown featuring local works and historic artifacts from the region’s past. The city is also home to the Visalia Rawhide, a minor league team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 1,800 seat stadium is host to games from April to September.
Heading east from Visalia you have choices to make: Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, or the Sequoia National Forest. Giant sequoia trees are in groves all over the area. The national forest is home to the Giant Sequoia National Monument, huge granite monoliths and glacier-carved valleys. Kings Canyon has even more sequoias, including the General Grant tree, and valleys similar to Yosemite, both made famous by Ansel Adams.
Sequoia National Park is where you’ll find the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Throughout the area, and with the help of local outfitters in Visalia, you’ll find hiking, biking, rafting and winter activities in settings unlike any other place in the world.