Almost everyone has heard of Fresno, California, but few people know all that this vibrant, mid-sized city has to offer. What began as a stop along the Central Pacific Railroad has blossomed into the fifth largest city in California. It boasts 300 days of sun per year, mild winters, and warm summers. That’s probably why U.S. News & World Report ranks it one of the 100 Best Places to Live–and why half a million people call it home.
Cost of Living
Nestled between the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Coastal Range mountains, Fresno is no slouch when it comes to natural beauty. But affordability is arguably Fresno’s sexiest feature. In fact, New York Times recently named it one of the most affordable places to live in America. And for good reason: The cost of living is 22% below the state average, and the median home price is $212,000–on par with the national figures and nearly half as expensive as the average statewide home price. The median household income is an attainable $41,455, which means retirees, teachers, firefighters, and, well, normal people can afford to live here.
So where do people live in Fresno? Well, that depends on their priorities. Central Fresno, as the name suggests, is located downtown. It’s home to about 14,000 residents and has a walkability score of 75. High-Roeding is a larger suburban area northwest of town that features good walkability and easy access to the business district. For a more rural vibe, check out the open spaces of Woodward Park, tucked into the north edge of town, with a low crime rate and high walkability score.
Image Credit: Dylan Bishop
Perhaps the most unusual residential area is Sierra Sky Park, a “fly-in” community where you can literally taxi a plane from the runway to your driveway.
Sierra Sky Park
Image Credit: Thomas Nebia
Check out our Fresno Neighborhood Guide for a deeper dive. And rest assured that no matter which neighborhood you’re in, you’ll appreciate a short commute–22 minutes, on average.
Points of Interest
Despite its reputation for dullness, Fresno’s attractions are definitely not dull. Forestiere Underground Gardens is a unique and special place–in fact, it’s a state landmark. Chaffee Zoo houses elephants, kangaroos, aquatic life, and many more of nature’s creatures.
Image Credit: Fresno Art Museum
For music lovers, there are multiple concert venues and a local philharmonic. Area museums include the Fresno Art Museum, The Discovery Center (geared toward kids), an African American museum, and one dedicated to Latino culture. Outside of the city limits, Fresno offers easy access to three jaw-dropping sites: Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national parks. Each is just a few hours’ drive–perfect for day trippers and weekend warriors.
Events and Entertainment
Fresnans enjoy a wide variety of events and activities, including the annual Christmas parade, which is now in its 88th year. Hit up downtown on Wednesdays to buy fresh, locally grown produce at the Market on Kern and on Thursdays for CArtHop, a food truck festival featuring live music. Nearby Clovis holds a number of events, including the twice-yearly Wine Walk (spring and fall) and the annual Craft Beer Crawl.
Christmas Tree Lane
Image Credit: Paul Schlesinger
Food and Wine
While Fresno is the Raisin Capital of the World, many Californians prefer their grapes in liquid form–and Fresno doesn’t disappoint. More than a dozen wineries are situated in and around Fresno. Take a tour, sip a pour, or order a bottle at one of 700 area restaurants.
Image Credit: Ziveli Winery
Steakhouses such as Fleming’s, Ruth’s Chris, and Manhattan are popular, as is Parma, an Italian eatery. Max’s Bistro and Bar is another hotspot for foodies, one that sources ingredients from the area’s abundant agriculture.
Image Credit: Max’s Bistro
To learn more about the humble greatness of Fresno, check out the “Things to Do in Fresno” blog post.