The Heart of Tulare County

Tulare Avenue

Top 10 Activities in Tulare County

When people think of California, they think of sunny weather, big cities, and beaches.  Unfortunately, Tulare County only has the sunshine.  Still, don't get too discouraged if you get stuck between Fresno and Bakersfield, because you may actually be pleasantly surprised.  With some careful preparation and a little sense of adventure, you will definitely find activities to keep you busy and entertained.  The following is a list of the top ten things (in order) that Tulare County has to offer:

10) Scotty's Donuts (Visalia, CA)

This place is a complete surprise.  It's open almost any time a donut seems feasibly delicious.  It's in a not-so-nice area.  It's a small shack stationed between a gas station and a liquor store.  It's got an old-fashioned drive-thru that looks more like a lean-to to support its foundation than a weather-protector.  It's just not what you would expect.  And that also goes for the donuts themselves.

9) Mooney Grove Park (Visalia, CA)

The Park is a hub for activity between the Tulare and Visalia communities.  It offers many get-together's throughout the year such as car shows, family reunions, company picnics, and more.  The place gets flooded throughout on weekends with people, and for good reason.  They keep it in good shape and offer many family friendly activities.  The Mooney Grove Park has two 18-hole frisbee golf courses, the Tulare County Museum, picnic tables/shelters/permanent grills, historical landmarks, and even peacocks!  The Tulare County Museum is supremely informative and offers more than you probably need to know.  There are activities for everyone, but please remember to carpool since they charge an entrance fee by vehicle.

8) Rocky Hill (Exeter, CA)

For all of those active people looking to work out, this is the place for you.  The hill sits over 1,000 feet above the valley, so you can get a great view of the rest of Tulare County (if the view isn't clouded during one of the signature smoggy days).  Although you can drive over Rocky Hill, the road is predominantly used by walkers, runners, and bicyclists.  Please remember to share the road.  The best seasons to visit are during the winter and spring due to cooler weather and greener landscape, but the long, tan grass in the fall is very nice as well (remember: the summer is blistering hot).  You literally start on one end, climb to the top, go down the other side, and then reverse.  The views alone make it a great place to visit.  The fact that the road is populated mainly for exercise is a bonus (not to mention that you get an audience from the on-looking cows)!

7) McDermont Field House (Lindsay, CA)

If you are looking for an amusement park-type activity, McDermont Field House is the place to go.  This isn't your typical Chuck E. Cheese imitation with batting cages, miniature golf, and an arcade.  It's a converted warehouse so there is plenty of space.  I'll try to name most of the activities: water slides, surfing machine, skate park, rock climb, laser tag, arcade, dance floor, bounce house, soccer fields, golf course, basketball/volleyball courts, swimming pool, and fitness center.  Please note that it isn't cheap.  Depending on the type of activities, the costs add up (some of the activities are not included in the entrance fee.  There is definitely something for everyone, but the price is not for everyone either.

6) Visalia Rawhide (Visalia, CA)

The Visalia Rawhide are the single A baseball team in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system.  It may be familiar to those that watched "Moneyball" featuring Brad Pitt.  In the movie, they were referenced as the Visalia Oaks (they've since changed their name).  It's a beautiful stadium for the size.  It probably holds about 5,000 to 10,000 people, which is perfect for the feel of minor league baseball.  Most of the players will never make it to the Major's, but it is exciting to see young kids trying to make their name in a game they love.  The team offers many giveaways and between-inning entertainment to keep the atmosphere up-beat and light.  On Fourth of July, the stadium displays a great fireworks show.

5) Richard's Lunchbox (Tulare, CA)

I would call this the secret of Tulare County.  Even lifelong residents may not know where the restaurant resides.  Richard's Lunchbox offers a variety of barbecue sandwiches, such as pork, tri-tip, etc. and that's it.  They'll offer some sides and Pepsi products, but it's all about the sandwiches.  The only thing you'll need to make sure of is to get directions because it's basically a grill and a few picnic tables behind a few buildings.  Don't let the façade scare you.  It's as simple as this: they are delicious and not overpriced. 

4) Main St. (Visalia, CA)

If you are looking for a night out then Main St. in Visalia is the place to go.  When you step out of your car, you immediately feel as though you've stepped into the 1930's.  Some of the buildings are still in the same frameworks from the 30's (e.g. Fox Theatre).  As you walk through the shop-lined sidewalks, you can choose from a variety of restaurants and pubs.  My personal favorite is Brewbaker's but you can't go wrong.  A handful of the restaurants would be considered fine dining (especially in regards to other options in the Central Valley) for those looking for a nice night out.  The Street offers some nice entertainment options with Fox Theatre for plays and concerts and a 10-screen movie theater as well.  In terms of date options, this is your best bet.

3) World Ag Expo (Tulare, CA)

For many, this Expo may not register as a must-see since its centered around agriculture.  Don't be fooled, this is a celebration of the lifeblood of Tulare County.  It just so happens that it's one of the world's largest agriculture conventions.  While the major corporations are doing business, the rest of the community is eating and...more eating.  Since almost every hotel between Bakersfield and Fresno is booked for all three days, Tulare County is bustling with activity.  The Expo only happens in the middle of February, but it makes it to #3 on the list due to the enormity.  Grab some food and meander through the farm equipment and you'll recognize what makes Tulare County tick.

2) Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is closely associated with Sequoia National Park due to the proximity and most guests entering from the west will need to drive through Sequoia to get to Kings Canyon.  However, the reason for visiting is much different.  Kings Canyon National Park refers to the canyon that the Kings River run through.  It is actually the deepest canyon in North America (even compared to the Grand Canyon).  Most visitors will head over to go hiking through the many picturesque trails.  You will see waterfalls, forests, mountains, and cliffs that will most definitely be worth the long hikes.  It is definitely in a remote area.  Be prepared and bring your camera!

1) Sequoia National Park

The other nine attractions on this list are very nice options, but Sequoia National Park is far and away the number one choice.  As soon as you enter the Sequoia forests, the sheer size of the trees becomes overwhelming (and not just because you may be feeling a little sick from the drive).  I would definitely recommend the General Sherman Tree since it is the largest tree in the world and surrounded by a number of other monsters.  The forest in which the General Grant Tree lives is also impressive but the General Sherman forest includes the breath-taking Moro Rock as well as the extremely informative visitor center.  The two forests are actually separated by the Kings Canyon National Park.  If you don't get too uncomfortable with heights then I would highly recommend climbing Moro Rock to see the Continental Divide, the Sierras, and the rest of Tulare County from one inspiring panoramic view.  Lastly, I would urge you to bring some Dramamine for the ride up.  It has a never-ending amount of switchbacks and can take definitely take the enjoyment out of the best place in Tulare County.