Spanish for “ash-tree,” Fresno is one of the most largely populated districts near Yosemite National Park and is the county seat of Fresno County. Located in the heart of San Joaquin Valley, the city is coined after the ash trees that decorate the banks of the beautiful San Joaquin River. Notable attractions around the area include Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Forestiere Underground Gardens, and Downtown Fresno, the biggest inland city in California.
Additionally, outdoor enthusiasts would love a drive or bike around the Fresno Blossom Trail.
If you are here to explore the city, you must take the time to visit some, if not all of the remarkable weekend destinations from Fresno:
Home to several historical landmarks as well as contemporary attractions, the humble city of Monterey was the former capital of Spanish California between 1770 to 1882. Once a significant fish packing district, Cannery Row has been transformed into a spectacular tourist spot with several shops and restaurants. Some famous tourist sights to visit here are the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-Mile Drive, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and Monterey Museum of Art.
Best Time to Visit: If you are a foodie, you must visit the town between the months of April and May as spring brings in warmer temperatures, lesser visitors, and a whole bunch of food festivals.
How to Reach: A self-driven car would take under three hours and cost $16 to $22 in fuel. Alternatively, you could take a train to Oakland, get on a bus to Salinas and then to Tyler/Franklin.
Synonymous with sun, sand, and sea, the quintessential beach town of Santa Cruz is among the most popular weekend spots for all kinds of travelers. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, dotted with fun rides, attractions, and plenty of food vendors. The Giant Dipper, an iconic roller coaster first inaugurated in 1924, is the topmost attraction here. Main Beach is increasingly popular for swimming and sunbathing. Another equally popular beach is the Cowell beach which is just next to the Main beach.
Best Time to Visit: The most recommended time to visit Santa Cruz is from September through November as the summer tourists leave by then and prices go down as well.
How to Reach: Taking your own car would take under three hours and $16 to $22, but you could also take a bus to San Jose, transfer to King & Story and then take a bus to Santa Clara & Cahill, and finally transfer to Diridon Station and get the final bus to Water & Ocean.
Engulfed by picturesque pine forests and snowclad mountain peaks, Lake Tahoe is known to inspire even the most jaded travelers. Perfect spot for nature lovers and outdoorsy people, the area offers hiking, cycling, and water sports during the summers and sledding, sleigh riding, and alpine and cross-country skiing. Additionally, one can also visit Emerald Bay State Park, Tallac Historic Site, and Sand Harbor State Park.
Best Time to Visit: Thanks to the wide variety of activities and attractions in the area, Lake Tahoe can be visited throughout the year. However, the months from March to May and from September to November are the most preferred.
How to Reach: The most convenient way to get to Lake Tahoe from Fresno is to take a train to Sacramento and then transfer over to take a bus from here to South Lake Tahoe Amtrak Bus Stop.
Yosemite National Park
Inspiring artists, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts for decades, Yosemite National Park has been one of the most famous holiday spots not only in the region but also in the entire country, or perhaps even the continent. Yosemite Valley is undoubtedly the most spectacular part of the national park, and it houses the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Captain. To enjoy a truly magnificent view of the valley, head over to Tunnel View.
Best Time to Visit: May and September are the best months to visit the National Park. It is important to remember that the park is closed most of the year due to snow.
How to Reach: Yosemite is a three-and-a-half-hour direct bus ride from Fresno Amtrak/Greyhound Station which costs only $18 to $27.
Considered to be more of an experience than a weekend getaway, Big Sur enjoys a 90-mile rugged coastline. With attractions such as 80-foot waterfalls plunging into the sea and Keyhole Rock Formations, the area is also home to other popular attractions such as Pfeiffer Beach, Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and Henry Miller Memorial Library. If you love hiking, Ewoldsen Trail is a total blessing.
Best Time to visit: Big Sur enjoys over 300 days of sunshine, and it can be visited anytime from April to November.
How to Reach: While the easiest way to get to Big Sur from Fresno is in a self-driven car that will take around three and a half hours, you could take a train to Oakland and then to Salinas. From here, Big Sur is only an hour’s ride away.
Recognized as a hidden gem of Orange County, Laguna Beach is home to a thriving artistic colony, a great spot for art enthusiasts. Unlike the other coastal cities of California, Laguna Beach is blessed with seven miles of stunning beaches and spectacular coves where you can enjoy exploring natural tide pools, sea caves, and ocean side bluffs. The beach is also popular for housing the maximum number of beachfront accommodation options in the entire state. Laguna Beach is also known for its 20,000 acres of stunning wilderness.
Best Time to Visit: The months of April to May and September to October are the best to visit the beach.
How to Reach: The two most convenient ways to commute from Fresno to Laguna Beach are either by a car or a flight. A drive would take four and a half hours and cost between $27 to $39 in fuel.
A lava dome located partially within Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Mountains were formed by a series of volcanic eruptions around 57,000 years ago but today, it is home to one of the most gigantic ski areas. Founded in 1953 by Dave McCoy, the mountains are also known for snowboarding and snowmobile. The highest resort of its kind in the entire state, Mammoth mountains is also home to several remarkable restaurants such as Campo Mammoth, Chip Shots Café, and Grizzly Square Food Court.
Best Time to Visit: While the summer months of June till August are the peak season to visit here, if you are an adrenaline-junkie who loves to ski, winter is your best bet.
How to Reach: To save time and money and a lot of travel hassles, it is best to drive to Mammoth Mountains. The 300-something km ride can be covered in slightly over four and a half hours and cost between $19 to $27.
Popularly known as L.A., Los Angeles is the celebrated home of the international film industry, commonly known as Hollywood. One of the most culturally diverse cities on earth, the city boasts outstanding shopping avenues, a thriving culinary scene, and some amazing museums. Some of the places you cannot miss visiting include but aren’t limited to Universal Studios Hollywood, Griffith Park, and Griffith Observatory, and of course, the Santa Monica Pier.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit L.A. is between March to May and September and November.
How to Reach: If you don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money on airfare, you could take a direct Greyhound bus that takes under five hours and cost between $28 to $50.
Known for its intrinsic desert landscapes and rugged rock formations, Joshua National Park is characterized by gold mining ruins and vast desert land swarmed with oddball trees. Situated at the confluence of the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. Visitors come here for the unbelievable sunsets and stay for nights filled with outstanding stargazing opportunities. Wildlife lovers would also enjoy witnessing the wide variety of desert wildlife.
Best Time to Visit: The spring months of April to early May is the best time to visit the national park.
How to Reach: The fastest and the cheapest way to get to Joshua Tree from Fresno is to take a bus to Indio and then a cab ride to Joshua Tree. The entire journey takes about eight hours and costs $58 to $80.
Surrounded by several natural elements, Morro Bay is best known for Morro Rock, a humongous 576-foot volcanic ruin at the entrance of the bay. Blessed with miles of coastline and a dedicated National Estuary bristling with wildlife, Morro Bay is also home to the Museum of Natural History, Morro Bay State Park, and the Embarcadero – the main promenade in the town swarming with shopping avenues and restaurants.
Best Time to Visit: The fastest and cheapest way to get from Los Angeles to Morro Bay is by driving which takes under four hours and costs between $20 to $35.
How to Reach: The most convenient and preferred way of travel from Fresno to Morro Bay is in a car. It takes slightly under three hours and cost between $14 to $29 in fuel.
A discreet Californian oasis, the town is a tranquil spot to while away a relaxing weekend. Within a stone’s throw away from numerous national parks and prominent California cities, this well-located city has an affluence of cultural and sightseeing activities and ample sunshine to enjoy. But, to make the best out of your vacation, it is a great idea to take the time to explore the mentioned weekend destinations from Fresno.