Whether your family is the kind that seeks out opportunities for adventure, relaxation, history or culture, you will find something that suits everyone in Visalia. Nestled in the foothills below the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains, Visalia is the gateway of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
You can head into the forest or hang back in Visalia for a day and soak in the city's fresh farm-to-fork culinary scene. The area is known for its outdoor adventure opportunities, too, like hiking, biking, rafting, and, when the season's right, snowshoeing. When the day's action simmers, you can relax at a sidewalk cafe and sip local culture made from home-grown vines.
Three and half hours southeast of San Francisco is where you will find Visalia, a fantastic spot for launching your explorations in Sequoia National Park and the surrounding Sierra Nevadas.
It's close enough to the Bay to make for a weekend getaway but, if you have a little more time to make the road trip a daylong affair, consider stopping Turlock State Recreation Area near Modesto along the way. You stretch your legs take a breather with hiking, swimming or to wet a line. An hour or so further down the road is a great second pit stop option at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
Best Western Visalia has tennis courts and an outdoor pool where your kids can get their energy out. Plus a fitness center and daily hot breakfast that come with your stay. Rooms are large and have microwaves and refrigerators in case you need to do some cooking on your own.
Lamp Liter Inn is your most budget-friendly option. At $125 a night, this charming inn offers an outdoor pool, large family-sized rooms, and a shuttle to get around town. The Wi-Fi is free and guests are welcome for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the onsite restaurant, the
Fairfield Inn by Marriott Visalia Sequoia has a heated indoor pool, hot tub, and hot daily breakfast. The Visalia Golf Club and College of the Sequoias are located within one mile, and Sequoia National Park is only a 45-minutes scenic drive east.
Valhalla Restaurant has a huge array of breakfast options. Your classic eggs and pancakes, and also items more unique. Try the abelskiver, a Danish apple pancake that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This Swedish cafe serves up tasty dishes with smile.
Brewbakers Brewing Company and Restaurant is a vibrant family friendly restaurant in downtown Visalia. Adults will love the selection of craft beer, and the kids will enjoy the burgers and pizza. Sit out on the back patio when the season's right for a that extra-relaxed, fresh air atmosphere.
The city is known for its fresh farm-to-plate cuisine, and no where demonstrates that better than the Visalia Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Make sure to stroll through the market to pick up some local goodies.
Cat Haven is a wildlife sanctuary protecting wild cats including cheetahs, snow leopards, jaguars, lions, tigers, and bobcats. You can take a family safari through the park to see the conservation efforts first hand.
Bravo Farms Cheese Factory is an indoor/outdoor space where you can watch professionals make cheese right in front of you. There is also a tree house for the kids and mini golf, so you can brush up your putting game while seeing artisans show off their skills. But the food on tap runs way past cheese so you can make this a lunch stop, too, with fajitas, beer and sandwiches to start.
There's lots to see and do in Sequoia National park, and sometimes it's nice to tick something off the must-see list without having to block out hours for it. Tunnel Rock is a quick stop and worth a few minutes to see this impressive rock feature. Stretch your legs and grab a few photos, then let the good times roll.
When your feet are asking for a break but there's still lots to see, take a slow, jaw-dropping drive along Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, where you can stop and view down into the depths of the canyon.
General Sherman is the tallest tree in a forest of some of the world's tallest and biggest trees. General Sherman is a 3,000-year-old giant that calls for a half-mile leg-stretching hike to see, but it's more than worth it. Visitors have been known to drive several hours out of their way for this bucket-list beauty. If you only see one thing in Sequoia National Park, make General Sherman the one.