Top 5 Places to Take Out of Town Guests in California
Forestiere Underground Gardens began in the early 1900s, when Sicilian immigrant, citrus grower, and visionary Baldassare Forestiere transformed neglected farmland into a vast network of rooms, tunnels, and courtyards as a subterranean escape from the sweltering Central Valley summer heat.
Spanning more than 10 acres, Baldassare excavated for more than forty years, using only shovels, picks and other hand tools, digging as deep as twenty-five feet in some places. He cultivated fruit trees and grapevines underground—many of which are still thriving.
Today, guests from around the world tour through the grottoes, passageways, and underground homes. Marvel at the hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards, and passageways reminiscent of the ancient catacombs. Currently growing are unique fruit producing trees, shrubs, and vines—some of which are more than 90 years old—surrounded by Ancient Roman architecture: arches, vaults, and stone-built walls. Experience underground micro-climates with temperature variations of 10 to 30 degrees.
5021 W Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93722 (559) 271-0734
Redwood Regional Park is an exquisite redwood forest, a few miles outside of downtown Oakland. Many of the coastal redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) soar to 150 feet. This area was once cleared by logging, but the forest has been replaced. The area is now protected parkland with hiking trails. Within the park’s 1,830 forested acres are local wildlife as well as rare species like the golden eagle and the Alameda striped racer. The park has restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, which can be reserved in advance, and sites for overnight camping. Tended paths allow visitors to amble through the redwoods. Detailed trail maps are available. 7867 Redwood Road, Oakland 4619 1-888-327-2757
The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation is dedicated to the legacy and vision of Frederick R. Weisman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and art collector. He believed in the cultural value of art and the importance of both the individual artist and creative process.
You can see a most interesting private contemporary art collection in Weisman’s own home. This museum, which pays tribute to the late artist and Foundation, has a collection that includes works by European Modernists including Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky—and Surrealist works by Ernst, Miro, and Magritte. More than four hundred works of art are on display at the Foundation. Rely on the docents to bring you up to speed on the history of the art and Weisman’s life. Admission is free, but you’ll need to make a reservation for a guided tour.
265 N Carolwood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90077 (310) 277-5321
The USS Midway Museum lets visitors relive nearly 50 years of history aboard the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Admission includes a self-guided audio tour to more than 60 exhibits throughout the historic aircraft carrier, along with 29 restored aircraft. Exhibits range from the crew’s sleeping quarters to the massive galley to the engine room, ship’s jail, officer’s country, post office, machine shops, and pilots’ ready rooms await inspection. Visitors can also access primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck. Museum docents are eager to share a personal story, an anecdote, or amazing statistic. Also present in the museum are two types of flight simulators, short films, climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, and interactive exhibits.
910 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 544-9600
The California Academy of Sciences houses an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof. If the weather isn’t cooperating, spend the day at a world-class museum instead. The Steinhart Aquarium is one of the most advanced and biologically diverse aquariums in the world. Morrison Planetarium is home to one of the largest and most advanced all-digital domes. The Kimball Natural History Museum explores some of the most significant discoveries and issues of our time. Osher Rainforest is a four-story rainforest, housed in a 90-foot glass dome teeming with life from some of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118 (415) 379-8000