The Visalia View

Spring Break Fever!

It’s the time of year when we get frantic calls from local residents pleading for our help.  Spring break means out of town family visiting for up to a week and/or families looking for ‘stay-cation’ ideas to help pass the time.    Your Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau is here to help!

Top 5 Things To Do in Visalia during Spring Break

Bravo Farms Tree House5.  Head out to Bravo Farms in Traver to marvel at a seven story tree house that was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Tallest Real Tree House.   While you’re there, play some mini golf, sample their cheese (if you haven’t had Bravo Farm Cheese you’re missing out!) and chat with their parrott Pancho!

 

DSC_44624.  Explore the Tulare County Museum of Farm and Labor.  A field trip favorite, this museum explains our counties important role in agriculture then and now.  From hands on displays to interactive videos, this is a favorite with young and old.  Insider tip: take a picnic lunch and enjoy Mooney Grove Park afterwards.

 

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3.   Take em out to the Ball Game!  Thursday Night our Rawhide takes on the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.  Tickets range from $6 to $12 .  $1 Coors Light/Miller Light/Soda paired with an 80’s themed night means there is plenty of opportunity for you to have a blast while embarrassing your kids!

at the Vintage Press in Visalia2. Leave the kids at home and design your own Visalia’s Best Drink Tour.  Between Jack and Charlie’s Strawberry Basil Martini’s, Brewbaker’s famous beer, wine at Café 225 and concoctions at the Cellar Door downtown has a number of tasty libations.  Drink responsibility but enjoy Visalia’s signature cocktails, beer and wine.

 

MML_Constant_Content_Header_RESIZED1.  Want to visit 3 parks in 3 days?  We have the perfect solution!  Majestic Mountain Loop
has designed a self drive tour of Sequoia, Kings, and Yosemite National Parks including ‘Must See’ stops.  Frankly all of those out of town visitors will be awed at the beauty located in our backyard.  Feel free to brag about ‘your neck of the woods!’

The Visalia Buzz: April 2014

Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers. Here in Visalia though, April brings way more than showers! This month is packed full of fun filled events and adventures waiting to happen. Check out a few of them below!

Rawhide Baseball

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Can someone pass the peanuts and cracker jacks? Because it’s baseball time! Baseball games at Rawhide Stadium are fun for the whole family. And the best part? Home games occur on select night from April to August! This means that no matter what time you visit, you’ll be able to make a game. More Info: www.rawhidebaseball.com

Downtown Farmers Market

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We LOVE the farmers market! Thursday evening, vendors set up and set out so sell their freshly hand grown and homemade products! With cheeses, nuts, berries, and fruits.. be prepared to walk away with a full belly!

AgVentures! Learning Center

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This hands-on one of a kind exhibit allows kids young (and young at heart) to explore what being a farmer in the central valley is all about.  While educational, most kids just see the fun!

To see more awesome stuff happening this month, visit www.visitvisalia.org/events/calendar.
For downtown Visalia events, visit www.downtownvisalia.com

A Taste of Visalia

A few weeks ago, we got the opportunity to volunteer at and attend the 20th Annual Taste of Downtown.

It was so much fun!

If you don’t know what Taste of Downtown is, it’s when 40 or so downtown Visalia restaurants open their doors and let attendees sample one of their delicious dishes. Those attending have one ticket, which gets marked at every visited restaurant. The goal is to sample as many restaurants as possible; this year sampling 15+ meant getting entered to win a prize!

I absolutely love this event for two reasons:

1) It will get people out of their (food) comfort zone
Throughout the night, I tasted and loved dishes that I would never normally have ordered off the menu, and I know I’m not the only one! People got the chance to try new things, discover new favorites, and experience the amazing variety of food options in Visalia.

2) It brings the whole county together
We were the official ticket markers at Akarmaru for the first two hours of the event, and one of my favorite things to do while marking the tickets was ask people about their night, which restaurant(s) they liked the best so far.. etc. In the midst of these conversations, quite a few people told us that they had traveled to Visalia from elsewhere in the county just for this event! I spent the night with the biggest smile on my face, knowing that people throughout the county love the food here as much as I do!

So, in short, I can’t wait for next year’s Taste of Downtown!

If you’ve never attended, do it. And in the mean time, get out there and see what delicious food this town has to offer.

Here’s to trying new things, and really getting a taste of Visalia.

Giant Sequoias in the Running to be Named 8th Wonder of the World

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For those of you who haven’t heard, the Bureau nominated the Giant Sequoias for the honor and privilege of being named the 8th Wonder of the World! VirtualTourist.com, a branch of TripAdvisor.com, is hosting the competition and there are currently over 300 nominations from around the world. The public is encouraged to vote for their favorite wonder once a day, everyday, until September 30th. The wonder with the most votes will be crowned the 8th Wonder of the World and will be featured in a national broadcast TV segment on a popular syndicated program, as well as a massive media relations campaign from VirtualTourist.

We just received word that the Giant Sequoias currently rank in the top 100 nominations, thanks to everyone’s voting! Let’s keep it up! Here’s how you can vote, once a day, everyday!

1). Visit VirtualTourist.com and find the Giant Sequoias.

2). Visit our website, VisitVisalia.org, and check out the widget on the homepage. This links directly VirtualTourist’s website.

3). Visit our Facebook page, Facebook.com/VisitVisalia where we regularly post a link to vote.

Tell everyone you know and vote, vote, vote! #8thWonder #8thWonderoftheWorld

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Guest Blog: Venturing Out in Visalia

Venturing Out in Visalia, California

When you think of California, what comes to mind? Likely, you are conjuring up images of mighty sequoia trees surrounded by enormous pine cones, majestic mountains, clear waters, fresh farmland overflowing with the scent of citrus, and acres upon acres of vineyards. Surely you would have to traverse the entire Golden State to encounter it all, right?

Wrong! Welcome to Visalia, California, your one-stop-shop for everything you could hope to find in a visit to the outermost state on the West Coast. As the epicenter of the most productive agricultural region in the entire nation, Visalia is blooming with opportunities for you to experience some of the greatest natural wonders on this continent. Here are but a few to keep in mind the next time you venture out this way!

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

As a living testament to nature’s power, size, beauty and diversity, this “Land of Giants” is home to gigantic mountains, rugged foothills, never-ending caverns, expansive canyons and the largest trees in the world.

Located in the southern Sierra Nevada, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are not only side-by-side, but they also provide sights and experiences that go hand-in-hand.

Although you could spend months wandering through the trails and paths and still not discover everything the Parks have to offer, don’t even think about leaving without checking out these must-see attractions:

In Sequoia National Park:

  • General Sherman Tree: Focus your sights toward the heavens as you behold the wonders of the world-famous Giant Sequoia Trees. Traipse down the General Sherman Tree Loop, a 1/2 mile trail lined with benches to take a breather as you observe these breathtaking trees and wind up at the base of the largest living thing in the world: the ancient Giant Sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree.
  • Moro Rock: Pull your head down from its skyward-facing position and allow your eyes to gaze out across the spectacular views of the western half of the Park and the Great Western Divide from atop a gigantic granite dome known as Moro Rock! Be prepared to climb the 400-step staircase (1/4 mile straight up) to the peak of the rock to receive your reward: photos that will always serve as proof that you weren’t dreaming!
  • Crystal Cave: If you focus all of your attention up and out, you will miss out on one of the most amazing sights the Sierras have to offer. As one of the Park’s 270 caves, Crystal Cave provides an unforgettable glimpse under the Sierras at the natural marble formations surrounded by icicle curtains of stalactites and mounds of stalagmites.

For more information on touring Crystal Cave and maximizing your trip to Sequoia National Park, check out www.sequoiahistory.org.

In Kings Canyon National Park:

In addition to Grizzly Falls, Kings Canyon National Park is also home to:

Mist Falls: Although Kings Canyon contains miles of hiking trails, one of the best introductory hikes – with the best sight at the end – is the sandy trail leading to Mist Falls, one of the Park’s largest waterfalls. Witness the firework-esque streaks as the South Fork of the Kaweah River plunges 100 feet down over a granite incline! Wear sturdy shoes and plan to spend several hours taking in the River’s twists and turns.

To learn about other waterfalls in Kings Canyon, visit www.visitsequoia.com/kings-canyon-waterfalls.aspx.

Check Out Hand-Crafted Cheese

In terms of Visalia’s not-to-be-missed natural wonders, what is more wonderful than all-natural, hand-crafted, artisan cheese? At Bravo Farms, you have access to the time-honored skill of cheese making, passed down through the generations and conducted before your very eyes!

Take the tour of the plant and watch the masters work, sample the styles and stop by the Shoppe on your way out to purchase Bravo Farms’ natural, rindless cheeses to remind your memory of your experience long after you leave!

Choose from the Farms’ signature Cheddars – their Young is aged for 90 days and has a creamy and mild flavor while their Premium Aged is sharp and tangy after aging for two years or more – and other flavored cheeses.

Heralded by the LA Times as “a mini Knott’s Berry farm,” Bravo Farms is located at 36005 Hwy 99 in Traver (less than 10 miles outside Visalia!), and open daily from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm. For more information on how you can enjoy a taste of California’s valley, check out http://www.bravofarms.com.

So, now that you know a bit more about Visalia’s diverse options for venturing out, where do you plan to visit?

About the Author

Anton Pomakov is the Senior Vice President for Marketing at Dallas-based Silverleaf Resorts where he manages marketing development, operations and business growth initiatives. He has spent his entire career as a professional in the hospitality industry, leading marketing and management teams with a goals-based approach to improving customer experience and the bottom line. Follow Anton and Silverleaf Resorts on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Move Over Spring…Summer is Almost Here!

I’m. So. Excited.

Summer is almost here. The kick-off for the 2013 Sequoia Shuttle season is, literally, days away. And, I’ve had my grab-bag of my ‘park goodies’ (water bottle, hat, sunscreen, CAMERA, ya know…all the important stuff!) packed for months. Perfect timing, especially since the weather is starting to heat up. I fully intend on escaping the Valley heat every chance I get this summer, and the Shuttle is definitely the most convenient way to do that. My weekends will be filled with refreshing mountain air, Moro Rock, the General Sherman Tree, Ranger-led programs, hiking, camping, and pure relaxation. Ahhh. I can’t wait.

Something else I’m totally pumped for…the Majestic Mountain Loop! Tagline: Visit 3 of California’s National Parks in 3 days. Hellloooo bucket list. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Yosemite National Park in just three days (or however long you wish for it to take!). The Majestic Mountain Loop website has a full itinerary available to help visitors make of the most of their visits. And guess what? I can use the Sequoia Shuttle to get to Sequoia National Park and start ‘rocking the loop!’

What are YOU excited for this summer? ‘Like’ our Facebook page and let us know!

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It’s the Gospel Truth…

doug_Larry_Ken_at_Fan_Fest_2010With the Great Western Fan Festival a little more than a month away, fans may be getting anxious to hear their gospel favorites. Well, fear not. The California Melody Boys are performing this Saturday, March 23rd at the Lindsay Community Theater.

Now here’s a little history regarding this melodious group. This trio became a group in February 2003. Formerly a quartet, this trio has become a well-recognized part of the southern gospel music family, specifically on the West Coast. The trio belongs to two music associations: The Central California Southern Gospel Music Association and the Western States Gospel Music Association. Since joining these associations, The California Melody Boys have been regular participants of the Great Western Southern Gospel Fan Festival. This group uses southern style harmonies to deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ. Present members are David Donald (Tenor), Larry Martin (Lead), and Daymon Qualls (Baritone).

 It’s the perfect fix for your gospel needs. So head on over to hear this talented trio perform their uplifting songs! For more information visit: http://www.visitvisalia.org/event/?id=11455

THIS is the Moment, This is the Time…

Everyone knows the classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What some may not know, is that this story has been brilliantly adapted for the stage.  jekyll&hydeThe College of the Sequoias has prepared this delightfully sinister tale for audiences to enjoy. With skillfully constructed sets and gorgeous costumes, not to mention some Central Valley singing and acting talent, this theatre company entices you to enter a dark and mysterious world. You don’t want to miss this musical experience! Only four more opportunities to see this magnificent show! Visit http://costheatre.org/index.php/current-season/jekyllandhyde for more information.

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things

Visalia knows how to do holidays. Period. And each season just gets better and better. Our community is so festive and the downtown area is always finding ways for the locals to celebrate the season. The annual Candy Cane Lane Parade kicks off the holiday festivities every year on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Then, every Thursday leading up to Christmas, the downtown merchants stay open late and patrons are transported to a winter wonderland (minus the chilly snow!). Here’s a preview of what’s going on this year. Don’t miss out, you’ll be sorry if you do!

Candy Cane Lane Parade: November 26th at 7:oopm

For the past 67 years, Visalians have been grabbing their blankets and hot chocolate and finding the best seat possible on the sidewalks of downtown to watch the annual parade. The parade is full of dance troops, school bands, and of course, parade floats that participants work hard to decorate. Santa Clause brings up the rear in his sleigh, signaling the end of the parade and wishing everyone a happy holiday season.

Downtown Holiday Open House: November 29th and December 6th, 13th, and 20th

Downtown merchants stay open late (until 8:00pm) for the Holiday Open House so you can shop for the holidays. Enjoy a meal at one of the many downtown restaurants, then walk up and down Main Street, visiting the locals boutiques and specialty stores. But that’s not all! Look at what else is happening!

  • Musicians strolling up and down the street playing holiday music
  • Horse drawn carriage rides for just $5 (up to 4 people per ride)
  • Photos with Santa for $5

  • Food and appetizers at participating merchants on November 29th
  • 101 Dalmations movie viewing at the Fox Theatre on November 29th at 5:30pm. Tickets are $3 and can be purchased at any of the participating downtown merchants. This won’t be your typical movie night though. Before the movie, there will be a live performance by some very familiar downtown faces! At 5:15pm, Cruella Deville (played by Marlene Sciacca) will arrive at the theatre in a stretch limo. The 10 minute performance will include Patch the Dalmation (Sam Sciacca), a Keystone police officer (Scotty Schuman, Visalia’s very own downtown security officer), Dalmations puppies (Chet Sciacca and Jeremy Engle), and who could forget, Santa Clause (portrayed by Santa Clause himself!) The Redwood High School band, directed by famous conductor, Dennis Bettencourt, will be ringing in the sounds of Christmas when Cruella arrives!
  • NEW THIS YEAR! Fire twirling group, Tamed Fire, will be tossing their fire batons and wowing the crowds! The shows start at 7:30pm on Encina Street, November 29th, and December 6th and 13th! Check out their Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/TamedFire

  • And no holiday season would be complete without lights! The trees lining Main Street will be decorated with lights to illuminate the streets to make your evenings downtown just a little brighter!

We’re sure this won’t be all of the festivities that Visalia will have this holiday season. Stay tuned for even more adventures and things to do in the coming weeks. We’ll give you a preview of what’s on our Winter Bucket List! Until then, visit our Facebook page and tell us what your favorite winter activity is! www.Facebook.com/VisitVisalia

**Photo Credits go to Downtown Visalians and Tamed Fire!**

87th Annual Trek to the Nation’s Christmas Tree

Each year the Sanger Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Trek to the Nation’s Christmas Tree. It’s quite the event, and we bet a lot of you have never been! This year, create a new tradition and visit this snowy, majestic attraction that we’re lucky enough to have sitting in our very own backyard (literally!). You won’t be disappointed! So bundle up and spend the afternoon enjoying this festive event! Keep reading the a history of how the Nation’s Christmas Tree came to be, as well as more details on the Trek, provided by the Sanger Chamber of Commerce.

Trek to “The Nation’s Christmas Tree” History

The General Grant Tree was fittingly named the Nation’s Christmas Tree because of its age and size.  It stands in Grant Grove of the Kings Canyon National Park.  This monarch, in both age and stature, has stood for an estimated 2,000-4,000 years and has grown to the height of 267 feet.  The General Grant Tree was officially dedicated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree on April 28, 1926 by the United States Department of the Interior.

On October 1, 1949, Sanger, California was recognized by the Post Office Department as the Nation’s Christmas Tree City.  Because of such dedication, and because of the work done and interest shown by the citizens of Sanger, California, the Nation’s Christmas Tree has become known nationally and internationally.

Congress, by public law 441, made the General Grant Tree a National Shrine on March 29, 1956.  Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, personal representative of the President of the United States, officially dedicated this tree on November 11, 1956 as a perpetual shrine to our nation’s war dead during a special ceremony at the base of the tree.

The first Christmas service at the base of the tree was inspired by R.J. Senior, then President of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, and Charles E. Lee, then Secretary of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, in 1925.  In 1924 R.J. Senior was wandering through the Grant Grove area.  He approached a huge tree, stopped, and stared in awe at the enormous tree.  As he stood looking at nature’s masterpiece, a small girl approached.  After a moment of complete silence she said, mostly to herself, “What a lovely Christmas tree that would be.”  She then turned and ran off into the grove.  They never learned her name, but they couldn’t forget her words.

The following Christmas, Senior, Lee, and some friends trekked over what was then a snow covered dirt road to the park.  They placed some flowers beside the tree and held a short service.

Upon returning home Lee wrote a letter to President Calvin Coolidge.  Four months later, on April 28, 1926, the president adopted Lee’s suggestion and officially designated the General Grant Tree as the Nation’s Christmas Tree.

Ever since 1926 these services have been an annual event.  The service concludes the Christmas Festival Celebration in which the citizens of Sanger and people from all over the world join in stimulating the spirit of “Peace on Earth, Good Will To All Men”.  Each year the crowds gather, they sing, pray, and pay tribute to this wonder of nature.

The members of the National Park Service join in the services by placing a wreath at the base of the tree.  During the war years, when travel was restricted due to gas rationing, there were no official services.  However, a member of the National Park Service walked to the tree and placed a wreath at its base.

The massive giant is large enough to produce enough lumber to construct thirty-five, 5 bedroom homes.  The tree stands 267 feet high, its lowest branch is 130 feet above the ground, and the circumference of its trunk is 107 feet.

Sanger Trek To The Nation’s Christmas Tree Ceremony

Sanger is known as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree City” because we have hosted the “Trek To The Nation’s Christmas Tree Ceremony” every December since 1925, at the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park, which is the Nation’s Christmas Tree! Join with us as we celebrate this wonderful event as we usher in the Christmas Season in Sanger!

The 87th Annual Trek to the Nation’s Christmas Tree is on Sunday, December 9th, 2012, in Kings Canyon National Park at 2:30pm. Activities will include the Jubilation Singers, Sanger High School Choir, Tubachristmas Ensemble, a non-denominational Christmas Message, and a War Memorial Ceremony, all delivered at the base of the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park. Chartered buses will leave from the Sanger Chamber of Commerce office. Reservations can be made beginning November 1st by calling the Sanger Chamber of Commerce and will be taken until busses are full. Bus Options include a Trek Service Bus for $25 with a 12:15pm departure, a Lunch Bus with a 10:30am departure for $45, or Dinner Bus with a 12:15pm departure for $45. The lunch and dinner buffet will be held at the Grant Village Restaurant and will feature a traditional Christmas Dinner buffet, appetizers, beverage, dessert, tax and tip. Coffee and pastries will be available for the bus riders at the Chamber office prior to boarding.  Give the Sanger Chamber a call if you want to make reservations as soon as possible. For those wanting to attend the Ceremony and drive up on their own it is advised by the Park Service to always carry tire chains in case of snow. For more information call the Sanger Chamber at 559-875-4575.