Here in the Valley, we are desperate for rain and snow to recharge our water supply. But, there is an upside to this lack of “winter weather.” Many parts of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are now accessible due to lack of snow. The National Park Service has made winter travel to the parks even better by offering “Fee Free” days! The next one is February 14-16. So take advantage of this or one of the many other activities throughout Visalia. Take a look at our most recent “Visalia Buzz” for more suggestions.
So the holidays are here! Seems just like yesterday, we complained about the Christmas decorations in Costco and yet here we are! Where did the time go?! Take time to savor the season, whether its running in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, taking the family to see the Christmas Tree Lighting in the Oval Park, getting decked out for the Christmas Tree Auction or trekking to the Nation’s Christmas Tree. There are lots of things to do in and around Visalia to get you in the holiday mood.
The days are getting shorter and there is definitely a nip in the air! At last! It is a great time to be outdoors whether it is for a hike in the mountains or for a walk downtown. We hope you took advantage of the Free Entrance day to Sequoia National Park on Veterans Day. More importantly, we hope you took the time to thank a Veteran.
Summer is coming to a close but we aren’t ready to curl up on the sofa yet! There is a lot to do around Visalia this month: Downtown Visalia Sidewalk Sale – 3 days of shopping and family fun – the Visalia Home Expo, the South Valley’s largest Fall Home Expo, and the annual Visalia Waiters Race.
Also, in concert, is Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars. She has “gone Country” and is performing at Visalia Adventure Park.
Check out this month’s Visalia Buzz for more information.
With Movies in the Park, National Model Aviation Day and the Museums at Mooney’s Grove park, there are plenty of fun and FREE things to do this month!
Plus don’t miss Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy and special guest Randy Bachman performing at the Oval Park.
Check out this month’s Visalia Buzz for more details!
Throughout the centuries our civilization has been fascinated with the dark, from observing the Universe through telescopes, telling stories based on patterns in the night sky or building myths surrounding this last frontier. During the last weekend of July, the first ever Dark Sky Festival in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be celebrating the darkness that blankets its Giant Sequoia forest, high Sierra peaks, rivers, lakes and wildlife.
You too can join in the fun by attending some of the over 50 astronomy-themed events scheduled throughout the weekend. However, there are a few events that you don’t want to miss! Continue reading to get an insider’s peek at which events are really worth the trip to the National Parks this weekend. For specific times and dates for these free programs, check out the Sequoia Natural History Association website at www.sequoiahistory.org .
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL AT NIGHT
Have you ever seen the NASA website, National Geographic or Time Magazine’s Picture of the Year and seen a brilliant photograph of the night sky in one of America’s National Parks? That photograph may have been taken from award winning photographer Wally Pacholka. Specializing in the national parks of the West, one look at Pacholka’s work will leave you inspired to spend more time under the stars!
DESIGNING A LIFE FOR YOURSELF: ONE LITTLE STEP AT A TIME
From farm kid to airplane mechanic to pilot to trauma surgeon to rocket man to lead mechanic on the Hubble Telescope, Dr. Story Musgrave has an incredible story to tell. With 20 honorary degrees, 6 space flights and 30 years as a NASA astronaut, Dr. Musgrave will give you a glimpse into his life and will leave you feeling ready to pursue your dreams, one little step at a time.
SATURDAY NIGHT STAR PARTY with Kern County Astronomers
Join respected geologists and amateur astronomers from the Kern County Astronomical Society as they showcase the wonders of the night sky using powerful laser pointers and telescopes. View the rings of Saturn, galaxies millions of light years away or gaze into an ancient cluster of stars. With the help of these passionate star gazers, learn about backyard astronomy and get your Universe questions answered under the starry nights of Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park.
HITTING THE ROAD ON MARS
Since the beginning of time, people have been entranced by the night sky and by our nearest planetary neighbor-Mars. From the early missions to Viking, Pathfinder and the more recent missions- Mars has been (and is) a challenging destination. The Mars Exploration Rovers landed on Mars in January 2004 and have been successfully exploring ever since. Come hear the story of their legacy and our newest rover on Mars- the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover by esteemed NASA engineer and mission operations team member, Nagin Cox.
MEET NASA ASTRONAUTS
Have you ever wanted to hear what life is like in outer space? If you could ask just one question to a NASA astronaut, what would it be? This opportunity awaits you in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks during the Dark Sky Festival. Both selected as Mission Specialists by NASA in July 2000, both Colonel Robert L. Behnken and Megan McArthur will be speaking throughout the weekend.
BLAST OFF WITH TEAM S.P.E.W.
A perfect program for families with young engineers, learn how to build and launch your own water rocket by using a recycled carbonated beverage bottles. Watch them fly high into the air using only water and compressed air for fuel. Robert Leonard, a father and Den Leader for the Boy Scouts of America, will be the presenter. He has performed over 600 rocket launches in a single day and has launched simple rockets over 250 feet into the air!
On these glorious summer days when the heat is soaring, feel free to use these top 5 ways to stay cool in Visalia.
5. Splash Around
From the Splash Pad on located our historic Main Street to the new Splash Pad at Riverway Sports Park, these gems invite young and old to play in the water and cool off! Not sure? Try it once and we promise you’ll be giggling, splashing and a feeling whole lot cooler! Insider tip…..Riverway Sports Park has a great playground and outdoor movies most Friday nights!
4. Water Fight
Adventure Park helps you stay cool and enjoy some healthy competition! Climb into a bumper boat, speed around the moat and use your water pistol to prove you’re the head of this castle. Since admission to Adventure Park is free, you could just watch others compete but we doubt you’ll be able to stay away for long. Insider tip…Check here for deals and coupons!
3. TIKI SNOW
This local favorite has a dedicated and loyal fan base and we completely understand why! Serving shaved ice for over 25 years, Tiki Snow knows a thing or two about cool summer treats. Can’t decide which flavor to get? Have a tasting party with friends to decide your favorite flavor. Find Tiki Snow on Mooney Blvd behind Wendy’s and A&W. Insider Tip: Get different flavors and share!
2. Dive In Movies!
Lights, Camera, …..Swim Suit? Now you can enjoy the latest family blockbuster movie while floating in an Olympic Sized Pool! Visalia Parks and Recreation is sponsoring movies at Mt. Whitney High School’s Pool every Saturday evening in July. While the movie begins at dusk, the pool opens at 6pm! Insider Tip: Bring your own snacks and blanket to enjoy on the lawn.
1. Take a Hike
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are typically 10 – 30 degrees cooler than the valley floor. Hiking along streams and beneath the canopy of the Giant Sequoias, summer has never felt so marvelous. Insider Tip: Take the Sequoia Shuttle and avoid driving!
A Spectacular Occasion and Dark Skies in Sequoia and King Canyon
Summer in the Sierra Nevada is a magical place. As the winter snows melt, brilliant colors from wildflowers bloom under the sun-drenched meadows and forest of the Giant Sequoia. Wildlife such as the handsome black bear, curious marmot and spirited chickaree roam the woods while the warm, dry summer temperatures nourish the soul. Clear skies not only allow for ideal camping conditions, but it also adds to the aesthetic value of our park and wilderness.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be celebrating magic in the Sierra Nevada this summer. August 23 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which designated 9 million acres of American land as wilderness, including land in these Parks. This summer, we are organizing a first ever Dark Sky Festival, a spectacular event to celebrate darkness in our parks and wilderness. We hope you join us for constellation tours, star gazing, inspiring stories and discovering the magic of the night for yourself! There is surely something for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Dark Sky Festival:
When is the Dark Sky Festival?
July 25-27, 2014
Where is the Festival happening?
The Dark Sky Festival is a parks wide event, meaning most areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be participating including Lake Kaweah, Foothills, Lodgepole, Giant Forest and Grant Grove.
What can I do during the Festival?
The Dark Sky Festival will include speakers, activities, demonstrations and Ranger programs throughout the weekend. Speakers include Wally Pacholka, an internationally recognized astrophotographer of National Parks. His photographs have been seen in Time Magazine, National Geographic and the NASA website among other places. Wally will speak on Friday night, July 25 at the Wuksachi Lodge. Dr. Story Musgrave, a former astronaut, will speak about his inspiring journey from farm kid to lead mechanic of the Hubble Space telescope. You can hear Dr. Musgrave speak on Saturday night at the Wuksachi Lodge. NASA engineer and Mars rover mission operations team member, Nagin Cox, will speak on Saturday night at the John Muir Lodge.
Activities include water rocket demonstrations at Lake Kaweah, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Junior Sky Ranger booklets will be available throughout the weekend in addition to solar scope viewing, solar system hikes and astrophotography workshops. On Saturday night, an evening star party will take place at the Wuksachi Lodge. The Kern Astronomical Society will offer Festival goers the opportunity to glance into deep space using highly effective telescopes. This evening program will surely be a main event for the Festival.
National Park Service rangers, Sequoia Natural History Association naturalists and volunteers from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, International Dark Sky Association and other organizations will speak throughout the weekend on various topics, from astrobiology of caves to sky myths and stories to the preservation of our healthy, dark skies in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
What else do Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have to offer?
From hiking to horseback riding to camping and fishing, our National Parks offer plenty of recreational opportunities. Walk inside any visitor center to get more information or visit www.nps.gov/seki . If you are looking for a private tour of the Parks, consider contacting the Sequoia Field Institute at 559-565-4251 or Sequoia Sightseeing Tours at (559) 561-4189. Additional Ranger programs will be available throughout the weekend as well.
Where can I get more information?
Visit www.sequoiahistory.org later in the summer to see a full schedule of events. Also, you can call the Sequoia Natural History Association at 559-565-4441 for the most up-to date information.
I can’t attend the Festival. Are there other astronomy programs I can attend in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks?
Yes. During the summer the Sequoia Natural History Association offers regular Wonders of the Night Sky astronomy programs at the Wuksachi Lodge on Wednesday and Friday evening beginning at 9:00pm. Additionally, each month we offer an extraordinary Full Moon on Moro Rock program. During the rising of the Moon over the Great Western Divide, a Sequoia guide will share cultural and science stories. In the fall, Beyond the Naked Eye Astronomy programs offer visitors additional opportunities to look at deep space with telescopes and binoculars. Check our calendar at www.sequoiahistory.org for full details about our programs.
Can I volunteer for the Festival?
Yes! We are currently looking for festival volunteers who would be interested in helping out during the weekend. Free entrance to the Parks and camping would be provided, in addition to the opportunity to learn more about astronomy and gain experience with the National Park Service and its partners! Call 559-565-4441 if you are interested in volunteering during the weekend.
What does it cost?
The Dark Sky Festival and all associated programs are free. You pay only the entrance fee to get into the Park, which is typically $20 per vehicle. We encourage you to support our National Parks by shopping at our National Park visitor centers, making a donation, attending a Crystal Cave tour or consider joining the Sequoia Natural History Association as a member during your visit.
Where can I stay?
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have several campgrounds and lodging options throughout the Parks however we encourage you to plan ahead and reserve early for the event. Camping and lodging in Sequoia National Forest is also an option. Additionally, our friends at Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau have a number of lodging options just outside the park
Are there dining options within the Parks?
There are plenty of places to eat while visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks such as Wuksachi Lodge and Lodgepole Deli and Marketplace. Additionally, your family can enjoy an outdoor picnic at one of the available picnic areas such as idyllic Halstead Meadow, Lodgepole Picnic Area, Columbine picnic area or other locations around the Parks. There are a number of dining options outside the park as well.
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
5. 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!
4. 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.
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!
2. 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.
1. 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!’
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!
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
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
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