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.