Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Modesto, California
Modesto sits at the heart of California, surrounded by some of the state’s richest farmland. The city is enclosed by natural beauty and is filled with historical parks and museums. In the summer, cinephiles gather to celebrate Graffiti Summer, a month-long celebration held in June. The name of the city means “modest” in Spanish, and this humble city remains as is with its quiet American pop and car culture.
Tuolumne River Regional Park
The Tuolumne River Regional Park encompasses 500 acres of land and runs along the Tuolumne River. The regional park comprises five different parks: the Legion Park/Airport Area, the Gateway Parcel, Mancini Park, the Dryden Park Golf Course Area, and the Carpenter Road Area. The regional park is a popular outdoor destination that is within a distance of Downtown Modesto. The Tuolumne River Trail is particularly popular as it winds along the Tuolumne River. This pedestrian and bicycle trail is 3.4 miles long and runs through the dense landscape and riverside woodlands.
Location: 1200 Tioga Drive, Modesto, CA 95354
Virginia Corridor Trailway
The Virginia Corridor Trailway runs along the old Tidewater Southern Railway line and stretches for 4.2 miles. It is an athletic park with amenities that include picnic tables, benches, and a public restroom. The asphalt Trailway is a favorite among joggers and cyclists, and the trail ends on Woodrow Avenue and Fremont Street.
Location: Virginia Corridor Trail, Modesto, CA 95350
Yosemite National Park
The Yosemite National Park is just on the East of Modesto. The national park attracts visitors and residents worldwide, especially in the summer when the weather is more forgiving. The high elevations of the mountains and the powerful waterfall of the park are a great escape from the dry climate of Modesto. The park is also a great day trip for outdoor vacations. Aside from day trips, popular Yosemite activities include rock climbing and fishing. The park has multiple hiking trails, although some routes require visitors to have a permit.
Jacob Myers Park
The Jacob Myers Park is one the largest parks along the Stanislaus River banks that extend to the neighboring Riverbank City. The park has abundant amenities, with several picnic tables and a children’s playground on a wide green space shaded by trees. The back half of the park has loops of walking trails where owners can bring their dogs and have a solitude time to relax.
Graceada Park is the oldest city park in Modesto, established in 1907. The same person behind the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco designed the historic park. The public space is a local favorite and draws visitors to its green space, picnic tables, and swimming pool. Within the park is a rentable venue space where movie nights are held, and musical performances are hosted.
Location: 401 Needham Street, Modesto, CA 95354
East La Loma Park
East La Loma Park is a community park with amenities like a children’s playground, tennis courts, a basketball court, a concrete volleyball court, and a disc gold court. The community park is a popular area for families with children to enjoy the sunny climate of Modesto. Within the park is the Dry Creek Trail, which extends to Thousand Oaks Park.
Location: 2001 Edgebrook Drive, Modesto, CA 95354
Dry Creek Trail
The Dry Creek Trail is a paved pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects to East La Loma Park. The trail stretches for 6 miles, and pedestrians can follow the path through an oak grove. Along the trail are disc golf courses and an 18-hole golf course. The trail’s end brings hikers to the Thousand Oaks Park, which has a public restroom, children’s playground, and dirt path to continue the trail.
Location: 2001 Edgebrook Drive, Modesto, CA 95354
The McHenry Museum was once the personal residence of Oramil McHenry and his family until he died in 1906. His death left $20,000 worth of Estate and a stake in city lots designated for a public library. It wasn’t until 1911 that the library was built and later transformed into a museum. The museum exhibits gold mining paraphernalia, original firefighting equipment, and original furnishings from the early 1900s. Other exhibits include a county recorder’s office and a recreated blacksmith shop. Visitors can take a guided tour of the museum and learn about the history of the McHenry family and of the building.
Location: 1402 I Street, Modesto, CA 95354
Gallo Center for the Arts
The Gallo Center for the Arts is a performing arts center with a 1,200-seat Rogers Theater and a 400-seat Foster Family Theater. The center is home to resident companies, such as the Modesto Community Concerts Association, Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Central West Ballet, and the Townsend Opera Players. Visitors can watch musical performances, comedy acts, and even touring speaker series in one of the two theatres.
Location: 1000 I Street, Modesto, CA 95354
Great Valley Museum
The Great Valley Museum focuses on preserving Modesto’s natural heritage and environment. The museum has an array of science- and biology-based exhibits where visitors can learn through hands-on activities. One of the museum’s permanent exhibits is the Native Californian collection, which features historical artifacts from Indigenous cultures of the region. Alongside the collection is a floating globe that projects real-time data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Location: 2201 Blue Gum Ave, Modesto, CA 95358
Graffiti Summer George Lucas Plaza
The George Lucas Plaza was erected to pay homage to director George Lucas and his 1973 movie “American Graffiti.” Every summer, Modesto celebrates a month-long Graffiti Summer celebration where cinephiles come together and visit the bronze statue of two teenagers on the back of a 1957 Chevy. This symbolizes the relationship between Modesto, George Lucas, and his Hollywood career. The celebration comprises of endless nights in iconic drive-in restaurants, 1950s music, and carhops.
Location: 900 17th Street, Modesto, CA 95354
Escape Modesto is Modesto’s first escape room center, where guests have to solve puzzles and riddles to unveil the secret plot hidden in all the rooms. Each escape room can take an hour to get out of and can be played by up to 10 people. Some of these escape rooms include discovering the treasure of King Tutankhamun, attempting a prison break, and acting as a lead investigator to a crime. Visitors can also book escape rooms for team building and birthday parties.
Location: 912 11th Street, Modesto, CA 95354
FUNWORKS! Modesto is an amusement park with many fun activities for children and adults. The amusement park has water cannons, XD Theatre, go-karts, miniature golf, bowling, and batting cages over 18 acres of land. After trying all the attractions, head over to The Pizza Company and have a bite of their classic American pizza.
Location: 4307 Coffee Road, Modesto, CA 95357
Boomers Modesto is another amusement park for children and adults. The park has Go Karts for children and adults, miniature golf, bumper boats, bumper cars, laser tag, batting cages, and a wide array of arcade games. Boomers Backyard is an extension of Boomers Modesto, where guests can enjoy exclusive meals and watch live sporting events in a dedicated outdoor space. Visitors can book birthday parties and corporate events and avail of the ideal package for them.
Location: 4215 Bangs Avenue, Modesto, CA 95356
Modesto has an opulent car culture, and a drive-in restaurant is one of the ways to enjoy this classic culture. Sno White Drive In is a popular fast-food restaurant that has been operating since 1952. This long-established burger joint has a menu of comfort American burgers. Scenic Drive-In is another long-standing drive-in restaurant large milkshake and malt menu and classic burgers. Like the Sno-White, Scenic Drive-In has been open and serving customers since the 1950s.
How to get there
Modesto is accessible via car, train, and bus. Private cars can take the California State Route 99 to enter Modesto, and along Held Drive is an Amtrak Station that visitors can take. There is a Greyhound Lines Bus Stop along 1001 9th Street.
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