The Best Day Trips From Fresno, California

About a three-hour drive from Fresno, San Francisco makes for a perfect, action-packed day trip
About a three-hour drive from Fresno, San Francisco makes for a perfect, action-packed day trip | © Eric Ward / Unsplash
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor11 August 2020

Sometimes, you just have to get out of the city and take a break from the daily grind. From national parks to other cities bustling with attractions, these day trips from Fresno will help you relax, unwind and find yourself in a different place.

Yosemite National Park

Map View
© Adrian Trinkaus / Unsplash
The name Yosemite alone conjures images of true wildness, beautiful landscapes and unforgettable views. Just a two-hour drive from Fresno, this famous national park is so vast that you’ll want to return again and again to explore different areas. Facilities and parking are all very convenient, as the park is federally run. As for hiking, there is a route for every skill level. Whether you simply want to stare at the El Capitan and Cathedral Peak or get involved in some strenuous activity, there’s something for you.

Mono Hot Springs

Natural Feature
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This day trip is for you if you want to kick back and relax in a hot, hot bath. Two hours east of Fresno in the Sierra National Forest, the Mono Hot Springs are heated geothermally. With six pools to explore, it offers a relaxing retreat from your worries. The hottest pool reaches 104F (40C), so dip your toe in the water before jumping in. Just don’t make the rookie mistake of forgetting your bathing suit.


Architectural Landmark
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The southern city center downtown area of Bakersfield aerial view illuminated by late afternoon light
© Chris Boswell / Alamy Stock Photo

South of Fresno is the lively city of Bakersfield, known for its culture, food and music, so it makes an ideal day trip when you’re looking for something a bit different but still want the creature comforts of the city. In addition to its bars and restaurants, there are some great museums in Bakersfield, including the Kern County Museum, which offers a detailed look into the history of the area, and the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science, which allows you to explore the region’s geography.

San Francisco

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While this day trip hardly needs an explanation, here is one anyway. Around three hours away by car, San Francisco is one of the jewels of the West Coast of the US and has so much to offer. From the Golden Gate Bridge to Chinatown, and from Alcatraz to the city’s hopping nightlife scene, there’s something for you no matter your interests. Our recommendation? Riding a cable car up and down the city’s famous hills.

Big Sur

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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© Ganapathy Kumar / Unsplash

This famous and beautiful location is an easy day trip from Fresno. Close to Los Padres National Forest on the coast, it’s an awe-inspiring and dramatic area of coastline. Almost completely undeveloped, the windswept and wild vista here will have you dreaming of escape from your day-to-day life. Pull up a beach chair, watch the waves and feel your stress melt away – until you have to drive home, that is.

Bravo Farms, Kettleman City

Amusement Park
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Occasionally, you want a day trip that’s a little closer to home. This fun, lively attraction with a Wild West theme is a diverting day trip about one hour south of Fresno. Much more than your usual pit stop, it’s a truly old-fashioned day out. With a cowboy-themed ghost town, a large farm shop, a restaurant and a dog play area, it might be slightly cheesy, but you’ll have fun. Not everything needs to be cutting-edge – sometimes, something you would have loved as a kid really hits the spot.

These recommendations were updated on August 11, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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