Is it part of Fresno culture to hate Fresno? I am asking this genuinely. I am a Fresno transplant, and I love this city. But everywhere I go, people have this air of self-deprecation about their home.
It is like a running joke that Fresno is an awful place to end up. Which it isn’t.
I like that I can step outside on a Friday night with a multitude of options of places to go.
In my hometown of Dos Palos, there was no nightlife. Nightlife was driving to the next town over and hanging out at Target. In Fresno there is a smorgasbord of things to do in the evenings. There are multiple bowling alleys, movie theaters, go-kart racing and even minigolf.
Even though those things cost money, there are many affordable and even free things to do in Fresno.
An afternoon in Woodward Park is an affordable way to spend an afternoon, with only a small entry fee. There are free weekly readings hosted by Fresno State’s Normal School Literary Magazine, paying homage to Fresno’s deep culture of poetry and writing.
Fresno has its own little wine world in its backyard. People do not realize that they do not have to drive to Paso Robles or Napa when the Madera wine trail is just waiting to be traversed.
We also have a few breweries that are up and coming, and if you haven’t visited the Tioga-Sequoia Beer Garden, you are missing out.
There is budding culture all over Fresno. The city is always hosting film events like Reel Pride festival and the upcoming Swede Fest. From the monthly ArtHop, to the local shows at the popular music venue Strummers, there is art and life breathing in our hot air. From this hot hellhole thrives a city unaware of its masked potential.
One of the greatest things about Fresno is that things are created here. From fresh produce to beer and music, Fresno gives life to so many markets.
Take for example, walking down the Friday night farmers market in Clovis is proof of that, as vendors left and right offer you fresh peaches, raw honey and even organic strawberry jam.
And the food! Fresno has amazing food. There is a taqueria on every corner, and food trucks often gather around places like Gazebo Gardens to tempt you with their unique fusion varieties of food.
These awesome food styles come with the territory. When large groups of people come together and share their heritage, everyone benefits. From Greek Fest to the Scottish Highland Games, Fresno is a place that celebrates its residents. From tiny cafes like Le Parisien to bigger chains like Robertitos, people are celebrating their unique food culture with the rest of the city.
This area is blessed by a relatively low cost of living, with even lower food costs. You can actually find avocados here for four for a dollar. We don’t pay the insane Bay Area living costs, but we still have the privilege of living in the most beautiful state in the nation.
Fresno is a couple hours away from everything, including Yosemite National Park, which is a world treasure. There is even a bus set up to take people from Fresno directly into the park – Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS).
I do not understand how a city with so much culture and life can be so harsh on itself. Yes, there is crime: air quality is poor and that it is hot. But you could be living in a city in California that has those same problems, but doesn’t have the culture that we have here.
If you are still complaining that Fresno is boring or has nothing to do, I challenge you to take a drive along anywhere other than Shaw Avenue and you will find something to do.
Go to a Grizzlies game. Visit one of our amazing public libraries.
Cultivate yourself in the way that Fresno cultivates its almonds, grapes and corn: in abandon.