See What Visalia Has to Offer
This is a partnered post with Visit Visalia. One of our moms spent the weekend
in Visalia, California with her husband and three boys,
ages 5, 8 and 9. She’s adventurous, nature-loving … and unavoidably girly. Read more about
how this three-time #boymom managed to please the entire family on a mini getaway that kept everyone smiling.
I love wilderness. Okay, let me rephrase. I love expertly-crafted, comfortable wilderness. That doesn’t always mesh with the fact that I have three boys who are Cub Scouts and a husband who could start a fire with one twig. They do camping. I do shopping. It’s a dichotomy that our family finds amusing.
It also proves a bit challenging, when planning a trip. Often, my pseudo survival-expert husband takes the boys camping without me. They explore the forests, don’t shower for days and send me photos (once they are back in civilization with internet, of course). I, on the other hand, redecorate a room in the house, get a pedicure and sip champagne to my favorite episode of Jane the Virgin. As amazing as it sounds, I miss the boys. And, they miss mommy.
On Father’s Day weekend, we decided to head to Visalia, California. It’s an easily doable drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, with plenty of highway exits for restroom breaks and snacks. Visalia is called, “the gateway to the Sequoias.” It’s a mid-sized city in Central California, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, near Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.
After some quick internet searches, including the ever-helpful visitor website, we found there were actually a lot of hotels to choose from in Visalia, with all types of accommodations. I was excited to see options where I could sleep in comfort. And, the kids were equally thrilled to check out the onsite pool. Check-in complete.
We headed to Sequoia National Park, with the gates just a relatively quick jaunt East on Highway 198. We have a National Park pass, thanks to my hubby. So, we cruised right through. The kids tried to spot wildlife from the road, which ended with an odd debate on the difference between a chipmonk and a squirrel. There is always something to learn from a Cub Scout, by the way.
Situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia National Park is a majestic and exquisitely maintained wonderland. It is home to the largest living tree in the world, the General Sherman Tree. Standing at 275 feet tall, 102 feet or so in circumference and weighing more than 2.7 million pounds, it is also the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. To see it, we decided to walk the Sherman Tree Trail, noting that I don’t even have to write, “hiked the trail,” because we literally just walked. It was glorious. The trail was partially wood-planked and super well-maintained. It had stairs and wide pathways, so the boys could run past the groups stopped on the sidewalk taking photos (sorry, people.) Proper signage was everywhere, and it was even handicap accessible in several places. The best part was that we could take the in-park Sequoia Shuttle back up the road to where the car was parked.
We explored the rest of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, stopping at the Grant Grove Restaurant, the Visitor Center and the many overlooks. We found the most amazing waterfalls we had ever seen, and they were visible right off the road. No trudging through mud and rocks to see these beauties. There was an insane amount of snow pack on the mountains this year, so the river was raging. It was truly an awe-inspiring sight. We also learned that Kings Canyon National Park includes the deepest canyon in the United States. Measuring more than a mile and a half in length, it is deeper than the Grand Canyon. The road goes right by this, and we all enjoyed gazing (in complete safety) from the car windows. No wonder the famous John Muir said this destination rivals Yosemite for its beauty.
On our way back to Visalia, we saw the most colorful sunset. So gorgeous, in fact, that we didn’t even mind not having cell service or Wifi going down the mountains.
We enjoyed cruising through Downtown Visalia, seeing all the cute shops and restaurants in their Main Street district. There were so many adorable farm-to-table restaurants, craft beer spots and boutiques that I wished we had more time to stay and explore. (This is my kind of “exploring,” after all.) When traveling, the food experience is always super important. In Visalia, we found restaurants ranging from Pita Kabob, a modern gastro pub that puts its own creative spin on traditional Mediterranean recipes to The Vintage Press, one of Central California‘s most elegant dining experiences.
Visalia also has this fun, family-friendly destination called, Adventure Park. It just opened a water park addition, Sequoia Springs. The splash park has a 42-foot water structure with four slides and timed water dumps from a wooden, 900-gallon barrel. The kids could run wild, get extremely wet … and my husband and I could relax in an air-conditioned lounge, complete with bar service.
Our weekend getaway was the perfect little summer adventure. The boys were boys. They got dirty and wet and climbed to the top of a rock with a gesture of superhero strength. And mom got to be mom, relaxing in comfortable accommodations and enjoying a good night’s sleep. We found that Visalia is the destination where you can have both—or actually—you can have it all.
For more information about Visalia, check out visitvisalia.com.