When you think of Fresno, CA, images of a modest farming community come to mind. Well, with a population of 500,000, Fresno manages to offer big-city amenities while still retaining that small-town feel. Here are a few pointers to help prepare new arrivals for what life in the 559 is really like. We may just surprise you.
1. We haven’t cleared the air.
If you don’t use an inhaler already, you just might after taking a few drags of Fresno’s toxic mix of soot and chemical pollutants. It’s no easy feat to be recognized as having the country’s worst air. But, hey, what does the American Lung Association know anyway?
2. Fog is your friend.
Or at the very least, a clingy acquaintance you can’t seem to shake come winter. Suggestion: Learn how to drive in it.
3. It’s a cruel, cruel summer.
Summers are blistering. And trips to the movie theater or local water park are no longer ploys to placate the kids — they’re your ticket to avoiding heat exhaustion.
4. Fresno and Clovis are like one giant city.
The separation between the bordering communities of Fresno and Clovis is essentially marked by the change of green to brown street signs. And that’s about it.
5. We’re on the highway to hell.
It never fails. About 5 p.m. every weekday, every person living in Fresno and Clovis is traveling up Highway 41 North. For those who aren’t typically susceptible to road rage, well, good luck with that.
6. Red is everyone’s color.
Buy a mug. Buy a T-shirt. Heck, buy a refrigerator magnet — you’re in Fresno State Bulldog territory now. The sooner you display a red sign of outward allegiance, the better.
7. There’s no room in the lot.
One, Dog House Grill is tri-trip royalty in Fresno. Two, never expect to find parking in its ridiculously tiny lot. If you do happen snag a spot, I’d recommend purchasing a lottery ticket. Immediately.
8. Don’t wear a hat to BIG Hat Days.
Clovis’ BIG Hat Days is one of the largest two-day festivals in central California. There’s beer, food and tons of local vendors, but not that many sightings of people sporting headgear. The irony is not lost on me.
9. Restaurants are overrated.
Food trucks have transitioned from their kind of sketchy rep to offering some of the best eats in town.
10. Eat local.
You’re living in the fruit and veggie basket of the nation, so eating local isn’t that difficult of a concept to understand. Bonus: Visiting one of the year-round farmers markets is a good way to get friendly with your new neighbors.
11. Napa who?
I don’t know what you’ve read, but the Central Valley is the new wine country. Seriously. Both Fresno and Madera counties have their own wine trails, with more than 20 wineries to sample along the way.
12. Try the Tower District.
When you’re in need of a little less basic and a lot more culture, head to the Tower District. It’s your one-stop-spot for dining, shopping, arts and entertainment.
13. Take shorter showers.
We’re in a drought. You’ve probably heard about it.
14. Find your inner cowboy.
The Central Valley is basically FarmersOnly.com’s target audience. Who knows? Living here long enough could inspire you to buy a pair of cowboy boots of your own.
15. ’No the lingo.
You’ll hear different versions of our city’s name. There’s the ever-popular “Fresyes,” the not quite ’hood “The ’No,” or for those feeling especially creative, “Fresno.” Try using them in everyday conversation to find out which moniker best rolls off the tongue.
16. We’re not so conservative.
Yes, Fresno’s viewed as a conservative city in a liberal state, but we’re not completely backward. Fresno Reel Pride is one of the largest gay and lesbian film festivals in the U.S. Just sayin’.
17. Split your loyalties.
Only two teams matter here: the L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The line’s already been drawn. Which side will you stand on?
18. Avoid Fashion Fair Mall whenever possible.
Nothing against the stores or restaurants that make up this actually decent shopping center, but the people … the people suck. There’s no walking here, just dawdling. Plus, it’s the mecca of hormonal teenagers.
19. Audra McDonald is ours!
You might not know or care who the six-time Tony Award winner is, but you will claim her. This is our right as Fresnans.
20. Remember to look up.
We’ve got the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the east, the Central Coast to the west and the San Joaquin River flowing up through us to the north. So when the going gets tough, take a second to remember the beauty all around you.