Top 12 Free Things to do in Fresno

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Fresno, California offers visitors and residents alike a variety of free activities to enjoy. From exploring expansive parks to experiencing unique galleries and museums, there are many ways to have fun without spending a dime.

Woodward Regional ParkEnjoy trails, lakes, and picnic areas.
Shinzen Friendship GardenExplore Japanese-themed gardens.
Kearney ParkTour the historic Kearney Mansion.
Fresno Art MuseumVisit contemporary art exhibitions.
Fulton MallStroll through pedestrian-friendly area with art.
Cultural Arts DistrictExplore galleries and art installations.
Woodward Shakespeare FestivalAttend outdoor Shakespeare performances.
Fresno County Courthouse ParkRelax in the park or watch events.
Veterans Memorial MuseumLearn about military history.
Woodward Park Rotary AmphitheaterEnjoy free concerts and performances.
ArtHopAttend monthly art events in downtown Fresno.
River ParkEnjoy live music and entertainment.

This article explores the top 12 free things to do in Fresno, providing travelers and locals great budget-friendly entertainment options. Read on to learn more about the city’s diverse array of attractions ranging from the performing arts to science and beyond.

Forestiere Underground Gardens

Name and Location: Located in Fresno, California, the Forestiere Underground Gardens offer a unique subterranean experience crafted by Baldassare Forestiere over 40 years, starting in the early 1900s.

History and Significance: This hand-built network of underground rooms, courtyards, and passageways was inspired by Forestiere’s desire to escape the summer heat. It showcases remarkable ingenuity and horticultural flair.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore a cool underground complex featuring fruit-bearing trees, grapevines, and beautiful plantings that thrive in the filtered sunlight.

Visitor Information: Tours are available but often require reservations, especially during peak seasons. There is an admission fee.

The Forestiere Underground Gardens is one of Fresno’s most unique and fascinating attractions. This historic landmark was hand-built by Sicilian immigrant Baldasare Forestiere over a period of 40 years, from 1906 to 1946. He dug out an elaborate series of underground tunnel spaces, which included living quarters, a chapel, and a fish pond, among other features. Visitors can take a guided walking tour to learn all about Forestiere’s incredible accomplishment and vision in creating this subterranean wonderland. The one-hour tours provide a glimpse into his handiwork in shaping the underground spaces, as well as the citrus orchard above ground. With its creative architecture and ingenious tunnel system regulating temperature, a visit here proves a memorable free activity for all ages.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Name and Location: Situated in Roeding Park in Fresno, California, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a key attraction for wildlife enthusiasts and families.

History and Significance: The zoo has evolved since its establishment in 1929, focusing on conservation, education, and providing naturalistic habitats for its animals.

What to Expect: The zoo features a range of exhibits, including African Adventure, Sea Lion Cove, and a rainforest habitat, offering close encounters with diverse species.

Visitor Information: Open daily with admission fees. Membership options are available for frequent visitors.

Home to over 190 species, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo offers families and animal lovers an entertaining day of exploration and encounters for zero cost. As one of only three free zoos in the whole state of California, it provides a unique budget-friendly activity for all to enjoy. Visitors can observe exotic creatures like tigers, apes, sea lions, elephants, and sloths in thoughtfully designed habitats. Additionally, the zoo puts on special exhibits like Dinosaurs Take Flight showcasing life-sized animatronic prehistoric creatures. Families will appreciate kid-friendly features as well, like the Sea Lion Cove splash zone and the sheep petting area. With engaging animal exhibits and experiences, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo makes for a full day of free fun.

Meux Home Museum

Name and Location: The Meux Home Museum, a Victorian mansion in downtown Fresno, showcases late 19th-century domestic life.

History and Significance: Built in 1888 for Dr. Thomas Richard Meux and his family, the house is a well-preserved example of Victorian architecture and offers insight into the era’s social history.

What to Expect: Guided tours of the home reveal period furnishings, personal artifacts, and stories of the Meux family and their contributions to Fresno’s early development.

Visitor Information: Tours are available on weekends or by appointment, with a small admission charge.

History buffs will love a trip to the Meux Home Museum located in downtown Fresno’s Historic Mayfair District. Built in 1889, this Victorian home offers a glimpse into life during the late 19th century. Visitors can join docent-led tours to view the historically furnished interior, admiring features like original redwood walls, transom windows, and ornate fireplaces. The museum also showcases an extensive collection of vintage photographs depicting Fresno over the decades. Outside, visitors can explore the well-maintained historic gardens. Whether you’re interested in old architecture, antique décor or Fresno history, a tour of the Meux Home Museum promises a memorable and educational experience at no cost.

Fresno Art Museum

Name and Location: Located in the heart of Fresno, the Fresno Art Museum exhibits contemporary and modern art, with a focus on cultural diversity and innovative programming.

History and Significance: Founded in 1949, the museum has grown to include significant collections of Mexican American art and pre-Columbian artifacts, reflecting the cultural richness of the Central Valley.

What to Expect: Rotating exhibitions, educational programs, and special events provide visitors with a dynamic and enriching art experience.

Visitor Information: Open from Thursday to Sunday. Admission fees apply, with free admission on certain days or for members.

Art aficionados and creatives can indulge their artistic interest visiting the bold and modern Fresno Art Museum in the heart of Fresno’s Cultural Arts District. The museum’s rotating exhibits highlight both globally recognized artists as well as local talent. Past showcases have included Mexican modernists, contemporary Japanese ceramics, California landscape photography, and imaginative Lego sculptures constructed by a Fresno artist. Additionally, the facility offers special programs like artist talks and hands-on art workshops for free. Visitors can also take some time to browse the unique gifts for sale in the onsite ARTchStore. Whether you want to discover bold contemporary pieces or tap into your own creativity, the Fresno Art Museum is an essential downtown destination.

Kearney Park

Name and Location: Kearney Park, the largest of Fresno County’s parks, is located on the outskirts of Fresno and encompasses the historic Kearney Mansion.

History and Significance: The park and mansion are named after M. Theo Kearney, a prominent figure in the development of California’s fruit industry, offering a glimpse into the agricultural history of the region.

What to Expect: The park provides picnic areas, recreational fields, and walking trails, while the mansion offers guided tours showcasing its historical significance.

Visitor Information: Park is open daily with a parking fee. Mansion tours are available on weekends with an admission fee.

For exploring expansive green landscapes, locals frequently enjoy the sprawling 300 acres of Kearney Park near downtown Fresno. The park encompasses a number of facilities including sports fields for soccer, baseball and basketball, playground structures for kids, barbecue and picnic spots, and over three miles of walking trails. People enjoy jogging and walking dogs along the paths winding through the grass and trees. Additionally, the adjacent Kearney Mansion built in 1902 offers free historical tours on certain days, allowing you to view stained glass restorations inside this impressive estate. For those looking to connect with nature amidst gorgeous park scenery, Kearney Park is a perfect spot to spend the afternoon immersed in the outdoors.

Discovery Center Science Museum

Name and Location: The Discovery Center, located in Fresno, California, is a hands-on science museum dedicated to inspiring curiosity in science, nature, and history.

History and Significance: Since its establishment in 1954, the center has been a resource for educational exploration, offering interactive exhibits and outdoor experiences.

What to Expect: The museum features a variety of exhibits on space, paleontology, natural sciences, and a planetarium, along with a native plant garden and live animal displays.

Visitor Information: Open to the public with an admission fee. Special programs and events may have additional costs.

Spark your scientific curiosity checking out the fascinating hands-on exhibits at the Discovery Center Science Museum near Roeding Park. This family-friendly museum features three floors of interactive displays focused on principles of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Children can race objects down an inclined plane, manipulate laser beams, explore properties of air pressure, and so much more all while actively learning. Families can also view engaging science demonstrations and planetarium shows on select days. Whether you want to foster a love of science in your kids or reconnect with your inner child-like wonder yourself, the Discovery Center is an enlightening and enjoyable free option.

Shinzen Friendship Garden

Name and Location: Located within Woodward Park in Fresno, the Shinzen Friendship Garden is a Japanese garden designed to promote cultural understanding and peace.

History and Significance: Opened in 1981, the garden celebrates the sister city relationship between Fresno and Kochi, Japan, featuring traditional Japanese garden elements and seasonal beauty.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy serene landscapes, a koi pond, tea house, and various plantings that reflect Japanese gardening principles.

Visitor Information: There is an entrance fee, with special events and programs offered throughout the year. Check for seasonal hours.

Embark on a tranquil stroll through the Shinzen Friendship Garden located at Woodward Park, marveling at the ornate architecture that fuses Japanese and Chinese influences across bridges, pagodas and gates. As you traverse the network of paved paths, take in gorgeous vistas of koi fish ponds filled with vibrant lily pads, as well as specialty garden areas like the bonsai tree collection. Unique structures dotted throughout include a tea house replica, moon bridge, peace bell and ceremonial Chinese pavilion gate donated by Fresno’s sister city of Kochi in Japan. Built to celebrate cross-cultural friendship and understanding, these lovely gardens provide a harmonious, zen-inducing retreat ideal for clearing your mind, centering your spirit and appreciating natural serenity free of charge.

Fresno Philharmonic Concerts

Name and Location: The Fresno Philharmonic performs at various venues in Fresno, including the Saroyan Theatre, offering a range of classical and contemporary music concerts.

History and Significance: As the city’s professional symphony orchestra, the Fresno Philharmonic has been enriching the cultural life of the community for decades, featuring talented musicians and conductors.

What to Expect: Concertgoers can experience high-quality performances, including classical masterworks, pops concerts, and educational outreach programs.

Visitor Information: Concert schedules and ticket information are available on their website. Season subscriptions and individual tickets are offered.

Music enthusiasts can enjoy free monthly concerts put on by the talented Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra from September through June. Their Music in the Plaza summer series takes place outdoors at the Mariposa Plaza in downtown Fresno, while regular season performances occur at venues like William Saroyan Theatre and Duncan Recital Hall. Under the baton of the orchestra’s conductor Theodore Kuchar, musicians deliver passionate renditions of classical works spanning from powerful Tchaikovsky overtures to lighter Strauss waltzes and more. Lovers of symphonic music can reserve free tickets online to enjoy an evening immersed in beautiful orchestrations performed live by 60 professional musicians at the peak of their artistry.

Fresno Skatepark

Name and Location: Fresno Skatepark, located in the downtown area, offers a dedicated space for skateboarding enthusiasts of all levels.

History and Significance: Recognizing the popularity of skateboarding among local youth, the city created this park to provide a safe and challenging environment for skaters.

What to Expect: The skatepark features ramps, bowls, and rails suitable for skateboarders, BMX riders, and rollerbladers.

Visitor Information: The skatepark is open to the public free of charge. Users are reminded to wear proper safety equipment.

At the Fresno Skatepark just southeast of downtown, visitors can watch skaters and BMX riders of all skill levels take on the 40,000+ square feet of ramps, rails and jumps. Designed by legendary skatepark builder Wormhoudt Inc., the expansive concrete park challenges boarders with options like stair sets, wallrides, manual pads, bowl corners and more spread across three areas. Novices can practice kickturns in mellower spaces while experts launch high airs off ramps like the menacing Tall Boy. Groups of local kids on rollerblades zip around cones while skaters zoom along embankments and granite ledges etched by scraped trucks. Whether you come to push your own skills or simply enjoy the motley spectacle of skaters in motion, the Fresno Skatepark presents raw urban action at its finest.

Tower District Neighborhood

Name and Location: The Tower District is a vibrant and historic neighborhood in Fresno, known for its art deco architecture, theaters, and eclectic businesses.

History and Significance: Named after the iconic Tower Theatre, this area became a cultural and entertainment hub in the 1930s and continues to be a lively part of Fresno’s community.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, vintage stores, and nightlife options. The district also hosts art walks, music festivals, and other community events.

Visitor Information: Most businesses and venues have their own operating hours. Street parking is available throughout the neighborhood.

Bohemian cafes, vintage shops and indie art spaces congregate within Fresno’s alternative Tower District just north of downtown. This tight-knit creative community offers an abundance of charming areas to explore at no cost. Funky storefronts like vinyl record shops and apothecaries line the streets, while colorful murals and custom metal sculptures popup in alleyways and building exteriors. Several art galleries allow free admission throughout the week, exhibiting works by local painters, potters and photographers. Visitors can also stop to rest in Courthouse Park watching fountains bubble near an original 1909 bandstand structure. With venues showcasing live music and poetry readings at night, the Tower District remains one of Fresno’s artistic hubs thriving with free diversions.

Old Town Clovis

Name and Location: Old Town Clovis is the historic heart of Clovis, located in the Fresno metropolitan area, offering a charming glimpse into the city’s past.

History and Significance: With its origins in the late 19th century, Old Town Clovis preserves the area’s rich history through its preserved buildings, now home to shops, restaurants, and antique stores.

What to Expect: The area hosts a variety of events, including farmers markets, antique fairs, and wine walks, in addition to its year-round attractions.

Visitor Information: Events and store hours vary. Free public parking is available. It’s a pedestrian-friendly area ideal for leisurely exploration.

The historic Old Town district of Clovis presents a lovely neighborhood for strolling amidst antique shops, boutiques, galleries and eateries. Dating back to the early 20th century when it first began as a railroad outpost, the area retains much of its original charm and architecture. Visitors can view restored Victorian, Craftsman and Spanish Colonial buildings housing quirky stores and businesses. Cool off tasting samples of handcrafted frozen yogurt nearby at popular Yogurt U Love. Art-inclined travelers should visit the Clovis Antique Mall with rotating local art shows, or the Clovis Art Guild Gallery exhibiting members’ work Tuesdays through Sundays. Old Town Clovis invites casual exploration of its heritage buildings and community culture absolutely free of charge.

Fresno Flats Historic Village

Name and Location: Fresno Flats Historic Village, located in Oakhurst near Fresno, recreates 19th-century life in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

History and Significance: The village consists of restored buildings from the area, providing insight into the daily lives of settlers and the agricultural heritage of Central California.

What to Expect: Visitors can tour schoolhouses, homes, and businesses from the era, participate in living history days, and enjoy the park’s natural surroundings.

Visitor Information: Open to the public with guided tours available on certain days. Admission is by donation.

Immerse yourself in Fresno history at Kearney Park’s sprawling Fresno Flats Historic Village, containing 12 acres of restored structures and interactive exhibits. Costumed docents lead engaging tours showcasing varying eras and aspects of Fresno life dating from the 1800’s onward. Kids can visit the 1870’s one room Townsend Schoolhouse to play traditional games, while train buffs admire the Burlington Northern caboose and vintage Santa Fe boxcar. Other highlights include an extensive doll and toy collection inside the 1920’s Childress House, blacksmith demonstrations in the 1800’s Bell Store, and war memorabilia exhibits within the Veterans Memorial Building. On select days, traditional artsisans like weavers, lacemakers and quilters also make appearances. Offering firsthand glimpses into Fresno’s past through conserved buildings and demonstrations, the Fresno Flats Historic Village guarantees an educational foray into times gone by completely free of charge.


Fresno delivers plentiful options for free entertainment spanning performing arts, cultural museums, expansive green spaces, historic sites, hands-on science, and diverse neighborhoods perfect for strolling. From the bizarre Underground Gardens built by one man over decades to the soaring ramps packed with skaters in daring motion, Fresno’s range of attractions reflect the city’s historical foundations and continual growth. Free activities allow budget-minded travelers and locals alike the opportunity to enjoy Fresno’s arts, culture, nature and heritage without financial barriers. Whether you want to discover new-to-you artists, challenge your kids with educational science experiments, or simply relax strolling beautiful Japanese garden landscapes, Fresno offers every visitor memorable experiences without the price tag.

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