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On the morning of January 24, 1848, carpenter James Marshall was working on John Sutter's mill in Coloma when he stumbled upon a gold nugget on the south fork of the American River. Despite Sutter's wishes to keep the discovery a secret, word leaked out -- a word that would change the fate of California almost overnight: Gold!
The news spread like wildfire, and a frenzy seized the nation: The Gold Rush was on. Within 3 years, the population of the state exploded, from 15,000 to more than 265,000. Most newcomers were single men under the age of 40, and not far behind were the merchants, bankers, and women who made their fortunes catering to the miners, most of whom went bust in their search for wealth.
Sacramento quickly grew as a supply town at the base of the gold fields. The Gold Country boom lasted less than a decade; the supply was quickly exhausted, and many towns shrank or disappeared. Sacramento, however, continued to grow as the fertile Central Valley south of it exploited another source of wealth, becoming the vegetable-and-fruit garden of the nation.
A trip along Hwy. 49 from the northern mines to the southern mines conveys a sense of what life was like on the mining frontier. Many of the towns along this route seem frozen in time, down to Main Street, with its raised wooden sidewalks, double porches, saloons, and Victorian storefronts. Each town tells a similar story of sudden wealth and explosive growth, yet each has also left behind its own unique imprint. Any fan of movie Westerns will recognize the setting, given that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of films have been shot in these parts.
At the base of the Gold Country's hills is the sprawling, flat Central Valley. Some 240 miles long and 50 miles wide, it's California's agricultural breadbasket, the source of bounty shipped across the nation and overseas. A lot of state history has revolved around the struggle for control of the water used to irrigate the valley and make this inland desert bloom. Yes, despite its aridity, a breathtaking panorama of orange and pistachio groves, grapevines, and strawberry fields stretches uninterrupted for miles.
Start planning a fun California vacation with American Airlines flights to Fresno. From visiting Kings Canyon National Park or Sequoia National Forest to appreciating art, you'll find there are things to do in Fresno for everyone.
With exceptional national parks within an hour's drive, one of the most popular activities in Fresno is visiting the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument. It features the world's largest concentration of giant sequoia groves and is protected by the National Forest Service. You'll feel miniscule surrounded by trees that can measure up to 275 high with a base that can be up to 40 feet wide. You'll also feel like a young whippersnapper standing next to a tree that's up to 3,000 years old.
Located next to the Sequoia National Forest is Kings Canyon National Park. Visiting here before you leave the area is another of the top things to do in Fresno, especially if you love the outdoors. With rugged mountains, deep canyons and towering trees, it's full of natural splendor. The General Grant Grove section of the park contains groves of sequoias while the more expansive remainder of the park is where you'll find Kings River, Kings Canyon (from which the park derives its name) and steep granite cliffs.
Back in the city, one of the activities in Fresno you won't want to miss is touring its world-class museums and art galleries. The Ansel Adams Gallery contains an extraordinary collection of the famous lensman's original photographs, and often offers photography workshops. The Discovery Center Museum of Science & Natural History has hands-on exhibits that appeal to children. The Fresno Art Museum features works that include pre-Columbian Andean artifacts, paintings by the Berkeley Abstract Expressionists, Japanese prints and copper and bronze sculptures. And you can't miss a tour through the Kearney Mansion, a museum in the restored home of California's so-called Raisin King, M. Theo Kearney.
Cap off your visit to Fresno with a stop at one of the city's local wineries, where you're sure to find a new favorite or two to bring home as souvenirs of your unforgettable California adventure. Why not start planning your trip? American Airlines has made it convenient and carefree to fly to Fresno. Browse our flights and reserve your trip today.
Prices shown are round-trip fares, including taxes and carrier-imposed fees. Advertised travel may be operated by an American Eagle or an American Connection carrier. American Eagle® service is operated by American Eagle Airlines, Inc., SkyWest Airlines, Inc., ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., or Republic Airline Inc. American Connection® service is operated by Chautauqua Airlines, Inc.
|New Year's Eve Sky Spectacular||Dec 2013 (annual)||Sacramento|
|Mardi Gras Parade in the Tower||Jan 2014 (annual)||Fresno|
|Sacramento Museum Day||Feb 2014 (annual)||Sacramento|
|The Rogue Performance Festival||Feb - Mar 2014 (annual)||Fresno|
|ATP World Tour Masters 1000: BNP Paribas Open||Mar 2014 (annual)||Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells|
|Annual Big Hat Days||Apr 2014 (annual)||Clovis|
|Indian Wells Arts Festival||Apr 2014 (annual)||Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells|
|Manteca Crossroads Street Faire||Apr 2014 (annual)||Manteca, Central Valley|
|NBA: Sacramento Kings||Nov 2013 - Apr 2014 (annual)||ARCO Arena, Sacramento|
|Vintage Days||Apr 2014 (annual)||Fresno State Campus, Fresno|
|Annual Feast for the Streets||Apr 2014 (annual)||Scottish Rite Masonic Center, Sacramento|
|Sacramento Film Festival||Apr 2014 (annual)||Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento|
|Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra||Oct 2013 - May 2014 (annual)||Bakersfield Symphony Centre, Bakersfield|
|Bakersfield Jazz Festival||May 2014 (annual)||California State University Bakersfield Amphitheater, Bakersfield|
|Pacific Rim Street Fest||May 2014 (annual)||Old Sacramento Downtown Plaza, Sacramento|
|Grass Valley, California "Sierra Festival of the Arts"||May 2014 (annual)||Grass Valley, Gold Country|
|Sacramento Jazz Jubilee||May 2014 (annual)||Sacramento|
|El Dorado County Fair||Jun 2014 (annual)||El Dorado Fairgrounds, Gold Country|
|Sierra Nevada World Music Festival||Jun 2014 (annual)||Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville|
|Clearlake International Worm Races||Jun 2014 (annual)||Austin Park, Clearlake|
|California State Fair||Jul 2014 (annual)||Cal Expo, Sacramento|
|Downieville Classic||Aug 2014 (annual)||Downieville, Gold Country|
|Fresno Greek Fest||Aug 2014 (annual)||St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Fresno|
|Gold Rush Days||Aug - Sep 2014 (annual)||Old Sacramento, Sacramento|
|Chalk It Up||Sep 2014 (annual)||Fremont Park, Sacramento|
|Downieville Gold Rush Days||Sep 2014 (annual)||Downieville, Gold Country|
|Taste of the Gold Country in Grass Valley, California||Sep 2014 (annual)||Grass Valley, Gold Country|
|Pumpkin Fair||Oct 2014 (annual)||Manteca, Central Valley|
|Via Arte Italian Street Painting Festival||Oct 2014 (annual)||Bakersfield Marketplace, Bakersfield|
|Annual Safe Halloween||Oct 2014 (annual)||Kern County Museum, Bakersfield|
|Sacramento Arts Festival||Nov 2014 (annual)||Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento|
|NBA: Sacramento Kings||Nov 2014 - Apr 2015 (annual)||ARCO Arena, Sacramento|
|Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra||Oct 2014 - May 2015 (annual)||Bakersfield Symphony Centre, Bakersfield|
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