Modesto Road trip – Day One: Delano Heritage Park and Tulare Historical Museum

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I learned about the Almond Blossom Cruise in Modesto from an email I received from Visit California.  After doing a little research, I decided to take a mini-road trip to Modesto during the last weekend in February.  Ripon was holding their Almond Blossom Festival that same weekend so we would also have their activities to do if we had the time and inclination.    

Once I had the dates decided upon, I began to look at other places to stop on the way to and from Modesto as well as places in Modesto which weren’t related to the Almond Blossom Cruise.  We would leave early-ish Friday morning, and we planned to return at a reasonable time Sunday night.  

Our first stop was a bust, and it was a last-minute addition to the itinerary which I hadn’t researched to confirm it was open.  It’s the Woolworth Diner in Bakersfield, and I’m hoping they will re-open it and maintain the historic aspects intact.  Our next stop was the Delano Heritage Park in Delano, California. 

The Delano Heritage Park consists of several historic buildings and fixtures from Delano and the surrounding environs.  The buildings weren’t open, but we could peek through some of the windows to see the interiors.  This is a fun and quick stop to stretch your legs.  We spent about thirty minutes at the Delano Heritage park, and there is no admission fee.

The Tulare Historical Museum in Tulare, California was our next stop.  It’s located on a corner next to the Tulare Fire Station.  I parked in the parking lot on the other side of the fire station.  There is also a park and a senior center adjacent to the parking lot.  General admission is six dollars, and they have special exhibits near the entrance which was about the town of Allensworth for Black History Month when we visited.  There is a very large room dedicated to military history, and quite a few exhibits on Bob Mathias, a Tulare native who was an Olympian in the 1950s, and a U.S. Representative in 1960s-1970s.  We spent about an hour exploring the various exhibits, and I made a few purchases in the gift shop.  I loved the logo for the Tulare Fire Department, so I took a photo of their sign when we were walking back to the car. 

We left Tulare and headed towards to our hotel in Modesto.  I made a slight change and stopped at Sal’s Mexican Restaurant in Selma, which was recommended to me by a colleague who grew up in nearby Fresno.  I had planned on us stopping there for dinner on our way home on Sunday, but we had the extra time and were hungry, so we stopped for a late lunch on Friday.  We arrived just before 2pm, and the parking lot was very full.  It was the end of the lunch rush, and we only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table.  The food was fantastic.  So good, in fact, that we kept eating it even after we were beyond full.  It was just too good to stop eating it.  I’m really looking forward to eating there again the next time we’re in the area.

When we arrived in Modesto, we stopped at the Visit Modesto office to see what tips we could get.  We also picked up a couple of the complimentary Almond Blossom Cruise 2022 posters in addition to some brochures.  We were advised to stop at the Rodin Farms that evening to take advantage of the sunset lighting, especially as the forecast for Saturday was for clouds most of the day.  We decided to go ahead and head to Rodin Farms from the Visit Modesto office before we headed to our hotel. 

Rodin Farms has a farm stand at the corner of Claribel Road and Oakdale Road with plenty of parking, and a grove of Almond trees that they allow you to walk through for some fantastic photo opportunities.  We didn’t buy anything at the stand, but we took lots of photos and video in the Almond grove.  You’ll notice families dressed up to take photos amongst the Almond Blossoms so be patient if you are looking for photos in the same spot. We spent approximately thirty minutes at Rodin Farms, including looking at the items available for sale in their farm stand. There is no fee to explore the almond orchard.

We checked into the Hampton Inn & Suites Modesto-Salida which was located on Kiernan Avenue, which is Claribel Road east of McHenry Avenue.  The Hampton Inn is located near a gas station, several food options, and it has plenty of free parking.  It is also just a seven-minute walk to the Blue Diamond Nut & Gift Shop. 

We didn’t get any dinner, but we did eat the sandwiches we had brought with us from home once we finally became hungry again.  We had really stuffed ourselves at Sal’s that afternoon. 

Check back for my recap of our official Almond Blossom Cruise, and I highly recommend going to Central California very soon if you want to see the Almond Blossoms as the heat wave in early February caused the blossoms to bloom early which means they won’t be there very much longer.