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Fresno is the fifth-largest city in California, with a population of close to 500K.  The Fresno Metropolitan Area, which includes Fresno and Madera counties, has a population of roughly 900K.  It is located near the geographic center of the state in the central San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno is surrounded by the most productive agricultural area in the world, and the region is replete with vineyards, orchards, cattle ranches, dairy farms, feed lots, and various other agricultural enterprises.  Fresno has a very diverse population, and has historically been a popular immigration site for many groups.  Fresno is home to the largest Hmong population in the United States, and has one of the largest and most well-established Armenian communities outside of Armenia.  Fresno also has large Hispanic and Anglo populations, as well as a sizable African-American community.  Fresno, despite it's status as an agri-business capital, has one of the highest poverty rates in the United States, and Fresno County (along with neighboring counties) usually is among the top 5 counties in the United States for unemployment.  Fresno is surrounded mostly by farmland and small towns, but has one principle suburb: Clovis, which has a population of nearly 100K.
Travel Tips from people who've been to Fresno
Matthew
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Okay Fresno is my hometown (lived in the No, as we call it, from age 6 to age 18) so I have a unique, home-grown perspective.  First off, it's really NOT a tourist town, it's about two hours from Yosemite, two hours from Sequoia and Kings Canyon, three hours from the Bay Area, four hours from LA.  Not much to see actually IN Fresno.  But if you happen to end up here, here's some things to do:

Tower District is the closest thing Fresno has to a nightlife area.  It's located along Olive east of Palm Avenue for about three our four blocks.  There's a couple of cool bars and nightclubs, restaurants, etc.  The most popular bar down there is Livingstons.  There is also some nightlife in North Fresno, like BeBe's on Shaw and Marks or a couple of bars in the Fig Garden Village shopping center, but if you're an out of towner, Tower is your best bet.

Fresno has great restaurants, but most of them are chains, like Famous Daves or Hooters or Outback Steakhouse.  If you want good LOCAL cuisine, you gotta go to the bad parts of town.  Tacos Tijuana is really good Mexican food and is open really really late, over on Ventura and Eighth, not far from the Juvenile Hall and the Fairgrounds.  Another popular local spot is (or used to be) Chris' Meat Market (AKA April Meat Market) located on Kern and E, right where downtown borders the "West Side" neighborhood.  It used to always be packed on the weekends, and looked like a car show out front, but the Fresno PD has put the clamps on that.  The carne asada is still decent though.  A local chain called Bobby Salazars is also very good, and they have several locations throughout the city, including one in the Tower District.

If you're in town for a show at Save Mart Center or an event involving the University, and are staying near the campus, there are always student parties going on in the apartments alongside Bulldog Stadium...just go in, find music and crash the party if you want!  Most of the time, especially if you bring your own alcohol (or more importantly bring alcohol to share), you can party with the students.  Be advised though, Fresno PD LOVES to crash parties. It's their favorite thing to do.

Finally, be advised that Fresno may not have the repuation of an LA or an Oakland but has some areas of town that are just as bad as any in those cities. The Tower District, for instance, is a small pocket in the middle of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States and the crime is bad in any direction if you stray too far.  Essentially, if you're not from the area, try to stay north of Shaw Avenue (unless you go to the Tower to party) and lock your car up tight and take all your valuables out of it!  And Fresno is NOT the place to try to drive after you've had a couple.  The Police set up DUI checkpoints all over the city and they WILL impound your car and send you to the county jail which is not a fun place to be. 
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Some good eating places:
  • Mone`s International Market & Deli 7975 North Cedar Avenue, 559-438-8975. Great Armenian, Russian, and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as some very interesting international products.
  • George's Shish Kebab 3045 W. Bullard Ave, 559-449-0100. Armenian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • Giulia's 3050 W Shaw Ave, 559-276-3573. Slightly more "upscale" Italian eatery.
  • Irene's Cafe 747 E Olive Avenue (Tower District) 559-237-9919. An old-fashioned coffee shop, known for its breakfasts.
  • The Landmark 644 E. Olive, 559-233-6505. An upscale dining place. Has a great bar inside, and has great New Year's Specials.
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    Since common sense is not so common anymore: when in Fresno make sure your car doors are locked. Including when your driving.
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    Recent Updates for Fresno
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    What's there: Camping, Climbing, Forest, Mountain Hiking, National Park, Trail, Wildlife Watching
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