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In 1870, W.C. Ralston, director of the Central Pacific Railroad, settled in a pretty little place in the San Joaquin Valley. It was situated just southeast of San Francisco along the Tuolumne River and perfectly suited as a shipping center for its abundant produce. Members of the thriving new community wanted to name it after Ralston, but he “modestly” declined (I’m sure you can see where this is going…) Modesto has remained a popular spot between Yosemite and San Francisco for more than 150 years – and its residents have lots to brag about! Here are 3 things that make Modesto marvelous!
Most people know Modesto-born George Lucas as the creator of the epic worldwide Star Wars saga. But in 1973, he directed the coming-of-age film “American Graffiti.”
The movie was set in 1962 Modesto and features an all-star cast including Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, and Richard Dreyfuss. It follows a group of teenagers and their adventures during the course of a night.
Nearly 50 years later, the Academy Award-nominated classic continues to be a legacy for the city of Modesto. Each June, Modesto hosts Graffiti Summer – an event packed with street fairs, open-air concerts, and all things American Graffiti.
But the main attraction is a three-day car ‘cruise’ packed with tens of thousands of classic car fans. The American Graffiti Festival and Car Show hosts a car parade and weekend show for classic car lovers and movie aficionados.
Somewhere between mid-February and mid-March, California’s Central Valley erupts with a riot of pink and white framed against a dazzling blue sky. The almond blossoms are in bloom!
As 75% of the world’s almond trees burst into sweet-smelling beauty, the Almond Blossom Cruise is the best way to enjoy nature’s brilliant display.
You’ll travel along rivers and through hills, valleys, and farms as you enjoy the view and capture the perfect pic. While you cruise, stop by a roadside stand for fresh produce or take a break with an almond shake. There are plenty of sweet treats and nutty goodies along the way.
Visit Modesto has a fantastic audio tour to guide that includes regional history, lessons in almond growing and pollination, and even some scoop on the town’s famous faces.
The Almond Blossom Cruise starts in Modesto and is approximately 120 miles round trip. It’s about three hours if you don’t stop- but what fun would that be?! Plan on a day to take it all in!
Fun fact: Modesto is a pioneer in the American farm-to-table movement! The Modesto Certified Farmers Market has been bringing farmers and consumers together for more than 40 years. Eliminating the middleman puts the very freshest farm fare on your table for dinner.
Every Thursday and Saturday (during season dates) from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, stop by 16th Street beside the Stanislaus County Library for an impressive assortment of mouthwateringly fresh fruits and veggies. In addition, there are tasty pastries, refreshing beverages, holistic goods, specialty treats, and SO much more!
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While W.C. Ralston may not have wanted to boast, we definitely think Modesto is marvelous! There’s so much more to see and do here – especially if you’re traveling with a group.
Recently, the Destination Dispatch team welcomed Todd Aaronson from Visit Modesto to chat about what makes Modesto such a fantastic destination. Listen in for great group itineraries, suggested activities, and secret spots that may just surprise you.
Modesto really is a marvel!
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