BY RYAN MCLAUGHLIN
Tell anyone from outside of California that it is your hometown state and you will be asked one of three things. Do you live near Hollywood, how often do you go to the beach and how many movie stars have you run into.
While I’m sure living in big cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco is great, nothing beats the feeling of living in a much smaller city like Modesto.
With a population of about 211,000 or so, by no means would Modesto be considered a small town. In fact, Modesto ranks in the top 20 California cities in terms of total population.
Nestled in the heart of the Central Valley, Modesto is located in what many consider to be a premiere piece of real estate in the entire state.
With major travel destinations like Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Sacramento and Monterey Bay all within a two hour drive, Modesto’s proximity to everything California has to offer makes it an ideal place for the would be traveler.
What Modesto has to offer is so much more than a pit stop along the way, the city itself has seemingly endless things to do.
Fans of the historical sides of Modesto can take a trip around the downtown area and pass under the iconic Water, “Wealth, Contentment, Health” Archway, the entrance to the city since it was first built in 1912. Take a drive down the grid like streets of downtown and make your way out to McHenry Avenue, the street that inspired local movie director George Lucas to create the movie American Graffiti.
Modesto also has numerous outlets for entertainment that will suit everyone’s preferences. For those looking to grab a beer and catch a game, John Thurman Field, the home of the Modesto Nuts Baseball Team, is a the place for fun, where family entertainment is number one (you’ll hear that line in their catchy theme song).
A relatively new addition to Modesto’s downtown entertainment scene is the Gallo Center for the Arts. With regular showings of everything from comedian Frank Caliendo to musicals like Les Miserables and Oklahoma, Gallo offers a truly unique cultural experience.
No city highlights list would be complete without mentioning the best spots to grab a bite to eat, and boy does Modesto have a few.
Galleto Ristorante in the downtown area has remained one of the highest quality restaurants in all of Modesto. This fine-dining Italian restaurant features a beautiful outdoor dining area along with an extensive wine list fit for any connoisseur.
If it’s a glass of wine you’re craving, check out Camp 4 Wine Café off 10th Street in downtown Modesto. Inspired by one of the popular campsites in Yosemite National Park for rock climbers, Camp 4 offers a large selection of wines and beers from all over the globe. You can also order one of their specialty panino sandwiches, the chocolate churro panino is a must try.
One final stop that should be on anyone’s Modesto bucket list would be to stop by the Commonwealth Craft Pub off of 11th Street in, you guessed it, downtown Modesto. With 24 rotating taps featuring a mix of the finest craft beers in the U.S., this little gastro pub is quickly becoming one of the most popular spots in all of Modesto.
They were even recently featured on the popular Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” starring Guy Fieri.
So while some people may pass straight through Modesto on their way to other destinations, those fortunate enough to call this city home can go out and enjoy all that this city has to offer.