As recently as the 1880s, the landlocked Californian city of Hanford briefly served as a trading point for fish harvested at the now-dried-up Tulara Lake.
Once the biggest freshwater body west of the Mississippi River, the lake sat just south of the city.
Moreover, Native American tribes had already lived there centuries before the arrival of white settlers.
Nevertheless, the city’s official history began when the Southern Pacific Railway constructed a new route from Goshen to Coalinga in 1877.
According to historical accounts, the railway crossed paths with a Chinese sheepherder’s rudimentary camp, which soon grew into a settlement.
The settlement got its name from the railroad’s auditor, James Madison Hanford, who also facilitated selling the lots to new settlers.
Unfortunately, during its early years, the city’s development was significantly hampered by several major fires that razed most businesses.
Despite the initial setbacks, the community persevered and became incorporated in 1891.
It had since become the county seat of Kings County from 1893 until the present day.
Hanford is a thriving city at the heart of the Golden State because of its numerous attractions, local establishments, and exciting events all year round.
Here are the best things to do in Hanford, California:
Visit the Carnegie Museum of Kings County
The Carnegie Museum of Kings County tells the story of Hanford with its vast array of fascinating items that deeply connect with the city.
The museum is inside a neo-Romanesque building built in 1905 and included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Designed as a library, the building was made possible through the generous donation of the famed industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
Bearing its donor’s name, it operated as a library until 1968 and was leased with a new life as a museum in 1975.
Today, the museum contains various souvenirs from the city’s colorful past.
The items in the museum’s collection include ancient tools from prehistoric eras and camp gear during railroad expansion in the 19th century.
The museum’s most prized collection is several personal items belonging to one of the most famous aviators in history, Amelia Earhart.
Earhart, who had lived in Hanford in the 1930s to teach flying lessons in Fresno, left these items to a local friend before her tragic disappearance in 1937.
The Carnegie Museum of Kings County allows you to learn and appreciate Hanford’s history with its fascinating exhibits.
Enjoy the Views at Hidden Valley Park
Located along North 11th Avenue, Hidden Valley Park is one of Hanford’s most popular recreation areas.
Serving as the park’s centerpiece is a small yet attractive pond.
You can enjoy lovely views of ducks roaming idly on the pond’s serene waters.
The park’s pleasant and clean surroundings make it the ideal place for picnicking.
It also features a splash pad where you can have fun and cool off during hot days.
Moreover, there’s also a playground and open areas where you can play at your heart’s content.
With its scenic environment and fun features, Hidden Valley Park is the perfect spot to spend a relaxing day.
Go Bargain-Hunting at Alma’s Buy and Sell Flea Market
Alma’s Buy and Sell Flea Market is a bargain hunter’s paradise located along Lacey Boulevard in the easternmost part of the city.
The market is a one-stop shop for virtually all of your needs, comprising numerous vendors selling various wares.
You can find many products at the market, from fresh produce to housewares and home décor.
Some vendors sell second-hand items like clothes and apparel.
You can also grab a quick snack from the food stalls that offer tacos and tortillas, among other tasty treats.
Whether you’re on a hunt for fantastic value or simply looking for souvenirs for your Hanford trip, you must check out Alma’s Buy and Sell Flea Market.
Jump around at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park
Located inside Hanford Mall, Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park is the city’s premier indoor recreation center.
Aside from their top-of-the-line trampolines, the center also contains numerous fun features that guarantee fun hours for everyone.
You can test your strength by trying out their Rope Course and climbing walls.
If you think you have what it takes, you can try to conquer their highly-challenging Warrior Course.
You can also flex your acrobatic skills in their Drop Zone and ProZone or go toe-to-toe with your friends at Battle Beam.
Moreover, you can show off some gravity-defying moves in their Slam Dunk Zone and Tumble Track.
Kids will also have a fantastic time exploring the center’s Tubes Playground.
After a tiring round of fun jumping, you can also grab a quick snack at the café right in the center.
For real indoor fun, you can’t find anything better than Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park.
Enjoy a Scoop of Ice Cream at Superior Dairy
Superior Dairy is an ice cream shop along North Douty Street, right at the heart of Hanford.
Established in 1929, the shop has delighted generations of Hanford locals, now considered an institution in the city.
As the best place to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings, Superior Dairy offers a plethora of ice cream flavors to choose from.
It is also known for its generous servings, providing huge scoops with each order of ice cream.
The ice cream shop is famous for its banana split, root beer floats, and flavored milk.
On top of their signature desserts, they also serve freshly-made sandwiches and salads.
Whether you’re craving desserts or looking for something to cool you off on a hot day, Superior Dairy’s fantastic offerings are guaranteed to satisfy you.
Take a Swim at The Plunge
The Plunge is a public swimming pool located along Ford Street, right at the heart of Hanford.
It features a large, clean pool that is also kid-friendly.
The pool features a fun water slide that takes you on a quick spiral trip before splashing onto the water.
Moreover, the Plunge also provides swimming lessons for both children and adults.
Off-season, the pool hosts various activities such as water aerobics and lap swimming.
The Plunge may be simple, but its clean pool and friendly atmosphere make it the perfect spot to cool off and relax.
Play at the Longfield Center
The Longfield Center is an indoor sports and recreation facility along South Douty Street.
The center features playing courts for basketball, volleyball, and racquetball.
It contains a fitness gym with standard equipment like modern treadmills and stationary bikes.
Moreover, there’s also a playroom where you can play billiards and ping-pong.
However, if you’re not into physical sports, you can play video games in the game room.
The center is also known in the city for hosting different community events and outreach activities.
As an all-in-one place for sports and recreation, the Longfield Center offers fun and enjoyment for everyone.
Go Fruit-Picking at Genesis Organic Farm
As a hidden gem in Hanford, Genesis Organic Farm is in the city’s northern suburbs.
The farm is best known for its pick-your-own produce during harvest season, which begins in May.
During fruit-picking sessions, guests will be allowed to pick fruit and vegetables of their liking for one hour.
You can choose from their fruit assortment, which includes cherries, blackberries, apples, peaches, apricots, Fuyu persimmons, and pluots.
On the other hand, you can select from their vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, squash, beans, and cucumber, among others.
Moreover, the farm also boasts the world’s first cuacamelon maze and a pumpkin patch during the fall season.
Picking fruit is the perfect activity for the whole family; Genesis Organic Farm is a must-try for everyone.
Stroll around Freedom Park
Freedom Park is a neat patch of green space situated in the northeast part of the city.
One of the most noteworthy features of the park is its splash pad, where you can have fun and get wet during a hot day.
The park also contains a disc golf course where you can test your aiming skills.
Moreover, there’s a playground equipped with swings, slides, and obstacle courses.
With the park’s open areas, you’ll also have plenty of space to play around.
Its well-paved walkways and clean grounds are also perfect for a relaxing stroll.
With refreshing scenery and a friendly atmosphere, Freedom Park offers a nice breather from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Take a Tour at Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum
Located right at the city’s heart, the Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum is one of Hanford’s most well-known attractions.
The garden and museum double as an educational center and playground for children.
True to its name, its beautiful design looks plucked straight out of a fantasy book.
Featuring more than a dozen attractions, the garden’s themes are based on classic children’s stories such as Charlotte’s Web, Peter Rabbit, and Three Little Pigs.
They also have art-themed gardens dedicated to pioneering artists like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.
More than a visual treat, each garden features its own unique set of enjoyable and stimulating activities.
Another fun feature is their Dinosaur Dig, where kids can experience digging for fossils in the sand as if they’re little paleontologists.
The garden and museum also hold special events and activities for whole families and those explicitly geared toward teens and adults.
With its stunning aesthetics and fun activities, Children’s Storybook Garden & Museum guarantees an unforgettable experience to every visitor, regardless of age.
See Local Artworks at Kings Art Center
Located along North Douty Street, Kings Art Center is Hanford’s go-to place to check the local art scene and art-related events.
The center contains a gallery and exhibits featuring works of local artists.
It also facilitates art lessons and workshops for children and adults.
Moreover, budding artists are welcome to join the center’s open studio, where they can fully express their creativity.
On top of hosting special community activities, the center can host private events, making it a perfect venue for art-themed celebrations.
As a cultural hub in Hanford, Kings Art Center is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and everyone.
Check Out the Activities at Kings Fair
Unlike most county fairs that offer one-off annual events, Hanford’s Kings Fair features numerous exciting activities all year round.
Each month brings you to a unique and fun event in the county fairgrounds at South 10th Avenue.
Kings Fair features an open market where you can buy fresh produce and other food products.
You might also want to check the assortment of exciting items traded during swap meets.
There are also farm-related activities like livestock showcases and contests.
Moreover, the fair also features fancy car shows and thrilling dirt-track racing.
As a family-friendly event, there are also fun rides for children and adults.
With its fun activities and attractions available all year long, Kings Fair is a community event you should never miss.
Try El Salvadoran Food at Toti’s Pupuseria
Among the sea of restaurants in Hanford, Toti’s Pupuseria stands out with its authentic El Salvadoran cuisine.
This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is a hidden gem located along East 7th Street.
On top of their mouth-watering pupusas, they serve other El Salvadoran staples like tamal and plantain.
You can also try their crunchy chicharron and freshly-made quesadillas.
Moreover, they also serve traditional Hispanic desserts like torrejas, pastelitos, and empanadas.
You can pair these up with hot and cold beverages, such as chocolate, sweet corn atole, and horchata.
As a one-of-a-kind restaurant in the city’s heart, Toti’s Pupuseria’s delicious food selections are a must-try for everyone seeking a new gourmet experience.
Dine at Zaytoona Restaurant
Along West 7th Street, Zaytoona Restaurant ranks among Hanford’s top-rated eateries with its specialty of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
You can try their fresh fattoush salad and creamy lentil soup for appetizers.
Pair them up with freshly-made hummus and delicious falafel.
Then, feast on their mouth-watering beef and chicken kababs for the main course.
Moreover, you can enjoy their flavorful and tender steaks and lamb chops.
On top of their tasty shawarma, they also serve burgers added with Arabic flair.
The restaurant also serves a vegetarian plate and a kids’ menu.
Likewise, the restaurant’s theme perfectly complements its clean and rustic dining atmosphere.
Thanks to its excellent menu and comfortable environment, you’ll be guaranteed to have a pleasant dining experience at Zaytoona Restaurant.
Try Craft Beers at Hop Forged Brewing Company
After operating from a garage for seven years, Hop Forged Brewing Company has become one of Hanford’s most inspiring success stories.
On top of its fascinating history is its equally-impressive menu of delicious craft beers.
Their original and handcrafted beer selection includes Main Street Blonde, Tropical IPA, Downtown JJ Brown, and Mandarina Pale Ale.
Combining the sports bar theme with modern industrial aesthetics, the brewery’s overall layout evokes a laid-back and cozy vibe.
Live music keeps everyone entertained as they enjoy their glass of ice-cold beer.
The brewery also takes pride as a dog-friendly establishment.
As a great local brewery with a friendly vibe, Hop Forged Brewing Company is the perfect spot to hang around and mingle with the locals.
Hanford brims with attractions and activities for everyone.
With its relaxing parks and historical sites, exciting activity centers, and fantastic food hubs, to name a few, you don’t have to leave the city limits to have a great time.
For your next road trip, stop by the city and try the best things to do in Hanford, California!