• WHAT: A self-guided drive tour CD that highlights south Stanislaus County; ‘Southside Stroll’ features 18 speakers and local music performed by youth artists, 14 in total.
• WHERE: “Southside Stroll” CD can be purchased for $5 at the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, 115 S. Golden State Blvd.; viewed on the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau website, www.visitturlock.org; or it can be viewed by downloading a free mobile app by searching for “turlockcvb” in your Android and iPhone app store
• MORE INFO: For more information about “Southside Stroll” call 632-2221.
Stanislaus County is the third richest agricultural land in the nation, with farmers growing over 250 different kinds of crops from almonds to zucchini and melons. This fertile Valley was settled long ago by farmers, but has since grown not only in agriculture but also in culture and community.
A glimpse of the beauty and prosperity of South Stanislaus County can be seen while following a self-guided drive tour, created by the Stanislaus River Valley tourism committee in 2008.
“We have a beautiful, scenic agricultural community,” said Desa Cammack, director of the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A must-see on a tour of south Stanislaus County, according to Cammack, is the area’s fruit stands.
“People don’t know what real fruit tastes like,” she said.
Fortuitously, the tour starts at the Fruit Yard Restaurant, named for the bounty that surrounds it. The Fruit Yard is located on the corner of Highway 132 (Yosemite Boulevard) and Geer Road in Modesto. Take a minute to stop in the Fruit Yard’s country store and pick up some of the 40 different types of fruits picked daily.
Once you’ve filled up on the Valley’s bounty, the tour continues east on Hwy. 132, through Roberts Ferry and onto Turlock Lake.
From Turlock Lake, the “Southside Stroll” directs travelers through the country back roads of east Stanislaus County. Along with farmland, beautiful older ranches and mature landscaping can be viewed all the way to Geer Road; all the while following a major irrigation canal. This irrigation water is the life-blood of the Central Valley.
Traveling down Geer Road, the tour first stops at the Resendiz Family Fruit Barn. If you didn’t shop at the Fruit Yard, you have a great chance now at the Fruit Barn. If visiting in the month of October, make sure to spend some time at the Resendiz pumpkin patch. Their homemade pies are delicious year-round.
Further down Geer Road is Beekman & Beekman honey farm; it is located on the original Beekman family farm, started in 1913.
As you approach and turn into the farm’s driveway under the magnificent heritage weeping oak tree, you will see a sign with directions to the Honey and Wine Tasting Room, once a family gathering place where friends and family enjoyed holidays and other special occasions. The Honey and Wine Tasting Room is open on all non-holiday weekends, Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
From Beekman & Beekman Farms, the tour continues down Geer Road into Turlock and Monte Vista Avenue. There tourists will find California State University, Stanislaus, located at One University Circle, off Monte Vista Avenue in North Turlock. For over 50 years, the university has been a leading educational institution, with a beautiful campus located in the heartland of California. The campus of CSU Stanislaus is the perfect place to take a meandering walk or even a bike ride. The university has six lakes on campus, each worth a look.
The tour continues through east Turlock, passing by MedicAlert Foundation and Emanuel Medical Center and making its way to Canal Drive and the Turlock Community Theatre. You may turn into the driveway on the right, in front of the building, or park on the left side of the street, if you wish to visit this point of interest. The building is now in use by the Turlock School District.
After viewing the Turlock Community Theatre and beautiful Crane Park located across the street, the tour continues onto downtown Turlock.
Here is where a few additions to the “Southside Stroll” are in order. The drive tour CD was created in 2008, and since then a few jewels have opened — or reopened — in the downtown corridor.
“There’s a lot more to Turlock than meets the eye,” said Cammack.
Get back on Canal Drive and turn left onto Berkeley Avenue, and then left again going west on Canal Drive. Continue driving west through a stop sign and one signal. When you reach Main Street, turn left. You are now traveling down the main artery into downtown Turlock. The best way to enjoy the downtown corridor is by foot. As you drive west on Main Street, take notice of the specialty stores and eateries. Look for a parking spot after passing Broadway Avenue. From here you can start your stroll down Main Street.
Make sure to check out the Dust Bowl Brewery Tap Room (corner of Broadway and Main), and then make a slight detour north on Broadway for a little culture at the newly renovated Carnegie Arts Center. The center was reopened in September 2011, after a six-year renovation project to repair damage from an arson fire. The Carnegie features a gallery, a multi-use facility, classrooms, and an open-air plaza, patio and stage.
The Carnegie is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is located at 250 N. Broadway. There is a $10 admission charge and children under 12 are admitted free. For more information on upcoming exhibits, visit www.carnegieartsturlock.org.
After soaking in the art, make your way back to Main Street and walk east. You will pass few boutiques, a local fabric store and even a hookah lounge. After crossing the railroad tracks, you will see Central Park — home of the John Mitchell statue, the founder of Turlock — and Wellington Station.
This casual British-style pub and full service restaurant is located in Turlock’s historic railroad depot, and features train car seating.
Further down Main Street are a plethora of antique stores and four other dining delights. Located on the corner of Main and Center streets is Bistro 234. This upscale, yet casual, restaurant serves up the finest in American, Californian, French and Italian cuisine. Further down the road is La Mo, a fresh take on Mexican cuisine. La Mo is only open for breakfast and lunch.
If you’ve worked up a sweet tooth, then Frost should be your next stop. Located at 428 E. Main St., this cupcakery is the perfect topping to any day. Just across the street from Frost is a Turlock landmark, Main Street Footers. This American deli and sandwich shop serves up the best foot-long hotdogs in the Valley.
Once you’ve concluded your Main Street excursion, just follow Main Street west until you reach the Highway 99 on-ramp, to return home.
— KRISTINA HACKER / 209 reporter