Porterville is truly one of California’s best-kept secrets. Nestled in the foothills of the spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountains, this underrated city is the gateway to some of America’s most fascinating natural wonders.
Porterville will captivate you with its old-town feel and burgeoning downtown area. The city’s downtown area has a plethora of exceptional attractions, including murals, an art center, antique stores and chic boutique retailers.
Full of charm and history, the city features several cultural events, including the Veterans Day Homecoming Parade and the Iris Festival in April.
The city also overflows with Instagram-worthy nature sights and outdoorsy activities that will quench your thirst for adventure.
We want to help plan your vacation, so here are some suggestions for the 15 best things to do in and around Porterville.
1. Zalud House
Kick-start your vacation in Porterville with a visit to the historic Zalud House. Even though it was established in 1891, this house has not been remodeled or renovated and gives visitors a sneak peek into the city’s past.
The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the National Registry of Old Houses. As a bonus, the house is surrounded beautifully by a vintage-designed rose garden, making it an appealing spot for photographers. It’s also a popular place for anyone into paranormal experiences.
2. Sequoia National Park
No list of the best things to do in Porterville is complete without Sequoia National Park. Spanning 404,000 acres, this national park is famous for its iconic and gigantic sequoia trees. One of the can’t-miss sights here is the General Sherman Tree.
With a height of 275 feet and a diameter of 25 feet, it’s by volume the world’s largest single-stem tree. The park is also home to another towering natural marvel: Mount Whitney.
Standing proudly at 14,505 feet, this famous landmark is the highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada. With more than 850 miles of trails and tons of recreational facilities, the park offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures.
3. Lake Success
Lake Success was built in 1961 mainly to control flooding in the area. Today, it’s a favorite recreational spot for nature lovers, intrepid travelers and outdoor aficionados.
In summer, the lake becomes a hive of activity. Boaties, jet-skiers and water skiers share space with kayakers and canoers. Furthermore, the lake is a prime spot for fishing.
Besides the largemouth bass, the lake also has other freshwater species, including trout, channel catfish, crappie and bluegills.
Not into fishing and water sports? The lake has spacious campsites with inexpensive hookups, showers and a free dump station. You can also visit the 1,499 acre refuge for wildlife where you’ll catch sight of Canada geese, white mallards and American pelicans.
4. River Island Country Club
Itching to play a round of golf? Do yourself a favor and include the River Island Country Club on your list of places to visit in Porterville. Sandwiched between Springville and Porterville, this golf course is the region’s finest and has attributes to rival the top ones in the country.
In 1999, it was picked as a qualifying site for the California State Amateur. And, it has the highest slope rating and course in both Tulare and Kings counties.
5. Eagle Mountain Casino
Feeling a little lucky tonight? The city has a casino for anyone who wants to blow off some steam and perhaps win the jackpot. Operated and owned by the Tule River Tribe, this casino houses more than 1,000 slot machines and a few table games.
There’s also a hotel and an entertainment center where you can catch colorful and amusing live shows. And, when your stomach starts to grumble, you may head to any of the casino’s award-winning restaurants.
With quality entertainment, huge payouts and first-class service, it’s no wonder it’s been nicknamed the ‘people’s casino’.
6. Porterville City Pool
Traveling with a bunch of sprightly kiddos? Why not pay a visit to the lively 5,590 square foot Porterville City Pool? With its zero-depth pool, 137 foot slide and play equipment, this family-friendly attraction will give your little ones hours of non-stop splashy fun.
There are even lifeguards on duty to ensure everyone’s safety. And, the best part is, the admission fee to the pool is incredibly affordable.
7. Porterville Historical Museum
The Porterville Historical Museum is an absolute must-see for history buffs. With a collection of intriguing exhibits, the museum beautifully highlights the history of the city and its surrounding areas.
While touring the museum’s grounds, you’ll see farm equipment, wagons, vintage authentic fire trucks, and other machinery and tools from bygone eras. Inside the museum, you’ll discover Native American woven baskets and American artifacts.
To learn more about the city’s pioneers, check out the museum’s news articles, photographs, and portraits. There are plenty of other interesting ordinary objects worth checking out here too, including toys, vintage dolls, currency, firearms, furniture, and clothing.
8. Visalia Adventure Park
Looking for more exciting family-friendly activities? At the Visalia Adventure Park, you can enjoy seven acres of amusement, fun and mouth-watering food.
Spend a couple of hours playing its colorful 18-hole mini-golf. Next, unleash your inner NASCAR king at the center’s thrilling go-kart track. To keep things rolling, make your way to the incredibly exciting Laser Tag. And, if that’s not enough, try their batting cages and bumper boats.
By the way, the park has no admission fee, and you just pay for the rides and activities that you want to experience.
9. Kern County Museum
Journey back in time with a pit stop to the Kern County Museum in Bakersfield, founded in 1941. This museum showcases exhibitions about Kern County’s development and history, with a mix of railroad, agriculture, mining, and Native American exhibits.
The pioneer village interactive tour features 50 historic exhibits and structures spanning more than 16 acres. We also recommend the museum’s group tours and educational programs.
10. Harley’s Tavern
Need to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing in Porterville? Drop by Harley’s Tavern on your Porterville vacation. With its ice-cold beer and amazing atmosphere, it’s a terrific place to chill in Porterville in the evening.
11. Bartlett Park
For some cheap and free things to do in Porterville, visit Bartlett Park. This scenic park has a wide range of inexpensive sports and recreational activities, suitable for visitors of all ages.
There’s a baseball field, volleyball poles, horse pits, swings, benches, and a multitude of playgrounds. Additionally, there’s a lovely pond situated in the heart of the park.
The park offers year-round programs that will entertain travelers of all stripes. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a family, you’ll have a blast experiencing the park’s numerous facilities.
12. California Living Museum
Established in 1983, the California Living Museum is a fantastic educational zoo located in Bakersfield. Originally, the museum was opened to educate visitors on the flora and fauna native to the state.
Today, it functions as a 14 acre rehabilitation refuge for orphaned and injured animals. The museum also provides educational programs and lessons to thousands of kids in Kern County.
13. River Park Shopping Center
They don’t call River Park one of the area’s premier shopping destinations for nothing. For years, this shopping complex has been luring shopaholics with its upscale shops. Here, you’ll find a bevvy of well-known designer brands, including Macy’s, H&M, Anne Taylor Loft and REI.
Once you’re done with your shopping spree, pamper yourself and relax those weary leg muscles at any of the center’s spa services. Alternatively, you can sample one of the tantalizing eateries within River Park.
Cap off your shopping escapade by watching a blockbuster movie at the state-of-the-art IMAX theater. And, if you’re visiting on Tuesday or Thursday, don’t forget to drop by the farmers market, so that you can snag the freshest produce in the region.
14. Forestiere Underground Gardens
There’s nothing quite like the 10-acre Forestiere Underground Gardens. Built by a Sicilian immigrant in 1960, this subterranean villa houses tunnels, rooms, courtyards, and grottos.
Designated a California Historic Landmark, this villa offers one-hour guided tours for those who want to learn more about the place. As you tour this underground marvel, you’ll see several Roman architecture features, like stone-built walls and arches.
15. Lake Ming
Add an element of adventure to your Porterville getaway with a sojourn to Lake Ming. Perfect for a day full of splashy fun, this man-made lake offers sailboat, waterski and motorboat rentals.
If you’re not in the mood to venture into the water, you might like to chill at the recreation area where you’ll find barbecue grills and picnic tables.