Turlock is a medium-sized city of about 74,000 people situated in the Central Valley of Stanislaus County.
The city is known as the Heart of the Valley due to its agricultural history which carries into today. It’s also known for its nice weather and its small-town feel, even though it’s the second biggest city in the county and a suburb of Modesto.
Turlock has an abundance of things to see and do. The city is home to 24 parks and many arts and culture venues, galleries, museums, restaurants and shopping areas, such as Monte Vista Crossing and Turlock Shopping Center. Several National Parks are only a short drive away.
Turlock is less than a two-hour drive away from the major cities of Sacramento and San Francisco so it’s easy to take a day trip to these other areas and see their world-class attractions.
Many festivals and events take place in Turlock throughout the year including the Almond Festival, the Assyrian Festival, and Central Valley Brewfest.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Turlock, California.
1. Learn about local history at the Turlock Historical Society Museum
The Turlock Historical Society Museum collects, preserves, and displays the city’s history so residents, visitors, and future generations always have access to it.
During a visit to this museum, you’ll see 25 exhibits highlighting various aspects of the city’s history including artefacts, documents and photos related to culture, economic progress, community life, and religious diversity. A gift shop is on site.
2. Indulge in everything lavender at Pageo Lavender Farm
If lavender is up there with your favourite things, you’ll love the Pageo Lavender Farm. This working lavender farm not only allows you to see what goes into harvesting this beautifully-scented plant but also allows you to purchase products made from fresh lavender grown right on site.
Kick back and enjoy a lavender scone with some fresh lavender lemonade before heading to the gift shop to browse a wide range of lavender products including soaps, lotions, and hand-made souvenirs. The lavender used in these products is free of pesticides.
3. Enjoy Latin American-inspired fare at La Mo Restaurant and Cafe
At La Mo Restaurant and Cafe in downtown Turlock, you’ll sit down to a homemade, healthy meal of Latin-American-inspired cuisine in a cosy, friendly atmosphere.
This family-run eatery and coffee shop prides itself on serving high-quality food and beverages made with fresh, local ingredients whenever possible.
The restaurant section of the business offers a wide range of items served in a beautiful courtyard setting.
Breakfast and lunch are served and the menu features appetizers, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and much more. Enjoy a delicious scratch cocktail or draft beer with your meal. Homemade pastries are also available.
4. Go on a nature hike along the Tuolumne River Trail
The Tuolumne River Trail in nearby Modesto is a nice escape from city life. This hiking and biking trail runs 3.4 miles along the Tuolumne River and features stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of bird species and natural areas consisting of riverside woodlands.
5. Learn about cheese at the Hilmar Cheese Company
Situated only a short drive away from Turlock is a unique educational experience the whole family can enjoy. At the Hilmar Cheese Company, you can explore on your own or with a guided tour.
During your visit, you’ll learn everything there is to know about cheese including the dairy farming processes used, how it’s made, and how it gets to your table. You’ll even get to dress up in a cheese-maker uniform and taste some of the cheese that’s made there.
There’s a visitor centre on site and this is where you’ll find the gift shop and cafe where you can purchase ice cream and espresso.
6. Spend a day on the green at Turlock Golf and Country Club
As one of the oldest golf courses in the region, the Turlock Golf and Country Club has had plenty of time to perfect its course and facilities to become one of the best courses in the area.
The beautifully-maintained 18-hole course features a range of challenges including bunkers and water hazards. The on-site practice facilities include a driving range, two putting greens, and a chipping area.
A pro shop selling high-quality equipment and clothing is on site and lessons are offered by PGA pros.
7. Visit the Great Valley Museum
The main goal of the Great Valley Museum in Modesto is to preserve the natural environment of the region and inspire visitors to become interested in science and the natural world around them.
The museum does this through a variety of exhibits showcasing the natural history and unique habitats of the Central Valley region. On-site there is a discovery room where you can participate in interactive activities and see live animal exhibits. A planetarium is also on site.
8. Sip and Paint at Rembrandt & Rose
What could be more relaxing than sipping your favourite drink while you learn how to create beautiful art? At Rembrandt & Rose, you can do just that with other like-minded folks in a calm and relaxed environment.
It doesn’t matter what your painting skills are, all levels are welcome to participate. While you create a work of art to take home with you at the end of the class, sip on a glass of wine or another drink of choice with the sound of beautiful music playing in the background.
Currently, you’ll need to bring your own beverages but a glass, an apron, a blank canvas, paintbrushes, and paint are included in this fun learning experience.
9. Enjoy fun and excitement for all ages at Funworks Modesto
Funworks Modesto is an amusement centre with many facilities suitable for all ages. It’s the perfect place to spend a day with the entire family because there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Across this 18-acre complex, you’ll find batting cages, go-karts, a bowling alley, the Splashworks Pirate Ride, a Teddy bear factory, and a theatre.
A restaurant is also on site and a variety of classic American dishes are served.
10. Browse the Turlock Farmers Market
At the Turlock Farmers Market, the focus is on everything local. As you browse the many vendors, you’ll find an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade baked goods, handcrafted souvenirs, and household decor.
11. Take in a show at the Turlock Community Theater
Located in a building of historical significance, the Turlock Community Theater has been entertaining residents and visitors for many decades.
This beautifully-restored property hosts a wide variety of live performances in a comfortable theatre with excellent sound quality and great views of the stage area.
Ballet, musical concerts, symphonies, comedy acts, plays, and children’s productions are some of the events that take place throughout the year and the artists are from all over the world.
12. Get outdoors at Donnelly Park
Donnelly Park in Turlock is the perfect place for visitors of all ages to escape the city for a while and relax in a pretty, natural setting.
Inside the 40 acres of green space is plenty of room to find a place to lie on a blanket and read a book or just relax in the sun. On-site, there’s a pond filled with geese and ducks. Other park facilities include a basketball court, bathrooms, picnic areas, and a playground.
13. Test Your Skills at Escape Modesto
Challenging, fun, exciting. These are just a few of the words that can be used to describe an experience at Escape Modesto.
Upon arrival, you and your party of up to ten choose a themed room you would like to escape from. You have about an hour to figure out how to get out of the locked room. Through teamwork, you’ll have to solve a variety of puzzles and riddles using clues that you must find hidden in the room.
14. Admire Local Art at the Mistlin Gallery
At the Mistlin Gallery in downtown Modesto, you’ll be able to view a range of artworks by many local artists. Inside the gallery are many permanent and rotating exhibits showcasing a diverse collection of art. If you see something that you would like to have in your home, many of the artworks are for sale.
Throughout the year, many events, including art classes, workshops, and programs take place at the gallery.