During Zoo Lights, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo's annual holiday celebration, families are treated to dazzling illumination displays and holiday activities and crafts. Bask in the complimentary good cheer provided by live entertainers, or satiate holiday hungers with free hot cocoa and Santa-approved cookies. Mr. Claus himself will be making special appearances every night, personally accepting gift requests from good boys and girls. Hardcore yuletide fans can snag a photo-op with Father Christmas.
Hundreds of reenactors from several western states descend on Kearney Park for a living-history lesson that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the civil war. Wander through a civilian town and military encampments housing battle-weary soldiers as live music from the period drifts through the air and artisans craft non-anachronistic wares. Time-traveling visitors may stumble upon Abraham Lincoln for a chat about emancipation or about how he plans to decorate his beard for Halloween as a collection of stagecoaches gleams in the sun nearby.
Arte Américas is a nonprofit cultural emporium of Latin-Americana that integrates more than 10,000 square feet of eclectic artwork, theater classes, live music, book readings, poetry slams, and many workshops. This season's summer concerts in the Plaza give you a chance to gyrate your hips to the sizzling cumbia of La Sonora Explosion Dinamitera (August 6); groove to the songs of Santana as delivered by Zebop (September 3); or anachronistically Charleston to 40-Watt Hype's fusion of hip-hop, Latin, soul, and R&B (September 10). And come Mother's Day, your membership puts you y tu mama tambien on the VIP list for the perpetually sold-out Rebozo Festival, which recognizes the achievements of Hispanic women in categories other than Being Salma Hayek. The laid-back atmosphere of Arte Américas is reflective of the vibrant Hispanic and Latino influences found throughout the museum as you stroll around, absorb the creative energy, and daydream about siestas where you're dreaming about siestas.
In the late 1940s, a group of artists came together to create the Fresno Arts League—a forum for art exhibition and critique. Their inspiration lives on today at Fresno Art Museum, a hub for artistic culture. The museum houses a permanent collection of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art exhibits by the likes of Norman Rockwell and Ansel Adams. Members get more than entry to the museum; they also receive free access to opening receptions and Conversations with The Artists events, among other benefits.
A Double Gold Medal award winner for its 2007 Lucas Vineyard Zinfandel at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Ramos Torres Winery produces several Central Valley–grown wines under the direction of Oscar Ramos, who holds a degree in enology and a minor in enosophy (the study of wine's thoughts). An in-store wine tasting will let you and a beverage buddy tiptoe your taste buds through a selection of Ramos's varietals and fermented concoctions, which include the 2007 Vino Tinto, a careful blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and petit sirah. The 2007 Branches brims with intense fruit flavors, delighting palates with its blackberry notes and toasty finish, while the 2009 Conversations blends apricot aromas, muscat blanc, and the citrus sensations of orange muscat—tailor-made for sipping atop a bucking bronco. To keep vino-tasters from floating away and damaging the store's new ceiling fans, Ramos Torres Winery will weigh down wine-soaked bellies with a hearty spread of appetizers, including an assortment of artisan cheese and meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, prosciutto-wrapped melon, and crostini.