When the owners of Crawdaddy's decided to put a little bit of New Orleans' distinctive flair right in the heart of Visalia, they knew it would take more than great cuisine. What makes New Orleans so unforgettable is that it caters to all the senses and makes the smallest outing a special event. To fill that tall order, they took residence in a spacious facility that could be an exciting venue for music, parties, libations, food, and sporting events, all in one electric, lively place.
The second-floor dining room welcomes guests with a menu of fresh seafood such as blackened catfish and bayou butter prawns. A fully stocked bar wets whistles, and balcony seating offers couples a romantic setting under the stars—all 50 of them. Meanwhile, more than a dozen flat-screen TVs light up the crowd in the first floor's sports bar, where a mixologist whips up creative cocktails and TVs whip up the big game. In the dining area of the first floor, Keith and the Crawdads treat diners to lively tunes during the evening, and on the second level the nightclub sends crowds into fits of dance spasms as late-night DJs spin everything from hip-hop to disco six days a week.
The Sequoia Shuttle whisks its passengers from Visalia to Sequoia National Park, a 400,000-acre nature preserve that houses General Sherman, the largest tree in the world. During rides, an informational video prepares riders for the natural wonders ahead, ensuring that the trees’ height doesn’t intimidate insecure basketball stars. Once in the park, visitors choose from three free in-park routes, which provide easy access to campgrounds, parking lots, and landmarks such as the Crescent Meadow and the Giant Forest Museum. The Sequoia Shuttle cuts down on the exhaust fumes and noise pollution that private vehicles inject into the park atmosphere, preserving a peaceful environment where critters can roam and trees can nurse their woodpecker-induced concussions.
As the Advanced-A minor-league affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Visalia Rawhide caters to baseball buffs with professional bat-cracking action and advance screenings of future big-league stars. This year the team celebrates 65 years of play at the recently renovated Recreation Park, an intimate stadium of spherical slinging where fans sit so close to the field that they can call pitches and notice subtle interventions from celestial outfielders. When the players’ endless running, throwing, and sunflower noshing inspires spectators' stomachs to hunger, the park’s three concession stands offer satiation with a bevy of ballpark eats.
McDermont Field House wears a lot of hats. It's a fitness center that houses more than 50 cardio machines. It's an indoor soccer field that hosts open play and league games and a skate park that lures skateboarders with ramps and rail slides.
Elsewhere, its Eagle Mountain rock-climbing wall challenges visitors to scale more than 50 feet. But it's not a traditional wall. Instead of colorful foot and handholds, the indoor wall looks much like a real mountainside: the grey, cragged peak is unmarked, and climbers must figure out their own ways to the top. The field house also brings the ocean to the San Joaquin Valley with a FlowRider wave simulator that buoys surfers and body boarders.
Curves' 30-minute workout whittles women with a signature circuit of hydraulic resistance machines designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Ladies can hop into the circuit circle at any of 13 strength-training stations, each of which works to tone two major muscle groups. After 30 seconds of repetitions, they step onto a nearby recovery board, which welcomes women to walk, jog, or speed-skate in place for a half-minute. This cardio burst jolts the heart rate, torching more calories as exercisers move onto the next resistance-training machine. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage participants’ machine maneuvering and Play Doh–based muscle making.
Johnny Cash, one of the world’s most beloved musical storytellers, gets a fitting salute in The Cash Tribute Show featuring James Garner, a heartfelt production that honors the life and the legend of the Man in Black. With a backup band that pegs the “boom-chicka-boom” sound of the Tennessee Three, lifelong Cash fanatic James Garner (not the guy from The Rockford Files) leads fans on a delightful travelogue through Johnny Cash’s travails. From Cash's youth as a scrappy foghorn to the day he found his melanoid wardrobe, The Cash Tribute Show intersperses anecdotes and personal accounts of Cash encounters between Garner's renditions of his hit songs. With lungs full of respect and big shoes to fill, Garner eschews the shtick of impersonation and the redolence of method actors by singing Cash’s classics with a true fan’s passion and reverence, making the hearts of the happy audience swell like a perfectly cooked Folsom Prison soufflé.