The Friday Five: Five kid-friendly things to do Downtown

Posted by Kim Leonard

I’ll be the first to admit it, we sure sound like a bunch of lushes with our love for happy hours and bars (by the way, did we mention- Umi got their alcohol license?) but really, we do have another side to us.

So today I present to you things you can do with your family in downtown Fresno. The list is actually pretty long so paring it down to the 5 best things is kind of tough. Of course, we have to try.

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1. Go for an art walk. Between the Fulton Mall, Courthouse Park and the Mural District there’s a lot to see. We usually start by CVS with the kids and ask them to describe the art they’re looking at. They love the Van Ness underpass on Mariposa and running around Courthouse Park looking for the next sculpture. We keep them engaged by promising them paletas from the little freezer inside Joyeria Herrera’s or chocolate milk at Peeve’s. I’m not above bribery when it comes to giving them an experience. You could also bring your kids on a Yellow Umbrella Tour, we love when families explore downtown together. You can visit our website for more resources for sharing the background of the art pieces and murals as well if you wanna really get crazy-educational! Here’s a resource from Fresno County’s website that offers a comprehensive history of Fulton and it’s building and art. (And fear not, the Fulton Street plans actually have full restoration of all of the art pieces you see today, including three sculptures which are off display currently due to vandalism. None of the art is moving out of downtown!)

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Staff member Steve Skibbie’s daughter Katie learning about Amy Morgan’s silk art at M Street Art Complex during the February art hop.

2. Art Hop We know, we know. Art art art, but art is good for kids. They can connect with it because it’s something they’re usually pretty stoked to create themselves.  Art Hop may seem like a way to network and get all schmoozy with other adults, but it’s actually a great thing to do as a family. Think about it, live music at many locations, food and a lot of people milling about. Art Hop is exciting, and from the 4′ vantage point the works of art can seem larger than life. Giving children an opportunity to meet artists and have them explain their art, process and intention is priceless. Art Hop is the first Thursday of every month. Super Bonus- Jazz Hop also happens that night and Frank’s Place in the Warnor’s Theatre usually has music and is all ages! Peeve’s is all ages as well and our kids have experienced some excellent music while sipping hot cocoa.

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3. Grizzlies Baseball This is the biggest “Duh” on this list. We have had fun every time we’ve taken the kids to a grizzlies game, there’s something about the sunshine, the crack of the bat, the carousel, the cheering and the promise of junk food that makes Chukchansi Park a magical place for them. Even in the off season they cheerfully exclaim “CHUKCHANSI PARK” when we drive by. Even after our daughter Mollie got sick from too much blue Icee too fast, she still popped back up and was rooting for her Grizzlies. Self control can be taught at baseball games too- if you’re obnoxiously into teachable moments like we are. It’s also pretty affordable compared with ticket prices at MLB games. Tickets start as low as $8 each. The Grizzlies do a lot for kids in the community, too. Check out the Wild About Reading program.

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4. Children’s Musical Theaterworks The arts are good for kids. Their imaginations are able to totally get wrapped up in theatre productions, and what a special thing to share with them at this age- other young people performing on stage. How empowering is it to see someone your own age doing something so cool, so brave? CMT’s productions are always excellent and they’re a wonderful way for our talented valley kids to get real world experience in theatre. If your child is a little on the dramatic side and you’re looking to put all of that energy to good use, check out their audition schedule! Children’s Musical Theaterworks performances are at the Fresno Memorial Auditorium located at 2425 Fresno Street.

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My Husband Chuck and kiddos Cary and Mollie getting big hugs from Elmo and Rosita before Sesame Street Live- an experience we were able to have thanks to Valley PBS!

5. Family Circle at Valley PBS– While this isn’t something that *always* takes place downtown, it is worth mentioning. By joining Family Circle you become one of the sustaining donors of public television. As most of us with kids know, the high quality of children’s programming on PBS is invaluable, instead of fart jokes and crude characters (Spongebob, I’m staring you down) their programs instill a love of learning. My kids are obsessed with Super Why and I feel really good about it. It’s a recurring donation of $10 a month that entitles you to members-only events where kids can meet characters (Seriously, my kids have already had a chance to befriend Elmo, Rosita and Super Why!) and there’s a monthly activity that is usually super cool and worth way more to your than the $10 you spend.

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