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This historic Tulare County town sits happily in the shade of the sequoias

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The Central Valley town of Visalia makes a great launching pad to see some of the mightiest trees on the planet at Sequoia & King Canyon National Parks. With a history that dates back to the 1850s, however, this farming town also offers plenty of its own charm.

To get acquainted with the local personality, take the self-guided walking tour of Visalia’s historic downtown—from street murals and well-preserved architecture to the painted hydrants of the Art on Fire display. Browse the candles and culinary gizmos at Pacific Treasures & Gourmet, then relax with a flash-brew iced coffee or a watermelon lemonade at Component Coffee Lab. Or, sample a few pints from Visalia’s Microbrewery District, anchored by such mainstays as Sequoia Brewing and Brewbakers Brewing Company, with its signature Sequoia Red. For dinner, Jack & Charlie’s offers both farm-to-table cuisine—like a heritage-raised pork chop with sweet summer corn and grilled peaches—as well as some history: This was the site of the Old West-style Tulare County Jail in the late 1800s.

Along with plenty of familiar hotel brands, Visalia is also home to The Darling Hotel, housed in what used to be part of the courthouse. The 1935 Art Deco building has been restored to show off the soaring ceilings and original architectural details, but also has a rooftop bar with lovely Sierra Nevada mountain views.

Before you visit, make sure to check out Visit Visalia for easy deals, such as hotel stays bundled with gas gift cards or free shuttle service to Sequoia & Kings Canyon.

An ocean shore

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