A visitor from Asheville, North Carolina asked me, after his first Almond Blossom experience, “Why doesn’t the rest of the world know about this?” This question from a guy who enjoys 50-mile full fall foliage views every autumn! That is the question that led our team at Visit Modesto to promote the Almond Blossom Cruise as far and wide as we can. That’s why Visit Modesto created the Almond Blossom Cruise with the goal to share the many reasons to come to Modesto for the most spectacular four weeks of pink and white blossoms they may ever see spreading from the hills to the horizon. You can see the map, recommended stops and some Do’s & Don’ts at AlmondCruise.com
First, for us locals it is important we know and experience the bounties of our backyard. We don’t have to pray for sunshine to take the cruise…we live here and can jump in the car when the sun peaks out or time allows (and these days we certainly have extra time!). We also know the backroads so we don’t have to lean on the East or West Cruise Map; rather we can make our own route and plan an annual pilgrimage to our favorite farm stands. One local couple told me that they have a favorite lunch spot each year and always stop at the farm-stand on the way home to buy a locally made pie. We can go east one week and west the next. We can ride our bike, take a run or call a friend to let us in their orchard and take pictures. We’re so lucky to have this in our backyard!
Just as importantly, during these limited travel times, we should be sharing this gift with our friends who can make this a day trip; whether they hail from the Bay or Delta or are from Monterey or Paso Robles. And, when non-essential travel is back (hopefully by the time you read this) they can stay overnight. Then, when that travel ban is lifted, we can share this experience with anyone from San Diego to Shasta to Seattle. They can jump in the car with the family or friends and enjoy a few days right here in the Heart of the Central Valley!
As we correspond with visitors interested in coming to Modesto next month we are sharing a full two or three days of activities; there’s the snow park in Little Sweden for sledding (not to mention skiing and back to Modesto by dinner!), there’s hiking and riding and fishing on the Tuolumne River Trail or Dry Creek Trail or in the Stanislaus River park system, there’s over 100 public works of art with over 75 murals and a great downtown mural tour (visitmodesto.com/murals), there’s Sciabica’s for olive oil tasting and Oakdale Cheese to enjoy, there’s birdwatching and great road rides and even OHV parks all around! All that before you consider the incredible local food…taco trucks, food trucks, great restaurants, brew pubs and even breweries to enjoy once we’re out of ‘deep purple’.
All that doesn’t count day trips from Modesto to California Big Trees or Yosemite National Park. There’s the Flumes and Chutes in Twain Harte or wine tasting from Lodi to Murphy’s as a day trip. Once the restaurants are in full swing here in Modesto, we’ll be expanding the Get Mo Wine program for wine tasting right here in town too! Plus there will be options, once allowed, for the whole family from bowling to indoor climbing walls. Right now, there are skate parks and playgrounds open in the public parks all over Stanislaus County. And don’t forget our local agricultural bounties too…from the farm stands to the farmers market there’s a fruit, nut or vegetable for everyone to enjoy!
For overnight guests there’s our local hotels which offer pools, firepits, hot tubs with options from affordable rooms to suites for families to extravagant presidential style suites. Our lodging facilities offer all kinds of options from upscale to economy so that any traveler can afford to stay overnight. The local properties are right in the heart of downtown, near Vintage Faire Mall and have direct freeway access. Even better… you can call them directly to ask for “locals” rate when you have family or friends coming to town when the non-essential travel ban is lifted.
And don’t forget that the Almond Blossom Cruise covers a 4-week period every year. So, this year may not work out for all, but they can plan for next year when all the theaters, arts facilities and shopping areas are open! Chances are you share the Almond Blossom Cruise with a friend this year that next year they will refer two or three more friends. All that makes a difference on our economy, the local job market and has incredible impact on all of our local businesses.
As exhausting as all that may be to read through it is all true. For us we’re lucky its right in our backyard. For others it’s accessible because Modesto lies right in the heart of California with highways extending north, south, east and west from here. It’s also affordable as those who travel to the beach resorts, desert resorts and ski resorts frequently would know. Most important Modesto offers lots of room to spread out, enjoy your ‘pod’ without the crush of the big destination tourists. That makes visitors and residents feel healthy and safe.
Bottom Line; Try It…You’ll Like It! Take the Almond Blossom Cruise with your bubble or pod. Share the gift of the experience with friends who want to find something fun and unique to experience. Take pictures and share with your social network (and us @visitmodesto) and start that annual ‘save the date’ for the Modesto Almond Blossom Cruise!
Written for the Modesto View February 2021 by Todd Aaronson, CEO of Visit Modesto