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Explore the town of Hanford in the San Joaquin Valley

Civic Center Park, Hanford

This Central Valley square has both immigrant history and an ice cream shop

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The History: Practically smack-dab in the center of the state, Hanford holds plenty of ties to California’s past. Start at the Romanesque Hanford Carnegie Museum, which opened in 1905 as a Carnegie Library; today it’s also a tourist information center. Keep following the history trail at the grand Civic Center Auditorium, which opened in 1924 and still hosts events; and at the Hanford Fox Theater, a 1929 building still used for concerts. And Hanford has what every historic town should have: an authentic ice cream shop (Superior Dairy), in operation since the 1920s. Courthouse Square sits a couple miles west of the park, but is worth checking out for the original 1896 structure. While you’re there, don’t miss the 1898 Romanesque building known as the Bastille; it was used as the county jail until the 1960s. Just east of the park is China Alley, a collection of 11 historic buildings that dates to 1877 and tells the story of the area’s Chinese population.

Where to Play: Obviously, your itinerary has to include ice cream at Superior Dairy, ideally followed by a show at the Hanford Fox Theater. For a historical stay, head to the Irwin Street Inn—a mash-up of four Victorian homes that maintain details like pull-chain toilets and claw-foot tubs. For an authentic Mexican meal, check out La Fiesta Restaurant Bar, which serves up flavors from Colima and Michoacán.

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