What to do in Modesto, California?

For some Californians, Modesto is just another town you pass-through on your way to Los Angeles or San Francisco. To Modestans, it’s a place of opportunity, growth and good produce.

KPG Healthcare wants to dispel the rumor that Modesto, and the rest of Central California, is more than just a pass-through town. There is more to offer than meets the eye and KPG Healthcare is here to guide you through a handful of wonderful things Modesto has to offer.

First, just a quick history lesson about Modesto.


Modesto was originally founded as a railroad town in the San Joaquin Valley, but the track didn’t reach the town until October 11, 1870. Once the track reached Modesto, the town became the commercial and transportation center during California’s wheat boom. By 1891, electric lights illuminated the streets of Modesto.

By 1910, the population of Modesto nearly doubled after the boom in irrigation farming, which kickstarted the growth in agriculture within Central California. Between World War I to World War II, Modesto went through drastic changes due to the wars, the abolishment of Prohibition, The Great Depression, development of schools, social organizations, and more.

After WWII, Modesto’s population recovered from the losses during the wars and by 1970, Modesto was home to nearly 62,000 people. This was a period for investments in new facilities; however, the developments being made were spreading further away from downtown. This presented challenges for the community and with the Vintage Mall being built, local businesses began to relocate.

In 1978, Mayor Peggy Mensinger began to refocus on the development of downtown. Since then, Downtown Modesto recovered and has become a destination for nightlife. All the while, the Arts community was thriving and with the new Gallo Center for the Arts being completed in 2007 brought forth a new opportunity for the performing arts community.

What to do

Modesto Farmer’s Market celebrates over 30 years of supplying Modestans with the freshest produce California has to offer.

Farmer’s Market

Modesto, like many of the surrounding Central California towns, supplies majority of the country’s produce ranging from apricots to almonds, citrus fruits to melons. It only makes sense to head down to the Modesto Farmer’s Market to get some of the freshest produce California has to offer.

The Farmer’s Market in Modesto has been around for more than 30 years providing Modestans with the freshest produce. Depending on the season, you can also find a selection of jams/jellies, dried fruits, olive oils, and delicious food from local eateries using seasonal ingredients.

Come check out their Instagram to see what to expect! You won’t regret it.

Yosemite Valley is just one of California’s beautiful national parks and is only 2.5 hours away from Modesto.


If you haven’t been to Modesto, you’ll find Central California to be very dry with not much to look at. However, the wonderful thing about Modesto is that you are two hours from Yosemite, Monterey Bay, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Talk about being centrally located!

Yosemite is just one of California’s natural parks and it’s one of the most well-known. Yosemite attracts millions of visitors each year, whether you’re just passing through or camping for the weekend, Yosemite is a must-do. It is best to plan and prepare for Yosemite with some research because it can get a little crowded there.

If Yosemite is not an option, Modesto offers 75 city parks for you to choose from. If that isn’t enough, the city recently built the Virginia Corridor Trailway that stretches for 4.2 miles and provides the Modestans with picnic areas, barbecues, workout stations and more.

An ode to George Lucas’s movie, “American Graffiti,” Modestans participate in the Graffiti Route with their 50’s era muscle cars. Photo courtesy of @calamityjanemustang Instagram


I know we just covered Modesto history very briefly, but did you know George Lucas and Jeremy Renner are both from Modesto? George Lucas created a movie called “American Graffiti,” which he drew inspiration from his own experiences in Modesto. This movie left such a huge impact on the Modesto community there is the official “Graffiti Cruise Route” and a week-long celebration called “Graffiti Week.” It’s a great time if you’re into cars and 50’s themed nights.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jeremy Renner, you might know him Hawkeye from the superhero phenomenon, The Avengers. Renner has been nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Hurt Locker and has brought pride to the city of Modesto.

If 50’s music and muscle cars aren’t your taste, you can stop by the McHenry Mansion or the McHenry Museum to learn more about Modesto. The McHenry Mansion is a historical building in Modesto and is one of the last remaining Victorian-era homes within the city limits. Whereas, the McHenry Museum is in an old library building where you can see Modesto transform through the years.

Just three of many outdoor murals displayed throughout Modesto.


If outdoor murals, art galleries or the performing arts sound more like your cup of tea, Modesto has a handful of options to choose from. Every third Thursday of the month, the city hosts a self-guided Art Walk tour taking you to multiple venues of your choosing. Check out this list of galleries in Modesto!

If you’re looking for the performing arts, the Gallo Center of the Arts and the Modesto Performing Arts have a variety of shows to choose from. Gallo is more upscale and typically hosts more well-known artists, companies or shows. The Modesto Performing Arts company has a more intimate feeling with the stage being only steps away. The catalog of performances is limited compared to Gallo, but here you will find more amateur stars looking for the break out roles.

Meanwhile, the outdoor murals in Modesto are absolutely incredible. Like many other great cities in California, Modesto is embracing their local artists and allowing them to design beautiful murals alongside buildings, parking structures, and businesses. The murals tell the story of Modesto and what it really means to be a Modestan.

Modesto is a hidden gem in California with an abundance of fresh produce, an up and coming art community and plenty of opportunity for growth. It’s not San Francisco or Los Angeles, but there is an opportunity to experience living another lifestyle, culture, and region of California.

Make sure to check out the Infographic we created for Modesto! We have plenty of Travel Nursing opportunities in Central California!