serves as the seat of Stanislaus County in California's fertile Central Valley, located 90 miles east of San Francisco, 90 miles north of Fresno and 68 miles south of the state capital of Sacramento. California's famous Yosemite National Park lies about 65 miles to the east.
The climate here is typical of the state, with cool winters and hot summers. Historically, the region has been and continues to be very agricultural, although modern innovation in the form Modesto-headquarted companies such as Cultura Technologies and Moji IT services can also be found here.
Major employers in the Modesto-Stockton area include E&J Gallo, Frito-Lay, Foster Farms Dairy, Racor, Blue Diamond Growers and Del Monte Foods.
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Restaurants & Nightlife
Start any day of the week with an eye-opening breakfast at Velvet Grill & Creamery. When folks from San Francisco visit Modesto, they come here to enjoy hearty breakfasts that rival anything served in the City. Try the oatmeal-buttermilk pancakes and savory sausage links, and be sure to save room for a scoop of Velvet's homemade ice cream. Find Velvet's Grill & Creamery on McHenry Avenue near Bowen.
Brighter Side restaurant on K street serves up a slice of Americana in a delightfully converted old gas station. The locally-owned lunch-only diner serves tasty soups, salads and sensational sandwiches for patrons eating in or grabbing an order to go. Try the Nickolas with pastrami, mushrooms, green onions and two kinds of cheese. Brighter Side is open weekdays from 11 am to 3:30 pm.
Camp 4 Wine Cafe serves a superb selection of beer and wine along with big fresh salads, cheese and charcuterie, and assorted panini sandwiches. For a light lunch, try the marinated Nicolau feta marinated in olive oil, fresh basil, cracked black peppercorn and thyme. Save room for dessert, because the chocolate panini and apple-brie panini are amazing. You'll find Camp 4 Wine Cafe on Tenth Street near Needham.
Late-night cravings for paella, garlic burgers and cocktails lead locals to Bauer's 66 ½ Skillet & Grill. They open at 5 pm and offer a satisfying menu that includes upscale gourmet burgers, perfect pork sliders, saffron-scented paella and organic ribeyes with arugula salad. Be sure to sample the legendary six-cheese mac & cheese. Full cocktail service is available. Bauer's sits on McHenry Avenue near East Briggsmore.
For after-dark good times, head to Crocodiles Nightclub on Prescott Road south of Plaza Parkway. Here you'll find an eclectic crowd, affordable cocktails and a DJ who spins everything from 60s classics to 21st century electronic funk.
Fire Temple Hookah Lounge presents a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere where it's quiet enough to enjoy a conversation with friends. The 18-and-up lounge offers a yummy array of hookah flavors along with comfy couches and ample off-street parking. Fire Temple Hookah Lounge awaits visitors on Sisk Road just off CA 99.
History & Culture
The town of Modesto was named as a nod to the modesty of its founder, financier William C. Ralston. When the town was founded as a railroad stop in 1870, Ralston declined the offer to have the town named for himself. As dams were built in the Sierra
foothills and agriculture took hold, Modesto grew along with the rest of California's verdant Central Valley region.
Film director George Lucas graduated from high school in Modesto in 1962. In 1973, the acclaimed movie American Graffiti introduced America to Lucas' hometown. The movie was produced by another Bay Area resident, Francis Ford Coppola. Movie buffs will enjoy the bronze statue of George Lucas at the downtown Five Points intersection.
McHenry Mansion offers locals a glimpse into the region's most elegant past. The Victorian era mansion sits on Fifteenth Street in the heart of downtown Modesto.
Modesto sets a good example for the rest of Stanislaus County with the addition of bike lanes on arterial streets such as Briggsmore Avenue, Oakdale Road, Orangeburg Avenue and Sylvan Avenue.
Ample parking is available at public buildings and around the downtown area. The city maintains three fee parking facilities, on Ninth Street between K and L, on Eleventh Street between I and J and on the corner of K Street and Eleventh Street.
I-5 and CA SR 99 provide commuter access to the Modesto-Stockton area. A network of highways connects Modesto to the greater Bay Area.
Modesto is served by three public transit companies: Stanislaus Regional Transit (StaRT) offers fixed-route service within the city. San Joaquin Regional Transit District provides a ride along McHenry Avenue on the north side of Modesto. Modesto Area Express (MAX) offers fixed-route and dial-a-ride service throughout the Modesto-Stockton area.
Catch a daytime cab with ease on main thoroughfares like McHenry and Briggsmore Avenues. On lesser-traveled neighborhood streets, it's a better idea to call for taxi service.
If you have an Uber app on your iPhone, you can use it to order a ride in the area as well.
Median rent for a one-bedroom
apartment in northwest Modesto is $740 a month. The cost of living in Modesto compares quite favorably to super-expensive San Francisco, 90 miles to the west.
A gallon of gas costs around 5 percent more than the national average. A cab ride in Modesto costs $2.50 when you get in the cab and an additional $2.50 per mile. If you want the driver to wait, expect to pay $25 per hour. A one-way bus ride to the town center costs $1.50.
Hit a happy hour in Modesto, and you can enjoy an imported draft beer for $3. Otherwise, expect to pay $4 a pint.
McHenry Village presents a number of locally-owned shops and a few franchises, too. At this upscale mall you will find clothing stores, a locksmith shop, a Sprouts Farmers Market, See's Candy and a CVS pharmacy. The older, one-story mall offers a small selection of eating opportunities that include Kobe Sushi Buffet, Chicken Barn, Verona's Cucina Italiana and Mexicali Grill.
Shoppers come from all over the Central Valley to find bargains at Vintage Faire shopping center. The two-story facility on Dale Road north of Standiford Avenue presents a range of American mall stores, including Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret, Sephora, Guess, Pink and Forever 21. The food court offers a variety of lunch and snack shops including BJ's, Mimi's Cafe and Johnny Carino's.
For groceries, sundries and more, head to O'Brien's Market. Here you will find USDA meats and poultry, fresh fruits and veggies, canned and packaged goods, a bakery department and a full deli. O'Brien's also sells specialty items you might not see in other local supermarkets, such as ethnic ingredients. This family-owned market is situated on Dale Road, south of Pelandale Avenue in northwest Modesto.
Ladies looking for classic clothing know to head to the Eve & Me boutique. Here you will find the right skirts, jackets, cardigans and accessories to put together a timeless, non-trendy outfit. Eve & Me sits on McHenry Avenue, south of Briggsmore.
Nonchalant Casual presents a chic, affordable selection of tops, tanks, tees and jeans in sizes to fit all fashion-forward shoppers. Nonchalant Casual opens its doors each day on Oakdale Road, south of Floyd Avenue.
Modesto Farmers Market sets up on Thursdays and Saturdays near the downtown library. Browse an array of vendors who feature in-season fruits, vegetables and nuts. Local honey producers and fresh bakeries are represented here, too. Shop from 7 am to 1 pm and say hello to the local farmers who grow your favorite ingredients.
Freedom Neighborhood Park provides northwest residents picnic tables, barbecues, playgrounds, grassy areas, clean bathrooms, shady gazebos and in-ground splash fountains for the kids.
Dry Creek Regional Park surrounds a number of tennis and basketball courts, outdoor play areas for people, dog-friendly
zones and trails for biking and walking too. If you enjoy Frisbee golf, Dry Creek Park's the place to do it. This free neighborhood park sits on Scenic Drive between El Vista and Rose.
BarkleyVille Dog Park on Feather River Drive offers separate fenced doggie play areas for large and small pooches, water bowls and plenty of baggie stations. It's one of the few off-leash dog parks in the Modesto-Stockton area. The park offers ample off-street parking and free admission.
The Modesto Film Society presents a ten-month season of classic and contemporary movie and independent film viewings at the venerable State Theater on J Street. Admission to see movies like the timeless Casablanca is $8 to the public, or $5 for film society members.