Built in 1883 by Robert McHenry, a prominent local rancher/banker, the McHenry Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1923 it was converted into apartments and remained that way until 1976 when the Julio R. Gallo Foundation purchased it. The Mansion was then donated to the City of Modesto and was refurbished and decorated with antiques appropriate to the period (1883-1896) that Robert and his wife, Matilda, lived there. Today the Mansion is one of Modesto’s favorite tourist attractions. Mansion and gift shop hours Sunday – Thursday, 1 - 4pm; Friday, noon – 3pm. The Mansion is also available for private group functions. Admission is free.
Only a block away from the McHenry Mansion, the McHenry Museum is home to many historical artifacts from the early days of Stanislaus County and the City of Modesto. Originally the city library, the building was given to the city of Modesto in 1912 by the McHenry family and later turned into the museum you see today. Many of the museums exhibits are changed regularly so there is always something new to see. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open to the public, Tuesday – Sunday, noon to 4 pm. Group tours and private functions are available. Admission is free.
The Great Valley Museum of Natural History brings you the wonders of science and nature. See, Touch, and Experience the past and present through a variety of animals, plants and cultural artifacts from the valley and around the world. Exhibits include Habitats of the Central Valley, Animals of the World, Your Backyard and many other ever-changing exhibits. Located at Modesto Junior College, 1100 Stoddard Avenue. Open to the public Tuesday thru Friday 12 Noon – 4:30 pm and Saturday’s from 10 am – 4 pm. Admission is $1.00 per person or $3.00 per family, 6 and under free. Closed in August.
The aircraft and memorabilia displayed at the Castle Air Museum are as much a part of American heritage as Independence Hall and the Battlefield at Gettysburg. You will see the B-25, the B-24 Liberator and the B-29. Many other examples of U.S. Military aircraft are also on display. The Castle Air Force Base and Museum are located in Atwater just 20 minutes south of Modesto on Hwy. 99. The museum is open everyday but Thursday’s and major holidays. Hours of operation are from 9:00 am – 5:00pm, May 1 thru September 30 and October 1 thru April 30, 10:00am – 4:00pm. Admission is $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children and seniors and free for children under 7 years of age.
If it is art you are looking for, Modesto is home to several unique galleries.
Many of these galleries participate in a gallery walk on the third Thursday of each month giving you the opportunity to see the latest works from local artists.
During your stay in Modesto, all five of your senses will be working overtime. Hear finely tuned brass, wind, and percussion instruments blending in harmonious perfection at the Modesto Symphony. For more than seventy years the symphony has been entertaining locals and visitors with their performances.
The Central West Ballet presents three productions each season. The Nutcracker is the largest of Central West’s productions with over 130 cast members. In early spring, the CWB presents a repertory concert entitled Arts in Harmony, which features the ballet company with special guest artists. Ballet along with modern, jazz and contemporary dance forms, contribute to an exciting, well-rounded evening of dance and the arts.
Opera lives in the valley through the Townsend Opera Players. Presenting four thrilling productions a year, the TOP, offer something for everyone. For newcomers to opera this is an amazing introduction to live opera and musical theater, for the musical connoisseur, you will be amazed by the TOP experience.
Each year the YES Company (Youth Entertainment Stage Company) brings full-scale musical productions to the stage. Children ages twelve through eighteen create set’s, make costumes and perform in this after school and summer program.
Feel the lush green grass as you kick back and enjoy an outdoor concert at Mancini Bowl in Graceada Park. Each summer the local favorite MoBand, takes the stage at Mancini for a series of family friendly concerts.
Modesto’s historic State Theatre, which opened on December 25, 1934, is now a recognized Landmark Preservation Site by the City of Modesto. This beautiful Art Deco Style Theater now plays host to a variety of live concerts and productions, as well as cutting edge independent films. Recent performers to play The State include Grammy Award Winning Artist Willy Nelson, Jazz favorite’s Acoustic Alchemy, Chris Isaak and many others. With only 580 seats, this intimate theater is a great place to see your favorite artist in a very personal setting. For more information call (209) 527-4697 or visit their website at www.thestate.org
The Fat Cat Music House and Lounge is a beautiful 30’s era music house featuring live music, comedy, and disco bands. Dance the night away or enjoy a quiet drink in front of the fire, this club has something for everyone.
Downtown Modesto is home to the Gallo Center for the Arts. This 84,000-square foot performing arts venue features two theaters, one accommodating 1,250 patrons and the other 440. Opened in 2007, the Gallo Center is an outstanding community asset, setting a new standard for the arts, arts education and world-class entertainment in the Central Valley. Local and regional artists are able to perform shows of a style, size and quality never deemed possible in the past. Top name artists from around the globe perform for audiences from Stanislaus County and nearby communities. The Center is home to six resident companies: Modesto Community Concert Association, Modesto Performing Arts, Modesto Symphony Orchestra Association, Townsend Opera, Central West Ballet and YES Company, and serves as a resource for other local arts organizations, as well. The Modesto arts scene bursts with high-profile energy all year long. It’s easy to find top-notch entertainment, art and culture fitted to each personal taste.