Local Area Attractions
Forebay Golf Course
Have fun at the Forebay golfcourse, Restaurant and lounge.
San Luis Reservoir and O'Neil Forebay
Activities include fishing, boating, windsurfing and waterskiing
Los Banos Creek Reservoir
San Luis and Merced National Wildlife Refuges
The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 26,800 acres of wetlands, riparian forests, native grasslands, and vernal pools. A thriving population of the endemic tule elk is showcased by one of three auto tour routes. The Refuge is host to significant assemblages of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and plants; some of which, such as the California tiger salamander, the long-horned fairy shrimp, and San Joaquin kit fox, are endangered species.
In 1966, the first parcel of the Refuge was purchased with Federal Duck Stamp funds to provide a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl. Over the years the Refuge has steadily grown in size and today it is comprised of six contiguous units: San Luis, East Bear Creek, West Bear Creek, Freitas, Blue Goose, and Kesterson. The San Joaquin River bisects the eastern portion of the Refuge.
The Refuge is a major wintering ground and migratory stopover point for large concentrations of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other waterbirds. Large flocks of green-winged teal, northern shoveler, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, cinnamon teal, northern pintail, ring-necked duck, canvasback, ruddy duck, and snow, Ross, and white-fronted geese swarm over the mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands that comprise a quarter of the Refuge. Waterfowl generally remain until late March before beginning their journey north to breeding areas. However, some mallard, gadwall, and cinnamon teal stay, breed, and raise young on the Refuge.
Shorebirds including sandpipers and plovers can be found in the tens of thousands from autumn through spring. Large flocks of dunlin, long-billed dowitchers, least sandpipers, and western sandpipers can be seen feeding in shallow seasonal wetlands, whereas flocks of long-billed curlews are found using both wetlands and grasslands. More than 25 species of shorebirds have been documented at the San Luis NWR.
The San Luis NWR has played a key role in the recovery of the tule elk, a non-migratory elk subspecies found only in California. Prior to the mid-1800s, an estimated 500,000 tule elk lived in California. Due to over-hunting and loss of natural habitat, they were driven nearly to extinction by the turn of the twentieth century by some accounts, the population was reduced to as few as 20-30 individuals. In 1974 a herd of 18 animals was established in a large enclosure at the San Luis NWR and has since thrived.
Elk from this herd are periodically relocated to join other tule elk herds, or establish new ones, throughout California. A true wildlife recovery success story, the statewide tule elk population has recovered to more than 4,000 animals.
Less well-known are the extensive upland habitats found on the Refuge. Many of these habitats are characterized by saline and alkaline conditions in conjunction with low rainfall and an arid climate that characterize the San Joaquin Valley. These habitats support a rich botanical community of native bunchgrasses, native and exotic annual grasses, forbs, and native shrubs. Trees, such as the valley oak, cottonwood, and willow are found along riparian corridors. In these areas, visitors might encounter coyotes, desert cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, western meadowlarks, yellow-billed magpies, and loggerhead shrikes, as well as northern harriers, white-tailed kites, and other raptors coursing over the vegetation. Stately great blue herons, great egrets, and white-faced ibis are frequently sighted throughout the Refuge.
The Refuge contains the Complexs Visitor Center and Headquarters, which features an exhibit hall with interactive educational exhibits about wildlife and habitats and a classroom for conducting environmental education fieldtrips for visiting schools. The Visitor Center is open daily.
The Refuge has three auto tour routes with associated nature trails and observation platforms from which the public can view and photograph wildlife and nature. The Refuge also allows fishing at designated sites and has a large waterfowl hunting program.
Activities include fishing, bicycling and jogging trails
Local Area EventsListing Calendar
Merced County Spring Fair
Great event. Lots of fun, great food and booths. Nice parade also.
Gilroy Garlic Festival | July 26, 27 & 28
The great garlic granddaddy of all food festivalsThe Gilroy Garlic Festival is known around the world as the Ultimate Summer Food Fair. Visitors enjoy three days of incredible food, beverages, arts and crafts, and live entertainmentall while consuming lots and lots of garlic (about 2 tons every year).The heart of the Festival is Gourmet Alley, where the famous Pyro Chefs cook up sizzling scampi and calamari while other behind-the-scenes volunteers prepare longtime favorites like peppersteak sandwiches, pasta con pesto, and stuffed mushrooms, and garlic bread.Festival visitors enjoy live entertainment on three stages, plus celebrity chef demonstrations and the Great Garlic Cook-Off. There are also a wide range of other food booths, beer and wine tasting, arts & crafts, and a fun childrens area.Have you ever tasted garlic ice cream? Pickled sweet garlic? Garlic fries? No? Garlic-infused goodies are delicious.35 min.drive.
Los Banos Chamber of Commerce Fall Street Faire
We hold one in the spring and one in the fall. They are looked forward to by vendors and our community alike. It is a wonderful opportunity to show visitors and to remind people who live in our town, how great our downtown really is.
It gives vendors a chance to show their wares and people to buy that exact item they were looking for. There is plenty of food and fun for grown -ups and little ones.
Our train ride is an institution!!! Its a fun way to keep the kids smiling and busy. We also offer live demonstrations such as dance performances, karate, and the favorite of many, KARAOKE!!!
Each year we try and add something a little different to keep everyone guessing. Besides showing off our vintage downtown, this event is also a fundraiser for the Chamber to help us keep our services going to assist all businesses within our community with growing their organizations.
Los Banos Tomato Festival's
All Good Things Tomato, on October 5th and 6th 2013. This celebration was originally held from 1990 to 1997 and brought thousands of festival-goers to the Los Banos Fairgrounds. This years festival will be bigger than ever and will feature celebrity chef appearances, Bloody Marys, salsa and pasta sauce contests, as well as fair foods including healthy and tomato-heavy recipes. Local performers as well as professional musicians and entertainers will perform on the fairground's stages. Many children's activities will be available for the young.