Visalia was founded in 1852 and grew relatively quickly in its early years. Settlers were attracted by its convenient location. The tall trees and the creeks and streams that branched off the nearby Kaweah River provided shade and plenty of irrigation. In the year after its establishment, Visalia was appointed the county seat of Tulare. As the decade progressed, visitor traffic through Visalia increased. From miners looking for gold in Kern River, and the establishment of a stagecoach stop in town, many of these visitors fell in love with the community and would return to build their lives here.
Two local museums are dedicated to maintaining the histories of Tulare County and Visalia. Tulare County Mooney Grove Museum has the county's largest collection of historic items, including Native American and pioneer memorabilia. The Tule River Historical Society Museum collects artifacts from the cattle ranching and mining days of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Between the national parks and the recreational area at Kaweah Lake, Visalia's residents have many opportunities to hike, explore, fish, swim or just relax in a serene natural environment. The Kaweah Lake grounds, about 20 miles east of Visalia, feature a marina, campground, picnic facilities and hiking trails, as well as a lake stocked with fish. The Sequoia and Kings Canyon area is known for its enormous trees, striking mountain peaks and deep gorges. About 1.5 million visitors come to Sequoia and Kings Canyon each year to explore more than 860,000 acres of stunning natural beauty.
Visalia's climate can best be described as moderate: not too hot, not too cold and not too wet. Visalia averages about 11 inches of rain per year, making it somewhat dry even by California standards. Visalia also has more than its share of California sunshine, with a year-round average approaching 80%. Temperatures range from highs in the mid-90s in July and August to lows in the high-30s in December and January.
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