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Songs and schnitzel at the opera house, tubing on the kings...in and around Reedley.

Songs and schnitzel at the opera house, tubing on the Kings . . . in and around Reedley

One way of telling whether a town has held its own against the 1980s is to see whether its municipal water tower remains the tallest object on the skyline. In Reedley, California, the answer is yes, doubled. Twin silver cylinders loom above a summer canopy of thickly leafed trees. "Don't worry about directions coming here,' one native advised. "Just keep your eyes on the towers.'

Reedley, a 13,000-person town 20 miles southeast of Fresno, has a charm that can best be called sleepy. But there's more to do than you'd suspect. If you're driving State Highway 99 or are on your way to Sequoia or Kings Canyon, it's a good stop.

To get there from State 99, drive east 10 miles on Manning Avenue. (If you're driving to or from Sequoia National Park on State 180, turn south on Reed Avenue and drive 8 miles.)

Songs and schnitzel at the Opera House

At the foot of the water towers--at 1720 10th Street--stands the Reedley Opera House. Built in 1903 by Danish sea captain Jesse Jensen, it served as music hall, gymnasium, and even church.

Last year it was restored as the Opera House Restaurant, whose specialties are German dishes that honor the Mennonites who helped settle the town, and musical entertainment. Dinner and brunch shows range from Gilbert and Sullivan to jazz to occasional grand opera. Restaurant hours: 5:30 to 9 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. for Sunday brunch. For reservations, call (209) 638-1900.

Next door, at 1752 10th Street, stands the Reedley Historical Museum, open Sundays from 1 to 3 P.M. and Tuesdays from 9 to 11 A.M. It holds a collection of Yokut Indian baskets and relics of Reedley's early farming days. Admission is 50 cents.

Around the corner runs Reedley's main drag, G Street, lined with substantial buildings from the early 1900s. One unexpected local business is the Mennonite Gift 'N Nearly New Shop at 1010 G Street. Mennonite missionaries from around the world have sent native arts and crafts to this store, with sales benefitting the missionary program. You'll find an array of crafts from South America, Asia, and Africa. The store is open 9:30 to 5 Mondays through Saturdays.

Two riverside parks

If you'd like to go someplace that's watercooled, the Kings River in Reedley gives you two good choices. To get to Reedley Beach City Park, take Reed Avenue south to W. Olson Avenue, go right and cross the bridge, then turn left into the park.

You'll probably see inner-tubers and canoeists using the beach as ending point for float trips. The Kings River upstream offers calm water, and boats are held to a 5-mph speed limit. (Downstream is reserved for water-skiers and powerboats.)

Many river floaters start at the Manning Avenue bridge, which you cross on your way into town from State 99. You can put in just south of the bridge at Kelly's Beach Resort, which offers tube and canoe sales, picnic tables, campsites, a restaurant, and grocery store. Day use is $2.25 per person; campsites cost $3.50. Restaurant hours are 11 A.M. to midnight. For information, call (209) 638-3522.

From Kelly's, it's a 45-minute float to Reedley Beach.

Photo: The Kings River flows gently at Reedley Beach, favored point to leave inner tube for picnic table

Photo: Reedley Opera House was built by Danish sea captain in 1903. Eighty-three years later, it again entertains with music and dinners

Photo: Reedley lies 20 miles southeast of Fresno, 50 miles from Sequoia and Kings Canyon
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1986
Words:612
Previous Article:Valley history and shade just off Interstate 5.
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