Modesto, the Modest City of California

Modesto, or “Modest” in Spanish, is a small city in California that is often driven by to head north to Yosemite or south to Los Angeles. It is not usually a destination for many travelers for its size and lack of attractions. Not much goes on in Modesto and the town reflects that, residences would drive outside of Modesto to San Francisco, Napa Valley, or Stanislaus National Park for vacation or a night out.

When not much happens in a town, the crime rate is generally higher. It is no surprise that many people nicknamed Modesto as “Molesto” and is largely known for a town of meth addicts.

Regardless of its reputation, people reside in Modesto and call this place home. Many people come to Modesto for cheaper housing and the small town quiet lifestyle. I happened to explore Modesto, among all its charm and mischief, visiting to attend a celebration. You can always find beauty wherever you go, you just have to look and uncover it.


Downtown Modesto, or “DoMo”, is a few blocks of sporadically placed breweries, bars, restaurants, and stores. Here, you can find hang out spots such as Commonwealth and St. Stan’s.


Many people spoke highly about Commonwealth for their beer selection and food options. Here, you can choose between many rotating guest beer options, pizzas, sandwiches, and tacos. There is seating indoor and also outside on the patio if you are looking to soak up the sun while enjoying a cold one. Commonwealth should definitely be at the top of your list.


St. Stan’s is similar to Commonwealth in the sense that this is also a beer bar serving up bar food. What sets them apart is they brew their own beers, with tasting flights available, and cook their pizzas in a wood-fired brick oven. Thursdays have trivia nights. Do not leave without getting a churro donut!

Breweries and beer bars aren’t your scenes? You can find several cocktail bars, such as Ralston’s Goat and The Fox Pub. Hungry? Even better, these bars serve food as well.

For a more specialized dining experience for a date night or to celebrate a special occasion, there are restaurants of different cuisines at various price points to suit your needs. Whether you are looking for Indian, Thai, American BBQ, and Italian, you can find it in the city. There are restaurants for a normal night out or a fancy dinner.

Galletto is on the more upscale side and for a fun added bonus, you can have a quick photoshoot with the exterior.

After a quick drink or a bite to eat, you can take a stroll down the street and into the small shops selling coffee, tea or consignment stores. There are enough stores to spend about an hour on wandering. You just might not know what you can find here.

Not into shopping? Perhaps you can see what’s new in the box office and catch a movie! There are several famous celebrities that grew up in Modesto, so it is fun to see them on the big screen.

There are community events that happen on the weekends, just follow your ears to the loud music to see what they have in store! On the day that I visited DoMo, there was a community event with games, break dancing and music playing. It was truly fun to see the lively people that reside here, rather than it being a ghost town.

Legend of the Cruise

Look down while walking through town and you will see plaques, similar to the Hollywood Stars. Classic cars are a big deal in Modesto. There are annual festivals and showcases of automobiles.

Fun fact, the movie American Graffiti is based off the City of Modesto.

Modesto can have its art and beauty too. There are art murals and displays around town. Just keep your eyes peeled for them!

Of course, I couldn’t leave without looking for a taco truck. Tacos Vallarta is the best taco truck Modesto has to offer. The unassuming taco truck is located next to a run-down tire shop down the street from the main block of DoMo, with a little lady running the business.

First, you order at the window and then after you get your meal, you pay. There are two benches right next to the truck for seating or you can choose to eat in your car. Be patient though, the food takes a while to make.


The tacos are cheap, priced at $1 a taco. The tacos, themselves were better than I had expected for Modesto and could very well be the “Best Tacos in Town” that they so proudly claim.


Driving by and looking out of the car windows at the vast amount of farmland, not many people would expect that Modesto was once the home of the famous George Lucas and Jeremy Renner. Spend a little time in a small town and uncover the history that happened there. There may be more than meets the eye.

5 thoughts on “Modesto, the Modest City of California

  1. Wow! Thanks for this great post! I was a resident of Modesto years ago when I was teaching at Modesto Junior College. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. And I didn’t know Jeremy Renner was from Modesto. He’s one of my favorite actors. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t been back, actually. But I have a close friend who resides there, and we see each other often. There are some really nice areas in Modesto, but like you suggested, some of the other areas seem a bit . . . dodgy.

        Liked by 1 person

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