I guess I am just looking for someplace nice. Probably not fast food. We try to eat healthy so no chain restaurants either.Edited: June 12, 2018, 12:32 am
There are few places for breaks after Fresno.
Oakhurst is one possibility. Depending upon your definition of healthy food The Love Cafe is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant besides the other choices mentioned.
Coarsegold is a small town with a few local restaurants and a casino complex. Probably the restaurant with the closest to a healthier menu would be the Wild Fig Kitchen. There is a small gold rush themed shopping area next to it.
You could also eat in the Tenaya Lodge Restaurant or buy food along your route to eat at the Railroad.
In Fresno, you could consider a stop at Fresno's 300 acre Woodward Park ($5 car entrance fee) adjacent to Highway 41 and the San Joaquin River. Maybe it could be a stop for a picnic style lunch. The park includes a Japanese garden, fishing/duck ponds, several children's play areas, dog park, theaters for Shakespeare in the Park and concerts, frisbee golf, BMX track and more. The trails on the north end of the park allow you to walk along the San Joaquin River where birds and other wildlife can be seen.
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There are several shopping areas near Woodward Park with a variety of restaurants to either sit down or pickup to take to Woodward Park. Most of the casual dining chains and some local restaurants can be found (many new ones are still opening, Lazy Dog Restaurant is currently under construction). You could also try a couple of places across Friant Road from Woodward Park such as Starving Artist Bistro or Fort Blossom Cafe.Edited: June 12, 2018, 3:46 am
When are you planning to leave? From LA to Fresno takes about four hours of driving (assuming no stops or traffic). From Fresno to Oakhurst is about an hour, and Yosemite valley is about an hour past that. Which is basically my way of saying that might be a bit far to wait to have lunch, unless you're leaving very early in the morning.
Unless you want to Google for non-chain restaurants in the farm towns along the 99, I think you're going to have to resign yourself to a chain on this drive. They're going to be what's most plentiful and most convenient to the 99. On the plus side, if you know your options ahead of time, it doesn't have to be completely and utterly unhealthy.
I didn't think about mentioning places south of Fresno, but a few ideas of non-chains or areas to stretch.
Visalia - the city itself is a few miles off 99. The downtown area has a large selection of good, local restaurants. There is also a nice children's museum in the downtown area.
But near Visalia you might simply take the Highway 198 east exit from 99 then take the first exit which is Plaza Drive. There is a large city park with ponds, play areas, along with a dog park if needed, etc. Unfortunately the only food choice near the park would be the restaurant in the adjacent Wyndham Hotel.
Tulare - There is not a convenient eat and play stop. But at the Prosperity Avenue exit is a collection of fast-food places but there are a couple of other restaurants that are a good stop. Fugazzis has a nice menu of choices (I know the Visalia locations better).
Also in Tulare at the Prosperity exit in the outlet shopping center is a Bravo Farms restaurant (no play area) but some good TA reviews
Thanks for all the great advice everyone!!!