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'Tis the Season for Subterranean Strolls

The Forestiere Underground Gardens and Sactown Underground make annual debuts.

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GO BELOW: It won't be a spoiler or anything to reveal this, so here it goes... whatever is beneath our feet tends to be beneath our feet regardless of season, weather, change or time of year. The land upon we stand doesn't take a hike each winter, given that the ground, save seismological events stays fairly constant. But subterranean spaces created by humans? Those are rather more dependent on the calendar, given that damper, cooler days can make for less-than-optimal walks below. Which means when spring comes a-callin', two of the Golden State's best-known below-the-ground spots open their doors -- or, um, ceilings? -- to welcome curious lookie-loos.

FORESTIERE UNDERGROUND GARDENS: It's a twisty, rock-bedecked labyrinth in Fresno, with trees and leafy shrubs dotting its more open spaces and an interesting, man-on-a-singular-mission history. (That man would, of course, be Baldassare Forestiere, who built his tucked-under-the-surface abode over four decades starting in 1906.) The shadowy space shutters come winter, but oh, summertime. It's a fine place to be when things are heating up, because the gardens stay plenty cool. The quirky destination opened for weekends in early March, while the Wednesday to Sunday schedule kicks off in April (and wraps in October).

OLD SACRAMENTO: Our capital's rough-and-scrabble historic outpost, once the fabled terminus of the Pony Express and play place of Gold-Rush-ers on break from the whole getting-rich-quick thing, has an underground that boasts a bevy of tales from long ago. Costumed guides tell the tales -- including some catered strictly to the grown-up set, on specialized tours -- over hour-long walks. Intrigued, subterraneania buff? They start up for the season on Saturday, April 5.

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