Originally published September 7, 2012 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
It’s a distinct pleasure to show someone from out of town the treasures of our county. The beach, the weather, the redwoods, lunch at Charlie Hong Kong—what’s not to like? On top of that, our museums, galleries, downtown, and schools are fiercely dedicated to giving us endless opportunities for learning and making. But, there are exciting things happening over the hill too, in some not-so-far-away locations. The still warm days of September and early October might be the perfect time to extend that summer vacation feeling by getting away from home for a perfect weekend combination of good food, exploration and crafting. Here are my suggestions for three destinations and your itinerary for the perfect day:
Driving time: 49 minutes from Santa Cruz
Classes: Lapidary, beading, stained glass, quilting, sewing
Eats: Vertigo Coffee, JJ’s Homemade Burgers
Special events: Cactus & Succulent Show, Sat. & Sun., Sept. 15-16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., courtyard of Jardines Restaurant, 115 Third Street, free
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Summer Outdoor Movies on the Plaza Lawn, Sat., Sept. 29, sunset (8 – 8:30 p.m.), free, www.sanjuanbautistaca.com
Perfect day trip:
Start the morning with a cup of Old San Juan blend and a pastry at Vertigo Coffee, an artisanal microroastery named after that famous Hitchcock movie filmed at the mission. Walk down to Washington Street, and stroll through the amazing cactus and flower garden in the courtyard behind Jardines Restaurant (on Sept. 15-16, you can also see the Cactus and Succulent Show). Within a few blocks, learn to use the rentable longarm quilting machine at The Last Stitch in their 2-hour class; or take Lapidary 101 at Tops A Rock Shop; or learn to sew or quilt at Family Threads Quilt Shoppe. A little ways out of town, buy organic local fruits and vegetables at Pinnacle Saturday Farmstand on Duncan Avenue before they close at 1 p.m.
Return to town for a jalapeno burger and garlic fries, with friendly chickens patrolling the outdoor patio at JJ’s Homemade Burgers. Window shop along Third Street, but don’t miss the unexpected finds like barber chairs and pinball machines at Fat Willy’s Antiques on Fourth Street, the most eccentric of San Juan’s numerous antique shops. Head for the Historic State Park Plaza on Second Street, and experience the awe-inspiring dignity, quiet and beauty of San Juan Bautista Mission, dedicated 200 years ago in 1812. Search for paw-printed tiles on the mission floor and the grave marker for Maria Antonio Castro McDougall, the widow of Juan Anzar, who once owned vast land grants in the area. Finish the day with a winding drive through San Juan Canyon to the top of 3,169-foot Fremont Peak. Hike a short distance to the spot where Captain John C. Frémont planted an American flag in 1846 to begin his fight for ownership of the Mexican province of Alta California, and, if it’s clear, to watch an orangey sun dip into the Monterey Bay. (Or see “Vertigo” on the Plaza Lawn at sunset, Sat., Sept. 29.)
Vertigo Coffee, 81 Fourth Street, (831) 623-9533, Sat & Sun 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., www.vertigocoffee.com
Tops a Rock Shop, 209 Third Street, (831) 623-4441, Sat & Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., see www.topsarockshop.com for a calendar of classes
The Last Stitch, 107 B The Alameda, (831) 623-4330, www.laststitchquiltingdesignstudio.com
Family Threads Quilt Shoppe, 107 D The Alameda, (831) 623-0200, Sat only 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., see www.familythreads.org for calendar of classes
Pinnacle Saturday Farmstand, 400 Duncan Avenue, (831) 623-9422, Sat only 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., www.pinnacleorganic.com
Fat Willy’s Antiques, 603 Fourth Street, (831) 801-7375, Sat & Sun 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Old Mission San Juan Bautista, Second Street, (831) 623-4528, Sat & Sun 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., www.oldmissionsjb.org
Fremont Peak State Park, end of San Juan Canyon Road, (831) 623-4255, 8 a.m. to sunset , http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=564 (www.fpoa.net for Fremont Peak Observatory info)
Destination: San Martin/Morgan Hill
Driving time: 58 minutes from Santa Cruz
Classes: Gourd crafts
Eats: Ladera Grill
Special event: Calabash Gourd Festival, Sat. and Sun., Oct. 6-7, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Uesugi Farms Pumpkin Park, $3 parking fee, www.calabashclub.org/festival2012.html
Start the day with a warm apple cinnamon bagel and coffee at Daily Bagel Café at Tennant Station in Morgan Hill. Head south on 101 to find the Wings of History Air Museum tucked behind the San Martin Airport, where you can see a full-sized replica of the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer and other historic planes. Further south, on Fitzgerald Avenue, find locally grown produce at LJB Farms, including the most perfect peaches you’ll ever see from Andy’s Orchard. Drive north on Monterey Road until you see the giant pyramid of pumpkins at Uesugi Farms Pumpkin Park. Stroll through acres of orange, wander through the corn maze, take a hayride or a loop on the Pumpkinville Train, and attend the first ever Calabash Gourd Festival (Oct. 6-7), sponsored by the Calabash Club of Silicon Valley. Get inspiration from the displays of gourd art, then take a half-day gourd craft class to make gourd jewelry, masks, ornaments, or bowls (register in advance on the website). Gourd-craft activities for children, dried gourds and crafting supplies will also be available.
Grab a quick lunch at the festival, or, for more a more elegant dining experience, enjoy tortilla-crusted tilapia or smoked salmon linguini at a sidewalk table at Ladera Grill in downtown Morgan Hill. After lunch, if you call ahead, you can visit the unusual SK Topiary on Santa Teresa Blvd., where you can purchase wire frames (also good for mosaicing) and topiaries of all shapes and sizes, including dolphins, giraffes, cats, dogs and golfers. Then, sip wine on the Grande Terrace overlooking the lovely vineyards at Clos LaChance Winery. Continue south on scenic Watsonville Road for more wine tasting, or stop at Uvas Reservoir to hike over the dam and spillway to a trail overlooking the water where an occasional male tarantula will cross your path in search of a mate. Drive back home through the redwoods on highway 152, stopping at the top of Mt. Madonna for a great view of the Monterey Bay and if you’re lucky, a lovely sunset.
Daily Bagel Café, 614 Tennant Station, Morgan Hill, (408) 779-3933, Sat & Sun 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
LJB Farms, 585 Fitzgerald Avenue, San Martin, (408) 842-9755, Sat & Sun 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., www.ljbfarms.com
Wings of History Air Museum, 12777 Murphy Avenue, San Martin, 408-683-2290, Sat & Sun 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., www.wingsofhistory.org
Uesugi Farms Pumpkin Park, 14485 Monterey Road, San Martin, (408) 78-7225, Sat & Sun 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., http://www.uesugifarms.com
Ladera Grill, corner of Monterey Road and Third Street, Morgan Hill, (408) 201-9200, Sat & Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., www.laderagrill.com
SK Topiary, 13235 Santa Teresa Blvd., San Martin, (408) 686-1918, Sat & Sun 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., www.sktopiary.com, call for appointment
Clos LaChance Winery, 1 Hummingbird Lane, San Martin, (800) 487-9463, check calendar for hours of operation of tasting room
Uvas Reservoir, 14200 Uvas Road, Morgan Hill, 8 a.m. to sunset
workroom at SFCB offers plenty of space for workshops and a gallery with
handmade book-related exhibits. |
(Photo from SFCB website.)
Destination: Potrero Hill, San Francisco
Driving time: 1 hour 27 minutes from Santa Cruz
Eats: Source, A Multi-Dimensional Dining Experience
Special event: Roadworks, a Steamrolling Printing Festival, Saturday, September 22, noon to 5 p.m. on Rhode Island Street between 16th and 17th Streets, free, sfcb.org
Francisco Center of the Book offers over 300|
classes annually in a wide range of topics
related to bookmaking.
(Photo from SFCB website.)
This is also a good opportunity to wander around the Potrero Hill neighborhood and discover a part of San Francisco you may not know well, with amazing home décor and antique stores, funky eateries like Source, “A Multi-Dimensional Diving Experience” and the California Culinary Academy.
San Francisco Center for the Book, 300 De Haro Street #334 San Francisco, (415) 565-0545, Sat. noon to 4 p.m., sfcb.org for catalog of classes
Source (restaurant), 11 Division Street at Deharo, San Francisco, (415) 864-9000, Sat & Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.