What can I say about Casa de Fruta? We went there on a whim, because we see their signs every time we drive South on 101 to Monterey. It’s 10 miles off of 101 on highway 152, between 101 and I-5. The drive there through the farmlands is really nice, though the traffic can be bad at times. You pass many fruit stands and crop fields on your way to the mother-of-all fruit stands.
Started by an Italian family over a hundred years ago, Casa de Fruta has grown into a destination of it’s own, with everything Casa de…there’s Casa de Fruta, Casa de Wine, Casa de Ice Cream, Casa de Cafe, Casa de Inn, Casa de…well, you get the idea. It’s very well-maintained and there is always a crowd. We enjoyed choosing fresh fruit and vegetables each day.
They also have a nice park with a carousel and train.
The RV park has over 300 spaces and families come back year after year. The space are mostly pull-through and the sites face each other, so if you arrive with friends or family, you have the space between your RV’s for your group. We stayed at the end of an aisle and had a large site with a fire pit. The mood was festive with families gathering over the holiday weekend and lots of kids playing together.
OK, here’s an interesting way to make a statement…
Most of the park was full, so apparently many people like to camp this way. However, it’s really just not our cup of tea. We found there to be way too much asphalt in the RV park (Lucy was mortified at the lack of grass. :-), thought the sites were too close together, and besides visiting the shops, there just wasn’t much else to do.
We tried driving to Monterey, but the traffic was so bad, we ended up having lunch in Gilroy and instead visited a mission on the way back to our campsite.
Mission San Juan Bautista is a few miles off of Highway 101 on 156 (which also runs into 152 and Casa de Fruta). It is a beautiful mission that is still a Catholic church, and it was very peaceful and relaxing to walk through the church and gardens.
As an added bonus, the town square in front of the mission and the surrounding buildings are a State Historic Park.
There is a hotel, which originally housed the soldiers protecting the mission, a livery, and other buildings. An interesting fact we learned was that a survivor of the Donner party, the Breen family, settled here, buying an adobe on the square owned at the time by the Commandant General of Alta California and lived there until 1935.
We enjoyed the visit, which rescued the day’s outing and proved to be interesting and educational. Many times on our trips, it’s the serendipitous finds that make the day.
Anyway, we made it back to camp, and grilled salmon for dinner and enjoyed the great produce of Casa de Fruta. While we won’t be back again, hundreds of families make it a destination each year.
If you’d like more info on Casa de Fruit, here’s a short video from See Grins that provides all the details.
Al & Deb
Recently visited small quaint mission in Salinas. 9 wineries nearby, very impressive. Stay at Yank’s RV. In Salinas. A 10/10/10 campground.
Thanks for the tip!
As a teenager my family would camp there often as we lived in San Jose. Fond memories, although likely skewed by my age. As an adult I found Casa de Fruta didn’t hold the same allure. It’s worthy of a visit on occasion (and only if driving past) but I doubt we’d stay there either. Thanks for the mission info too. Went to the mission in my youth on a school field trip but I didn’t know some of the interesting things you wrote about.
Rene, thanks for your comment. After talking to folks who continue to enjoy their visits there, our timing over a holiday weekend could have had something to do with it. Take care!