Hollister, CA



Hollister is not your typical tourist attraction. For one thing, they don’t serve food. The shopping is great if one is looking for trendy southern California clothing. The sights are limited to absurdly fit mannequins and blown-up photos of young models. There is not much to do except browse the latest fashions.

Hollister, CA, is not your typical tourist attraction either. It is a mainly agricultural town of over 30,000 people, and serves as the county seat San Benito County in the central valley. It is a city with wide streets and strip malls. There isn’t much for a tourist to do.

It’s a different story just outside of the city however. A few miles north of the town, celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Casa de Fruta fruit stand is now Casa de Empire. Conveniently located at the intersection of two county highways, it became a convenient watering hole for weary travelers. The orchards and nut trees of the farm supply the refreshments to this day. It soon expanded to Casa de Diesel, Casa de Restaurant, and so on. Casa de Sweets and Casa de Zoo has made it a must stop for kids while Casa de Wine and Casa de Coffee makes visiting essential for older kids. As for their latest addition, Casa de Burrito, well, you get the idea.

In the other direction, Pinnacles National Park offers a completely different experience. Born 23 million years ago after an ancient volcano erupted, it is now a rock climber’s delight with its many crags and peaks. The hot and dry conditions that reached over 100°F were interrupted by frequent caves one had to walk through. A short hike later, one came to a reservoir where many dragonflies of different colors chased each other in circles.

The best part, after a long hike, is returning to the campsite to chilled, sparkling pomegranate wine. It is snacking on a variety of dried fruit – kiwi, papaya, strawberry-flavored pineapple, nectarines and apricots. It is munching on six different flavors of roasted pistachios. It is chilling at the campsite pool. It is sleeping under the stars.

Now that’s a tourist attraction.

S.J. Russell

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