San Benito County Garden Getaway


A Central California Spring Garden Getaway in San Benito County
By Lisa D. Smith & Nancy J. Reid

Whether you love to stop and smell the roses with a little wine tasting on the side, or delight in getting out into nature to soak up the sunshine as you hike amongst spring wildflowers, scenic San Benito County is the spring destination for you!

Just a couple hours east of San Francisco and less than five hours north of Los Angeles, San Benito County is the eastern gateway to Pinnacles National Park. It’s rising in popularity as a destination that offers a variety of outdoor activities, a wonderful wine tasting trail, a delicious selection of dining opportunities, boutique shopping, historic parks and museums, and fun events. A place where history and nature meets, and home to an eclectic collection of small businesses and a sustainable farming community, San Benito County is a ‘True California’ experience.

  • Casa de Fruta
    Casa de Fruta

Flowers, Roses & History
Where there’s an old mission, you can pretty much guarantee that there’s wine and roses in the vicinity. Known as “The City of History,” San Juan Bautista is a charming historic village surrounded by organic farms and vineyards, and home to the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, the Old Mission San Juan Bautista, Fremont Peak State Park, and the De Anza Hiking Trail. Take a walking tour to see the 30 historic buildings that surround the Spanish Plaza – many of them have historic gardens.

The fifteenth and largest mission church in California, the Old Mission San Juan Bautista was built in 1797. The site where the old movie ‘Vertigo’ was filmed, the Old Mission has a gorgeous rose garden with a statue of Father Junipero Serra near the entrance to the graveyard, and a statue of an Indian stretching his arms up to heaven. Across from the Old Mission, the Zanetta House/Plaza Hall (built in 1868), has a vibrant historic garden with a beautiful collection of antique roses and a diverse selection of plants and flowers. When you’ve worked up an appetite, stop by for lunch at Jardines de San Juan, a fantastic restaurant known for its delicious Mexican fare and beautiful gardens.

The historic city of Hollister, the county seat, is just a 15 minute scenic drive east of San Juan Bautista. The historic downtown makes for a delightful stroll where you’ll see murals, specialty shops and restaurants. The architecture is fascinating with historic styles that range from Victorian such as the house where ‘East of Eden’ was filmed, to Frank Lloyd Wright or Prairie Style like The Wapple House that houses the San Benito County Historical Society Museum.

San Benito County Historical Park is a historical village on 33 acres just south of Hollister, in the historic ranching community of Tres Pinos. You can tour 10 historic buildings and see a collection of historic homes, vehicles, farm and household implements, plus, a lovely little rose garden with some antique rose varieties. It’s a great place to stop for an afternoon picnic!

Wildflowers, Birds & Butterflies

For flower, bird and butterfly lovers, a visit to Pinnacles National Park is a must. Besides the 600 plus flowering plants, there are oaks, pines, ferns and mosses. Of course, as you examine the wildflowers, you keep an eye out hoping for a glimpse of a California Condor flying overhead. Pinnacles National Park is the only NPS unit that manages a release site for captive bred California condors.

A wonderful spring adventure, the park is of geological significance, and boasts beautiful and diverse habitats that are home to over 140 birds species of birds, 49 mammals, 22 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 71 butterflies, 41 dragonflies and damselflies, over 500 moth species and more than 400 bee species. There are plenty of hiking trails, (32 miles of them), and you can go bird and wildlife watching, caving, rock-climbing, picnicking, camping and star gazing.

Wine, Chocolate & Local Flavors
The San Benito County Wine Trail features a number award-winning wineries. Known for their Pinot Noir, Calera Wine Company has a lovely flower-filled picnic and barbecue area that offers spectacular mountain views. DeRose Vineyards is a National Natural Landmark that is said to be the oldest existing winery in the state of California. Another favorite stop is Casa de Fruta, a century old destination that along with tasting their fruit wines, is a fun place to take the kids and shop for fresh fruits, nuts and produce. For locally inspired culinary gifts like olive oils and chocolate, stop by San Benito Bene in downtown Hollister.

To plan your San Benito County Garden Getaway, and for up-to-date event information, visit

San Benito County Chamber

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