Fallbrook: The Somewhat Secret Avocado-Clad Gem
Today, the landscape dotted with oak and olive trees, Fallbrook remains somewhat of a hidden spot in San Diego—a quaint storybook place where life moves at a slower pace and specialties like local peach desserts and Avocado Blossom Honey Saison are savored.
As you journey along on your Fallbrook day trip, keep your eyes open for roadside farm stands where you can pick up a box of colorfully assorted produce to take home.
Begin the day on the outskirts of Fallbrook at SD Golden Hop Farm where the apple and pear aroma of the Calypso hops and the fruity flavors of the Citra hops will envelop your senses. Farmers Gary and Corie Johndro moved to the area from Santa Barbara and have created an architectural wonder where low and high trellises filled with budding hops sway in the breeze as you stroll about. They have provided hops for Ballast Point and Stone Brewing and host Sunday picking parties during the harvest. If you’ve never seen a hop farm, it’s indeed a sight to behold.
Venture on to Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens & Nursery, a whimsical spot that sits beneath the shade of oak trees, blooming flowers, and shrubbery. Set aside time to saunter about, greet the goats, tour the Wild Bird Sanctuary and the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden. Visit the Farmhouse gift shop for a bag of artisan crafted goods and some seeds for plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Stop for a rest on the patio of Café Bloom, where you can enjoy a farm fresh organic lunch made with locally-grown ingredients and a sublime slice of myrtle berry pie for dessert. Pair it with their myrtle berry lemonade made with myrtle berries, blueberries, boysenberries, and raspberries for an added treat. Walk off your pie at the nearby Live Oak Park, home to a 27 acre canopy of massive oak trees.
Next, make your way to Fallbrook Winery, where the remnants of what was once an avocado farm still linger with trees and tables set beneath them. Today, it’s an expansive 36 acre vineyard offering tastings of everything from Rosato Rosé of Sangiovese to smooth Malbec. Often led by the winemakers themselves, these tastings provide a uniquely intimate learning experience. With cool ocean breezes and 264 days of sunshine, Fallbrook Winery’s artfully crafted wines bring the essence of the grapes to the forefront of your lips.
When you get to the heart of the village, snag an iced coconut coffee and a freshly baked scone from Fallbrook Coffee Company, a company that donates its net proceeds back to the community in impactful ways. If you’re craving something on the savory side, grab a bowl of guacamole made with famous Fallbrook avocados at La Caseta, a village staple for almost 35 years. Check out the schedule at Fallbrook School of the Arts and partake in an afternoon workshop. Housed in a former train depot, the school offers a wide selection of classes for adults and kids alike—from ceramics and printmaking to sculpture and welding. Visit Brandon Gallery, a professional artists’ cooperative that was founded on Brandon Street in 1977 and the Fallbrook Art Center, a visual arts center that hosts a variety of rotating exhibitions.
Pay Fallbrook Brewing Company a visit next, nestled in the heart of downtown and bustling with the liveliness of locals. Plan to be there for social hour when you can enjoy $4 pints of creative options like Calavo Cream Ale, Wilt Road Wit (made with local passion fruit), and Pretty Fly For No Rye (made with local tangelo zest and avocado honey). Owner Chuck McLaughlin is loved by his patrons. His wife, Jamie, has decorated the walls with thrift store paintings that she jazzes up in her own quirky ways (don’t miss the bathroom treasures). Expect a friendly place, where rescued dogs wander in and out, and folks gather for a ukulele forum hosted on the 4th Thursday of the month.
For dinner, visit Oink and Moo Burgers and BBQ, a funky joint run by husband and wife team Jonathan and Jennifer Arbel, just down the road from Fallbrook Brewing Company. It’s known for specialty burgers made with hand ground chuck steak and brisket, racks of melt-in-your-mouth ribs, BBQ pork lettuce cups topped with honey roasted nuts, homemade mac and cheese fritters wrapped in bacon, and local ingredient driven treats. The Peaches and Cream is made with fresh peaches straight from the trees at Promacks Farm. The atmosphere itself is a blast from the past, where families pile in for birthday gatherings while sipping wine spritzers, eclectic brews, and homemade lemonade made with local lemons. Come hungry and be sure to try the scratch buttermilk biscuits drizzled with local honey and maple syrup, the creamy, crisp Oinken Slaw and the bourbon baked pork beans. The added bonus? If you’d like, you can even ask for a pig nose to throw on while you pig out.
As you bid Fallbrook farewell, you’ll be left with a lasting feeling of a friendly place and memories of a day well spent.