One of the many perks about living in Fresno is that we have quick access to many out of town destinations. We can pretty much go 2.5 -3 hours in any direction, and discover something beautiful. I’m pretty familiar with the roads going up to Shaver or Bass Lake, as these were most traveled when I was a kid.
As I got older, I started making some of these trips with friends. That’s when I discovered that there was so much California had to offer! My first year of college was spent up in Redding, and I had to figure out how to get to and from whenever I wanted to come back home. Keep in mind, this was before we all had smart phones or GPS. I had to use a REAL MAP. Sometimes my adventures would take me over to Monterey or San Francisco. Now, if you’re at all familiar with this area, you know that a very popular route to either one of those places is via the 152 (Pacheco Pass).
I first started traveling through Pacheco Pass sometime during elementary school. No, I wasn’t an advanced driver, we just went on a lot of field trips!! 😉 Anyway, if you’ve traveled that road before, you know there are 2 places to stop before hitting Gilroy- Los Banos, and Casa de Fruta.
We love Casa de Fruta. Love. It’s definitely changed over the years, and our family looks forward to making stops there just as much as making it to our final destination.
Casa de Fruta has a little bit of everything. There is a gas station, restaurant (with freshly made pies available), play area for kids, carousel, train, wine, and fruit shop. Of course, it’s all Casa de….. Casa de Wine, Casa de Choo-Choo, Casa de Burrito, Casa de Sweets….You get the idea.
Casa de Fruta started out as a small cherry stand in the 1940’s, although the family planted their first orchard in 1908. The fruits still comes from the family’s farm, as well as from local farms. Okay, not local to us, but from the surrounding farms off Pacheco Pass, so that still counts as local. 😉
Aside from the fruit stand, there are also a few things for the kids to ride. My daughter loves the carousel, and my son loves the train.
(For information about pricing and the attractions, check out the Casa de Amusement section on their webpage.)
We’ve taken the train ride before, and it’s nice because it takes you around the property, to see areas where you can’t really walk. The train goes slowly, and the conductor is very informative.
It seems that just about every time we stop at Casa de Fruta as a family, we stay for a good hour or so. The fruit stand has lots of yummy dried (and fresh) fruit. There are jams and sauces that can be purchased. There are nuts galore.
We spend even more time in Casa de Sweets, because well, we like sweets! Inside you can find chocolate covered fruits, ice cream, and fresh items from the restaurant’s bakery.
Occasionally, if I don’t want to sit down and have a full meal, we walk over to Casa de Wine, and I purchase a deli sandwich. However, you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to. There is a lot of space to just sit and picnic. Last week I was there twice, and even though it was raining the second time (of course the time when I decided to take pictures), it was still nice enough to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Finally, I have to mention the familiar faces you will see at Casa de Fruta. Not of people (although you may run into someone you know), but of peacocks! There are always peacocks roaming around Casa de Fruta. When I was there last Saturday, there was one on the roof of Casa de Sweets, and all I could see were the beautiful feathers. I kept thinking, “How the heck did a peacock get on the roof?!” Then I remembered, uh yeah, it’s a bird. Sometimes I wonder about myself. 😉
I realize that this post isn’t about Fresno, or anything local, but I truly believe that Casa de Fruta is a Valley favorite. Also, with the warmer weather starting to roll in, I know that many of us will probably be traveling to the coast here soon. Stopping at Casa de Fruta is a nice in between point A and point B. I’m not sure how many readers have driven by the exit, but if you’ve never stopped there before, I suggest you make the time. It’s absolutely wonderful.