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Exploring the Gateway Towns around Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park, located in central California, is an awe-inspiring landscape of eroded volcanic remains, known for its stunning rock formations, talus caves, and diverse wildlife. While the park itself is a remote natural haven, visitors can find accommodations, dining, and regional specialties in the small towns located nearby. These communities offer a glimpse into local life and culture, and provide the necessary conveniences for travelers looking to explore Pinnacles National Park.

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Published onDecember 13, 2023
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Exploring the Gateway Towns around Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park, located in central California, is an awe-inspiring landscape of eroded volcanic remains, known for its stunning rock formations, talus caves, and diverse wildlife. While the park itself is a remote natural haven, visitors can find accommodations, dining, and regional specialties in the small towns located nearby. These communities offer a glimpse into local life and culture, and provide the necessary conveniences for travelers looking to explore Pinnacles National Park.

Soledad, California

Soledad is the nearest city to the western entrance of Pinnacles National Park, situated just about a 30-minute drive away. This small agricultural town offers a range of hotel options, making it a convenient base for those wanting to explore the park over several days. Soledad's restaurants serve up local Californian cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce that the Salinas Valley is known for, often referred to as "America's Salad Bowl."

While in Soledad, a must-try dish is the farm-to-table salad, featuring locally grown greens, fruits, and vegetables. Many establishments may also offer local wines, as Soledad is part of the Monterey County wine region.

Hollister, California

Hollister, located to the north of the Pinnacles, is about an hour's drive from the east entrance of the park. This larger town offers more choices in terms of accommodations and dining compared to Soledad. In Hollister, visitors can enjoy a variety of restaurants that include American, Mexican, Italian, and Asian cuisines. A local specialty to seek out in Hollister is the tri-tip sandwich, a Central California classic that is often slow-cooked over an open flame for a distinctive smoky flavor.

King City, California

An hour's drive from the park's east entrance, King City is another option for travelers. Though smaller than Hollister, it provides a cozy array of lodging and dining options. King City is also surrounded by agriculture, ensuring that local dishes feature the freshest ingredients. A dish visitors should try here is the artichoke entrée, a tribute to the nearby town of Castroville, known as the "Artichoke Center of the World."

San Juan Bautista, California

Located about an hour's drive from the east entrance of Pinnacles National Park, San Juan Bautista offers visitors a historical ambiance, as it's home to the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park. The town has multiple boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns that exude old-world charm. Dining in San Juan Bautista typically revolves around classic Californian fare with plenty of organic options. Be sure to stop by a bakery and try the local sourdough bread, a staple of Californian bakeries with a history that dates back to the Gold Rush era.

Tres Pinos, California

For a truly intimate stay, Tres Pinos is a tiny town located a little over an hour's drive from the east entrance. This town may have limited lodging and dining options, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind dining experience, Tres Pinos offers quaint eateries where you can try the locally renowned garlic-seasoned dishes, paying homage to nearby Gilroy, also known as the "Garlic Capital of the World."

On the Web

To further assist with planning your trip to the Pinnacles National Park and its surrounding towns, here are a few helpful websites:

When visiting Pinnacles National Park, these nearby towns not only serve as gateways to the park but also provide a taste of Central California's flavors and hospitality. Indulge in the local cuisine, enjoy the conveniences of small-town living, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that this area has to offer.

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