My family has made the long drive from Seattle to Los Angeles down I-5 since I was a small boy. I’ve always found visiting the different unique landmarks along the way that give local character. This is the first of what I hope to be many observations regarding those off-beat places that make travel such a wonderful experience.
Imagine that you have just driven for hours through Northern California. You are tired and hungry and there doesn’t seem to be anything in sight as you drive past olive trees. That’s when you see a sign for a little town called Corning, California announcing that you are approaching the Olive Pit.
What to See?
Feast your eyes on countless jars of olives. Corning is in the heart of olive country and the Olive Pit is the place to go if you want to experience the tastes of Northern California. The Olive Pit offers over 100 different varieties of olives for customers to take home with them. You wouldn’t believe that olives could be prepared in so many different ways until you’ve been inside your shop that has operated for over 40 years in an otherwise quiet part of the state. The best thing about checking out all of these olives that is that there are so many choices to please anyone’s palate. Even if you are traveling long distance, the employees are more than happy to carefully wrap and box your olives so that they get home safe. (We were able to bring ours back to Seattle without a problem for instance!)
What to Eat?
One of my favorite things about coming here is that they have samples of all the different kinds of olives plus wine tasting for those of us who are of age. If eating samples isn’t enough to sate your appetite, the venue offers a nice selection of burgers, sandwiches and salads (All which naturally features olives) along with smoothies and coffee. The food is actually reminiscent of a roadside diner so don’t go in there thinking you are about to eat the highest quality food possible. Still, there’s no denying that this good old fashioned diner-style cuisine is delicious and will fill you up as you travel along the road. (Side Note: The diner has free Wi-Fi access)
What’s the Cultural Value?
This is the agricultural center of California. While Corning is neither the largest nor most exciting place in the state, it represents an important part of the local economy. It’s easy to look at California and only think about Southern California and its connections to places like Hollywood or Disneyland. Stepping out of your comfort zone to check out places like the Olive Pit enriches your understanding of California tenfold. Come to the Olive Pit and enjoy the freshest olives ever.
Recommended Place to Stay
There are many hotels nearby the Olive Pit due to it being right off the highway but our family personal favorite is an excellent Best Western across the street from the Olive Pit. We stayed here once and found the rooms to be clean and the staff friendly. They even had a continental breakfast which was a major bonus for us as we traveled along.
How Is the Overall Rating?
What makes the Olive Pit such a great place for guys to check out? It has tasty olives that go well with burgers grilled on the BBQ that you can’t get anywhere else for us guys who like cooking. If you are a dad traveling with kids, this is a great place to stop and let your kids use the restroom and feed them. (You might even convince them to eat some vegetables in the process!) While it might not be the most exciting place compared to some of the other sights on the road, it’s a place close to my heart that deserves to be noticed. It scores 4 out of 5 stars because as much as I enjoy it, there isn’t a lot to the place besides shopping for olives and having a bite to eat.