CASTROVILLE, Artichoke Center of the World

Castroville, California is the Artichoke Center of the World. If you don't believe it, when you get there just look around! Fields of artichokes in all directions. See the Castroville photos below.

This small town lies in the heart of California's Central Coast farm country less than 100 miles from San Francisco and less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean and public beaches. Prime land less than 3 miles from the beach and 10 miles from Salinas in Monterey County is blessed with the perfect climate for growing artichokes. For over 50 years, this "Artichoke Capital of the World"  has celebrated harvests of their number one crop with an Artichoke Festival held usually in May.


In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville's first artichoke queen. She later was known as the famous actress, Marilyn Monroe. John Steinbeck graced the town in a different manner, by using it as the setting for his short story, Johnnie Bear.


 Stop at one of the artichoke restaurants and dine on farm fresh produce, including some of the biggest artichokes available on the planet!  Billed as the World's Largest Artichoke, Castroville is home to a sculpture commissioned in 1963 for a roadside stand and restaurant owned by Ray Bei.  Built from concrete and rebar, this giant creation stands 20 feet tall and 12 feet across. Today you can still see the giant artichoke in front of The Giant Artichoke,  11261 Merritt St., Castroville, CA. Phone: 831-633-3501.

Castroville (population 6,724 ) is located along the coast beside Monterey Bay. Here the ideal combination of soil, sun and fog provide the perfect growing conditions for artichokes, making Castroville the Artichoke Capital. There's an annual Artichoke Festival and parade, and Marilyn Monroe was crowned the very first Artichoke Queen in 1947.


Two major artichoke packers are located here, along with the nation's only artichoke processing plant. Is it any wonder that the townspeople have proclaimed Castroville "The Artichoke Center of the World," and that they celebrate with the annual Artichoke Festival in May? 

An annual artichoke festival is the big event around these parts. Like the garlic promoters in Gilroy and the broccoli farmers nearby, locals know how to make artichokes into many food items you have never imagined. The festival is a wonderful time to visit and prepare your taste buds for some gourmet dining.  Sec the  California Events  page for the date of the festival.


Castroville has a cute little main street pictured above called Merritt Street, some mobile homes, houses, churches, grocery  and food markets, some of which advertise their products on window signs and outdoor placards written in Spanish. The usual shops line this town's main thoroughfare which is dotted with some historic looking buildings, colorful flag banners and unique wall murals.  Colorful depictions of local history and figures of note, pay tribute to the town's heritage and its primarily Hispanic residents.


artichoke bannerOne hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.  Approximately 75 percent of the state's total acreage lies within Monterey County. And while artichokes were ranked only 11th in crop value for this agriculturally rich area, with an estimated worth more than $37 million, growers point proudly to the fact that the artichoke is the county's Official Vegetable. 


Founded in 1863, Castroville is the second oldest town in Monterey County. Agriculture sprang up with crops of sugar, hay, beets, grain and dairy farms. The artichoke, for which it is now known, began appearing in fields around 1920. Just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean is where you will find this old fashioned community and where you can see  the artichoke bounty.  Pezzinni Farms is one of several store fronts selling artichokes and artichoke items brought in from the surrounding fields and made available to the public. 

artichoke factory
downtown castroville
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