Finding Fun in Fallbrook

By Kim Harris

Finding unique ways to enjoy life in Fallbrook is as simple as taking a short walk or a quick drive down the road to one of the many outlying venues offering up fresh food, tranquil settings and good old fashioned family fun.

Opening in July, the Orchid Bar located on the grounds at Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens is sure to offer an evening of romantic fun to those who come out to visit the public gardens’ newest venue. Open on Wednesday nights during the summer  from 5 to 9 p.m. only, the Orchid Bar offers adult beverages in a unique setting complete with illuminated water features and a glass fire pit to take away the night chill.

“We are hoping to give Fallbrook a place to gather in the evenings,” said Alyson Breathed, director of marketing at Grand Tradition. “Our property is not traditionally open in the evenings. With the opening of Orchid Bar, we are offering a place for people to grab a cocktail, get something to eat and wander through the garden. We are offering up a magical experience for people not available before.”

Breathed says that the multifunctional location will offer up signature cocktails and light, small plates giving patrons the opportunity to sample some of the facility’s specialty dishes while enjoying the sights and sounds of Grand Tradition in the evening.

“Wedding parties will have the choice of doing their cocktail hour there on the days of the week that we do weddings,” she said. “Initially we will open Orchid Bar to the public on Wednesday nights, but as business grows, we will add more days as needed.”

Reservations are recommended for the sure to be popular venue that is surrounded by waterfalls and the unique garden highlighting different plants, shrubs and flowers that are constantly changed to reflect the season.

“We just finished planting our spring and summer displays,” said Mark McDougal, director of operations. “We change things seasonally, but also throughout the season to offer visitors a new experience every time they visit.”

With the tagline “Inspired by Love, Blooming with Joy,” it’s no wonder people leave Grand Tradition happier than when they arrive, Breathed says.

“It inspires joy,” she said. “I’ve never worked anywhere where people are just made better, made whole and are at more peace than when they leave the gardens. That’s just what gardens do for people. People come to us for that serenity and that joy. It’s just a place that really does inspire joy and love.”

Located at 220 Grand Tradition Way in Fallbrook, Orchid Bar will open to the public on Wednesdays beginning July 30. Reservations can be made by calling Grand Traditions Estate and Gardens at (760) 728-6466. The garden is open to the public seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday at the Veranda Restaurant from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and picnic baskets are available for those wishing for a one-of-a-kind picnic experience while enjoying the sights and sounds of the garden.

For those who are looking for a great way to spend the day outdoors the Farmers Market at Valley Fort offers locally grown farm to table produce, honey, jams, jellies and arts and crafts. According to special events coordinator Cheryl Nurse they hope to add fresh meats, fish and cheese products as the event continues to grow.

“Every week we are adding new vendors, maybe half of them will be rotating so every week will be a little different,” she said. “Most are local but some are coming from places like Valley Center and Escondido. They are all from Southern California. It will all be locally grown and produced products and all handmade items.”

Set under an expansive canopy of live oak trees, the Sunday Farmers Market at the Valley Fort/Estrella’s property offers antiques and resale items to those who take the short drive down Mission Road to the popular venue owned by Hank and Patty Hornsveld who said the size of the property gave them the idea to make a small Tom’s Farm type place in a western setting.

The Farmers Market runs year round on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Live music will be featured each week during the market which will continue to evolve depending on the wants and needs of the customers who shop there.We are developing new ideas,” said Hornsveld. “We want to have demonstrations of different things, something for the men as well.”

The Valley Fort Sunday Farmers Market is located at 3757 S. Mission Road in Fallbrook. For more information on upcoming events or the Farmers Market, call (760) 728-3200.

For those who are looking for a whimsical way to spend the day, Myrtle Creek Nursery and Botanical Gardens is a great option. Conveniently located at 2940 Reche Road in Fallbrook, the property offers everything from a health conscious restaurant to a wild bird sanctuary to shopping for those unique items that just can’t be found anywhere else in Fallbrook according to Kent Harvey, marketing director for the popular historic landmark.

“The landmark barn we have here was one of the first in the Fallbrook area in the late 1800s,” Harvey said. “They actually lived in that barn when they settled here, then they built out the rest of the property. The farmhouse came last.”

About 30 years ago the property was bought by the Sherman family, descendents of General William Sherman, a well-known general in the Union Army during the Civil War.

“They had built the house up on the hill and that is based on the architectural plans for  a late 1800s plantation home,” Harvey said. “Right around thirty years ago they bought the property, turned it into a nursery and built the house later on. It’s been a landmark nursery here in Fallbrook forever.”

While the plantation house is not open to the public at this time, the original farmhouse is now home to a quaint store full of eclectic gifts, antiques and one-of-a-kind items.

“You are going to see vintage, eclectic, cool kind of gifts,” said Harvey. “Things you can’t just get anywhere.”

“Once you come through the gates and into the property you get that whole feeling and energy is just kind of built in,” said Harvey adding the Sherman family built upon what was already in place to improve the entire Myrtle Creek experience.

Renovations include a mural on the barn painted by Jim’s Sign Shop in Fallbrook, adding a ramp and new entryway to the farmhouse allowing easier access to the store, and the addition of the café as a full service eatery. A butterfly and hummingbird garden is currently under construction

“We’ve always offered drinks at Bloom Café,” said Harvey. “We’ve been open as an organic café on the weekends, the chef goes out and shops all the markets every morning, everything is farm fresh and it’s fun because you just don’t quite know what it’s going to be.”

Being a farm fresh organic café means that menu items change with the season. Another change is the addition of weekday hours for the popular eatery and the designation of the property as a botanical garden.

“Café Bloom is now open every day of the week.” Harvey said, noting that picnic baskets are available for those who prefer to find a secluded spot to make their own. “On weekends we will have live music that can be enjoyed anywhere on the property and since we are now a botanical garden there is signage explaining the different plants around the property.”

“We have all of this that you can purchase here on the property,” Harvey said.

Also on the schedule is a full list of classes, workshops and special events. Yoga in the garden occurs the first week of every month, a Permaculture workshop and Fun in the Garden Festival all appear on the list of upcoming activities. The venue also hosts special events for organizations to come in and do presentations, auctions and other special events.”

“We do seminars and workshops every single Saturday and now are doing workshops on Sundays,” Harvey said. “We are really building it to be a fun place for the entire family.”

Myrtle Creek Nursery and Botanical Garden is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. visit or call (760) 728-5340.

Originally published in Lifestyle magazine, Summer 2014.


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