Moss Landing–Cruising around Santa Cruz

Last weekend, driving back from our daughter’s spectacular wedding at Costanoa Lodge, we stopped in Moss Landing to introduce some relatives to a small, going-back-in-time sort of place along the coastline.  Not the typical, tourist-designed site for buying tchotchkes, Moss Landing retains its quaint, historic fishing village vibe!  Located on Monterey Bay at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, Moss Landing is one of our local best-kept secrets.

First we went to La Galeria, where there is a Monterey Peninsula College printmakers’ exhibit.  Not so easy to find.  You turn onto the main street (Moss Landing Road) from Highway  1 at “The Whole Enchilada”.  Don’t be fooled and  stop there.  Keep on going a few 100 feet and hidden behind The Haute Enchilada you can find this little surprise of a gallery– very cozy and wood-paneled–with approximately 100 prints, some priced between $75 (unframed) and $120 (framed).  The public reception will be on Saturday, October 22, from 2:00- 5:00 p.m. with food catered by Haute Enchilada (  We first went into the gallery to look at the exhibit, and then had a very tasty lunch at the restaurant in front of La Galeria –Haute Enchilada.  We shared poblano chile soup, tortilla soup, guacamole and chips, pork and chicken enchiladas, fish tacos, taco salad, and a delicious rosemary chicken panini.  Everyone loved sharing their food and enjoyed the sunshine on the patio with chilled local beers as well as Mexican ones.

After lunch and art viewing, there are also other surprises: antiques, a small Shakespeare museum (including a chair made from the wood from Stratford-on-Avon’s theater and nearby church), the exquisite Stella Page Design handbag boutique (designs include Japanese koi, Buddhas, and exotic floral patterns). Moss Landing is also home to MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium’s research facility), and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the research arm for the California State University system.

We didn’t have time to walk along the pier and look at the boats and the egrets, pelicans, herons  and cormorants who graze and fish everywhere along the water.  Birders would find nearby Elkhorn Slough impossible to ignore, a favorite with naturalists.  Guided tours on kayaks are available on weekends ( and also through the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   But, if you have time either on your way into Santa Cruz to go to one of the First Friday art walks or to Aptos and neighboring beaches, don’t forget to take a glimpse at California’s past and stop for an hour or two in Moss Landing.

Comments (12)

  • I love the easyness with which you flow from politics to art, food, movies and such.
    Your visual descriptions are colorful and tasty!
    You do wet our appetites, to explore and try such venues.
    Thanks for your ongoing informative stories.

  • Diana, I enjoyed taking your stroll through Moss Landing… Did you know it was originally called Moss? It was named after some guy that built a wharf. I have enjoyed many a fish taco there,
    and a few kayak runs. Your blurb piqued my interest, so I’m going to head over there this Saturday.
    See you. celeste

  • Thanks Diana! Yes, Moss landing is a gem, especially on the 10 days per year that it isn’t socked in with fog!
    Our show looks great. I’m so proud!
    Your readers might like the Sea Harvest for good, fresh fish.

  • Great post, big sis! Michelle and I enjoyed seeing the print show – so many styles and viewpoints. I wish I lived closer so that I could have a second look —and a second enchilada! The food at the Haute Enchilada was very good – that yummy Cal/Mex winning combination. Best part of the day..being with you!

  • Your writing was good, Diana. I was born here and wasn’t aware of the Moss Landing
    shopping area with places of interest I may go peek now. Judy

  • Hi Diana,
    Enjoyed your little snippit…. Congratulations to Maya & Colin!
    Thanks for your continual support of the MPC Printmakers.
    See you @ the opening reception,

  • Diana,
    I enjoyed the posting on Moss Landing. The link to the Haute Enchilada is helpful too. It informed me that they serve brunch til 4:oo. Also your info about their patio makes me think that I might head over there for lunch. I get off work early today and It is so lovely out. One of those rare warm days on the Monterey Bay. Thanks.

  • I’m so glad you found Moss Landing , it has not become over-commercialized …yet. And the food at the Haute Enchilada is very good. There is a wonderful walking trail across the river, you enter at the beach parking area and can enjoy the wild life and spectacular views.
    Perhaps a photo of the wedding party?

  • Nice post, Diana. I’m glad I was there when your group arrived. It IS a nice show in a funky little gallery. I’m sure everyone who takes the opportunity to go there will be pleased. Joanne

  • Your posting ALMOST made me want to come home to be there to enjoy one of my favorite places on the peninsula and be there for the artists reception for the MPC Printmakers.
    Sounds like the wedding celebration continued days after the wedding, too.

  • I enjoyed this blog post Diana! The MPC show at La Galleria is fabulous! Even though I have spent only a little time in Moss Landing, I agree with you that it is worth a stop and taking time to explore. It is sort of hidden from the road, which lends to the old-town, peaceful vibe. There are also some interesting antique shops there. I also recommend stopping at one of the many farm stands in the area/near Castroville, to buy fresh local artichokes!

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