Davenport, the Food and the flowers
Davenport Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
March 16th, 2008 – by: TradewindsHD
Davenport is 15 miles north of Santa Cruz on the rugged wildflower-covered Northern California central coast. The town has spectacular ocean views that are prime for whale viewing in the winter, and open expanses of land with beautiful redwood forests nearby.
It started out as a bustling whaling outpost in the 1800s, and even today, migrating whales are seen passing by and providing delight to those who enjoy watching them and their flumes in the distance.
Nowadays, Davenport is little more than a cute boutique highway stop with two stores, a post office, two restaurants, a café, and several somewhat hard to find art galleries. It’s not much but it holds a special place in the hearts of those who live there and the people who come for lunch on the weekends.
The residents it serves enjoy a village-like community and they are very friendly. The town also has a small community of farm workers who work the local artichoke and Brussels Sprout growing industry. You also may notice as you approach from either north or south, one of Davenport’s most dominating features¬—a huge industrial cement tower. The Cemex concrete company operates a processing plant here, but draws most of its employees from outside of Davenport.
Davenport has no town center to speak of, no gas stations or motels, no Burger Kings, McDonalds or Wal-Marts. A traveler has only the necessities to choose from, nature and a limited palette of colors to absorb. The green grasses, rich blue skies and the azure ocean seem more vibrant and colorful every time you visit.
While in the area you may find a B&B or two, the most famous place for a bite and an overnight stay is the “Davenport Roadhouse at the New Cash Store”. The original Davenport Cash Store once stood in the same location, but sadly it was destroyed by fire in the early 1950's. A new building with a pottery studio and The New Davenport Cash Store opened in 1978.
Today, the Cash Store operates as a bed and breakfast, store and restaurant all in one. Restaurant hours are Tuesday- Sunday from 8AM- 9PM.
While on our brisk spring walk with the kids they demanded hot cocoa and muffins, so we stopped at the Whale City Bakery. This combination bakery, bar and grill is open early for breakfast and is also known for its dog-friendly policy. Judging by the size of the weekend crowds, this place is good.
The other place I know best is Taqueria El Jarro. The restaurant is the recently under new ownership, and I was very happy with the food. This place is always busy on the weekends and seems to draw a harmless yuppie Harley crowd. The kids were taken care of to the fullest; the menu was complete and delicious, and the parking was easy. Of the three places in Davenport, I would come here first for a meal.
The post office and general store are as good as they can be. Arro's Store and Tourist Bus Stop is a convenient place to stop for food and supplies.
If it’s a secret spot you seek, I’ll let the cat out of the bag just for you. Check out this fine oasis of peace in a wicked world— cross the main street at the top of the hill, and you will find a dirt parking lot.
If you want to take it to the next level, walk south along the cliffs and you’ll end up at the beach. It’s a very secluded and private beach, but watch out for the waves and tide.
For you history buffs, I have compiled some brief facts. Captain John Davenport, a whaler from Rhode Island, migrated to Monterey. When he sailed into the San Francisco bay in 1851 with a shipment of oranges, he passed by a school of whales swimming not far from shore. Believing that they would be easy to capture and process for oil, he dreamed of creating a whaling business. He started the first coastal whaling business in California in Monterey, but decided to move it closer to San Francisco.
The original town was approximately a mile north of the present location in a cove now called Davenport Landing. Captain Davenport built a 450-foot wharf and a house that stood on a high bluff on the right side of the cove. The wharf became known as the Davenport Landing and was considered one of the best landings along the coast.
A village sprang up with hotels, a livery stable, blacksmith shop, cooperage and general store. Whaling gear and the blubber melting pots were located near the wharf. The whaling business was not a profitable venture and lasted only a decade.
In 1906 the Santa Cruz Portland Cement Co., started operation and the present town was developed by the Coast Dairies and Land Co. Most of the old landmarks have been destroyed by fire, but the old jail is still standing, built in 1914, situated off the main highway on Center Street. An old Catholic Church is also considered a landmark in Davenport; built in 1915, it is situated at the end of Davenport Avenue. Both buildings were constructed of cement.
In 1998, Coast Dairies and Land's 7000-Acre Ranch was purchased for preservation, leaving Davenport located in the middle of miles of open coastal space for all to enjoy.
What is certain is that this stretch of coastline should not be missed, Davenport is simple, pleasing and relaxing and you should come to enjoy the spring wild flowers at the least.
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