It’s almost summer, and Country Living magazine just posted their can’t-miss travel guide “50 Things to Do in 50 States.” They asked 50 bloggers across the country to pick their favorite off-the-beaten-path places in their home states, and they asked Garden Betty to represent California!
It was incredibly hard to narrow down all my favorite hidden gems to just one pick for the summer, since the Golden State is such a vast destination in itself. So, I submitted a list of 10 favorites from NorCal to SoCal, and let Country Living surprise me with their selection.
Find out which destination they ultimately chose… It happens to be my must-stop on every summer road trip!
Whoa Nellie Deli is more commonly known as the Mobil Station in Lee Vining. (I briefly mentioned it in my Yosemite post from last summer.) It’s part gas station, part gift shop, and part restaurant, built and owned by the same family for the last few decades. I’ve been frequenting the Mobil every year for the last 6 years, and my fiancé has been going since he was a kid over 30 years ago.
Yosemite visitors who enter or leave via Tioga Pass have all seen the Mobil, but a lot of them probably don’t know that the restaurant inside, Whoa Nellie, serves up some of the finest food in the Eastern Sierra. It’s all a bit incognito as you walk into the modest building and see the kitchen staff bringing up orders cafeteria-style.
But when you take a closer look at the menu, it’s Whoa! Nellie! You see things like chicken jambalaya, wild buffalo meatloaf, fish tacos, lobster taquitos, and cowboy steak (all of which I’ve tried and totally recommend), plus a great selection of craft beer. As the Garden Betty, I tend to judge eating establishments by the quality of their salads, and Whoa Nellie’s garden salad (which is big enough to be an entree) is not just a jumble of iceberg and shredded carrot, but a fresh mix of dark, leafy greens, bell peppers, and broccolini. I approve! It’s like a food oasis in the middle of the high desert.
After you grab your hefty meal (all the portions here are huge!) and a local brew (Mammoth Brewing Company’s Ahwahnee Amber Ale is one of my favorites), head to the outdoor patio, which overlooks the impressive Mono Lake. I’ve spent many a summer afternoon at the Mobil grubbing, drinking, and camper-watching after a getaway in Yosemite. (Anyone else into camper-watching? Lee Vining is the place to do it. A steady stream of Sportsmobiles, Airstreams, Westys, vintage teardrops and other fun-mobiles roll through here, while I watch with envy and build my dream RV in my head.)
Whoa Nellie Deli is only open in the summer, and a couple of times a week they feature live music as well (which I’ve yet to catch, but hope to one day). If you stop by, tell them Garden Betty sent you!
And be sure to check out the rest of Country Living’s “50 Things to Do in 50 States” to find out other road trip-worthy recommendations for the other 49 states!