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California’s Most Unique Marketplaces

California’s Most Unique Marketplaces

Shop, taste craft beer, and hear live music in these mixed-used spaces

Posted 2 years ago

Call them culinary-and-arts centers, expanded food halls, or maybe even locally minded malls. Across the Golden State, you can increasingly find mixed-use complexes that combine outdoor spaces with cool old buildings, enhanced by local flavor and even Michelin-level culinary clout.

Some of the most famous are San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and Oxbow Public Market, in downtown Napa, which are hubs for wine, cheese and outposts of beloved regional spots such as Hog Island Oyster Co. and Gott’s Roadside. Then there’s San Diego’s Liberty Station, the former naval complex that is now home to a bustling food hall, rotating art installations, and a beer garden–style branch of Stone Brewing.

Here are 10 more of these don’t-miss spots in California—some brand new, and some that have already become vital parts of their communities (listed north to south).


The Barlow, Sonoma County

This 12-acre complex in Sebastopol features local color—literally—thanks to an annual mural contest that results in vivid walls. Come hungry, as you choose from farm-to-table eateries, wineries, and breweries, such as sandwich shop The Farmer’s WifeWilliam Cofield Cheesemaker, and Seismic Brewing Company. Taste wines from all over the area at Region, or pick up goodies at the organic grocery store Community Market.

Castro Valley Marketplace, Alameda County

Opened in summer 2020, this Castro Valley center is anchored by the locally stocked Castro Valley Natural Grocery, but also reflects the culinary magic of nearby Oakland and Berkeley with spots such as Oaktown Spice Shop and Amphora Nueva Olive Oil Works. Taste small-case wines and specialty spirits at Cordial Cellar & Lounge, or learn about cheesemaking and wine pairing at FARMcurious’s pop-up events and classes.


Abbott Square Market, Santa Cruz

Located next door to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, this open-air marketplace offers a wide range of cuisine, including organic farm-to-fork dining at Veg on the Edge, Creole cuisine of Roux Dat, and craft cocktails at Front & Cooper. The Santa Cruz marketplace also offers regular museum-coordinated events, too, by way of live music and outdoor movies.

SLO Public Market, San Luis Obispo

This walkable complex in San Luis Obispo is set on a former ranch that still houses a restored farmhouse, water tower, and granary building. Today it offers a few familiar brands (like a branch of Orange Theory Fitness) but otherwise is accented by a variety of local purveyors, from the micro-distillery restaurant Mixed Company SLO (featuring Paso Robles’ KROBAR Craft Distillery), beer shop Bottlecraft, and Central Valley–born Stafford’s Chocolates. Try their California Moon Pies, made with marshmallow sandwiched between snickerdoodles and dipped in chocolate.

Paso Market Walk, Paso Robles

Opened in 2020, this Paso Robles complex radiates from a restored 1890 Victorian home that embodies the “Carpenter Gothic” architectural style. The market’s dozen-plus purveyors, however, are fully up to date. Consider Gather, an “experiential nursery” with California-grown cut flowers, herbs, and flowering perennials sold in sustainable or reusable pots, or taste artisan goodies at Leo Leo Gelato.

Anaheim Packing District, Anaheim

This walkable complex, comprised of four historic landmarks, reminds you that this is a town with a long history. The collection of buildings features enticing culinary offerings: The Anaheim food hall sits inside a former citrus-packing warehouse, the Anaheim Brewery and a branch of Umami Burger are inside a rehabbed Packard dealership, and other businesses fill out what used to be a 1917 marmalade factory. The Farmer’s Park section, meanwhile, offers dim sum at 18 Folds and craft-cocktail lounge Hammer Bar, plus outdoor yoga classes and community events.



Rodeo 39 Public Market, Orange County

Given the predominance of food options, it’s easy to call this new complex a food hall tucked in the back of a shopping center outside Anaheim. But it also has a retro video game arcade, an “OC” swag boutique, and an onsite tattoo parlor with glass walls so that, even if you’re not into getting a tattoo yourself, you can watch others get inked while you sip a local craft beer. Many of the culinary options reflect the thriving ethnic-cuisine scene in the Anaheim area: savory Vietnamese crepes from Banh Xeo Boys, Laotian BBQ at Kra Z Kai’s BBQ, or ramen at Nandomo by HiroNori—whose L.A. ramen shop earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Flannery Exchange, Palm Springs

Sometimes you just need a place to get things done. Enter Flannery Exchange, a mixed-use space that welcomes both locals and visitors alike for short- and long-term workspaces, with the added draws of dining, event hosting, and more. The bright and sunny 20,000-square-foot endeavor, a swank reimagining of a former bank building, is located in the heart of Palm Springs’ uptown design district; enjoy a coffee at Cafe La Jefa, do an outdoor yoga class, or just take in the desert’s beauty from the rooftop.

Pacific City, Huntington Beach

This oceanfront complex—right on Highway 1, overlooking the sand of Huntington Beach—combines innovative shops with big views. Browse the bamboo-made apparel and bedding at Cariloha. Pick up an artisanal sandwich at Burnt Crumbs, then cap it off with sweets and gifts at Frosted Cupcakery or B Candy. The center also has food hall Lot 579, happy hour specials (including Four Sons Brewing), and live music on its Ocean Deck.

One Paseo, San Diego

This collection of white cottages in San Diego’s North County houses a number of West Coast gems, including branches of Ayesha Curry’s International Smoke, the fine dining seafood restaurant Nick‘s, adventure wear purveyor Roark, and San Diego craft brewery Harland Brewing. Pick up some artisan cheeses, sandwiches, and wine at The Butchery for a picnic—Del Mar’s beaches are just about a mile away.

The Headquarters, San Diego

Next door to longtime crowd-pleaser Seaport Village sits what used to be the city’s original police department building, built in 1939 and exhibiting four Revival architectural styles. Today you’ll find a mix of dining and shopping, with some familiar brands (like an Eddie V’s steakhouse) but also local flavors such as the acclaimed tacos of Puesto, seafood bowls at Hi Poke, and beachy fashions Cali Strong (which donates 10 percent of proceeds to youth in need). Don’t miss the restored eight-cell jail block—you can stage a selfie at the police lineup wall.

Note: Before visiting, check the marketplaces’ websites for the latest information on hours and changes. For more ways to be a respectful traveler in California, visit our Responsible Travel Hub, which includes helpful Travel Updates and information to help you plan ahead.

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