Situated in Santa Clara County, this lovely Californian town is popular with wine connoisseurs and nature lovers. Surrounded by rolling hillsides and stacked with vineyards, perhaps the best thing to do here is rent a car and explore the countryside.
Once an agricultural district, the local landscape here has recently been transformed by wealthy Silicon Valley workers who have turned the area into a prime location for luxury and high-end gastronomy.
Dotted with Michelin-starred restaurants and highly rated wineries, you’ll want to visit the area’s great natural landmarks just to walk it all off.
Here are the 15 best things to do in and around Morgan Hill, California.
1. Explore Miramar Vineyards
Morgan Hill’s great location close to the Pacific Ocean saves it from the worst of the Californian heat. As a result, Santa Clara County has a moderate Mediterranean climate which is perfect for growing vines.
There are numerous local vineyards to choose from, but one of the best is located in the center of Morgan Hill. Take a tour of Miramar winery for a scenic walk through curling vines and lush hillside.
When you’re done, sip some full-bodied reds and sparkling whites before playing a game of bocce ball, a classic ballgame offered to visitors to the estate.
2. Take a Trip to Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve
This local preserve is a great place for hiking, biking, and horse riding. The valley is currently being redeveloped as space for wildlife, and it already attracts many rare birds and small mammals.
The wide expanse of grassy plain in this valley is a beautiful spot to relax with a picnic or contemplate the endless blue skies.
Once an important agricultural area, there are some pretty cool abandoned buildings on the edge of the preserve, just waiting to be explored.
3.Visit the Morgan Hill Museum
Set in the grounds of Villa Mira Monte, this beautiful estate was built in the 1880s by the town’s founder. Check out the city walking tours which run from this little museum, or head inside to learn more about the town.
This museum explores the lives of Morgan Hill’s former residents, as well as the area’s connection to the Murphy party, some of the first people to cross the Sierra Nevada.
The gardens here are very pretty, so be sure to spend some time in the grounds’ lovely picnic area when you’re done.
4. Shop at Morgan Hill Farmers Market
A favorite of the locals, this Saturday market provides fresh oranges and other fruit from the surrounding farms, as well as heaps of vegetables and artisanal meats.
For a small town, the list of vendors here is quite extensive and you can get everything, from fresh fish to wildflowers. The food selection here is seasonal, sustainable, and GMO-free.
As you would expect in hip Silicon Valley, the coffee is particularly good quality. Pick up a fresh cup and a pastry if you’re here on the weekend.
5. Try Clay Shooting at Coyote Valley Sporting Clays
Head north into Coyote for this popular shooting park set amidst lovely scenery.
First-timers will get expert tuition from knowledgeable instructors, and old hands can compete against other amateur gun nuts. All the equipment here is supplied by the center and there are multiple ranges available for different skill levels.
Popular for bachelor parties and team-bonding exercises, it gets quite competitive here, and you’ll quickly find yourself fighting for supremacy among the other shooters.
6. Do a Wine Tasting at the Castillo Winery
Morgan Hill is surrounded by vineyards, and the winery at the Castillo estate is the most famous of all, known for its grand mansion set in stunning grounds.
Resembling something out of a fairy tale, the house and gardens have the look of a medieval manor. In warm weather, visitors sit out on the patio to sample a range of award-winning bottles.
The family who own the winery are a characterful lot, well known for entertaining their guests with singing, music, and some great stories.
7. Make a Day Trip to Uvas Canyon County Park
Just west of Morgan Hill, the Uvas Canyon County Park sits in the foothills of the glorious Santa Cruz Mountain range. This shady bit of woodland is bursting with life, and provides a home for all sorts of animals, from coyotes to wild turkeys.
The trails here are famous for their beautiful waterfalls; follow the Waterfall Loop to find all six of them. While you’re walking keep your eyes peeled for the jewel-like hummingbirds that flit around the pools seeking out wildflowers.
8. Follow the Coyote Creek Trail
This incredible trail along Coyote Creek takes you all the way from Coyote, just north of Morgan Hill, to downtown San Jose.
This arduous path makes for quite the expedition and, should you choose to follow it the whole way, you’ll pass through quiet woodland, open farmland, and urban sprawl. The entire route stretches over 22 miles, so you may wish to skip sections if you aren’t overly fit.
Bring a bike or some serious hiking shoes if you feel up to the challenge.
9. Try the Food at Odeum Restaurant
One of the region’s best restaurants, the head chef at Odeum was awarded a Michelin star for his culinary efforts.
Chef Calisi Salvatore was a star of the New York culinary scene before he fled to sunny Northern California. His food is heavily influenced by a blend of different Mediterranean nations, and his restaurant is designed to be a feast for all the senses.
Odeum doubles as an art gallery, which exhibits the works of local painters and if you come here at the right time, you’ll be treated to tasteful live music as well.
The plating here is as beautiful as the art on the walls, and you’re sure to love the atmosphere of this chic modern restaurant.
10. Visit the Wings of History Aircraft Museum
Just south of Morgan Hill in San Martin, this little museum is dedicated to old planes and the history of aviation. Peer inside dismantled engines, study model aircraft and read the displays to discover how flying machines have evolved since the Wright brothers took that first fateful flight.
The aircraft here range from the classics, like the Aeronca Champ, a popular plane from the 1940s, to wackier models, like the Christen Eagle, a supremely loud biplane used in aerobatic performances.
Don’t miss the helicopter car, one of the oddest (and coolest) exhibits on the grounds.
11. Do a Day Trip to Henry W. Coe State Park
Just a 30-minute drive east of Morgan Hill, this great State Park was once a ranch and is now an important wilderness zone. The largest state park in the whole of Northern California, the woodland here covers over 87,000 acres.
Come to the ranch campground area to light a campfire and experience the glorious clear starry skies over this seemingly endless wilderness. Alternatively, there are over 200 miles of dirt track here for mountain bikers, so it’s a great place to spin your wheels if you like to take your bike off-road.
Look out for America’s great bald eagle, which makes its home in the towering pines of this magnificent sprawling forest.
12. Play a Game at Morgan Hill Bowl
This family-friendly bowling alley in Morgan Hill is a great way to spend a Saturday night. Hosting popular league games and local events, the atmosphere here is always bustling.
In addition to the lanes, the arcade area here has lots of games for you to play, and the attached restaurant and bar will keep you fed and watered while you bowl.
Make sure you stay for happy hour after you’ve kicked off your bowling shoes.
13. Try the Fruit at Andy’s Orchard
In the center of Morgan Hill, this local grocery stocks the best in fresh fruit from this great farming region. The store has an old-world feel to it, and the shop’s wood paneling and old wine barrels add to its charming aesthetic.
In addition to fruits you can buy throughout California, this store stocks rare items that are difficult to find elsewhere. Try the unusual species of plum, apricot, and cherry specially grown for Andy’s Orchard.
14. Have a Beer at Running Shop and Hops
If you’re feeling contrarian, stop in this local bar to drink some fantastic beer in the middle of wine country.
Stocked with a seemingly limitless selection of beer, sourced from small artisanal breweries both national and international, you’ll find the beer hipsters out in force in this great local taproom.
Situated in a converted industrial space, and stacked with games to play, this comfy drinking establishment is a cozy space to while away the hours.
Come here to discover that California’s beer can equal its wine.
15. Sail Across Anderson Lake County Park
This artificial lake just east of Morgan Hill is popular with water sports enthusiasts.
Follow the hilly trails around the lake to discover picture-perfect views over the water, or relax on the edge of the shore where crowds of picnickers like to congregate.
If you’re the adventurous sort, hire water skis or a jet-ski for an adrenaline-fuelled glide across the lake. Alternatively, if you’re feeling romantic, rent a small rowboat to sail serenely past the wading waterfowl and napping sunbathers.