So amazingly popular that it has had to move out of its namesake town, the Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival is a long-time favourite along the Central Coast. Cool fog and warm sun are the perfect environment for growing these edible thistle flowers—considered one of California’s signature foods. If you have never tried them—or have only eaten them out of glass jars—this festival will be a sensory sensation. Have them dipped in traditional melted butter, or get adventurous and try one of the countless artichoke preparations (some decidedly wacky) offered here. There are also cooking demonstrations, artichoke-themed art, and a parade featuring the annual Artichoke Queen. The first honorary queen? Marilyn Monroe.