The city of Paso Robles is located in San Luis Obispo County in Central California. Famous for the 200 plus wineries covering over 40,000 acres of planted vineyards, there is a lot more to this unique region than the fermented grapes corked up in a bottle.
The full name of Paso Robles “El Paso de Robles” in English means “The Pass of the Oaks”… which is the essence of this article… passing through to the wonders that surround this enchanted enclave.
A Little Background
Paso, as the locals call it, is a relatively small, farming/ranching town with a population of about 30,000 people and is known for wineries, almond orchards and the production of olive oil, capped off with hot springs which was Paso’s original tourist attraction.
Paso Robles has a vibrant downtown area consisting of exceptional dining options, and eclectic shopping choices with something for everyone’s taste and imaginations. The “Main Street Association” is a very good source of information (PasoRoblesDowntown.Org) with their motto being “Where Everybody Comes Together”… and it is true.
Therapeutic Hot Springs of Paso
As in most travel experiences, it is the journey and the unexpected that leaves an indelible imprint in your memory. In Paso’s case it is the sometime pungent smell of sulfur that adds a little something extra.
The abundant thermal waters are known for their therapeutic and rejuvenate benefits and thus were a major attraction in the very early days of the town’s history.
The Salinan Indian Tribe was the original settlers of this area. In the early 1700s they introduced the newly arrived Franciscan Priests to the beneficial effects of the water. The Franciscan’s subsequently introduced the locals to farming, cattle ranching and… wait for it… wine making and vineyard cultivation.
Hot sulfur springs still flow through Paso Robles and are open to the public in three locations: River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Franklin Hot Springs as well as in select guest rooms at the Paso Robles Inn.
A Special Treat – The Paso Robles Amphitheatre
The Vina Robles Vineyards and Winery has been in the wine business since 1996 and began hosting an annual Summer Concert Series in 2007. The combination of live music and wine under the stars proved so successful that they decided to create the Vina Robles Amphitheatre in 2013.
The Amphitheatre is one of the largest outdoor venues for arts and entertainment in San Luis Obispo County and offers a concert season that runs from April through November and features top tier acts from around the world and in all genres. The legendary Tony Bennett performing on a warm, starry summer night… 100 feet away… was a magical experience.
There is not a “bad” seat in the house and all at reasonable prices to accommodate everyone’s budget… general admission lawn seating to VIP boxes… all within 150 feet from the stage.
When visiting Paso a must-see stop is on the east side of the 101 Highway. A group of entrepreneurial people created a collection of industrial warehouses known as Tin City.
Their objective is to showcase their unique creations such as small-production wineries, breweries, distilleries, cider houses and an amazing pasta factory and their new restaurant. You can watch them make the pasta as you enjoy eating their excellent entrees.
Parking is plentiful and you can easily walk the entire cluster of buildings set up in a two or three block radius. Of course a stop along the way may include an outdoor beer garden serenaded by a local band as you partake in a unique tasting experience.
Excellent Logistical Jumping-Off Point
Located on U.S. 101 and midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco this area makes a great destination for a road trip.
Paso is a strategic jumping off point with easy access to the scenery that made this part of California famous including the unique towns and villages such as Morro Bay, Cambria, Harmony, Cayucos and San Simeon… home of the magnificent Hearst Castle.
A Road Trip Back In History – Hearst Castle
California Department of Parks and Recreation manages more than 280 park units and this palatial property is considered to be one of the crown jewels in the system.
In 1919, Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, along with architect Julia Morgan initiated the plans for the construction of a hilltop house on his ranch at San Simeon. With vast sums of money at his disposal, the “house” became a Mediterranean Revival estate which he named “La Cuesta Encantada” (The Enchanted Hill).
The history is also enchanting but by 1947 the project was still not finished. Unfortunately Hearst’s health became an issue and he had to leave his house… all 165 rooms on 123 acres of prime coastline property with gardens, terraces, and pools… but the house became a full-fledged castle all the same.
A picture is worth a thousand words or more in this case… for more insightful information and hopefully a journey to The Enchanted Hill… go to hearstcastle.org
A Road Trip to the Point Piedras Blancas Rookery
Driving five miles north from Hearst Castle, along one of California’s most scenic vistas leads you to a very unique destination and experience… the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.
The rookery spreads over 6 miles of shoreline with ample parking and easy access, as well as docents to provide information.
The viewing areas are open every day of the year, are wheelchair accessible, and free. No reservations required.
Paso is known for their wine and exceptional cuisine options, but in reality after a few tasting sessions your taste buds go flat. To get more out of your visit one should explore the many options of short day trips and experience a part of California that made the Central Coast famous.
After all, what is the hurry… be inspired…
© 2019 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar