12 Essential Things To Do in Paso Robles (Itinerary Part 2)
Now that we’ve introduced you to Paso Robles and given you tips on where to stay and eat, let’s dive into the plethora of activities – outside of wine – there are to do. Yes, I said outside of wine. I know we’re all Winetravelers here, but Like I said, we’ll get to that soon.
Paso Robles is an area that offers something for everyone. From singles, couples, families and even for the individual traveler, this region goes well beyond the wine. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re planning a trip, wine should be included, and recommendations are forthcoming, but if you’re looking to make it an extended vacation, these activities are musts.
Paso Robles Activities Guide
Ever want to soar like a bird over the vines? Well, with Margarita Adventures you can do just that! Located over the 14,000 acres of Santa Margarita Ranch, the adventure tour company takes you across six ziplines soaring over mountainsides, vines and giant oak trees for 7,500 feet of exhilaration.
The ranch, established in 1889 for moving cattle, is still a working operation today. As you head out to the zip line course you may see some of the ranch’s 600 cows or 32 bulls, you’ll also see vast amounts of wildlife from quail to deer, and some of Ancient Peak’s Margarita Vineyards. In fact, from the first zipline, The Renegade, the Margarita Vineyard unfolds before you. It’s the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles wine country and boasts five distinct soil types in one of the region’s coolest growing environments.
After completing your last zip line over the winery’s Pinot Noir vines, you’ll be ready to head back into town for wine tasting. Directly across the street from Margarita Adventures is the Ancient Peaks tasting room and café. Pop in for a tasting and lunch. You’ll also receive 20% off any wine purchases having been a guest of the ranch.
How can I possibly describe the overwhelming emotions of awe and wonder of the inspiring experience at Paso Robles’s Sensorio light show. And it’s not the kind of light show you might imagine. In fact, it was nothing like I imagined. It’s the vision of internationally renowned artist Bruce Munro featuring more than 58,800 stemmed spheres over the course of a multi-acre walk through the installation. The spheres are lit by solar-powered fiber-optics and gently illuminate the landscape in an array of morphing color mimicking the undulating landscape.
We recommend arriving at sunset to watch the lights begin to illuminate the rolling hills. The oak trees will slowly turn to silhouettes against the darkening sky, while the lights lead you further into what seems a dream. Grab a glass of Eberle Chardonnay at the refreshment stand and begin your journey into the ethereal and majestic field of light. I guarantee it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen, and it will fill you with emotion and a tangible serenity.
Whether you’re a history buff or seeking a break from the summer heat, the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum offers a wonderful collection of visual and written history. The museum offers a peak at life in small town California during the 19th and 20th centuries. Pop in to see why Paso Robles has been a destination for decades from agriculture to wine.
This is cowboy country, so you’d be remiss not to hop on horseback and make your way through vineyards and rugged terrain of this mountainous Central Coast region. If horses are your thing, Central Coast Trailrides, a family-run business, has you covered. They have collaborated with some of the best ranches, vineyard properties, wineries and resorts to create the most memorable rides in the region. It’s perfect for everyone from couples to families and offers another unique way to experience this region.
Remember all those lazy Sunday disc golf games in college? Well, Castoro Cellars offers visitors an 18-hole disc golf course through the vineyards! That’s right, pop in to taste wine and then get your disc golf on! The course is nestled near the tasting room in the organically farmed and SIP-certified Whale Rock Vineyard. This course suits all levels and is open to all guests. Just check in at the tasting room and head out to throw and see if you’ve still got it (I don’t by the way!).
If you brought the kids along, or if you’re just a fan of some of the craziest water slides in wine country, you’ll want to head to Ravine Water Park. The Thunder Run slide features multiple drops, with rafts gaining speed down each one, until skimming to a stop into a 75-foot lagoon. This slide delivers airtime and stomach drops. And if you have a competitive spirit, pick your lane and plunge down five stories before splashing down 300 feet at the finish line. It’s a sure-fire way to feel like a kid again!
Heading down to San Luis Obispo from Paso Robles is the chic and whimsical Madonna Inn. It’s certainly a place to consider staying in the region, but it also makes for a fun place to grab a cocktail in style. Elegantly set against a backdrop of hand-carved wooden details and stained-glass windows is the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge. This wildly decorated lounge is an inviting place to kickback with a bottle of wine, craft cocktail or light snack. And might I add, you’ll be wanting to Instagram this one!
The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is in downtown San Luis Obispo and is free to the public. The Museum’s three galleries emphasize exhibitions by contemporary California artists. The Museum also offers youth and adult art classes, lectures, film nights, trips, concerts and art events. Running through September is the Third Dimension exhibit featuring three-dimensional sculptures derived from all manners of materials with no limitations. And with regularly rotating exhibitions, there’s always something new to see.
Only 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, a stay in Paso Robles wine country should include a day on the coast. Whether you want a scenic drive along the rugged coastline on Highway 1, or you want to gawk at the lavish lifestyle of William Randolph Hearst. He began construction of this massive estate on his ranchland overlooking the village of San Simeon in 1919. He called the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” – Spanish for The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, the hilltop complex included a twin-towered main building, three sumptuous guesthouses, and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools. And make sure to ask how many bathrooms while you’re there!
Probably one of the most recognizable views along the coast route of Highway 1 is Morro Rock, the volcanic peak jutting from the water just off the coast of this quaint seaside town. Just two blocks from the water, in the heart of Morro Bay, you’ll find a walkable downtown filled with candy shops, boutiques, and intimate dining options. And if you’re looking for wine, stop in for a tasting at Chateau Margene’s tasting room (you can even send the kids next door for ice cream within sight while you enjoy a little adulting time).
If you’re looking for a beach, Avila Beach is the place to go. Boutique surf shops, amazing dining, sandy beaches will keep you busy all day. That said, I have one word for you: sunset.
And finally, if you’re looking to get your legs moving after a few days of wine tasting and eating all the delicious food in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, it’s time to head to Bishop Peak for a scenic hike or rock climbing. Bishop Peak Trail is the most popular hike in San Luis Obispo. The 1546-foot peak overlooks the city and the Cal Poly University campus. One main trail leads to the summit, with several feeder trails connecting to it. Each hike is around four miles round-trip, but the elevation gain varies from 900 to about 1300 feet depending on your path. You’ll earn another four-course meal after this hike (with wine of course!).
Think we have you covered? I can’t stress enough how accommodating this region is to all travelers. As a mom of two, and a Winetraveler, finding high-quality wine regions in the states for the whole family is imperative to me, and this is one. That said, I traversed this region both as a solo traveler and with my husband for a romantic weekend and it was equally as magical. Never in any one of these scenarios did I feel anything other than warmly welcomed, engaged and shown a great time. Is it fair to say I fell in love with Paso Robles? Yes, it is. And I think you will too.