True story: I left my heart in Paso Robles. With its pleasant Mediterranean climate, 200 plus wineries dotted throughout the surrounding hillsides, abundance of locavore eateries and hospitable inhabitants, it’s no wonder.
The best part? “Pass of the Oaks,” as the City’s Spanish name translates to, is only 4.5 hours from Sacramento – making it the ideal weekend destination for couples. Follow my guide below for a three-day trip that will leave you madly in love with Paso (not to mention your lover)!
Check in: La Bellasera Hotel & Suites (labellasera.com). With easy access to all of Paso’s hot spots, complimentary wine tasting on Friday and Saturday evenings, and luxurious rooms that come complete with all the comforts one would expect from a AAA Four Diamond rated property – plush robes and towels, spa-quality bath amenities, premium linens, pillow top mattresses, and turndown service – Bellasera vaunts charm and elegance.
Check Out: Downtown Paso and meander in and out of the locally owned, specialty shops. Vivant Fine Cheese (vivantfinecheese.com) and We Olive (weolive.com) both offer samples aplenty and promise to tease your taste buds until dinner.
When hunger hits, INDULGE at Thomas Hill Organics (thomashillorganics.com). The restaurant’s moniker comes from the owner’s farm where much of the dishes’ ingredients originate; what isn’t grown on the property is purchased from local farmers’ markets and ranches…ensuring ultimate farm-to-table freshness.
The menu changes daily, based on what’s in season, but never disappoints. Each item prepared by Chef Julie Simon – whether Tamarind Glazed Halibut Cheeks with bok choy, roasted shitake mushrooms and coconut cream or a Vietnamese BBQ Pork Belly and Fried Egg Sandwich – is teeming with flavor.
After, gallop a few blocks to the über-chic Pony Club (hotelcheval.com/food.php) for a glass of Port and their notorious S’more dessert.
Once the sun rises and it dawns on you that you’re hungry, ENJOY Breakfast at Enoteca Restaurant & Bar (labellasera.com/dining.php), the hotel’s on-property eatery.
The eggs benedict is egg-celent, as is the homemade almond granola served with yogurt, natural wildflower honey and fresh fruit from the region.
Post meal, JOURNEY through the serene Central Coast to Hearst Castle (hearstcastle.org). If you’ve never had a chance to tour this California State Park and impressive estate before, I recommend you plan a trip.
Rewind to the ‘30s and experience lifestyles of the rich and famous while you learn the history of the Grand Rooms, wander through the exquisitely manicured grounds and enjoy unparalleled ocean views.
On the drive back toward Paso, SIP the selections at the brother/sister-owned and operated Lone Madrone (lonemadrone.com), specializing in dry-farmed wines as well as a refreshingly crisp apple cider. In the summer months, the adjacent Fat Cat Farms nursery decorates the property with herbs and colorful flowers.
Stroll across the street to the state-of-the-art tasting room at Niner Wine Estates (ninerwine.com), which prides itself on estate-grown wines that are produced using traditional winemaking methods and cutting-edge technologies. Take my word when I tell you their vinos will leave you drunk with delight.
Quiet your buzz by EATing a hearty dinner at one of Paso’s newer fine dining yet not-too-stuffy establishments, Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar (robertsrestaurantpaso.com). Chef Ryan Swarthout executes classic American dishes with a fresh flair and emphasis on local ingredients. For dessert (which I advise you save room for), be naughty and nice with a slice of their Heaven and Hell Cake. Peanut butter mouse rests between layers of angel food and devil’s food cake, resulting in a sweet ending that is purely heavenly!
Don’t Miss: What would a romantic weekend away be without a spa EXPERIENCE? Enter River Oaks Hot Springs Spa (riveroakshotsprings.com), the perfect last stop before the trek home.
Although numerous Special Packages are offered, you and your plus one can’t go wrong with the Winemaker’s selection. Just reading the description – a 60-minute couple’s massage and an hour soak in the mineral springs while you sip a bottle of red or white wine – makes the tension melt away.
Sparks flying, my special someone and I returned home refreshed and ready for reality.
Blog post by Managing Editor, Megan Wiskus.
Photo Credits: Heart’s Castle photos courtesy of California State Parks. Thomas Hill Organics photos courtesy of Thomas Hill Organics. The Pony Club photo is courtesy of Hotel Cheval. Niner Wine Estates photos are courtesy of Niner Wine Estates. River Oaks Hot Springs Spa, Enoteca and La Bellasera Hotel & Suites are courtesy of Travel Paso Robles Alliance.