Typically we like to cover individual resorts for our Mini-Moon posts. After a recent visit to Paso Robles, we were so taken by the charming town we felt it necessary to share our entire weekend experience. Paso Robles is one of those places you might travel through on your way from Sacramento to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles or San Diego when taking the coastal route.
Many don’t realize what they’re missing when they take the needed gas stop along the 101 and hit the road again for their big destination. We’re here to tell you that Paso Robles IS a destination, and one you’ll be hearing about over and over again in years to come. The once sleepy town is experiencing a cultural and epicurean boom as hundred of wineries and a handful of first class restaurants pop up in and around the area. We suggest you check it our before the masses do. There’s something enchanting about a destination on the verge of discovery, and Paso Robles is certainly one you will not want to miss.
Recommended Destination: Paso Robles. Centrally located, the city is easily accessible by car from Sacramento, San Francisco and Southern California. Mostly a farming community, the rolling hillsides and valleys are covered in gorgeous green this time of year and fragrant with the smell of apple, cherry, pear and peach blossoms. Amid the almond and walnut trees scattered throughout the hills, the original agricultural product that put Paso Robles on the map, are the vineyards certain to buoy the area to its next claim to fame…wine. There’s already buzz amongst food and wine aficionados that this will be the “next Napa.” With 300 plus wineries taking root in recent years, this unassuming town may very well give the California king of grape juice a run for its money.
Check In: Despite its growing tourism, Paso Robles is still pretty low-key on the accommodation front, not yet up to speed with its growing reputation as a weekend getaway spot. However, there are a number of wonderful accommodations, from the clean and modest to fancier fare. The historic Paso Robles Inn (pasoroblesinn.com), pictured above, is a great spot for travelers in search of comfort and charm. The 100-year-old inn is located right in the heart of downtown and boasts an oak lined setting, gardens and convenient coffee shop on property.
A little farther south, just off the 101, is La Bellasera Hotel and Suites (labellasera.com), pictured above. With some modern flourishes and villa-esque vibe, there are plenty of comforts to be found here, including one of the most popular restaurants in the area, Enoteca.
If you’re looking to splurge, check out the JUST Inn Bed & Breakfast at Justin Vineyards and Winery (justinwine.com), pictured above. Though a bit further inland near Cambria and the coast, the cozy, beautifully appointed venue is sure to please. Best of all, its in the backyard of all the great wineries in the region, including its own!
Check out: The Wineries. So many to mention that we’ll just go over the highlights. First, the region is known for its Zinfandel, so if you like that grape you’re in luck. We signed up for a great wine tour courtesy of The Wine Wrangler. Our driver and guide Bruce took us on a five-stop winery excursion that included a box lunch and tastings at Justin (pictured above), Robert Hall Winery, Whalebone, Tolo and Hearthstone. All had great a variety of bottles and a friendly staff. A little tipsy by the end of the day, we were thankful to have Bruce and his van to escort us back to our hotel with our precious new cargo. Check out the tour at thewinewrangler.com.
Don’t Miss: The food! While Paso Robles is slowly becoming known for its fantastic wines, credit should also be given to its excellent gourmet dining options. One standout is Thomas Hill Organic Bistro (thomashillorganics.com), pictured above, right in the heart of downtown. Owned by Jon Thomas and his wife Debbie, the restaurant designs its seasonal menu around the produce grown on its nearby farm, pictured at the very top of this post. We were lucky enough to tour that farm in the afternoon and tasted all the exploding winter greens and witnessed the early blossoms of their varied fruit orchard. We we’re even luckier to enjoy the fruits of their labor at the restaurant that night and relished in the fresh ingredients and delicious flavors. The menu changes so often we would be remiss to tempt you with our favorites. It’s all so good!
An option for night two is Artisan (artisanpasorobles.com), pictured above. This is a sleek, modern eatery just around the corner. With a full view of the busy kitchen, we were mesmerized by the crew cooking up a storm, admiring their skill and efficiency. How did it taste? Perfect! We started with amazing local burrata and a meatball and gnocchi dish to die for. We then scraped our plates of sassafras braised pot roast and Alaskan halibut before moving on to fresh baked cookies and homemade sorbet and ice cream. We left Pasos Robles full, satisfied and eager to return. We’ll gamble you will too.
Plan your own trip at travelpaso.com.
Blog post by Always a Bridesmaid Columnist Darren Elms.
Photos courtesy of the respective organizations.