Wine and Wanderlust: 72 Hours of Food and Fun in Paso Robles

Outdoor adventure, dining, and wine (of course) in the California’s most exciting viticultural town: Paso Robles.

Those who know, know, that Paso Robles is perhaps the most free-wheeling, iconoclastic wine area in California. And what makes it such a fantastic place for growing grapes - being surrounded by Big Sur and the Santa Lucia Mountains - also makes it a fantastic destination for those looking to add some outdoor adventure to their weekend getaway.

Day 1

Paso Robles is filled with idyllic B&B’s, but if you are looking for space and easy access to downtown and the surrounding area, the Black Oak Best Western is a good bet.

Call ahead and have Mike at Paso Bike Tours drop off a couple of touring bikes at the front office. From there hop on your bikes and head down Riverside Ave to the Salinas River Trail. In winter and spring the river will be roaring and the wildflowers absolutely incredible.


For dinner, make reservations at the compelling Italian restaurant, Il Cortile. Their wine menu selection is filled with local options and the wild boar ragu is excellent.

After dinner head over to a local institution: F. McLintocks Saloon. Don’t go too hard as tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Day 2

For breakfast, get up early, load up your bikes and head over to the quirky and satisfying Cowgirl Cafe, open since 1994. Be sure to say hi to Beverly and the founder, Pat. 

From there be sure you have sunscreen, nutrition, and water and bike into the absolutely gorgeous Peachy Canyon. Vineyards, orchards, and black oak groves abound. It’s about 10 miles to the end of the road and you can either do several large loops to the north and south back into town or you can head back. Either way you cannot go wrong and it is a great way to experience the winemaking countryside.

For a later lunch head downtown for some window shopping and stop by the Red Scooter Deli. Their take on the turkey-bacon melt is awesome. Don’t forget to add avocado. 

For some sunshine and great beer the patio and garden at Barrelhouse Brewing can’t be beat. They often have music and on the way in be sure to checkout the old white oak in the middle of Marquita Way. It has a cross carved by Juan Batista de Anza who was leading 240 men, women and children to settle in Alta, California.

For dinner, Bistro Laurent offers up classic unassuming but spot-on French cuisine paired with local wines. Their veranda gives great views of City Park and the Paso Robles Historical Society.

Day 3

Check out of the hotel and drop your bikes off at the main office and then head over to Springside Restaurant for breakfast. Their Linguisa Omelet packs a spicy punch and is great fuel for the day ahead.

Then jump in the car and head out of town to Central Coast Trailrides for a horseback ride through vineyards and the hills east of town. The ride around Creston Ranch takes you through a private estate and vineyard and also includes wine tasting.

For lunch and an afternoon of watersports, head northwest towards Lake Nacimiento and stop by the boutique grocery store, the Oak Hill Market. They have a great butcher shop and deli counter.

Then press on to Lake Nacimiento, a massive reservoir in the Santa Lucia Mountains on the Nacimiento River that has all kinds of outdoor adventure options from swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding or simply lounging on the beach.

A great way to start is to drop down into the Lake Nacimiento Resort at the end of Heritage Road / Resort Drive and then hike the Shoreline Trail. Despite its name the trail spends most of its time above the Lake, affording excellent views and is great for hiking, biking, and running. 

Then head out to the docks and rent either a kayak or stand up paddle board from the resort shop. You can also pick up a drink or three for your adventures. 

And as your final stop on your way out of town, call ahead and book a tour of Saxum Vineyards, which is this traveller’s favorite winemaker in the area.

Published: September 28, 2017

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