It’s one of California’s best-kept secrets—but not for long. Located 30 minutes from California’s Central Coast halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles is one of California’s hottest up-and-coming wine regions.
But it’s not just the wines that are attracting visitors to this delightful destination like moths to a flame. Its amazing cuisine, local missions, art scene, natural hot springs, stunning views and small-town USA charm are just some of its allure.
Wine Lover’s Paradise
Magnificent Views from DAOU Winery & Vineyards
Grapes have been growing in Paso Robles’ vineyards since the late 1800s. The climate is ideal for wine-making. The result? More than 60 grape varietals and countless blends are produced at its 250-plus wineries.
Looking for a winery with award-winning vintages and top-notch views? You’ll find it at DAOU Vineyards & Winery. With dazzling panoramic mountain vistas, it’s no wonder brothers Georges and Daniel Daou chose this site as the ultimate realization of their childhood dream.
Their goal was to elevate Paso Robles to a new level by becoming the region’s ambassadors of outstanding Bordeaux varietals. All their wines are produced from grapes grown on property, and they’re best known for their magnificent Cabernet Sauvignon. Add in some pairing with their tantalizing cuisine and it makes for one unforgettable visit.
Female owner and winemaker Vaila From is producing some superb wines at nearby Desperada Wines. Her eclectic tasting room offers a delectable flight of whites and reds. As an added touch, the artistic labels on Desperada’s wine bottles are quite fascinating.
Olive Oil Farms
Kiler Ridge olive oils
Farms are aplenty in Paso Robles and it’s a perfect olive-growing region blessed with temperate coastal California weather and rich, fertile soil. Kiler Ridge Olive Farm is a family-owned and operated enterprise producing Italian estate-grown, award-winning, small-batch olive oil. Each production process includes hand-picking the olives to pressing and bottling, and labeling is even done in-house, culminating in some of the best olive oil we’ve ever tasted. Their on-site tour provided a real eye-opening experience into the world of high-quality olive oil production.
Healthy Hot Springs
River Oaks Hot Springs
Come on in, the water’s fine. That is, the positive-charged, ionized mineral waters exiting the ground at 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit. These are the natural hot springs found throughout Paso Robles. Today, they can be experienced at three locations: Paso Robles Inn, River Oaks Hot Springs and Franklin Hot Springs.
Guests can soak in artesian thermal mineral springs under a starlit sky, or relax in the shade of a private open-air spa with dramatic views of the rolling hills, vineyards or reflective lakes. These relaxing rejuvenating spa treatments restore balance and peace for the body, mind and spirit—as they have for centuries.
Field of Light at Sensorio
Honestly, we’ve never seen anything like it. At sunset, over 58,000 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics illuminate the rolling 15-acre landscape of Sensorio: Field of Light by Bruce Munro. The effect is a painter’s palette of magnificent colors. This magical mesmerizing experience is definitely one that shouldn’t be missed.
Solar-powered, the captivating show beautifully connects light with nature resulting in an almost indescribable ethereal spectacle.
Small-Town USA Vibe
Quaint, charming towns represent a throwback to simpler times. And while it’s true that Paso Robles is growing into a much more popular destination, it still retains a delightful laid-back small-town character. A picturesque gazebo and grassy park form the centerpiece of the main plaza.
The Piccolo, a brand-new boutique hotel centered in the heart of town is the perfect place to stay. Casual luxury rooms and suites are beautifully appointed and extremely comfortable. An impressive continental breakfast is included. One of Piccolo’s most popular features is Tetto, the only rooftop bar in town. We loved sipping wine there at sunset savoring panoramic views of the surrounding area.
King Room at The Piccolo
Historic downtown Paso Robles is an easily-walkable, beautifully-preserved area hosting a myriad of restaurants, cafes, brews, spirits and boutique shops. We loved the antique and vintage thrift stores that pay homage to its timeless small-town past.
Foodie Fork-to-Table Haven
Wine and Food Pairing at DAOU Winery & Vineyards
It must be impossible to get anything other than great food here as everywhere we dined was first-class. With its extensive agritourism scene, restaurants here benefit from the freshest seasonal produce, grass-fed beef, local catches and artisanal cheeses.
Fish Gaucho is a fun, lively rustic-chic cantina featuring modern California Mexican fare and creative craft cocktails. Shared apertivos are a definite way to sample several of its tantalizing dishes like Wagyu Tartare, Chile Relleno Fundido and Shrimp Ceviche.
Les Petite Canailles is Paso’s newest restaurant offering an array of impressive seasonal and French-inspired entrees. Grilled Spanish Octopus was a delectable starter followed by Rabbit Two Ways in a mustard sauce with whole herbed potatoes.
Trendy Tin City
Tin City Cider Company
A trendy, vibrant and evolving industrial park is one of Paso Robles' favorite hangouts. Tin City entrepreneurs pour their heart and soul into this unique neighborhood, providing libation and food lovers one-stop shopping for wine, craft beer, cider, spirits and bites.
We loved sampling the seasonal offerings at Tin City Cider taproom. Their innovative ciders sport fun names like Zig Zag, Fresh Quince of Bel Air and Cousin Eddie. Hand-made pasta making is fun to watch at Giornata’s all-Italian wine store. A hop over to its tasting room gave us an opportunity to taste delightful wines from Italian grape varietals like Fiano, an intensely flavorful and fruity white.
Thriving Art Scene
A non-profit open-air art center in the heart of town, Studios on the Park is an amazing story of community camaraderie. This venue showcases six studios under one roof with 15 artists in residence. Its four galleries contain an impressive collection of local arts and crafts, along with a delightful gift store.
Adult and youth programs and workshops are open to the community, many at no charge. Quite a testament to Studios’ commitment to sponsor creative processes and make them available to the public.
Surrounded by beautiful vineyards, rolling hills and natural beauty, this small town provides visitors with so many options. Add in friendly townsfolk, creative artists and a vibrant food scene, it’s no wonder this destination has become such a draw. As with us, visitors will quickly come to realize that the old adage, “one visit is never enough,” surely rings true here.
Written by: Noreen Kompanik