Paso Robles, located off Highway 101 midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is one of America’s fastest growing wine regions. We passed through Paso on countless road trips when I was a kid, but we never thought of it as an appealing destination for a California family getaway. No so anymore!
We spent the Columbus Day holiday here and enjoyed every minute; there’s loads to do for wine and food loving parents traveling with kids of all ages.
Roping practice at Jack Creek Farms
Get an Authentic Taste of California/American History
I grew up in Northern California and can’t think of another California destination other than the Gold Country where the sense of California/American history is so palpable. Farming was and is the main industry in Paso and kids have the opportunity to learn first hand what it means to live off the land.
We happened to be in town for Paso’s 82nd(!) Pioneer Day parade, a celebration of the local heritage and community. Tractors, stagecoaches, and locals of all ages rode and walked by the crowd who were happily waving American flags. This is not your average 2012 family experience. Our 4th grader is just learning about California history in school and the parade provided a real glimpse of what all the fuss is about.
Carl Wittstrom of Ancient Peaks Winery with an oyster fossil from his ranch
The geologic history is equally as rich. During our zip-line adventure tour of Margarita Ranch, we discovered the vineyards are planted on an ancient seabed complete with whale and oyster fossils.
Farm-to-table organic dining at Thomas Hill Organics
Up Close and Personal with Sustainable Farming
Sustainable farming isn’t just a foodie trend here, it’s a way of life. Families are able to meet generations of farmers who practice what they preach.
Best of all, samples of all the incredible locally produced ingredients are in great supply at the local restaurants. Farm-to-table dining takes on new meaning for kids when they can experience a farm minutes before sitting at a local restaurant specializing in organic, hand-picked food.
There’s a new sheriff in town
Family-Friendly Wine Tasting
We love wine and don’t want or feel the need to save wine tasting for our adult-only getaways. Family-friendly wine tasting is not an oxymoron in Paso Robles. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming with zero pretentious attitude.
Everyone is welcome (dogs too) and some wineries go out of their way to include kids in the fun. Examples include Eberle Winery with a bocce ball court and Clautiere Vineyards has a seriously entertaining tasting room with wigs and hats for guest use.
Fresh grape juice just for kids at the Castoro Cellars tasting room
Perfect California Family Road Trip Stop
Although appreciating Paso Robles is all about inland treats, it’s only 30 or so minutes away from Cambria and a gorgeous stretch of coastline, making it an ideal stop on a California family road trip incorporating land and sea.
I love the idea of spring break in this area before the weather gets too hot. If you have a week I suggest:
2 or 3 nights in Paso Robles
2 or 3 nights in Santa Barbara
You can easily fly into San Francisco or San Jose and then out of Santa Barbara or Los Angeles.
And oh, did I mention the wine is fantastic and well-priced? That alone is reason to go, with or without offspring-in-tow. Stay tuned for a detailed post with activity and meal suggestions …
For more information on visiting Paso Robles check out the Travel Paso Robles Alliance page listing news, events, and links to local resources.
Editorial Note: Amie received discounted accommodations and some free activities while visiting Paso Robles. As usual, all opinions on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy