California is a year-round destination. Families know San Diego, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Los Angeles are fabulous with kids. Add Central California cities and attractions to this list; Monterey, Carmel, Cambria, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara offer all kinds of fun for families in every season.
What families don’t know is that there’s more than these coastal destinations to explore! We enjoyed a getaway with kids in Paso Robles this fall. Located just 45-minutes inland from Cambria on Highway 101, Paso Robles is a treat for families, particularly those with wine-loving parents,
I recommend Paso Robles as a stop on a road trip from San Francisco to Santa Barbara or Los Angeles (or vice versa). And if you live in California, it’s an ideal few-night getaway.
What to do once you get there? TravelPaso.com helped me create this terrific Paso Robles black book of resources for families:
Zip-line in a historic California ranch
I wrote all about our thrilling zip-line excursion to Margarita Adventures; this is a must-do activity for school and up children who love speed. 22720 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita | 805-438-3120
Ride a real stagecoach and teach kids about horsemanship
We took a property tour with the owners of Harris Stage Lines, Tom and Debby Harris, and got a real sense of how they introduce children to life on a real working ranch. If you want to expose your kids a taste of the Wild West and horsemanship practices from real cowboys and cowgirls, this is the place to do it. Harris Stage Lines is as authentic as it gets.
Tom and Debby offer horse day camp year-round where kids form 7 to 19 learn how to care for, drive, and ride different breeds of horses. For parents who want to spend some time wine tasting, this is a perfect way to entertain kids in a meaningful way. 5995 North River Road, Paso Robles | 805-237-1860
Western play area for wee kids and their parents at Jack Creek Farms
Explore a fifth generation family farm
Jack Creek Farms is a gem for all ages. Run by the same family for five generations, everything here is handcrafted, and most of it is picked and sourced from their own organic farm.
Our fall visit was well timed for apple and tomato picking. They have a very cute Western-style play area and farm animals. The shop is delightful for all ages as a visit involves tasting their honey, fudge, and fresh apple cider. They also carry lovely gifts for anyone left behind. 5000 Highway 46 West, Templeton | 805-239-1915
Stroll through downtown Paso Robles
Paso Robles hasn’t lost its old West vibe, but now there are a growing number of upscale shops and restaurants. Our favorite stop in town was at We Olive, although I just discovered there are a few of these stores popping up around California.
Regardless, We Olive is fun to explore. They source artisan-produced California olive oil in all kinds of fun flavors from lavender to roasted garlic, to Meyer Lemon and tangerine; bread and samples await everyone visiting the store. The hard party is deciding what to buy before leaving. 1311 Park Street, Paso Robles | 805-239-7667
There’s also an expansive grass and park in the center of town for toddlers and young kids who need a place to run amok without a care in the world.
Clautiere Cellers’ wigs are instant entertainment for all ages
Paso Robles is one of the fastest growing high-quality wine producing regions in the world. There are now over 200 wineries here offering all colors and styles. Areas of specialty include Rhone varietals and Zinfandel.
There’s more of a family-friendly attitude here than Napa Valley and more often than not visitors will see the owner behind the counter in the tasting room. Likewise, kids aren’t an anomaly, they are the norm and they are more than just tolerated, children are warmly welcomed.
Meeting the owners and winemakers is part of the fun in Paso Robles
We kicked off our wine tour at Eberle, a winery with deep roots in Paso Robles. The owner, Gary Eberle, started producing wines in here in 1973. Today, his winery produces 25,000 cases of wine.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Gary and his wife Marcy to chat about family life in Paso Robles, a well as the exponential growth of their business. What a treat! Despite Gary and Marcy’s success in the region, they are still ever-present in their tasting room greeting guests and lucky visitors may be there for one of Gary’s famous BBQ extravaganzas. There’s bocce ball and cool caves to visit as well. 3890 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles | 805-238-9607
Wigs are fun without wine in hand, imagine what happens when you combine the two! We had so much fun at Clautiere. This electic winery is all about fun … and the wine’s delicious too. It’s super easy to entertain kids here. 1340 Penman Springs Road, Paso Robles | 805-237-3789
Plenty of room to play in the garden at Castoro Cellers
This Mediterranean-style winery has a huge list of wines to try. We had to really pick and choose favorite varietals here. Best of all for kids is the gorgeous garden with a bit of grass and stunning vineyard views. This is a perfect place for a snack or picnic lunch. 1315 N. Bethal Raod, Templeton | 805-238-0725
Farmstead 46 is a local’s favorite with self-service goodies including gourmet sandwiches and wood-oven pizzas. Located right on Highway 46 in the middle of wine tasting heaven, it’s the perfect place to stop for a tasty, casual meal. 3750 Highway 46 West | 805-239-3661
We adored the farm-to-table experience at Thomas Hill Organics Market Bistro and Wine Bar. Fresh, just-picked veggies and locally sourced meat, poultry and fish are combined with area wines.
They have a covered, heated patio that is perfect for families and the menu is creative with Italian and Asian elements. Ahi Tataki Style, English Cucumber, Avocado, Ponzu, Wakame or Pizza Rurstica with Mozzarella, Roasted Quash, Roasted Creminimi Mushrooms, Braised onion and avacado. YUM! 1305 Park Street, Paso Robles | 805-226-5888
We also ate at Artisan, Paso’s landmark fine dining restaurant. The food was amazing, although I wouldn’t put it at the top of the kid-friendly list. For school age and up kids used to nice restaurants, it’s an excellent choice. 1401 Park Street #105, Paso Robles | 805-237-8084
Wine shop in the lobby of Paso’s La Quinta Inn and Suites
We stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suites. Although La Quinta isn’t a brand we’ve covered on Ciao Bambino, I really liked it. Recently renovated suites are spacious and easily sleep families; they have a pool for downtime, and serve a hearty breakfast, including eggs and waffles.
Best of all, the owner and staff of La Quinta in Paso are producing their own wine! I love this; although this is a known-chain, there’s this local element, including a wine shop in the lobby. They also offer complimentary wine and cheese tasting in the evening.
It’s in a ideal position on East Highway 46 for access to town, the highway, and wineries. 2615 Buena Vista Drive, Paso Robles | 805-239-3004
Thomas Hill Organics farm-to-table dining is as fresh as fresh gets
Editorial Note: Ciao Bambino received discounted and complimentary accommodations and activities for the purpose of this review. As always, our opinions are our own.
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