San Luis Obispo County Wine Country / About Wine, Food, and and Wine Country Living

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Posted September 2006

There’s Much to Enjoy in SLO

A Fabulous Few Days in Wine Country

(SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, CA) – It is something a lot of inland Central Californians already know, especially when they are looking to escape the brutality of summer’s heat. If you want to spend a couple of fabulous days enjoying weather, wine, and natural wonders – San Luis Obispo County provides several opportunities for a great retreat.

Take your time to travel to San Luis Obispos county. Whether you are driving or flying in, the country side is beautiful and there is no reason to rush — it doesn't seem like you get there any faster anyway. Give yourself time to enjoy your hotel on the first night. You will want to be up and out early, there is much to do and see.

First Night:

A unique surprise in the oft-overlooked town of Atascadero is the Carlton Hotel . Originally built in 1929, the hotel has been painstaking restored to its original luxury. Called a wine-country traveler’s paradise, the Carlton boasts large, comfortable rooms with lavish baths, an excellent restaurant with a long wine list, and a beautiful rooftop patio for enjoying nice weather, good company, and central coast wines. The hotel is centrally located in San Luis Obispo County giving the traveler many opportunities to explore hither and yon.

Day One:

Jump on to Highway 101 (easily accessible from the Carlton) and head north to spend the day in historic down town Paso Robles. Take the Spring Street exit to the park which will be on your right hand side, between 11th and 12th Streets. Wine tasting off the park plaza, in the almost dozen wine tasting rooms and galleries, starts at about 10:00am. Most are conveniently located within walking distance. Don’t overlook the shops, and make sure you take a break to snooze off any extra wine by spreading a blanket under a shady tree in the park. Have a leisurely lunch in the courtyard at the Wine Attic, or any of the upscale restaurants or cafes in the area.

Second Night:

It will be hard, but check out of the Carlton Hotel and treat yourself to a night on the beach. For great ocean views, and amazing full-service accommodations, try Dolphin Bay on Shell Beach in Pismo Beach. (South on 101, exit Shell Beach Road) What makes the Dolphin special is that the “rooms” are mini-residences with separate bedrooms and full kitchens decked out so well, you will not want to go home.

Day Two:

A one-of-a-kind activity is found nearby: the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. This is the only beach in California that you can drive a car onto. You don’t have to be behind the wheel to explore the thousands of acres of sand dunes: hiking, horseback riding, and ATVs are also popular.

Didn’t bring your ATV? Don’t worry, you can rent a dune buggy at BJ’s, or tour the beach Hummer-style with a tour from Pacific Adventure Tours.

Head back to Dolphin Bay and have dinner at Lido Restaurant. Chef Evan Treadwell has already won an “Award of Excellence” for serving extraordinary wine country cuisine. Interestingly, I find breakfast the make-it-or-break-it meal for a serious restaurant. If it is fabulous, after a difficult night of serving highly creative dinners, you know you will love everything the Chef puts on his menu. Lido’s breakfast received rave reviews for freshness.

Third Night:

It is too early to pack up and leave Dolphin Bay, but you have to go home sometime. Make sure you schedule yourself time to enjoy the pool, hot tub and spa. When you are feeling completely relaxed, it is probably time to go home.

A quick trip is just the prescription from soaring summer temperatures and the rut of daily life. If you want a remedy, take two nights and don’t call anyone in the morning.

Carlton Hotel
6005 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA (877) 204-9830

Dolphin Bay Hotel and Residences
2727 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach, CA (805) 773-4300

BJ’s ATV Rentals Inc.
197 Grand Avenue, Grover Beach (805) 489-5905

Pacific Avenue Tours
1001 Pacific #J169, Oceano, CA (805) 481-9330

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
576 Camino Mercado, Arroyo Grande, CA (805)473-7230

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