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.
A unique surprise in the oft-overlooked town of Atascadero is
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 WineCountry.com remedy,
take two nights and don’t call anyone in the morning.
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