I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring California this past year, and was utterly surprised and delighted by Paso Robles. We were seeking out a location for a Memorial Day long weekend trip that was outside of the city, but still felt low key and didn’t have the hustle and bustle of, say, Napa. Paso Robles is about halfway between San Francisco and Santa Barbara, and is a lovely drive down the coast from either north or south. The wineries were fantastic, the town was small and cozy, and we split our time between two gorgeous hotels. Read on for all of my favorite spots in Paso Robles, California.
Where to Stay
Hotel Cheval – The small B&B-style hotel is in the heart of town, which makes walking to dinner a cinch. It has an old-world California style that felt so lush and romantic. The interior courtyard is full of fire pits, cozy chairs, and reading nooks, and was perfect both for enjoying our morning coffee and having a glass of wine before dinner. Book early, as this place fills up quickly. I would stay here again in a heartbeat the next time I’m in Paso Robles.
Summerwood Inn – A completely different vibe than Hotel Cheval, Summerwood Inn felt straight out of Nantucket or the Hamptons. An addendum to the Summerwood Winery that is still quite new, this B&B was all bright white and royal blues, and felt very east-coast summer. The made to order breakfast and incredible happy hour food and wine spread were amazing – I’d come back for their homemade granola alone. Note that Summerwood is a few minutes outside of town, so you do need to take an Uber or drive into town for dinner.
Where to Drink
Justin – By far my favorite winery of our trip, Justin is quite off the beaten path outside of town, but is worth the trek. Their cab and zin were two of my favorite wines from the region, and the winery itself with an outdoor patio was just lovely.
Daou – We came here more for the views and the lunch spread than for the wine initially, but Daou was impressive on all counts. Up on a hill overlooking the area, you cannot beat the views from Daou’s terrace, and they also have adirondack chairs stationed throughout the hilltop so you can enjoy a glass of vino after your tasting. The lunch here was fantastic, and they let you do your tasting at your dining table.
Summerwood – The winery connected to our inn, we went to Summerwood at the end of a long tasting day, so I’m acknowledging that we may not have had the sharpest palettes at that point. Nonetheless, the winery is conveniently close to town, and felt like we were in a neighbor’s family kitchen. This one isn’t a must, but was nice to visit nonetheless (plus your tasting is comped if you stay at the Inn).
Where to Eat
La Cosecha – This Latin American small plates spot was perfect for a casual dinner in town. Our favorites were the Ecuadorian prawns with romesco and the burrata crostini, but everything else was delicious too.
Artisan – Pizza, chicken liver mousse, and a fantastic lamb bolognese to boot? We sidled up to the bar at Artisan for a Moscow Mule after a long day of wine tasting, and both the drinks and the food were a delight.
Pony Bar – Located at Hotel Cheval, the Pony Bar is a can’t miss for a weekend evening. There is a little outdoor patio decked out with twinkle lights, live music, and a jam-packed crowd that make it a no-brainer for a happy hour drink and cheese plate.
Thomas Hill Organics – I have to admit, I was looking forward to this restaurant the most leading up to this trip, but it did not live up to the hype for us. We had to send back our soup special because it has absolutely no flavor, my scallops were bland at best, and the steak that we ordered was first vastly overcooked, then sent back to us nearly raw. The ambiance was beautiful and the wine list great, but unfortunately I would not recommend this spot for dinner. Go for a drink on the outdoor patio, and then go elsewhere.
We took a day trip to San Simeon and Cayucas, and had a blast seeing more of the California coast. Reserve your tickets to Hearst Castle well in advance, and make sure that you research exactly what you want to see so that you can choose the appropriate tour. We did a morning at Hearst, and then headed to Cayucas for lunch at the Cass House Grill, which was fantastic. Don’t miss a walk out to the end of the pier in Cayucas, and a long walk on the beach if you have time.