Paso Robles is an off-the-beaten-path wine destination that is gaining in popularity as winemakers in the area are making a splash standing up to big names in wine throughout France and Napa Valley. But aside from the incredibly beautiful (and much underrated) wine region, Paso Robles has so much more to offer. Below you’ll find the best things to do in Paso Robles.
Things to Do in Paso Robles
WHERE IS PASO ROBLES?
Located in Central California, Paso Robles is three hours south of San Francisco and three hours north of Los Angeles. It’s the perfect, quiet escape from either city as it’s easy to road trip to. If you’re visiting from out of town then perhaps you’ll be flying. While Paso Robles does have a small municipal airport, the closest regional airport is in San Luis Obispo, about 30-miles south of Paso Robles.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PASO ROBLES
People had inhabited Paso Robles as early as the 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1886 when the Southern Pacific Railroad began operating in Paso Robles that the town gained recognition. In 1889 it was officially recognized as El Paso de Roblas and was home to approximately 800 residents.
Before becoming well-recognized as an epic wine-growing climate – (did you know that Paso Robles sells grapes to various wineries throughout Napa?) – Paso Robles was first an almond growing region. Before it was well known for wine, Paso Robles was known as the “Almond Capital of the World”. Finally, in 2013 the area became well-known for wine when it was named the “wine region of the year” by Wine Enthusiast.
Paso Robles is known as an upcoming premier wine destination in California. It’s still a bit of a hidden gem and doesn’t see throes of tourists like Napa and Sonoma. But trust me, the scenery is just as beautiful and the wine is just as good.
There are more than 200 Paso Robles wineries scattered throughout the hills of Paso Robles and 400 acres of vineyards. It is California’s fastest-growing wine region ranking only behind Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey counties. When visiting, I’d highly recommend making reservations in advance.
Of the best wineries in Paso Robles, DAOU is certainly at the top of the list. It is by far the most beautiful winery I’ve (personally) ever been to. The chateau-like tasting room is perched on top of Daou hill overlooking vineyards and rolling hills for days. Even better, the outdoor area is sophisticated and chic with both Lebanese and French influence.
Aside from the beautiful scenery and sophisticated atmosphere, the wine at DAOU is top tier, and the food that pairs with it is just as incredible. There aren’t a lot of wineries that do food in the area so DAOU is a good place to go around lunchtime.
HALTER RANCH VINEYARD
Halter Ranch is another beautiful property set in the rolling hills of Paso Robles. Their owner, Hansjörg Wyss, is the number one philanthropist for conservation in the world, donating millions of dollars to areas around the world that are working on conservation efforts for animals and the planet. Halter Ranch has 206-acres of wine grapes, 15-acres of walnuts, and 10-acres of olives.
Like DAOU, Halter Ranch also serves food so this would be another great place to book a tasting around lunchtime.
Brecon Estates is much more low-key than both of the previously mentioned wineries. It’s family-run by a husband from Wales and a wife from Australia. The property is beautiful, hidden, and much more laidback. They don’t serve food but they have spectacular wine. If you’re looking for more of a chill experience this would be the place to go.
Discover Downtown Paso Robles
One of the main Paso Robles attractions is downtown itself! The downtown area is brimming with fun boutique stores, great restaurants, coffee shops, wine tasting rooms, and more.
The main street downtown is “Main Street”, and is where you can find most activities. But make sure to venture off of Main Street to nearby areas where you’ll find just as much character and personality. Below you’ll find my favorite places to eat and drink in downtown Paso Robles.
PASO ROBLES RESTAURANTS
- Fish Gaucho – Mexican
- The Backyard on Thirteenth – Food truck/beer garden
- Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar – Bistro
- Calipaso – Wine tasting room
- California Coast Beer Company – Brewery
- Sasquatch – Coffee
Take a Dip in the Paso Robles Hot Springs
One of the most fun things to do in Paso Robles (and relaxing) is to strip down to your swimming suit and take a dip in the natural hot springs. The River Oaks hot springs have outdoor, private tubs that you can soak in while overlooking the vineyards. (Dream scenario?). The tubs run at $16/person/hour and it’s a great way to unwind after a long day of wine tasting.
If you have the time, I highly recommend spending the night in Paso Robles and exploring from there. While there are tons of great hotels in the area, I found this cute Airbnb walking distance from downtown.
From Paso Robles make sure to drive down south, near the beach, and check out San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, and if you want to have the best breakfast of your life? Head to Cambria or Cayucos for savory waffles at Hidden Kitchen.
Again, time permitting, I also recommend heading further south to discover the beauty of the Santa Barbara area. Wine taste in Los Olivos, visit the Danish town of Solvang and spend a few days soaking up the Santa Barbara sun.
Of all of the incredible wine regions in California, I highly recommend adding Paso Robles to your list. There are so many things to do in Paso Robles, I hope that you too are blown away by the beauty.