It’s wine thirty somewhere including the Central Coast of California. Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Maria are centrally located between San Francisco and Los Angeles. With fantastic weather, rolling hills, proximity to the beach, award-winning wineries and adventure your happy hour just got better.
As a girl’s getaway there’s plenty to do and discover in the area from wine tasting, fine dining, boutique hotels, art galleries, shopping, ziplining and lots of history.
Where to Stay on a Visit to California’s Central Coast
I prefer to stay in boutique hotels when I’m traveling. They offer a more intimate setting and nice perks like afternoon tea or wine tasting. The Hotel Cheval in Paso Robles did not disappoint. This 16-room luxury hotel features elegant outdoor seating with an oversized stone fireplace. Upon check-in cookies are available and breakfast is included with your stay along with bottled water and a daily newspaper. The Hotel Cheval is located in the town square section of Paso Robles so walking to nearby art galleries, restaurants and lounges is very accessible. The hotel has their own lounge, the Pony Club, which offers a good selection of local and popular wines in a fun setting.
In Santa Maria check out the historic Santa Maria Inn, originally opened in 1917. Although it is not a boutique hotel it does offer style, service, and history. This inn was a regular stop by Hollywood’s elite; Marilyn Monroe, Rudolph Valentino and John Wayne. The list of previous guests is extensive and in the main hallway there are photographs and historical information about the hotel and past guests.
The rooms at the Santa Maria Inn are generously appointed. My suite had a gas fireplace and sweeping views of the valley. The kitchen and living room added a nice homey touch and plenty of room to entertain. The wine cellar, located in the basement of the resort, is cozy and offers many local and regional wines. For the craft beer lover they have the Tap Room on the main floor with dozens of selections. Both offer an ambiance from the past century. And if you’re in need of a bit of relaxation, head over to Ambiance for spa treatments to detox or simply enjoy life.
Fine Dine and Wine on a California Girlfriend Getaway
While in Santa Maria don’t miss the Hitching Post Restaurant, located just 15 minutes away in Casmalia. It’s a rustic old west, comfortable establishment that’s been around for 60 years and visited by many public figures. Start with the grilled artichokes, honestly the best I’ve ever had! Steak is king here and it’s grilled to perfection! The bread is made in house and comes to the table piping hot with a selection of spreads to melt delectably in our mouth. They believe in farm to table and offer seasonal veggies with each meal. Finish your meal with their amazing homemade ice cream or sherbet. The old west is alive and well at the Hitching Post. This is California BBQ at its best. They have a nice selection of California wines to pair with your food, whether steak, ribs, chicken or seafood. The staff is more than happy to help you with your beverage choices too.
The wineries in the Central Coast are hitting their stride. One of the most well known is Justin Vineyards & Winery located in Paso Robles. Some of their more popular wines are named Isosceles and Right Angle after geometric forms, but don’t let the names throw you for a loop. These wines are award-winning and pleasing on the nose and palate. Isosceles was inspired by Chateaux Margaux, located in France, post 1977 when Andre Mentzelopoulos took over, after centuries of French owners. But that’s another story…
Justin is more than a winery, their property has an acclaimed restaurant and luxury accommodations, Just Inn. Check their calendar for special events throughout the year.
Ancient Peaks Winery in Paso Robles has a nice Sauvignon Blanc and red blend, Renegade. Renegade is a great value at $23/bottle and it was awarded 91 points by Wine & Spirits.
Adventuring in California
To get your heart thumping and adrenaline running throughout your system, I highly recommend Margarita Adventure Zipline Tour. This is a great way to experience nature in the Central Coast; large oak trees and rolling hills, deer and other wildlife. After the zipline you’ll be rewarded with wine tasting at Ancient Peaks Winery! The zipline tour also includes a hands-on experience about sustainable wine growing and the geology of the Central Coast dating back thousands of years.
The Margarita Adventure Zipline gets moving fast at nearly 40 mph and has an initial drop-off of 200 feet. There are four distinct ziplines, the first being the longest at 1,300 feet. The zipline guides are energetic and very safety conscious. And, for someone afraid of heights and roller coasters, I faired just fine…after the first half of the first zipline.
To get to the Central Coast you can fly into either Los Angeles or San Francisco. It’s about a three-hour drive from either airport. Or, if you prefer a direct flight you can fly into San Luis Obispo’s regional airport. Coming from L.A. you will drive north through Santa Barbara, not a bad stop either. Get your Central Coast happy hour going and plan your next girls’ trip to California. There’s not a bad time of the year to visit.
Sue Richter is an award-winning communications expert. She is a freelance journalist for several online and print publications. She has written for American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, TravelAge West, Travel + Expore, Comcast Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune, Business Executive Travel and many others.