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Weekend Getaway: Paso Robles


"El Paso de Robles" or "Pass of the Oaks" is a beautiful community located in the coastal mountain range of central California. This beautiful and easily accessible destination is about a 4 hour drive north of Los Angeles and about 20 minutes inland from Cambria, and Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

This was a surprisingly easy and gorgeous drive up the 101 (Do yourself a favor and take the 154 and 135 when the opportunity arises – they both offer picturesque drives and they'll lead you right back to the 101). The highway is lined with beautiful mountains, lakes and rolling, grassy hills dotted with happy cows. Sure, all the cheese ads say California cows are happy, but really…I had no idea. Robust and plentiful, they dot the landscape up and down the grassy mountains on your drive north.

At the heart of this picturesque community is a town square that looks as though it was trapped in time. Clean and quaint, downtown Paso Robles is bursting with unique boutiques (check out my favorite, Firefly), delicious restaurants, a candy shop STOCKED with all your and your kid's favorites – and the best gelato in town) and tempting wine tasting rooms (set up by local wineries). The outlying areas of Paso Robles are carpeted with sprawling vineyards, farms, fruit groves and more happy cows. As you drive around the winding tree-lined streets, signs for tasting rooms tantalize visitors off the beaten path.


Just Inn (credit:


11680 Chimney Rock Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-6932 x3224
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JUST Inn is owned and operated by Deborah and Justin Baldwin, the proprietors of Justin Vineyards and Winery. It is one the few wineries in the area that also functions as a Bed & Breakfast and offers only four perfectly appointed guest rooms. There is no question, when you stay at JUST Inn, you aren't just a guest, you're a VIP.

Our room looked out over the grounds and we woke to a gorgeous view of sprawling vineyards. In the evenings, the sun set was accompanied by a complimentary bottle of their "Orphan" wine. A stay at the JUST Inn is only improved by dinner in Deborah's Room where I was served the most delicious 5 course meal with accompanying wine pairing. Dinner is not included in the price of the room, but dinner in Deborah's Room is a culinary expedition not to be missed. With so few tables to service, the food is carefully crafted, the staff is imminently attentive, and the whole experience simply makes you feels like royalty.

During your stay, you simply must take a tour of the winery. Justin Wineries is a family owned and operated winery that opened in 1981, when there were less than 10 wineries in the area. Our guide took us through the "caves," taught us about barrels and the wine-making process and showed us the exclusive tasting room deep inside. This is a don't-miss experience if you visit the region.

Hotel Cheval (credit:

Hotel Cheval

1021 Pine Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 226-9995
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Located just steps off the main square in downtown Paso Robles, this lovely boutique hotel is a perfect place to stay for a couple who wants a quiet, elegant retreat but still wants to be in the center of it all.

The gorgeous stone building has an open courtyard with two burning fireplaces so you and your loved-one can snuggle up after walking home from a delicious dinner in town…and more wine tasting.

The rooms are spacious, elegant and one of my favorite things about Hotel Cheval was the lovely wine and cheese hour they set up in the evenings in their "library." We socialized with other guests, sampled local wine, and just enjoyed the warm fire and beautiful ambiance.

Paso Robles Inn (credit:

The Paso Robles Inn

1103 Spring Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(800) 676-1713
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Also located in the center of downtown, this hotel offers a heated pool and the opportunity to enjoy a private hot springs mineral spa tub in one of the Inn's Deluxe Spa Rooms. Boasting the best location in town, the Paso Robles Inn is less than a five minute stroll to wine and olive tasting rooms, restaurants, wine bars and lounges, boutique shops, and much more!

Orchard Hill Farm (credit:

Orchard Hill Farm

5415 Vineyard Drive
Paso Robles, CA 93446
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Innkeepers Doug and Deborah have recreated an English country manor at their home and B&B, Orchard Hill Farm. Just a few minutes from the 101, the picturesque setting of Orchard Hill makes for a beautiful, and romantic retreat.

The Blue Whale Inn (credit:

Blue Whale Inn

6736 Moonstone Beach Drive
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-4647
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The Blue Whale Inn is the quintessential B&B: canopy beds; floral décor; huge, delicious breakfast - the whole shebang. Located on the strip along Moonstone Beach in Cambria (just about 5 minutes from San Simeon and Hearst Castle), you feel like you're vacationing in the 1970's. Ranch style hotels line the strip along with restaurants that welcome you even in flip-flops.

No detail is forgotten at the Blue Whale Inn. It was one of the most thoughtfully appointed rooms I've ever enjoyed. From a set of binoculars on the desk for us to use on our walk along the boardwalk that runs along the beach cliffs opposite the hotel (to help us spot seals, whales and dolphins), to the pink flashlight in the side table so if we went for a late night walk we could find our way home, to the freshly baked cookies that were put out all day long for us to enjoy, the Blue Whale Inn was a wonderful, warm experience.



Il Cortile

608 12th St # 101
Paso Robles, CA 93446-2237
(805) 226-0300
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Located in downtown Paso Robles, Il Cortile offers a seasonal menu of homemade pastas, fresh seafood and antipasti crafted with fresh local ingredients.

Artisan (credit:


1401 Park Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 237-8084
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An American Bistro experience with fresh, local, seasonal food a wonderful wine list. A little pricey but delicious.

Robin's (credit:


4095 Burton Dr
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-5007
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"Handcrafted Global Cuisine." The food here was absolutely incredible and they have Vegetarian and Vegan options which surprisingly, my meat-lovin' self absolutely loved!


Sea Chest Restaurant and Oyster Bar

6216 Moonstone Beach Dr
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-4514
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Go early, be prepared to wait, and be ready to hang out late with all the cool people you'll meet there. Dinner at the Sea Chest is a worthy, MUST-DO experience! (If you're staying at the Blue Whale, bring your flashlight so you can walk there and home!)


The Sow's Ear Café

2248 Main Street
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-48765
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What can you say about a homey little joint that serves Lobster Corn Dogs? One word. "Wow!"


Deborah's Room

11680 Chimney Rock Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-6932
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You don't have to be a guest of the JUST Inn to enjoy dinner in Deborah's room. If you are planning a intimate special occasion with your honey, this is the place you must celebrate.

Basil Thai

828 11th Street
Paso Robles, CA
(805) 238-9945

Fabulous Thai food right in the heart of downtown Paso Robles.

Black Cat Bistro

1602 Main Street
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-1600
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International cuisine at reasonable prices. Delicious, attentively-prepared food with equally attentive service.


(credit: Pasolivo)


8530 Vineyard Drive
Paso Robles, CA 93446
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If you just can't do one more wine-tasting, an olive-oil tasting is just the ticket and Pasolivo should be your next stop. If you're an epicurean at all, you've probably seen their chic little tins of this olive oil all over Los Angeles.

Pasolivo olive oil is produced at their family ranch right in Paso Robles. They have over 45 acres of olive trees under cultivation, in varieties chosen specifically for their excellent oil. All of their oils are made in their own olive press, just steps away from their orchard.

And they don't just sell plain old olive oil. They have flavored oils, tapenades, and their olive jams positively made the cheese plate at my Thanksgiving dinner!

The olive oil tasting at Pasolivo was a wonderful change of pace.


Central Coast Lavender Farm

6630 N. Star Lane
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 467-3500
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Wine and Olive Oil aren't the only things that grow abundantly in the surrounding area of Paso Robles. If you get a chance, check out this lavender farm!


The Elephant Seals near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

250 San Simeon Ave Suite 3B
San Simeon, CA 93452
(805) 924-1628
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The Elephant Seals are one of the main attractions in San Simeon. Just five minutes north of Hearst Castle, the Elephant Seals can be observed along small coves just south of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. The Elephant seal population has grown from a few dozen in 1990 to current estimates of nearly 10,000. That's 10,000 of the cutest, blobbiest, gruntiest things you've ever seen in one place. (Unless you've been on a cruise… ) You'll be happy to know these fabulous and surprisingly majestic (if incredibly lazy) creatures are protected by Friends of the Elephant Seals Please don't forget to leave them a donation if you visit.

Hearst Castle (credit:

Hearst Castle

750 Hearst Castle Road
San Simeon, CA 93452
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BOOK YOUR TOUR WELL IN ADVANCE because these tours sell out! FAST! The home of William Randolph Hearst is one of the most spectacular residences and museums you'll ever visit. The pristine grounds in original condition make this massive home even more of a marvel. From the Billiard Room to the marble pool looking out towards the ocean, to the guest bedrooms decorated with period clothing, a tour of Hearst castle is a unique and incredible experience.

Sarah Maizes is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of
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