Peachhead™ Approved Vacations: Family Vacation in Paso Robles, July 2012
My girls and I decided to take a few days to explore Paso Robles. After looking at the numerous ways to get there from Los Angeles, I asked Peachheaders for their advice. I was told I could take the coast route, which would be a lot prettier, or I could take the 405N to the 5N to the 46 which would be quicker, but not as pretty a ride. I opted for the quicker route and I am so glad I did. It was a nice ride and I made it to Paso Robles in 3 hours and 15 minutes (even though my navigator said it would take 4 1/2 hours). Once we got to Paso Robles, it was a hot day so we headed straight to Ravine Water Park. This is a great water park for both older kids and younger kids. For the younger kids they have 6000 square feet of kiddie pools with little slides, and for the bigger kids they have the wave pool, lazy river, twister slides, body bowl slide, kamikaze slide, and so much more. I even went on the Anaconda slide (and I am a wimp when it comes to this stuff). They have a number of different locations to get food and I was very surprised at how reasonably priced everything was. I would recommend renting a cabana for the day. It accommodates up to 8 people and they provide you with your own cabana girl to get you food and drinks all day. You also get a special parking spot right up front. They provide free tubes and life vests and they even provide free parking. This is a great way to spend a hot day in Paso Robles.
There are a number of different options of places to stay in Paso Robles. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Paso Robles. This is an ideal place to stay with a family. It is less than a mile from downtown Paso Robles, where there is shopping and restaurants and a park with events going on. They offer a variety of rooms and all of the rooms have free high speed internet, LCD HDTV, refrigerator, microwave, coffee/tea maker, work desk, and more. They provide a complimentary breakfast in the morning and they even have yummy cookies left out in the late afternoon and evening. The hotel has an indoor pool and Jacuzzi and a fitness room.
The hotel is located right across the street from Big Bubba’s BBQ, a wonderful restaurant to go to with the family. Try to request a table in the jail cell if you can; it's kinda cool to eat “in jail.” They have a pretty elaborate menu, with everything from bbq ribs and sandwiches to salads and a nice assortment of sides. If it is your birthday they come out and sing a very lively happy birthday. If you want to be daring, you can try riding the bronco bull. The food was very tasty (yummy ribs and tri-tip) and my daughter who is a vegetarian thought the veggie burger was really great.
After dinner we drove the few minutes to downtown Paso Robles and walked around a bit. They have a number of restaurants, stores, and even a movie theatre. Of course my girls got excited when they saw Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory so we stopped in there for a late night dessert. I discovered they have a sea salt caramel ice cream that was divine.
Whenever we are on vacation, one of my kids' favorite things to do is to go horseback riding. We had such a wonderful experience at V6 Ranch. The ranch is located around 45 minutes from Paso Robles in Parkfield. V6 Ranch was built by the owner, and when I say built, I mean with his own two hands. He built the buildings and the unique furniture. The horses are used to roaming around and my kids had so much fun riding them as they were able to trot and gallop and the horses were great and they let the riders guide them very easily. We took a beautiful scenic ride and even saw a coyote on the way back. My kids raved about how this was the best horse riding experience they ever had. After horseback riding we had lunch at the Parkfield Café which is also owned by Jack and Barbra, the owners of V6 Ranch. The Ranch has an 8 bedroom lodge with a pool, so after horseback riding you are welcome to take a swim. What a great way to refresh after a 90-minute horseback ride.
After horseback riding we stopped at Happy Acres Family Farm. This is a cute farm where they allow kids to feed the goats and pigs and you can even milk a goat. There are horses as well as baby horses, but funny enough, my kids' favorite animals were the dogs….they just couldn’t get enough of them. After they give you a tour of the property and all of the different animals, they show you how they make cheese from the goats' milk and they sell fresh cheese and eggs as well as lotions and other products made using the goats' milk. What I especially loved is that they have a storefront set up that works on the honor system. Pick up your products, and leave your money in the lock box. How cute is that? After leaving the farm, we drove a few minutes to downtown Templeton to visit Nature’s Touch Harvest and Nursery, where they sell ice cream made using the goats' milk from the farm. It was very good. This store was just so down to earth. They had so many products that were natural and many gluten free products.
During the summer, downtown Paso Robles has free concerts in the park so we stopped by there before dinner to hang out and listen to music. The band was wonderful but what I really loved was seeing the community come together for a fun day in the park. The little kids dancing always melt my heart. We had dinner at Panolivo Family Bistro, which is located a couple of blocks down from the park. When you walk in the first thing you see is the display with all of the wonderful pastries, specialty desserts, and freshly baked cakes. This is due to the restaurant having an in-house bakery. The restaurant is decorated using purple, which is my favorite color, so I was drawn to the restaurant right away. The menu offers a variety of options ranging from salads to steak to seafood to wonderful pasta dishes. They also have gluten free items, as well as vegetarian, and a kids' menu. I had the “delicious salad” and I certainly know why it is called that. It was a wonderful blend of mixed greens, orange segments, goat cheese, dried cherries, and candied pecans, with a raspberry vinaigrette. The Caesar salad was great, also. For our main course we had the lobster ravioli, which not only tasted great, but was beautifully displayed (using squid oil to give the ravioli a pretty design); the yellow squash ravioli, which was tasty as well; and the rotisserie chicken, which was tender and flavorful.
After dinner we walked around downtown a little bit and then headed to Paso Bowl which was a few minutes away. They had Rock ‘n Roll bowling going on and boy, did it rock. Great music, videos, lights, and unlimited bowling, all for $17.00 per person. After four games I had to pull the kids out of there as we had an early morning to look forward to.
I had never been to Hearst Castle but had always wanted to visit it so we got an early morning start and drove to San Simeon to view this incredible piece of property. It is a nice drive from Paso Robles. As you drive down Highway 46 you pass a number of wineries. When we first arrived at Hearst Castle we were told to enter the theatre to watch a movie on the history of William Randolph Hearst and the Hearst Castle. It was so interesting to learn how his father became wealthy and how William Randolph continued his legacy. I also discovered that Julia Morgan was the woman architect who helped design and build this house. She was the first woman to graduate from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts with a degree in Architecture, so it was very interesting that Mr. Hearst chose her to be the architect on this project. It was a long process as Mr. Hearst kept coming up with new ideas throughout the process. Julia Morgan worked on the Hearst Castle for over twenty-eight years, from 1919-1947. I don’t think Mr. Hearst ever imagined having the house completed, as he constantly changed his mind and his passion was to continue creating the house. We did Tour Number 1, which is the main floor. We walked through the rooms while the docent gave us a history of the house and the parties that occurred there. I especially loved walking around the outside gardens and pools and looking at the beautiful flowers and statues.
After our tour we had a lovely lunch at Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill in Cambria. They have a lovely view overlooking the ocean and the food is wonderful. I especially loved the Gorgonzola salad. After lunch we drove down Main Street in Cambria. Cambria is a cute little town with little shops and restaurants. While driving down Highway 46 returning to Paso Robles, I passed a winery called Peachy Canyon Winery. Of course I had to stop in and visit a winery with the name “Peach” in it and I am so glad I did. The wine was wonderful and they had a musician singing and playing guitar. Very relaxing.
I love wine tasting but I really wanted my kids to share in this experience with me so we went to Pithy Little Wine Company in downtown Paso Robles, where I was able to enjoy wine tasting with a bento food pairing box while my kids enjoyed soda tasting paired with flavored popcorn. What a wonderful concept. They also have complimentary olive oil tasting. The owners are a very sweet couple and they even offer complimentary delivery of your purchased items to any hotel or bed and breakfast in Paso Robles so that you don’t have to carry your purchased items around with you. And if you are looking for that unique gift, you can design your own wine labels to commemorate a special occasion.
After our wine/soda tasting we walked a couple of blocks to the Paso Robles Inn Steakhouse. The restaurant is located in the historic hotel the Paso Robles Inn, built in 1891. The restaurant is best known for their steaks; however, everything we had was magnificent. We started out with the grilled artichoke, served with a meyer lemon mayonnaise and a chipotle ranch. The chipotle ranch had just the right kick to it. We also tried the tri-tip and the shrimp scampi, which was very flavorful. I am a big prime rib lover so I had to try their prime rib. It was a great piece of meat--very lean, and wonderfully prepared. My daughter is a vegetarian and she really enjoyed the vegetarian risotto. While we were dining, we saw them prepare their famous Bananas Foster and we couldn’t leave without trying it. It was fun to watch them prepare it tableside as they ignited the dessert and watched the flames explode. While dining I enjoyed a J.Lohr cabernet from the Paso Robles region. A perfect complement to my meal.
The next morning we got up early and walked around downtown Paso Robles. We came across a wonderful candy shop called Powell’s Sweet Shoppe. This is every kid's heaven (and I am sure most adults). They have every candy imaginable. My daughter was thrilled to find Harry Potter candy. They even have a Willy Wonka section set up right near a TV that was playing the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie--they even have movie theatre seats set up to hang out and watch the movie.
Next we walked over to the Paso Robles Children's Museum. What a gem of a place. They converted the Paso Robles Volunteer Firehouse into a wonderful children’s museum about 5 years ago. Everything looks so clean and new that you would have thought they were having their grand opening that week. On the first floor is Old Mack, the original fire engine built in 1944. The kids can dress up in real firefighter gear and then climb on and pretend to drive Old Mack. There is also an oak tree the kids can climb through and being that Paso Robles is wine country, they have a grape stomp, which is a big ball pit that simulates crushing grapes to make “juice.” Upstairs they have the creation station where kids can do arts and crafts, a paint wall where the kids are encouraged to paint on the wall, and the market area where children can shop with carts and learn Spanish (all of the fruits, vegetables, and food signs are written in both English and Spanish, embracing the bilingual lifestyle of the Paso Robles culture). My kids enjoyed playing in the firehouse pizza kitchen, as well as the theatre area, where there is a stage for the kids to perform on after dressing up in the different costumes and there are actual theatre seats for the audience to sit comfortably and enjoy the show. My favorite exhibit at the museum was Newton’s Playhouse, where you have the opportunity to put balls in tubes that are sucked up and then rolled down ramps into a basket in the ceiling. Once enough balls are in there, a light starts to flash and the balls are dropped down. My kids loved standing under the basket as the balls came down on top of them.
After our adventure at the children's museum we drove home and it only took 3 ½ hours. This was such a fun and easy trip. We explored nature, had adventure, and wined and dined. Something for everyone. I would like to thank the Travel Paso Robles Alliance for hosting my trip and arranging such a fun vacation for my family.