Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekend Getaway: Atascadero/San Luis Obispo (Part One)

On our recent trip to the Central Coast, we had originally planned on staying in one of my favorite California college towns, San Luis Obispo. Due to a last minute cancellation however, we had to scramble to find a new place to stay and settled on a 2 bedroom cottage in nearby Atascadero. It turns out that it wasn't settling at all! The home was exactly what we needed...a charming 1915 craftsman with a picket fence and plenty of outdoor space for the kids. It was simplicity at it's best, and definitely made both me and my husband realize how nice it is to take things a little slower than normal.

We wanted to make the most out of drive down to Atascadero, so we planned a couple of stops along the way to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs. After a fun hike at Pinnacle's National Park (see post here), we made our way down to Paso Robles for our second detour of the day.   We arrived in town in the early afternoon, and headed straight to Kiler Ridge Olive Farm. The farm is set on the top of a hill, with beautiful views of the surrounding valley and olive tree orchards. As we pulled up we were greeted promptly by the owner's dog, who was a huge hit with kids. We settled in at one of their outdoor tables and had a picnic while we took in the views and enjoyed an informative olive oil tasting. I love that the tasting was done outdoors where we could enjoy the views and the kids could have a little space to run around.

Our next stop was a quick drive down the road to Barrelhouse Brewing. If I lived in Paso Robles, this would definitely be a regular stop for me. The beers were tasty and refreshing (we had the Sunny Daze and IPA) and the brewery was really kid friendly. There was a large lawn to run around on and free pretzels, which pretty much sealed the deal for the kids.

One of the unexpected benefits of staying in Atascadero was the proximity to both Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. After spending a little time in Paso Robles, we took the short drive to our rental home to check in and get settled (some showers were in order after hiking earlier that morning!) We got all cleaned up and then hopped back in the car to head down to San Luis Obispo for their famous Thursday night Farmer's Market.

I absolutely love San Luis Obispo. It has a small town feel, but with a surprisingly happening downtown and a nice mix of college students and families. The weekly farmer's market is a huge event for the city in which over 120 local vendors set up booths and six blocks of the downtown area are closed to traffic. Despite the crowds, however, there was still plenty of room to move around and explore the shops and vendors that line the streets. Most of the food offerings center around BBQ (apparently it's big in the Central Coast!), so we joined the crowds and had some tri-tip sandwiches, cornbread and baked beans at Old San Luis BBQ.

After dinner, we walked the streets, checking out Bubblegum Alley and then made our way to my favorite coffee shop in the area, Scout Coffee Co. We stumbled upon this gem on our drive home from Santa Barbara last year and it definitely left an impression on me. The decor alone is enough to draw me in, but the coffee and treats are what keep me coming back! The kids split an ice cream shake, and we treated ourselves to an affogato (which is quite possibly the greatest dessert ever invented).

We spent the rest of the evening perusing the stands at the Farmer's Market, people watching and enjoying the live music.

Check out part two of our weekend getaway here.

What are your favorite spots to visit in San Luis Obispo County? 

Details: San Luis Obispo is about a 3.5 hour drive from Berkeley. Olive Oil Tastings at Kiler Ridge Olive Farm are $5 (free with yelp check-in when we visited) and the fee is applied to any purchase of $25 or more. Pints at Barrelhouse Brewing range from $5-6. Dinner at Old San Luis Obispo BBQ was under $20 (we supplement the kids meals with food we bring along, but you can definitely get full for less than $10/person). Affogato and Ice Cream Shake at Scout Coffee was $9 (again, we shared).

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