Thomas Hill Organics: Great Brunch in Paso Robles

The city of Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast has become one of the most popular wine regions in the entire state and with that comes a plethora of new restaurants that are making some great food. You may recal my time at Hatch and Pasolivo, but what I really wanted to try was the popular Thomas Hill Organics. This farm to table spot lived up to the hype and was a nice place for brunch on a busy Sunday morning.  Here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost:  $15 -$20 for brunch, more for dinner
  • Hours: Different daily for lunch and dinner, check their website
  • Location: 1313 Park St, Paso Robles, CA 93446

Getting There

From Highway 101 North, get off on Paso Robles St and head straight. From here, turn left on 13th St then right on Park St. You can find parking along the street and can walk to the restaurant from here.

The Restaurant

The restaurant is a quiet little spot on Park St and while it looks small from the outside, there is a nice sized patio in the back.

The interior has wine on the walls, a big modern bar and a few small tables along the walls.

Proceed to the back of the restaurant, and you will see a patio with a dozen tables that can seat many different party sizes. I got a reservation on Sunday morning for brunch because there was a festival in the city,  but most weekends you can get a seat relatively fast, depending on your party size. The menu is all farm to table dishes grown in the area and while it is pretty small, there are a lot of great options. Here is what we chose.

House Made Donuts – These pastries had an almost funnel cake type texture, lightly drizzled with a strawberry syrup and then topped with powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. It’s a great appetizer as it is light and not too filling. It doesn’t have that heavy set feel in your stomach when you eat them, and they go great with coffee.

Pork Belly Chiliquiles – Ample portions of pork belly sitting on a bed of chips with roasted tomatoes and chevere. An egg is added to the side as is a dallop of creme fraiche. GThe salty pork belly, savory chips, sweet chèvre and fresh tomatoes all come together to create a taste that is the definition of brunch. I especially liked the tomatoes, which you would expect to be good at a farm to table restaurant like this.

Avocado Toast – Lots of avocado with chili flakes on top. The bread has a light creme fraiche spread on it that you almost don’t notice. The scrambled eggs are fluffy and a great addition to the toast, as is the ample portion of smoked salmon on the side. Again it is a nice fresh dish, which seems to be the way to describe everything here. It’s not the best avocado toast I have had but it is above average.

As you can see, this is a fun spot for brunch in the city of Paso Robles, and the fresh ingredients and great preparation will have you coming back for more. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Horsetail Ranch: A Luxury Vacation Rental in Creston, Near Paso Robles

In San Luis Obispo County, along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles is becoming a booming area full of wine, restaurants, and places to explore. When looking for a place to stay in the area, it is hard to beat the new luxury vacation rental property just opened last year known as HorseTail Ranch, about 25 minutes south of downtown Paso Robles. With two spots to rent on the 150-acre property, it is a great home away from home. Both options are unique and can be used for everything from weddings and retreats to family vacations or romantic weekends. Here is all the information so that you can check this spot out for yourself.

Details

  • Book here
  • Bring your own food
  • Horse rides available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides

Getting There

When you book, they will give you directions to the property as well as times to arrive and what to expect. Both houses are on different sides of the ranch so you can stay in one and never see the other, which truly makes it feel remote, and I loved that.

The people who manage the property, Brian and Crystal are great as well, they are actually one of the highlights. They run the horse riding business on the property called Central Coast Trailrides, which you can read about here and they are always ready to help with problems that may arise.

They also have a bunch of animals including a goat, two donkeys, a mini horse, chickens and regular horses. There were multiple times during our weekend there when we just went down and hung out with them and the animals at the barn, adding to the experience.

The Main House

There are two houses on the property. The main one is a five bedroom home with lots of amenities and which overlooks the lake. There were people staying at it and having a wedding in the back, so I didn’t see the inside. Online the photos make it look impressive though.

The Cabin

The one we stayed in was an awesome off the grid cabin that could sleep 6. It is truly off the grid, with no wifi or TV and with all the power coming from solar panels.

From the moment we pulled up to the cabin we were excited to be staying there as it was designed in such a cool way, very rustic and modern.

The Cabin is situated on top of a small ridge with a beautiful view looking over the hills in the distance and ridiculously perfect sunsets.

Outside of the house, there are a lot of outdoor seating options and a grill for cooking.

The interior is just as awesome, with a large open layout for it’s one big main story, and a loft above with two pull out beds.

My wife and I stayed here solo, but we could have easily had a few friends with us, and it wouldn’t have felt too cozy.

The one bedroom is downstairs, and it has the house’s only bathroom. If you go with friends, make sure they are good friends as you have to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom.

There is a small kitchen under the stairs with a fridge and stove top. This is the only area I wish was a little bigger as there was not a lot of space to cook, but it worked for what we were doing.

For food, you will want to bring your own as the property is not very close to any restaurants or grocery stores. My wife and I loved that aspect as the outdoor seating, especially for sunset, was awesome and it was a great place to eat the dinner we made.

Since the cabin is up on a hill, the views during sunset are second to none as you can see for miles, here are a few shots.

With the lack of Wifi and TV, I used it as a time to unplug a little, which was a huge plus for me since I spend so much of my time connected to the internet. There was cell reception though so we could always connect with people or check email if needed.

The Lake

The property also has a lake which is near the other house, but you can drive or walk to it. There is a paddleboat you can take out on the lake, or you can just sit and relax by it.

Horse Rides

As I stated above, there is horseback riding available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides. I would recommend doing that as it’s a great way to see the property and relax, you can read more about it here.

Wineries

If you are looking to explore wineries, as I am sure you are in Paso Robles, these three are all within 15-20 minutes.

Still Water Winery

This is a smaller winery, but it has live music on the weekends and a relaxed vibe with great people working there.

Sculpterra

Sculpterra is one of my favorites in Paso Robles as it has lots of unique sculptures to explore around the property.

Cass Winery

This is a great spot for lunch as they have excellent food and you can do a wine tasting while eating the food.

All in all, if you are looking for a great spot to set up a home base for exploring Paso Robles, or for a wedding or event, it is hard to beat HorseTail Ranch. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments, I honestly can’t wait to visit again.

Disclosure: this stay was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Horsetail Ranch: A Luxury Vacation Rental in Creston, Near Paso Robles

In San Luis Obispo County, along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles is becoming a booming area full of wine, restaurants, and places to explore. When looking for a place to stay in the area, it is hard to beat the new luxury vacation rental property just opened last year known as HorseTail Ranch, about 25 minutes south of downtown Paso Robles. With two spots to rent on the 150-acre property, it is a great home away from home. Both options are unique and can be used for everything from weddings and retreats to family vacations or romantic weekends. Here is all the information so that you can check this spot out for yourself.

Details

  • Book here
  • Bring your own food
  • Horse rides available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides

Getting There

When you book, they will give you directions to the property as well as times to arrive and what to expect. Both houses are on different sides of the ranch so you can stay in one and never see the other, which truly makes it feel remote, and I loved that.

The people who manage the property, Brian and Crystal are great as well, they are actually one of the highlights. They run the horse riding business on the property called Central Coast Trailrides, which you can read about here and they are always ready to help with problems that may arise.

They also have a bunch of animals including a goat, two donkeys, a mini horse, chickens and regular horses. There were multiple times during our weekend there when we just went down and hung out with them and the animals at the barn, adding to the experience.

The Main House

There are two houses on the property. The main one is a five bedroom home with lots of amenities and which overlooks the lake. There were people staying at it and having a wedding in the back, so I didn’t see the inside. Online the photos make it look impressive though.

The Cabin

The one we stayed in was an awesome off the grid cabin that could sleep 6. It is truly off the grid, with no wifi or TV and with all the power coming from solar panels.

From the moment we pulled up to the cabin we were excited to be staying there as it was designed in such a cool way, very rustic and modern.

The Cabin is situated on top of a small ridge with a beautiful view looking over the hills in the distance and ridiculously perfect sunsets.

Outside of the house, there are a lot of outdoor seating options and a grill for cooking.

The interior is just as awesome, with a large open layout for it’s one big main story, and a loft above with two pull out beds.

My wife and I stayed here solo, but we could have easily had a few friends with us, and it wouldn’t have felt too cozy.

The one bedroom is downstairs, and it has the house’s only bathroom. If you go with friends, make sure they are good friends as you have to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom.

There is a small kitchen under the stairs with a fridge and stove top. This is the only area I wish was a little bigger as there was not a lot of space to cook, but it worked for what we were doing.

For food, you will want to bring your own as the property is not very close to any restaurants or grocery stores. My wife and I loved that aspect as the outdoor seating, especially for sunset, was awesome and it was a great place to eat the dinner we made.

Since the cabin is up on a hill, the views during sunset are second to none as you can see for miles, here are a few shots.

With the lack of Wifi and TV, I used it as a time to unplug a little, which was a huge plus for me since I spend so much of my time connected to the internet. There was cell reception though so we could always connect with people or check email if needed.

The Lake

The property also has a lake which is near the other house, but you can drive or walk to it. There is a paddleboat you can take out on the lake, or you can just sit and relax by it.

Horse Rides

As I stated above, there is horseback riding available on the property with Central Coast Trailrides. I would recommend doing that as it’s a great way to see the property and relax, you can read more about it here.

Wineries

If you are looking to explore wineries, as I am sure you are in Paso Robles, these three are all within 15-20 minutes.

Still Water Winery

This is a smaller winery, but it has live music on the weekends and a relaxed vibe with great people working there.

Sculpterra

Sculpterra is one of my favorites in Paso Robles as it has lots of unique sculptures to explore around the property.

Cass Winery

This is a great spot for lunch as they have excellent food and you can do a wine tasting while eating the food.

All in all, if you are looking for a great spot to set up a home base for exploring Paso Robles, or for a wedding or event, it is hard to beat HorseTail Ranch. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments, I honestly can’t wait to visit again.

Disclosure: this stay was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Carrizo Plain National Monument: Soda Lake, Finding Wildflowers & Exploring the Park

Carrizo Plain National Monument is a beautiful range of mountains and valleys in Central California that has been relatively untouched over the years, helping it to maintain a glimpse of what California used to look like. The sprawling green hills, which are covered in wildflowers during the spring, give way to a lush lowland with everything from historic farms to the alkaline and often dry Soda Lake. You could easily spend a few days exploring the area, but if you are looking for wildflowers then right now (April 2017) is the time to go. Here is all the information on the park and the wildflowers at the bottom.

Details

  • Free to enter
  • Location: 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, CA 93453

Getting There

The best way to the park is on Highway 58, coming from the coast or from Highway 5. Highway 58 will take you along a paved road all the way into the park. If you originate from the south, you can take Highway 166 to Soda Lake Road and into the park that way, but it is about 18 miles of dirt road that can be impassable after the rain and is generally much slower going then heading in via Highway 58. There is parking along the road and in small parking lots at the main areas. Note that most of the roads in the park are dirt. They were passable when I went but just be sure to take your time or a high clearance vehicle if you have one.

Carrizo Plains

The park is full of adventures, and most are easily accessible from the main road. Here are some of the highlights.

Soda Lake

Soda Lake is one of the largest alkaline lakes in all of California. It has no natural drainage point, so the water sits in the lake before eventually evaporating during the summer months.

If you go when the lake has water in it, it is beautiful to see it reflecting the surrounding hills. There are two main ways to see the lake which are as follows.

Soda Lake Overlook

This short, tenth of a mile hike takes you to the top of a hill that overlooks the lake below. It is a great vantage point of the valley below.

There are even some benches up here that you can relax at if you want to just sit and take in the view.

Soda Lake Boardwalk

This half-mile trail takes you out to the shores of Soda Lake so you can get up close to this body of water.

You can then walk along the elevated boardwalk that takes you along the coast and gives you a great spot to view animals and birds from.

There are interpretive plaques that tell you about the lake and its history as well.

Painted Rock

Painted Rock is one of the parks main destinations as it is a collection of Native American art that is one of the best known in California. The area is only accessible via a guided tour during the spring though and via self-registration permits during the summer. I haven’t gotten a chance to go yet, but I am sure it is amazing.

Traver Ranch

Along the southern portion of Soda Lake Road, Traver Ranch is a historic ranch that the park has preserved.

I was only able to view it from the road since it was closed to the public when I went but it was cool to see, and I would like to explore it more next time I go.

Wildflowers

If you are coming for wildflowers, then the spring is your best bet. In the spring of 2017, after all the rain we had, there is currently a super bloom that is something you really must experience for yourself. Here are the best spots I found to see the wildflowers.

Corner of Highway 58 and Seven Mile Road

As you enter the park from Highway 58, the views get better and better as you go along.

The best view by far in this area was at the corner of Highway 58 and the dirt road into the park known as Seven Mile Road.

The mountains along the left side of the road were literally covered in yellow, making it a fantastic place to experience the super bloom. There was a small dirt cow path that took you to the top of a small hill, and there was a massive bloom happening up there that I took a ton of pictures of.

Simmler Road

On the South side of the lake, there is another dirt road known as Simmler Road. This route takes you through a massive collection of yellow flowers on both sides of you as far as the eye can see.

It is a great place just to pull off and experience the bloom, as well as looking over the lake.

Soda Lake Road South

If you are going home to Southern California and you have a high clearance car, then it is worth exiting through Soda Lake Road to the south. If you are from Northern California, then I would not say this is worth driving all the way down for though as the blooms are just as good in the north part of the park.

On this road, after you pass Traver Ranch, there is an extensive collection of blooms off to your left in the surrounding mountains.

The road eventually gets up close to a range of hills before it exits the park and these hills were covered in yellow as well. I pulled off and took a bunch more photos here as well before making my way out of the park.

Video

I will be putting a video up later today with these spots, be sure to check back!

As you can see, Carrizo Plain is an amazing spot to explore, especially during the 2017 super bloom. If you have the time, it is worth the drive to see the amazing spectical. Let me know if you go in the comments and what you thought.

Mission San Miguel Arcangel: One of the Best California Missions

Mission San Miguel Arcangel was the sixteenth of the California Missions to be founded, and it opened its doors in 1797. While the original church was destroyed, the current chapel was built in the early 1800’s and the mission itself is one of the most beautiful for the old style that is still on display there. It is one of my personal favorite missions as the photographic opportunities make it a great place to feel really engaged with the history you are visiting. You can read about my time visiting all the missions here or read on to learn about the beautiful Mission San Miguel Arcangel.

San Miguel Arcangel-3

Details

  • Cost: $3
  • Location: 775 Mission St, San Miguel, CA 93451

Getting There

Mission San Miguel is located right off Highway 101 on the Mission St exit. You can see the mission right when you get off the freeway, and there is a small parking lot in front of the mission for visitors.

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Be sure to also stop by the historic bell tower that you see when you get off the freeway. It is not close to the parking lot, but you can pull off for a few pictures on the way.

The Mission

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San Miguel is in my top five for missions as it has been able to maintain that old vibe in a realistic way and not a renovated way. The walls feel like they are crumbling in front of your eyes, and while it still feels perfectly safe, the decay actually makes for pretty amazing pictures and experiences. The vibe of the mission is more like a living history than the others.

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The exterior of the missions has one large section of the quadrilateral and the facade of the chapel. The chapel facade is relatively plain as far as the missions go but it looks nice next to the old wall.

San Miguel Arcangel-1

There is a large fountain on the outside as well that had a lot of plants growing around it and koi inside. The top was swarming with bees when I went, which added to the old vibe.

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Along the backside of the chapel, there is a large graveyard that is historic in California mission history.

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This mission was the first to bury an Indian convert to Christianity in its cemetery and by the end of the mission’s time, thousands were buried here.

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The back of the cemetery has an old stone bell tower that is completely beautiful to see as well. Lastly, there is a statue of Father Serra at the bottom of the exterior courtyard which you can see before you head in.

The Interior

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After paying my $3, I headed into the first stop on the tour, the museum.

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The museum featured two rooms with lots of information about the Native American history in the area and life on the mission.

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From there you head to the interior courtyard, and you have to look at it from afar as it was not open to walk around in when I was there since priests still actively live here.

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As you walk into the next section, you will come across the sheep gate. The sheep gate is a fun addition to the mission as I hadn’t seen one like it at any of the others.

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Next, you will head into the four rooms of artifacts that they have here. These rooms were my favorite part as the walls are old and provide for beautiful photos.

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They have done a great job of setting up example rooms to show you what the original bedrooms and the kitchen would have looked like here.

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The last room in this area is dedicated specifically to artifacts.

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I loved this room as it had walls that were crumbling, a fireplace and awesome hanging lights.

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There was also a broad statute of an angel stepping on the devil in the back corner that was fun to see as well.

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After you leave this section, you will head outside again and go towards the chapel.

The Chapel

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The chapel at Mission San Miguel was one of the most interesting ones I saw visiting the missions. There were some artistic designs on the alter piece that I found a lot different the more traditional ones I had seen.

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First, there was the all seeing eye of God at the top of the alter.

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Next, both walls next to the alter had starburst type art pieces painted on them. I though this was a unique chapel, and it quickly became one of my favorites.

San Miguel Arcangel-15

All in all, Mission San Miguel is a great mission to visit as it is right off Highway 101 and it has a lot of beautiful things to see. It is in my top five missions, and I highly recommend it. You can read more about day four on the missions trail here and the missions trail as a whole here. Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: The Fifth California Mission

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth mission founded by Father Junípero Serra and the only mission to have an L-shaped chapel. Today the mission is located right in the heart of San Luis Obispo, which is a bustling college town along the coast of California. The mission here is free to visit, but I found it be underwhelming compared to others I saw on Day 3 of my mission tour. It is still a great stop along Highway 101 though, read on for all the details.

mission san luis obispo-23

Details

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: 751 Palm St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Getting There

mission san luis obispo-21

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is located only minutes from the Broad St exit off Highway 101 in downtown San Luis Obispo. There is parking along the street that is $1.25 an hour, but it can be hard to find during peak times since it is right in downtown San Luis Obispo (a popular college town).

The Mission

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After parking, you can make your way to the church and gift shop right near the entrance. This mission is different than the others as you do not need to pay, and there is not a map so you simply go where you will at your own pace.

mission san luis obispo-1

The gift shop has all of the things you have no doubt become accustomed to seeing at the other missions you have visited, such as books on the missions, crosses, and other tourist souvenirs.

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Behind the gift shop is a small five-room museum which has a lot of great artifacts from the mission history and the Indian history around the area as well.

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In the back room, there is even a map of the early land borders for the county and a case with guns from the era.

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After walking through the museum, you will exit out into the mission courtyard.

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As with other courtyards, this one is well manicured and kept up. The plants and flowers blooming were fantastic, and it was peaceful to walk around them.

mission san luis obispo-8

Since the courtyard is not closed in like the other missions (you are not paying to see it) it was hard to tell where the mission ended and other more modern things began. I didn’t know whether to continue walking in a direction in hopes of seeing something from the mission’s history or to turn around.

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There is a beautiful set of three old mission bells hanging prominently in the courtyard though. There is also an old well that is picturesque amount the plants and walkways.

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After spending time in the courtyard, you will want to enter the chapel. This chapel is open to the public whenever the mission is open so it can be busier than others but it is large, so there is room to move around.

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The chapel is unique in that it is the only mission chapel to form an L shape. All of the other ones are just one long room without the side room like this one has. Since I am visiting the missions in a row, it is fun to see ones that have different architecture as that gives them personality.

mission san luis obispo-14

The altarpiece here is also a lot less ornate than many of the previous missions I have been too. The bottom of the L shape chapel is different than the main chapel as it let in a lot more natural light and was much brighter.

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There was also a few small alcoves that you could pray in on this side as well.

The Exterior

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After finishing looking at the chapel, I headed outside to be greeted by the missions fountain. The fountain was full of green water though and not running, so it was not as picturesque as others.

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In the front of the mission, there is the statue of Father Serra and a large wooden cross as well. Also, off to the side there is the El Camino Real bell that is the official marking for the road, and that is at each mission.

Mission Court

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This mission also has a large courtyard in front that was made by the city, and that is beautiful to stroll around. There is a fountain with a bronze bear playing in the water and a few awnings you can sit under.

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If you have more time in your parking meter, there is also a small path that walks along the stream here and that provides a beautiful area just to take a relaxing walk.

All in all, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a great free stop on a road trip with lots of history and unique artifacts. If you are visiting only a few missions though, it is not one of my favorites. You can read about how you can drive to all of the missions here and let me know what you think in the comments.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: The Fifth California Mission

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth mission founded by Father Junípero Serra and the only mission to have an L-shaped chapel. Today the mission is located right in the heart of San Luis Obispo, which is a bustling college town along the coast of California. The mission here is free to visit, but I found it be underwhelming compared to others I saw on Day 3 of my mission tour. It is still a great stop along Highway 101 though, read on for all the details.

mission san luis obispo-23

Details

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: 751 Palm St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Getting There

mission san luis obispo-21

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is located only minutes from the Broad St exit off Highway 101 in downtown San Luis Obispo. There is parking along the street that is $1.25 an hour, but it can be hard to find during peak times since it is right in downtown San Luis Obispo (a popular college town).

The Mission

mission san luis obispo-20

After parking, you can make your way to the church and gift shop right near the entrance. This mission is different than the others as you do not need to pay, and there is not a map so you simply go where you will at your own pace.

mission san luis obispo-1

The gift shop has all of the things you have no doubt become accustomed to seeing at the other missions you have visited, such as books on the missions, crosses, and other tourist souvenirs.

mission san luis obispo-6

Behind the gift shop is a small five-room museum which has a lot of great artifacts from the mission history and the Indian history around the area as well.

mission san luis obispo-4

In the back room, there is even a map of the early land borders for the county and a case with guns from the era.

mission san luis obispo-3

After walking through the museum, you will exit out into the mission courtyard.

mission san luis obispo-9

As with other courtyards, this one is well manicured and kept up. The plants and flowers blooming were fantastic, and it was peaceful to walk around them.

mission san luis obispo-8

Since the courtyard is not closed in like the other missions (you are not paying to see it) it was hard to tell where the mission ended and other more modern things began. I didn’t know whether to continue walking in a direction in hopes of seeing something from the mission’s history or to turn around.

mission san luis obispo-11

There is a beautiful set of three old mission bells hanging prominently in the courtyard though. There is also an old well that is picturesque amount the plants and walkways.

mission san luis obispo-17

After spending time in the courtyard, you will want to enter the chapel. This chapel is open to the public whenever the mission is open so it can be busier than others but it is large, so there is room to move around.

mission san luis obispo-15

The chapel is unique in that it is the only mission chapel to form an L shape. All of the other ones are just one long room without the side room like this one has. Since I am visiting the missions in a row, it is fun to see ones that have different architecture as that gives them personality.

mission san luis obispo-14

The altarpiece here is also a lot less ornate than many of the previous missions I have been too. The bottom of the L shape chapel is different than the main chapel as it let in a lot more natural light and was much brighter.

mission san luis obispo-16

There was also a few small alcoves that you could pray in on this side as well.

The Exterior

mission san luis obispo-19

After finishing looking at the chapel, I headed outside to be greeted by the missions fountain. The fountain was full of green water though and not running, so it was not as picturesque as others.

mission san luis obispo-18

In the front of the mission, there is the statue of Father Serra and a large wooden cross as well. Also, off to the side there is the El Camino Real bell that is the official marking for the road, and that is at each mission.

Mission Court

mission san luis obispo-22

This mission also has a large courtyard in front that was made by the city, and that is beautiful to stroll around. There is a fountain with a bronze bear playing in the water and a few awnings you can sit under.

mission san luis obispo-24

If you have more time in your parking meter, there is also a small path that walks along the stream here and that provides a beautiful area just to take a relaxing walk.

All in all, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a great free stop on a road trip with lots of history and unique artifacts. If you are visiting only a few missions though, it is not one of my favorites. You can read about how you can drive to all of the missions here and let me know what you think in the comments.

Atascadero Weekend Itinerary: Where to Eat, Drink, Hike & Explore

Atascadero was one of the first popular cities on the central coast, and it has a unique history that goes back to the early 1900’s. While today it has been overshadowed as a destination by cities like Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles, Atascadero has a lot of fun places for you to explore on a weekend. Here is an itinerary that you can follow, and that showcases all of the cities best spots.

Details

  • Covers Friday night to Sunday lunch
  • Estimated cost: $600-$800

Hotels

First off, hotels. For hotels, I recommend either the Carlton Hotel or the Holiday Inn

Carlton Hotel

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Carlton Hotel is the oldest hotel in the city. Located right in the middle of the small downtown, the Carlton Hotel has all of the historic charm (built in 1918) with an updated and modern feel (renovated in 2004).

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The hotel has a beautiful facade that you can see from the freeway, complete with an old neon light that says “Carlton.” The interior features a lovely second story courtyard, large staircase, and rooms with big spa tubs. It feels historic, but not concerning amenities. I loved just opening my door and walking out to the second story patio while having some of the included morning coffee. If you are looking to book this hotel, do it in advance as it can book up early.

Holiday Inn Express

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If you are more into modern hotels, the Holiday Inn Express on the South end of town is a great spot for you to stay. Featuring a modest pool, continental breakfast with a machine that “prints” pancakes at the push of a button and Cowboy cookies in the lobby, it is hard to go wrong.

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Many of the rooms have couches which provide a more relaxing atmosphere, as you don’t always have to sit on the bed when in the room.

Both hotels are great spots to stay in the city, now on to the weekend itinerary.

Friday

Since most people generally head out after work, this itinerary starts with dinner on Friday. For dinner, I would recommend Guest House Grill.

Dinner: Guest House Grill

Guest House Grill is a very popular dinner spot in the city; it has a broad range of dishes that lean more towards the meat lover. My wife is a vegetarian though, and she found a lot to like on the menu as well. The ambiance and the servers make it a great spot for a relaxing dinner, do call in advance for a reservation though.

  • Recommendations: Artichoke for an appetizer, bacon wrapped filet with potatoes for dinner, and tableside torched creme brulee for dessert.
  • Cost: $20 – $30
  • Location: 8783 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

If you are tired, then call it a night, if not you can grab a drink at Whisky and June, which is catty-corner from the Carlton Hotel.

Saturday

If you are staying at Holiday Inn, then you should just grab breakfast in the hotel as the breakfast has a lot of options and keeps your costs down. Carlton Hotel just has coffee though so I would recommend walking up the street to Bru Coffeehouse.

Breakfast: Bru Coffeehouse

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Bru Coffeehouse is a fun spot, right on the main downtown street, that has a lot of different coffee options. They also have an attached room where you can sit and outdoor seating as well.

  • Recommendations: I would recommend a pour-over as they have Stumptown coffee from Seattle and it is great. Also, the veggie quiche is a good breakfast item.
  • Cost: $5 -$8
  • Location: 5760 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

Hiking at Jim Green Hiking Trail

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After coffee, I would recommend heading over to Jim Green Trail which is a beautiful 1.7-mile hiking trail that is approachable for the whole family and the dog!  The trail is located just outside of town, and you can park in the dirt lot to hike it. Read more about the hike here.

The Groves on 41

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No trip to Atascadero is complete without touring one of the many olive oil producing farms in the area. The Groves on 41 is a great place to do this as they are awesome people to hang out and taste with, they made my wife and I feel like long term friends during out time here. Visiting The Groves on 41 is via reservation only though so make sure to call in advance of you want to check it out. I would plan on trying to stop over there around 11 AM so that you can spend an hour or so before lunch.

  • Set it up online here
  • Cost: $10 to taste
  • Location: 4455 CA-41, Templeton, CA 93465

Lunch: Street Side Ale House

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Street Side Ale House is my favorite place to eat in the city and lunch is a good time to do it as it is less busy than dinner. They feature a fun menu with a lot of unique dishes that provide a broad range of flavors for you to try. They also have beer cocktails and 25 beers on taps.

  • Recommendations: Lamb burger, fish and chips, backyard jalapeños
  • Cost: $12 -$15
  • Location: 6155 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

The afternoon is free for you to explore as you would like, or head back to the hotel and relax. I would recommend stopping by Bristols Cider and Tent City Brewing Company though if you get the chance.

Bristols Cider

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Cider is the new craft beer, and there are places popping up all over California where you can partake in the crushed apple process they are perfecting. Bristols Cider is one of the best I have been to though as they have a bunch of different options so that there is at least one that will fit your tastes. I enjoyed the barrel aged cider they had and would go out of my way to try it again.

  • Recommendations: $5 tasting flight
  • Location: 3220 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

Tent City Brewing Company

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I come from Southern California, which has become a craft beer mecca over the recent years. So while Tent City Brewing Co had some decent beers, for me, they were nothing too surprising. I would recommend heading over and doing a flight though as they have a fun spot with lots of outdoor seating, pretzels to eat while tasting and an excellent shuffleboard table.

  • Recommendations: Tasting flight or the Red
  • Cost: $2 per beer for a taster
  • Location: 6760 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

Dinner: Union and Vine

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This restaurant is actually located inside of the Marriot in the North part of town. I know it sounds strange to recommend heading to another hotel to have dinner, but Union and Vine is an excellent spot for a meal. This is another place that can be busy though so call for reservations before heading over.

  • Recommendations: Mushroom Bruschetta (so good!), Tri-Tip Sandwich, Lemon-Almond Cheesecake
  • Cost: $15 -$20
  • Location: 900 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

Sunday

As the last day of the trip, I recommend sleeping in and taking a little time to relax in the morning as you don’t want to push yourself too hard! Breakfast at the hotel and coffee shop are good options, or you can head over to A-Town Diner or Sunshine Donuts if you are looking to get out and try something new.

At A-Town Diner, I would recommend any of the omelettes and at Sunshine Donuts, I would recommend the blueberry cake or the maple bacon.

Town Hall

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One of the best parts about Atascadero is the beautiful town hall that they have right in the middle of the city. It looks like something you would see in Europe, and it is a wonderful example of the town’s history (built in 1918).

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If you would like you can call the historical society in advance and they can usually help set up a tour of the inside for you. If not you can walk around the bottom floor and see a few rooms of history and artifacts, or just wander around the grounds and look at the fountains and architecture.

Lunch: Crazy Sushi Fever

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I love sushi, and my favorite spot in the city is Crazy Sushi Fever. They have a nice clean location, friendly staff, and unique rolls. I had never been to a sushi place where they had a roll made from coconut shrimp, and I enjoyed it as it almost seemed like dessert sushi. Also, the non-rice rolls are interesting; we got one wrapped in cucumber that was incredibly fresh and tasty.

  • Recommendations: Super Summer Roll, Cucumber Special Roll, Pacific Roll
  • Cost: $15 -$20
  • Location: 8050 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93422

That is the end of my recommendations for a weekend spent in Atascadero, if you have extra time though I would recommend heading up to the Firestone Brewery which is in Paso Robles and which you can read about here. Also, there are over 100 wineries in Paso Robles that you can taste at, here are some of the most unique ones.

Be sure to let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for what else to do in Atascadero and let me know what you think if you do this itinerary so I can continue to make them better.

Jim Green Hiking Trail in Atascadero

Whenever I visit a new town, I always try to find a nice spot to get active and see the outdoorsy side of the town. I did this in Atascadero by going out on its most popular trail, a short, dog-friendly hike that takes you through oak groves as you hike a small hill and see great views. Here is all the information so you can do it yourself.

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Details

  • 1.7 Miles
  • 100 feet of elevation
  • Dog friendly
  • Small dirt parking lot

Getting There

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The parking lot for Jim Green Trail is located at the end of Cortez Ave. There is a small dirt parking lot right at the end of the street which you can park at.

The Hike

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The hike starts from the lot and walks along the fence right across from the train tracks. Watch out for rattlesnakes as they can be prevalent on this trail, I would recommend keeping your dog on a leash.

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The trail is very easy to follow and within the first tenth of a mile you will see a split; it doesn’t matter which way you go as it is a loop trail and you will come back the other way. I headed to the right.

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The trail from here leads into the oak groves and becomes a more shaded walk, which provides a nice escape from the sun.

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These trees are beautiful as they have hanging moss coming off of the different branches, and it reminds me of something you would see in the south.

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The trail heads up, and you will be gaining a bit of elevation as you start to get your heart pumping a little.

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You will continue the same way for the rest of the trail; it is relatively shaded most of the way, and it heads up and down as it loops around the small hill.

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On the backside of the trail, you will be overlooking the golf course, which is not as picturesque as the other parts of the trial.

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It also looks over water which provides a pretty view through the trees. I had a hard time figuring out what the water was for, so please let me know in the comments.

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The trail then wraps up by winding back around and meeting with the original split from the start of the trail.

All in all, this is a beautiful spot in the city of Atascadero. I was surprised by how much I liked this trail as I had relatively low expectations heading in. It was a gorgeous and easy hike that I highly recommend for a nice way to get your blood pumping in the morning. Let me know if you have been and what you thought in the comment.

Groves on 41: Olive Oil Producing Farm in Templeton

If you are looking for something entirely unique to do while exploring the central coast of California, then be sure to add The Grove on 41 to your list. This beautiful, family-run olive oil farm is a great place to learn more about olive oil up close. Karen who runs the farm is fantastic and she displays a love for olive oil that will make you excited about it when you are done. I got a chance to spend a few hours on her farm recently and here is all the information so you can do it yourself.

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Details

  • Tasting is $10 a person by appointment only, fees are waived with a purchase of a bottle *Prices subject to change
  • Set up a tasting appointment online here

History

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Karen and the family took over this property in 2010. They then decided to plant olive trees in 2011, so the groves themselves are relatively new. They have over 4,000 trees on the property with 3,500 of the Spanish Arbequina style and 500 of the Greek Koroneiki style.

Getting There

The property is located on Highway 41 about 4 miles from the freeway. You can not even get past the gate without an appointment though so make sure to have one if you go.

The Tasting

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When we pulled up to the barn on the back property, we met Karen and she introduced herself and started to tell us about olive oil. We moved over to the tasting area and sat down to learn how tasting works. Basically, you heat the oil with your hands to room temperature, then proceed to slurp it into your mouth to bring out the flavors.

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It was a lot of fun, and I was surprised how different they all were from each other. After we got through the four different varietals, we took a break to go explore the property before getting into the flavored oils.

The Property

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As we walked around with Karen and saw the property, I was incredibly impressed with her knowledge of the olives. She told us tons of facts, including those about organic growing and it didn’t seem like there was any question that could stump her.

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The property itself is pretty big with lots of olive trees all set up like you would see in a vineyard.

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We walked through them and got to see the small buds that were started to grow on the branches (these turn into flowers which have an olive inside). It was a fun process to learn more about.

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We also went over and saw the cottage which she rents out for events and for people to stay at, more about that here. I would love to stay there next time I am in the area as it was beautiful and inviting.

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After walking around the property, we made our way back to the tasting area and sat down to try the flavored oils.

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I learned that the standard process to flavor oil is to have the flavor milled with the oils, so Meyer lemon for the lemon, garlic for the garlic, etc. This is very expensive though as the mill has to be broken down every time after a flavor to clean. For them to keep the price low, they flavor on an as needed basis with a highly concentrated food grade essential oil. 99% oil with 1% with with the flavor. I tried a lot of the flavors and they were all pretty good, but the highlights for me were the raspberry, praline and garlic. It is a lot of fun to think about all of the culinary masterpieces you can make with these oils, and I was surprised by how much better they are then normal olive oils you get at the store.

After 2 hours, I paid for my oils and we said our goodbyes. It was a great spot to explore, and Karen was a great person to explore it with. I really enjoyed my time at Groves on 41 and I recommend you give it a try if you are in the area and want to learn more about this process. Let me know if you check it out in the comments.