Miles of stunning uninterrupted beaches, waves crashing on rocks and in tidal pools, misty mountains and mesmerizing sunsets, saved my sanity during lockdown. California certainly has its share of stunningly beautiful destinations, and now that everything is open again, it’s time to explore these captivating small towns that move at a deliciously slow pace and sip my way through SLO Wine Country. Fun Fact…San Luis Obispo County is known as SLO County, which implies that we should come down to SLO and enjoy the 80+ miles of gorgeous beaches, beautiful hotels, delicious farm-to-table fare. table and world-class wines!
When we went into lockdown in 2020 I could feel the beginnings of a panic attack starting in my stomach and with each passing month it was getting more and more pronounced. For someone who had been traveling since I was two, this nightmare seemed endless and I had to go anywhere because it felt like the walls were starting to close in. So I packed up and headed north up the California coast and I could feel the stress. leave my body. There were still a few places I could stay, so I was triple sanitized, delivered, and breathed. In my travels, I have rediscovered the most stunningly beautiful, unspoiled and sometimes misty beaches stretching endlessly without intrusion, and passed through charming but quiet little towns and vowed to myself to return. I hiked deserted mountain trails shrouded in misty cover as the sun rose and marveled at the towering redwoods and colony of elephant seals. By the end of the day, I stood mesmerized as the sun set over the ocean, glass of wine in hand, just me and this thing called nature. As the human footprint had lightened considerably during this time, nature was bouncing back, and it was beautiful.
When countries started to open up, domestic travel was all the rage. Families wanted to reconnect with loved ones, couples were ready to marry and found traveling within the country easier. No one wanted to be stuck in another country unable to return home until at least their quarantine was over. Thanks to the lockdown, I’ve had an abundance of beautiful and diverse vacation and wedding destination suggestions. Now that the hotels have reopened, it was time for another Central Coast discovery trip.
This time to see which hotels and venues have survived COVID and are ready for guests, families and destination weddings. I headed to Pismo looking for a wedding venue and accommodation for a couple and their family, and stayed at the Cottage Inn. (Review to come)
A few months later, I again headed to that little slice of heaven called San Luis Obispo County, this time armed with some much-loved research from the local San Luis Obispo tourist board and chamber. (credits at end of article)
I arrived in Pismo just as the sun was about to set into the ocean and headed straight for the famous pier. I stood at the railing and took a few deep breaths of salty sea air and watched the sunset. It felt like time was slowing down especially so the sun could show off those last golden magic moments. To the right I could see several beautiful hotels perched on the cliff with the most incredible ocean views. Many have beach access for an early morning stroll, and some are even pet-friendly. If you want a bite to eat while watching the sunset over the pier, Wooly’s is a fun, laid-back spot, and The Oyster Loft above is a fine dining option.
This trip I chose the Tides Ocean View Inn and Cottages because it reminded me of happy times with my family as a kid, and I was not disappointed with this view! (Review to come).
Pismo is particularly perfect for family trips with plenty for the kids to do as it offers an exceptional selection of outdoor activities such as kayaking, surfing, hiking and biking, all in beautiful surroundings. . If you’re booking a wine tour in the area, add Pismo Beach as a stopover of at least two to three nights, but I recommend a week to fully experience all that this charming little town has to offer. The wine bar, Tastes of the Valleys on Price Street and the Italian restaurant Giuseppe next door are also highly recommended.
San Luis Obispo County is a fabulous destination for weddings and honeymoons because the area is so diverse. A couple could get married at the beach and go on honeymoon to the mountains or to a winery.
I found a beautiful venue called Chapman Estate which is currently being renovated and is perfect for small weddings or weddings. I’ll be posting more photos soon, but for now let me say it’s very budget friendly, with fantastic ocean views and gardens for beautiful wedding photos! There are several hotels nearby for family, friends and the “after party”. contact me here for info and reservations. If you’re observant, there are also kosher caterers in the area.
My next stop was the city of San Luis Obispo and as I got closer I noticed the mist just rolling over the mountains making it look almost surreal. Its atmosphere is obviously very different from that of seaside towns, but it is just as captivating. Like most small towns, its pace is slower and its authenticity isn’t often evident in big cities. I’ve always been drawn to small country towns known for their warm and friendly people, mouth-watering regional cuisine, local arts and crafts, and fascinating history, and the city of San Luis Obispo is no exception.
I checked into the Apple Farm Inn for a few nights and thought it was delicious! (Full review to come.) Not only is the hotel absolutely charming, but what makes it unique is their market and wine cellar where you can taste and buy wines and spirits from local vineyards and distilleries, as well as cookware and skin care items. , art, beer and mixers. The rooms at the Apple Farm Inn are about to be renovated, but they are beautiful. Their restaurant is open daily for breakfast and lunch, and now also for dinner on weekends. The food is really good and definitely ask for one of their unique cucumber cocktails from local distilleries to go with dinner.
Novo is another crowd favorite restaurant located in downtown San Luis Obispo. The food is locally sourced and exceptional, and the hand-selected craft cocktails are delicious, as is the award-winning wine list. I loved the atmosphere and the intimate and friendly environment. Definitely recommended.
There are many activities to enjoy in SLO County. You can visit the newly reopened Hearst Castle, if you’re a mountain bike fan, head to the Oceano Sand Dunes, go kayaking or join a surf camp at the Central Coast Surf School . You can go whale watching at Avila Beach and the best months depend on the type of whale watching you want to do. For those in need of rest and rejuvenation, there are amazing wellness retreats. SLO County and the SLO Wine Country has so much more to explore and it will still require a few Central Coast trips. I can not wait !
SLO County has over 250 wineries spread across two wine regions, San Luis Obispo Wine Country and Paso Robles. Tasting experiences are therefore not lacking. There are one and two day wine tasting trails, including my favorite sparkling wine tasting trail. Over 40 wine varietals grow in SLO CAL, and these can be tasted in over 100 tasting rooms, each with its own character and ambiance.
If you like wine bars, the new Region Bar at the SLO Hotel is not to be missed. They serve some of the community’s best-kept secrets and hard-to-find independent wines. You can taste more than 100 wines by taste, by the glass or by the bottle.
Paso Robles is a wonderful destination for wine lovers and known for its world-class wine and cuisine. You’ll find a variety of beautiful accommodations ranging from historic inns to luxury resorts and rustic vineyards, but still with that small-town charm. If hosting a winery wedding is on your to-do list, head to Paso to check it out. You will not be disappointed. Paso will be another article I look forward to writing.
The drive from San Francisco is around 3.5 hours and about the same from Los Angeles. If you forgot to pack something, there are several large chain stores that will have everything you need. However, support smaller stores with locally made items when you can.
If you’re heading to California’s beautiful Central Coast, take the time to plan your trip HERE and for SLO wine region information press HERE. There are several other beautiful towns in SLO Cal County like Morro Bay and Avila Beach, so follow me here for more travel inspiration.
I want to thank Micki from Pismo County for showing me the beautiful Chapman Estate and Eric and Jacqui from SLO Chamber and SLO County and also Nataly from Turner PR who all stepped in and gave me lots of help. really useful information. Very appreciated.
Thank you for spending time with me. Feel free to ask questions at [email protected] Warmly; Dahlia