Ocean Views and Pastoral Countryside -- the Road to Paso Robles California

Paso Robles California has the ideal location for a wine country getaway.

It's far away from the big city ... three hours south of the San Francisco Bay Area and four hours north of Los Angeles. And yet it's convenient by air, train and car.

Because there's so much to see on the way, we always go by car. It's nice to pause at a beautiful view, or even take a scenic detour.

Paso Robles California By Air

From Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Jose, you can fly to San Luis Obispo and rent a car for the half-hour drive north to Paso Robles. You'll save travel time, but you'll miss some views along the way. Read on.

Paso Robles California By Train

Amtrak's Coast Starlight serves Paso Robles north from Los Angeles and south from Seattle, stopping in San Francisco, San Jose and other points on the way.

Ventura Coastline, Southern California
Ventura Coastline, Southern California
From Southern California, ocean views make for a memorable ride. The route follows coastal bluffs much of the way. From your seat, you can gaze out at mile after mile of surf and sea.

Paso Robles California by Car

Coast route Highway 101 will get you to Paso Robles from Los Angeles and Southern California. And it's your main route if you're coming south from the Bay Area. From either direction, Highway 101 is a sightseer's choice.

On the way from L.A., the highway follows the shore from Ventura to Gaviota. You'll pass surfers riding the waves at Rincon. Beyond Santa Barbara, you'll cruise up the coast between chapparal-covered mountains and the azure sea.

Solimar Beach, Southern California
Solimar Beach, Southern California
After leaving the ocean at Gaviota, you'll travel through the vineyards of Los Olivos, join the surf one last time at Pismo Beach, and then turn inland for the hour's cruise to Paso Robles.

It's not fair to tempt you, but I will anyway. You'll find delicious pies at the Madonna Inn, on the left side of the highway as you enter San Luis Obispo.

When you see the signs to the little town of Atascadero, you'll know you're 15 minutes from Paso.

From the Bay Area, south of San Jose, the countryside begins to take over. One hour's drive will find you in the produce fields and vineyards of the Salinas Valley.

Crop Rows, Salinas Valley
Crop Rows, Salinas Valley
Beyond the farmland, you'll pass through classic Central California countryside -- a narrow valley flanked with grass-covered hills dotted with oaks. In the winter and spring, the hills are emerald with new grasses. By summer's drought, the grasses have dried, and the hills are a rolling landscape of golds.

The highway turns slightly to the right at the mission town of San Miguel. At the point, you're just ten minutes away from Paso Robles California.

The Big Sur Option -- but only if you have the time

The meeting of mountains and turquoise sea ... the sweet-smelling shade of redwood canyons ... views to forever from hundreds of feet above the surf ... this is part of the magic of the Big Sur coast.

Big Sur
Big Sur
From Carmel to Cambria, Highway 1 is a narrow two-lane asphalt roller coaster. It twists into canyons and emerges into one awe-inspiring view after another.

Often, you don't know what you'll see around the next bend. All you know is, it's going to be beautiful. And it invariably is.

The Big Sur Option is available to southbound travelers from the Bay Area. In Salinas, take Highway 68 west to the Monterey Peninsula. In Monterey, take Highway 1 to Carmel. Continue through Carmel. Five minutes later, Big Sur begins with that first view of Garrapata Cove.

One hundred miles later, in Cambria, take Highway 46 east to Paso Robles. In about half an hour, Highway 46 joins Highway 101. Paso Robles is five minutes north up the road.

I know that, in suggesting Big Sur, I'm prolonging your drive by at least four hours.

But you'll thank me for it.

In town

Several exits lead from Highway 101 into Paso Robles. But whether we come from L.A or the Bay Area, Susie and I prefer Spring Street, Paso's old main street. Lined with trees, Spring Street passes Downtown, the city park, and the old neighborhoods, making it a great introduction to Paso Robles, California.

Bandstand, City Park, Paso Robles California
Bandstand, City Park, Paso Robles California

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