San Luis Obispo County is my favorite place

San Luis Obispo County is my favorite place and I don’t have to go far to experience it– it’s in my backyard. It’s exactly why I decided to move here 15 years ago. Of course, the best things about the area are the rural feel, proximity to the coast and the warm weather. Although I don’t want people flocking to the area and spoiling the best of what there is here, I can’t stop sharing how wonderful San Luis Obispo County is.

Photo of 2 plam trees on a cliff in Pismo Beach, California

My top 5 favorite things to do in San Luis Obispo County

  1. Wine tasting at Pianetta Winery in downtown Paso Robles
    Wine tasting at Pianetta Winery in downtown Paso Robles.

    Wine tasting. There are hundreds upon hundreds (that’s not an exaggeration—check out PasoWine.com and SLOWine.com to see what I mean—do note that listings on both of these are dependent on being members, so not all the wineries in the area are listed). Wine tasting in SLO County is less expensive than other more well-known wine regions. The unofficial stance of the local wine country is that wine tasting is for everyone and the best wine is the wine you like. Wine comes with corks, screw tops and in boxes—what matters is not what it comes in but the quality of the wine that goes in.

    Pismo Beach on a Sunday in April
    Pismo Beach on a Sunday in April
  2. Beach day. I love making a day (or at least an afternoon) of visiting the beach, whether it’s by myself, with friends or with my daughter. My favorite beach (shhh…don’t tell anyone) is Cayucos State Beach.  The children like to spend as much time on the playground on the south side of the peir as they do in the water. If I don’t go to Cayucos, Avila Beach is number 2. Although there are many other fabulous beaches.

    A sampling of beers at Dead Oak Brewery in Atascadero
    A sampling of beers at Dead Oak Brewery in Atascadero.
  3. Sampling of sour beers at Libertine in downtown San Luis Obispo
    Sampling of sour beers at Libertine in downtown San Luis Obispo.

    Craft beer tasting. Since becoming gluten-free, I drink more wine than beer, but my dad and brother in particular LOVE beer. My dad’s goal is to visit all the craft breweries in SLO County. There aren’t as many breweries as there are wineries—nowhere close—but it’s still proving to be difficult as there are always more craft breweries popping up. One of my favorites is Libertine Brewing in SLO because of the sour beers. If you haven’t had a sour before, I recommend going to Libertine and trying one—or four by getting a flight.

    On the way to the top of Stadium Park in Atascadero
    On the way to the top of Stadium Park in Atascadero.
  4. Top of Stadium Park in Atascadero early in the morning
    Top of Stadium Park in Atascadero early in the morning.

    Hiking. One thing those of us living in SLO County often take advantage of — besides living so close to the ocean — is the many hiking trails. There are short hikes that don’t have much elevation change and there are more than a few hiking trails that go up a mountain. There’s one I see every time I head north on the 101 just as the ocean is about to disappear from view at Shell Beach (Shell Beach Bluffs Trail). The ones I hike most often are in Atascadero: Stadium Park and Jim Green, as well as trails at Montana de Oro.

    Short rib tacos from Fish Gaucho in downtown Paso Robles
    Short rib tacos from Fish Gaucho in downtown Paso Robles.
  5. Flourlesss chocolate cake from Bistro Laurante in downtown Paso Robles Robles with a birthday candle on it
    Flourlesss chocolate cake from Bistro Laurante in downtown Paso Robles Robles for my birthday.

    Gourmet food. With the multiple wine, craft beer and spirits offerings, it’s no surprise that talented chefs have been drawn to the area. Not only can get get a fantastic meal in any of the cities/towns in the county, but you can also venture out into the country and find a delicious meal at one of many wineries. One of my favorites  that I love to hit up for Happy Hour is Fish Gaucho in downtown Paso Robles. In downtown San Luis Obispo, my newest obsession is the Vegetable Butcher. Don’t let the name mislead you into thinking that it’s a vegetarian or vegan, restaurant. While it can make most dishes vegetarian or vegan and most are already gluten-free, there is an assortment of offerings for all tastes.

This is only a sampling of what SLO County has to offer, but part of why I make my home here, not to mention the mild weather year-round.

Discovering Old Edna Townsite

Old Edna Townsite is a small quiet town—though it’s a bit of stretch to call the cluster of buildings housing a gourmet deli, winery and vacation rentals and event venue a town. Not far from the bustling Highway 101, Old Edna Townsite often gets passed over, most people don’t even know it exists. The historic community is nestled in Edna Valley Wine Country, halfway between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach.

I myself have driven by this community more times than I can count when I decided to take the scenic route out of San Luis Obispo, heading south. I finally stopped when I set out to write about our great county.

So that day, enjoying the beautiful day and gorgeous landscape, the first thing I saw when I got to Old Edna Townsite was a sign announcing  “Deli and wine tasting.”  I was hungry and intrigued. 

The historic building houses The Gourmet Deli and Sextant Wines.  Behind that building are two-acres of bed & breakfast, intimate gathering space, chickens and so much more. The Old Edna Townsite had been abandoned for more than 20 years when new life was breathed into it in 1998. 

The deli’s menu has been paired specifically with Sextant’s wines. In addition to having the option to order a range of gourmet items, tasters can order a variety of cheeses chosen to pair with the wine tasting menu. 

Surrounded by antiques and gifts that look old, I felt relaxed—how I want to feel when I’m out wine tasting or enjoying what the area has to offer—and at home. Guests can either eat at the bar while tasting wines or take food—and wine, of course—out on the deck. After my visit inside, I wandered around the property and was struck by the calm and rustic atmosphere. The larger guest house has a small stage in the yard for entertaining. Old Edna is on the top of my list for an intimate event or gathering, or even a night away as there is a small guest house on the property. Between the two guesthouses are the chickens’ home, adding to the rural feeling. 

If you’re driving by or even just looking for something to do near San Luis Obispo stop by this historic place and have lunch and some wine. You won’t be sorry you did.