Things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries

27 BEST things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries in 2023

Looking for things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries? Paso Robles is world renowned as a wine country destination and is brimming with vineyards and wineries. There are more than 200 wineries here! But to be honest everyone one has a limit to how much wine tasting they can do in a day! There is so much more Paso Robles has to offer besides wineries.

Things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries and wine tasting

Combining the activities and places below with your wine tasting will help you make the most out of your trip to Paso Robles. If you do not drink wine, or you are travelling with family, you should still visit Paso Robles as there are so many cool things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries.

Planning to visit Paso Robles? Check out my 3 day epic weekend in Paso Robles itinerary!

1. Visit Sensorio Field of Lights

Sensorio Field of Lights at dusk
Sensorio Field of Lights in Paso Robles

Sensorio Field of Lights in Paso Robles is a 15 acre walk through experience created by the internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. If you are in Paso Robles, do not miss visiting Sensorio field of lights! It’s a very unique experience combining art, technology and nature. The Field of Light installation was launched in May 2019.

The Field of Light artwork is created over the undulating landscape of Paso Robles with 58,800 stemmed spheres that are lit by fiber optics in morphing color. The result is an illuminating and colorful field of lights that is a very stunning and unique experience.

Sensorio Light Towers
Sensorio Light Towers

In 2021 the Light Tow­ers installation by Bruce Munro was added to the Sensorio experience. The Light Towers installation features 69 towers made of more than 17,000 wine bottles, lit by optic fibers in morphing color. This exhibit has a music element added to it. The Light towers cel­e­brates Paso Rob­les as a wine coun­try destination.

You can read more details on my Sensorio Field of lights experience in my post Sensorio Field of Lights in Paso Robles review.

2. Soak in Hot Springs in Paso Robles

There are a couple of places in Paso Robles which provide a relaxing and invigorating experience to soak in mineral hot springs.

River Oaks Hot Springs Spa provides artesian mineral spas in a private setting. The prices are very reasonable too for an hour of private hot spa. Enjoy the mineral soak with views of hills and vineyards and feel invigorated! They have many add on packages like wine tasting, chocolates, spa treatments, etc. to enhance your experience.

Paso Robles Inn is a historic hotel in downtown Paso Robles. Here you can request rooms with a mineral hot tub on a private balcony.

If you are looking for a more natural experience and not private hot tub spas, Franklin Hot Springs is a public mineral hot springs pool that is run by the Franklin family. The prices are really low, like $10 per person and you can stay as long as your want. This also includes being able to do fishing all day there.

Franklin Hot Springs is a no frills hidden gem in Paso Robles where locals go to soak in the therapeutic waters of the mineral hot springs. Franklin hot springs is a cheap (almost free) thing to do in Paso Robles.

3. Try Olive oil tasting in Paso Robles

Olive farm in Paso Robles
Olive farm in Paso Robles

It is not well known that Paso Robles wine country also has a lot of olive farms that produce the best olive oils in California. Olive oil tasting is a thing! and it is not a greasy experience, if the olive oil is some of the best quality ones. There are many olive oil farms in Paso Robles that offer olive oil tasting. Paso Robles is one of the best towns to try olive oil tasting in California.

Experience Olive Oil tasting at the family owned Kiler Ridge Olive Farm that produces some of the best extra virgin olive oil in Central California. They offer olive oil tastings at a nominal fee of $5 per person. They also have tours of their orchards and processing facility. Make sure you buy your favorite olive oil to take home!

Olivos De Oro Farm also offers olive oil tastings and has a shop with assortment of oils, vinegars, salts and spreads to take home. Pasolivo Olive Oil is another store where you can sample a great selection of oils and vinegars.

We Olive shop is conveniently in downtown Paso Robles where you can just walk-in and sample many award winning olive oils before buying. You can also sample their many varieties of vinegars, tapenades, pesto, mustard and more. They also carry gift products like olive wood items, oil dispensers etc.

4. Visit Tin City in Paso Robles

Tin City in Paso Robles
Tin City in Paso Robles

Tin City in Paso Robles is a great evolving industrial makers market to explore and try beverages from many local producers. Here apart from wine, you can try craft beverages like beer, spirits and cider.

Just park you car anywhere in Tin city and explore the many tasting rooms, restaurants, breweries and shops. As we are not talking about wineries here 🙂 let’s talk about some great restaurants and shops in Tin City.

McPhee’s canteen is a great restaurant with farm to table eats. They also have a patio garden with a waterfall feature to enjoy your meals outdoors.

The Italian shop ETTO Pastificio next door to McPhee’s canteen has some great Italian foods to go and was recommended to us by a local. It did not disappoint! They have a great selection of freshly made pasta, both dry and cooked. They also have sauces and olive oil collections to take home. Desserts like Tiramisu too!

Stop by at Negranti’s Creamery for some delicious ice-cream. They make ice-cream from pasture raised sheep’s milk and its delicious! Also great for people who are lactose intolerant. They have cow’s milk ice-cream and vegan ice-cream too. There is a nice patio to sit and enjoy the ice-cream.

5. Go Horseback riding in Paso Robles

Central coast Trailrides offer unique trail riding experiences amidst ranches, vineyards and private lands. They have a great selection of friendly horses and great staff as well. They offer many different rides for all levels of riders, from beginner to advanced.

The sunset rides are popular, as well as the Santa Margarita ranch, and Cass Vineyard rides. Central coast Trailrides can customize you package as per your group’s needs.

6. Try a hot air balloon ride over Paso Robles

Hot air balloon ride in Paso Robles
Hot air balloon ride in Paso Robles

Balloons Over Paso company offers sunrise hot air balloon rides for your private group. It is a little expensive at around $300+ per person but this is a worthwhile experience for a special occasion.

Enjoy sunrise while floating in a hot air balloon over the rolling hills and vineyards of Paso Robles. The crew is very professional and big on safety, but also fun. They make it an experience by providing refreshments at the end.

7. Zipline at Margarita adventures

Margarita Adventures is a zipline adventure tour company in the town of Santa Margarita, 30 minutes south of Paso Robles. It is popular for ziplining tours in Santa Margarita Ranch. They also offer nature, wildlife and photography tours. The sunset zipline tour and the night safari tour are recommended.

The zipline tour has 6 ziplines included and is family friendly. The staff is very professional, informative and friendly and they are big on safety. There are two small hikes involved in the zipline tour to walk to the ziplines. You will also walk across a narrow suspension bridge! There are restrooms and water stations between ziplines.

8. Play a game of Disc Golf at Castoro Cellars

Have you ever heard of Disc Golf? It ‘s a unique sport, similar to traditional golf but played with discs instead of balls and clubs. You tee your disc into the metal basket and then move on to the next basket. The goal is to complete the course in fewest number of shots.

Disc Golf in Paso Robles
Disc Golf in Paso Robles

Whale Rock Disc golf course is an 18 hole course in a beautiful vineyard setting called the Whale Rock vineyard. Check-in is at the Castoro Cellars tasting room. There is a very nominal fee, around $5, to play the course. You do not have to do wine tasting to play Disc golf here.

9. Visit Estrella Warbirds Museum for history, aviation and/or cars

Estrella warbirds museum is an aviation museum in Paso Robles dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aircraft and vehicles. This place has many exhibits that display military memorabilia. They have artifacts even from World War 1 and World War 2.

The entire place is very kid friendly and they can climb onto many airplanes, tanks and other vehicles. They also have an indoor vintage car museum which is really cool!

Definitely worth a visit if you like military history, aviation, and/or cars. Kids will not be bored in this one! The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable.

The museum is open Thursdays to Sundays. The entrance admission ticket is around $15 for adults and includes full day admission to both the  Estrella Warbirds Museum and Woodland Auto Display. They have discounted tickets for veterans, seniors, and children.

10. Try water sports, fishing or camping at Lake Nacimiento

Lake Nacimiento is also called the Dragon due to its unique shape caused by 18 miles of winding waterways. It is only 30 minutes drive from Paso Robles and offers lots of recreational activities like water sports, hiking, swimming, camping, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing.

The marina at lake Nacimiento offers boat rentals, water ski, and fishing rentals. This lake is popular in Central California for water sports and fishing.

You can spend a day on the lake by paying the daily entrance fee per vehicle. But overnight stay is possible if you want to spend a couple of days exploring the lake. The Lake Nacimiento Resort has fully furnished accommodations in the resort, as well as RV and regular campsites.

11. Take a splash at Ravine water park in Paso Robles

Ravine Water park is only 10 minutes from Paso Robles downtown and is a great family friendly attraction. There are numerous water slides, wave pool, lazy river, and plenty of water fun to keep people of all ages having a blast!

They also offer cabana rentals and have a restaurant onsite. There is a mini golf too, included in the price. If you have an extra day and have young kids in your group this would be a fun activity.

12. Paso Robles Children’s museum

The Paso Robles Children’s museum is in downtown Paso Robles and a great place for young children to explore and engage in various exhibits and activities. They have great pretend play exhibits like pizza parlor and grocery stores, art station, foam building blocks, ball pit, and many more. They even have a real firetruck with firemen gear!

Its open Fridays to Sundays and admission fee is nominal, around $8 per kid. This is a cool museum to stop by on your road trip to give your kids a car break.

Free things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries and wine tasting

There are plenty of things to do in Paso Robles that are free to explore! Check out some of these great free things to do in Paso Robles and learn about the town’s history, browse art and explore the downtown.

13. Explore Paso Robles downtown

Paso Robles downtown has a lot of history and charm and is a great place to stroll and explore the shops and restaurants. This downtown is very laid back and easy to walk around. The intersection of 12th Street and Park Street is the most photographed spot in Paso Robles downtown with the iconic clock tower (this is the picture on the top of the post!).

Paso Robles downtown city park
Paso Robles downtown city park

The Downtown City park is in the center of the downtown scene with lots of mature trees, a gazebo, kids play area and restrooms. The historic Carnegie Public library is an icon in the city park, which is now a converted into a museum. Admission to the museum is free and is worth checking out to learn about Paso Robles history.

There are a lot of restaurants in the downtown area ranging from local eateries to chain restaurants. Some popular ones are The Hatch Rotisserie, La Cosecha Bar and Restaurant, Alchemist’s Garden, Basil Thai Restaurant and many more.

Exploring Paso Robles downtown is one of the free things to do in Paso Robles.

14. Browse Art galleries in Studios on the park

Studios on the park in Paso Robles
Studios on the park

There are some great art galleries in Paso Robles downtown to explore like Studios on the Park, which showcases work of many local artists. Studios on the park is a non profit open studios art center that has many studios and galleries filled with work of local artists.

They also host many events and workshops as well as have a children’s corner. You can spend hours admiring the art pieces and you can sometimes spot artists there and talk to them about their work.

Browsing Studios on the park is one of the free things to do in Paso Robles.

15. Sculpterra winery and sculpture garden

I know we are not talking about wineries in this post but Sculpterra winery and sculpture garden is an exception! It is not just a winery but also a sculpture garden to enjoy art.

On weekends they have live music and local food trucks to enjoy lunch outdoors admiring the art sculptures. They also have games setup like ping pong and bocce ball, as well as a walking trail among the vineyards.

It is free to roam the gardens and admire the art, although the wine tasting is not free. They also have a a gift shop where you can buy miniature versions of the sculptures and other local art. Overall a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

16. Visit historic Carnegie Library museum in Paso Robles downtown

Historic Carnegie library museum in Paso Robles
Historic Carnegie library museum in Paso Robles

The Carnegie library museum is an iconic landmark in the Paso Robles downtown city park. Admission is free (though donations are accepted). This is a cool place to learn about the history of Paso Robles.

They have a lot of old artifacts, memorabilia, and pictures from early Paso Robles history. They also have a gift shop with historical books and vintage items. Worth peeking inside if you are strolling in Paso Robles downtown park.

Visiting historic Carnegie Library museum in Paso Robles downtown is one of the free things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries.

17. Learn about Paso Robles history at Pioneer museum

The Pioneer museum at Paso Robles is a great place to learn about the pioneer history of this small California town in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are several interesting exhibits like the one room schoolhouse, jail replica and other historic visual and written artifacts. They even have a recreation of historic Paso Robles downtown and a collection of antique cars, tractors, and carriages.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The staff and volunteers are really knowledgeable about the history of early Paso Robles.

18. Visit historic Mission San Miguel Arcàngel

Mission San Miguel Arcàngel
Mission San Miguel Arcàngel

Mission San Miguel Arcàngel, a National Historical Landmark, is only 15 minutes from Paso Robles downtown and a nice historical stop right on 101 freeway. It was founded in 1797, more than 200 years ago. The Mission is still used as a parish church.

Mission San Miguel Arcàngel has a beautiful church with original paintings, a museum with lots of old artifacts, and a gift shop to explore. The museum has a small entry fee of $8 per person. The Mission can use some repairs to preserve it for future generations.

Visiting the San Miguel Arcàngel is one of the free things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries. The museum has a small entrance fee.

19. Drive or bike the back roads in Paso Robles

Paso Robles vineyards
Paso Robles vineyards

There are plentiful secluded back roads in Paso Robles with views of vineyards and rolling hills, that you can enjoy at your own pace and experience the solitude and laid back life.

On the west side the Vineyard Drive and Adelaida Road passes through many vineyards and have gorgeous views of vine covered hills. Driving west on scenic Hwy 46 will take you to the coast where you can explore many coastal towns.

By driving east on Hwy 46, you will pass through Sensorio, the exhibit of lights. The Estrella Warbird aviation museum and Hunter Ranch golf course is also on this route. The Estrella road that runs along side the Estrella river passes through many vineyards.

20. Go on an agriculture tour with FARMstead ED SLO County farm trail

Visit the many local farms, ranches and food producers and support local growers by following the FARMstead ED SLO County farm trail.

The farms and ranches on this trail offer many interesting hands-on workshops, site tours, events and gatherings to connect people to the hardworking growers and the local lands and learn about the true farm to table experience.

Things to do near Paso Robles besides wineries and wine tasting

The Central coast of California is full of amazing things to explore. You will find charm and history in coastal towns, recreation and relaxation in great beaches, promising food and wine scene, and even castles!

21. Take a tour of Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a historic museum and California State Park less than an hour’s drive from Paso Robles and Sensorio. Hearst Castle history began in 1865 by newspaper magnate George Hearst.

The magnificent castle has a main building and three guesthouses totaling around 165 rooms, and 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains and pools. The museum offers several tours of the grand rooms and the grounds.

22. Day trip to Morro Rock beach

Morro Rock beach
Morro Rock beach

Morro Bay is around 45 minutes drive from Paso Robles and a great place to spend a day. Visit the iconic Morro Rock which is the crown jewel of Morro Bay. The Morro Rock beach is famous for surfing events and surfing lessons. The Embarcadero has a great view of the Morro Bay Marina is filled with great restaurants to enjoy.

23. Visit coastal town of San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is another coastal town which is just around 30 minutes drive from Paso Robles. San Luis Obispo has a downtown area spend a day browsing shops and restaurants, and the local farmer’s market.

Make sure to check out the Bubblegum Alley on Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, which is a very unique alley that has chewed up bubble gum stuck to the walls, some of which are many years old! I had to see this one to believe it. Gross or not, the Bubblegum alley has become a landmark of downtown San Luis Obispo.

Madonna Inn is a great place to stay which has whimsical themed rooms. I stayed there once with my family in a Paris themed room! It was such a cool experience.

24. Visit Pismo Beach

Pismo beach is probably the most popular beach on the Central coast of California and is around 45 minutes from Paso Robles and Sensorio. It attracts much more crowds then the nearby Morro Rock beach and Avila beach. Pismo beach can easily be a weekend getaway destination. There are plenty of hotels and Inns at Pismo beach to stay for a night or the weekend.

Pismo Beach Pier
Pismo Beach Pier

The iconic pier at Pismo beach is a great place to stroll and get some ocean views. There is a boardwalk along the beach and great restaurants to try. The Monarch Butterfly Grove and Dinosaur Cave Park are some cool attractions to check out.

Pismo beach is a popular beach for surfing. Pismo beach Sand Dunes preserve is also popular for four wheel ATV rides and there are several companies offering ATV rentals in the area.

25. Visit Avila Beach

Avila beach is another great coastal town and family friendly beach just 45 minutes from Paso Robles. Crowds at Avila beach are a little less compared to Pismo beach, and it has a very laid back vibe. We stopped here on an afternoon and enjoyed the ocean views and the pier.

The Front street at Avila beach is a great place to stroll and enjoy some local food and shopping, while looking at fantastic ocean views. The Bob Jones City to Sea trail is popular for biking and running. Visit Avila hot springs for a soak in the natural mineral water from the earth’s surface.

26. Explore Cayucos town

Just a little north of Morro Bay is the historic coastal town of Cayucos. The Cayucos State beach is the ideal spot for surfing, tide pooling, and swimming. The beach has a long pier to walk on and admire the views. Fishing is also permitted from the pier.

The town of Cayucos is charming and laid back and retains the old California style. Stroll down Ocean Ave which is the main street running through town.

There are many antique shops, art galleries and restaurants here. Make sure to stop by Remember When antique mall which is a 3 story store with many vendors selling their antiques. You might find something interesting!

27. Drive on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1

Highway 1 which hugs the Pacific Coast of California is only 30 minutes drive from Paso Robles via west highway 46. If you have an extra day or two in Central California, you can drive either north or south on Highway 1 and explore the many coastal towns and beaches, and of course, marvel at the fabulous ocean views.

South of Highway 1 you will find charming coastal towns of Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and Avila beach with some awesome family friendly beaches. North or Highway 1 lies the town of Cayucos, San Simeon and Hearst Castle, and further up the magnificent Big Sur State Park.

Where is Paso Robles and how to get to it

Paso Robles is a city in the central coast of California known for its vineyards, wineries and olive gardens. Paso Robles is around 3 hours drive from San Francisco Bay area and similar 3 hours drive from Los Angeles making it perfect for a weekend getaway from either LA or San Francisco Bay area.

Paso Robles by car

If you are in Northern or Southern California you can reach Paso Robles by car in around 3 hours. Having a car is the best way to explore Paso Robles as there as so many beaches and towns to explore on the central coast. It also makes it easy to reach the various places in Paso Robles and around it.

Paso Robles by flight

If you are flying in from outside of California, the closest airport is San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport which is around 40 minutes drive from Paso Robles. The airport services only limited destinations so its better to check the airport website.

It is better to combine a trip to Paso Robles with a trip to Northern or Southern California by flying into either San Jose (for Northern California) or Los Angeles (for Southern California) and then driving to Paso Robles. There are so many interesting stops along the way from either side!

Airports near Paso Robles and driving distance:

  • San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport – 40 minutes
  • Santa Barbara Airport – 2 hours
  • San Jose International Airport – 3 hours
  • Los Angeles International Airport – 3.5 hours
  • San Francisco International Airport – 3 hours

Paso Robles by train

Did you know that you can also visit Paso Robles by train? The Amtrak Paso Robles train station is conveniently in downtown Paso Robles. The Coast Starlight route that connects Seattle to Los Angeles has a stop in Paso Robles making it very easy to arrive in Paso Robles by train from cities on this route.

The Pacific Surfliner route connects San Diego to the nearby town of San Luis Obispo, which is only 40 minutes away from Paso Robles.

Best time to visit Paso Robles

Paso Robles has comfortable temperatures year round and can easily be a winter destination with day time temperatures in the winter averaging around 60 degree Fahrenheit. In summer you can explore the nearby coastal towns and enjoy the beaches. The most ideal seasons to visit Paso Robles though are spring and fall.

In spring the rolling hills landscape of Paso Robles is lush green and alive. Its a beautiful experience to drive through the back country roads with all the breath taking scenery around you.

Fall season is the when the grapes are harvested and there are lots of events and festivals celebrating harvest season. If you visit Paso Robles during October month you can attend lots of special events hosted by the many wineries in Paso Robles.

How many days do you need to visit Paso Robles

Paso Robles is an ideal long weekend destination for California locals. 2 to 3 nights are ideal to explore all that the town has to offer. It is just a convenient 3 hours drive from either northern or southern California cities.

If you are visiting Paso Robles from outside of California, you can make a road trip out of it by combining many nearby places in Central California like beaches and coastal towns.

There are so many things to do in Paso Robles that it can demand a trip of its own and not just a quick stop in a Southern and Northern California itinerary.

Planning to visit Paso Robles? Check out my 3 day epic weekend in Paso Robles itinerary.

Where to stay in Paso Robles

Paso Robles has plenty of vacation rentals all over the surrounding hills with amazing views of vineyards and the undulating landscape. Another great option is to stay within walking distance of downtown Paso Robles and walk to restaurants, bars, art galleries and events.

We rented a vacation rental from VRBO and it was a huge ranch style house on a hilltop with a swimming pool and 360 degree views of vineyards around us. We went in fall season so the hills were tan brown which looked spectacular with the sunset hues. In the spring these hills would be all green and have a very different view altogether, lush greenery would make the hills look alive.

View from our Paso Robles vacation rental
View from Paso Robles vacation rental

Paso Robles Inn is a very popular hotel due to its great location right across from the Downtown city park, and within walking distance to all the downtown restaurants, bars and events. Hotel Cheval and The Piccolo are also within a block from the Paso Robles downtown scene.

Adelaide Inn and Best Western Plus Black Oak are at a great location close to the freeway to access the wineries on the east and west side of the town. It is also just a 5 minute drive to the downtown city park.

La Bellasera Hotel and Suites is a little further from Paso Robles downtown but near Tin City. It is still just a 7 minute drive to downtown Paso Robles.

Where to eat in Paso Robles

Paso Robles has a great food and wine scene with world class restaurants. Lot of restaurants provide the farm to table experience by using the freshest of ingredients, which are plentiful in this agricultural area.

Paso Robles Downtown is the main restaurant hub. Some restaurants to try here are:

The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar is a very popular restaurant serving American fare. Reservations are highly recommended.

La Cosecha Bar and Restaurant is another popular restaurant serving Latin Spanish dishes, craft cocktails and great deserts.

Il Cortile Ristorante serves fine Italian cuisine and has some great pasta dishes and deserts.

Alchemist’s garden has a great interior with lots of plants all around! The cocktails here are popular and their hearty plates.

A little further away from Paso Robles downtown is Tin City. McPhee’s canteen in tin City is a great restaurant with farm to table eats. Their wood fired pizza is great. They also have a patio garden with a waterfall feature to enjoy your meals outdoors.

Tooth and Nail winery has a great restaurant, but is more famous for its castle like exterior and even a moat! Make sure you get an outdoor table to enjoy the beautiful views surrounding you.

Brown Butter Cookie Company is great if you are in the mood for some cookies!

Wrap up on things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries and wine tasting

Although Paso Robles is renowned as a wine country destination, there is definitely a bucket load of things to do in Paso Robles besides wineries and wine tasting. The things and places mentioned in this post can keep you busy for at least a week!

Hope you have a great time in the laid back Central California and Paso Robles.

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