Mid-coast California is often overlooked when it comes to Cali travel. Of course the major cities have the most draw, as do the beaches of the OC, Yosemite, and NorCal. I am here to tell you that there is a secret gem in this gorgeous diverse state- San Luis Obispo (aka SLO)! If you haven’t been you must give it a try. From the interior wineries of Paso Robles, to the stunning shores of Moonstone Beach, there is so much to see and do, making it the perfect for a romantic weekend away.
Our adventure began on Friday, driving up from LA. Gavin and I stayed our first night in Solvang, a small charming Danish town that is right on the way, making it the perfect overnight stop. We stayed at The Landsby, in a charming and spacious suite with a balcony overlooking the communal fire pit area. Wanting to stretch our legs we took a stroll around the sleepy town and it was as if we were transported to Denmark, complete with windmills and tudor style architecture everywhere you looked. We completed the evening and ordered room service from the hotel restaurant Mad and Vin and boy was it good! My two fav dishes were the glazed crisp brussels and the rich and creamy Bucatini & Roasted Mushrooms. So divine!
In the morning we discovered a great local coffee spot, Good Seed Coffee, (try the blue moon latte, it’s delicious!) and we dined on traditional danish pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House. Bellies full and systems caffeinated and ready to go, we jumped into the car to head the rest of the way to the coast. The drive was beautifully peaceful, winding through the expansive grassy hills of the countryside. The green and gold rolling hills reminded me of the giant moss murals I created for Art Botanica. When I travel and spend time in nature I gain inspiration for my artwork and come up with new ideas and designs. There is something about experiencing a new place that really gets my creative juices flowing.
The temperatures cooled when we reached the wind-swept coastline, and we arrived at the darling Cambria Beach Lodge. I jumped out of the car and climbed the stairs to the lobby to check-in. “How cute is this place!?” I thought. Simple, joyful, chill surfer vibes abound, and a warm welcoming staff. They even had doggie-bagged breakfast and coffee in the morning to take with you to the beach. Such a great find! And the rooms didn’t disappoint. They were cozy, comfy, and well-stocked with local goodies and surf wax in case you were heading out to hit the waves. Gavin and I decided to take a stroll on the beach and discovered a raised wooden walkway that meandered through the dunes and ended up on a cliff bluff, where we enjoyed the golden sunset hour.
After our leisurely evening on the beach we headed into downtown Cambria to dine at the Black Cat Bistro. This cute little bistro had delicious food and a great wine list. They even had one of Gavin’s favorites- Kosta Browne 2014 Pinot Noir, making it an extra special evening! Gavin loves his Pinot Noir, and so do I!
On Sunday we drove back inland to Paso Robles to have a falconry experience at Viva Vega Vineyards. Wait- what is a falcon experience you ask??? I had no idea either but I booked in on Airbnb experiences and I knew it had something to do with with birds of prey…. We arrived early and met Anita and her daughter, both lifelong falconers. They told us all about the extensive training it takes to be a falconer, and learned about the sport for falconry. Anita owns a number of hawks she trained herself. They even take them hunting, and these birds fly a mile high up into the sky and take cues from their handler. Their bond to their handlers is so strong! It is truly amazing how animals and humans can connect and communicate! Gavin and I got to fly one of the falcons and also hold and pet their eagle owl, Jack. He was my fav. I mean look at that face!
Following the falcon experience we sat down to taste the Viva Vega wines, and they were superb! Larry and his wife April opened numerous bottles for us to try and told us stories of life on the vineyard- the drought years, the good years, and the fires. They told us about their dedication to raise the grapes organically and naturally and they age their wine for 30 months or more! It sure is a labor of love, and you can definitely taste the love in their wines. We left with a case and some new favorites- their Malbec and Zin blend.
So next time you are looking for a California weekend getaway, be sure to try the mid-coast! So much to do and see, yet peaceful, slow, and nature-centric. And be sure to give Jack a kiss on his cute lil beak for me!
Read Next: Palm Springs and DesertX and Modernism Week